Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rose Hips in the Hedgerow

As I was walking up and down our long drive this past weekend, flecks of color caught my eye. It was a nice patch of rose hips in the hedgerow along the road. In a year where drought has once again  limited the fall color in our trees, it was so nice to see this splash of autumnal beauty.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Harvest Monday - The Beans are In

Not a large harvest this past week, but still one that I am very excited about. The beans are in! Well not all of the beans, but the majority of them. We received out first significant rain on Sunday morning. It was predicted so I harvested most of the pods from my bush "Titus" cannellini beans earlier in the week. I would say 4/5 of the pods had fully ripened. They were brown and dry, but did not spit open and shatter- just as the catalog promised. My total harvest to this point is 9.1 oz, or 1 1/3 cups. Not a huge amount but I think a descent harvest from just 20 plants. Now I get to play around with these in a few recipes and see how they taste. If they make the cut I would like to double or triple my grow out of them next year.

I also enjoyed a good "second flush" harvest on the "Lemon" cucumber plants. I know that I was complaining earlier in the season that they weren't a very prolific producer but I need to rescind that remark a bit. I harvested another 9 cukes this week, weighing in at 2 lbs. 3.4 oz. So that puts my total year to date harvest at 21 cukes from the 5 plants. Not a huge amount, but not too bad either from plants growing in a location that received only half-day sun.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bouquet Before the Rains Return

The rains arrived, as predicted around 2:00 AM this morning and continued until sometime around 8:00 AM. Since this was to be our first significant rain this Fall, I headed down to the big garden yesterday to tidy up and prepare the dahlias. Before I left, I cut 5 big blooms on my "Lexa" plants. Up at the house I stuck them in a simple glass vase and voila - a lovely arrangement. This is only the second flush on the "Lexa" plants, so the blooms are still a good size and the color is great with the diminished Fall sunshine. There probably isn't enough growing season left for a third flush, so I am enjoying these blooms even more knowing these are the last I will see until next year's garden.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Arrives

And suddenly, October arrives. The days are cooler now and the nights have a chill to them. Across the road from the Big Garden, is this wonderful old building, covered in trailing vines. For most of the year it doesn't draw your attention. But come October, the vines turn scarlet and the whole scene is picture perfect.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Late Season Dahlias

As we reach the end of September, a few of my dahlia are really just getting going. Some dahlia varieties do take their time growing and blooming each year while others are a bit of a mystery. For instance, my "Pam Howden" waterlily dahlia was just plain slow to grow this year. In past years it has been among my first varieties to bloom, so I am stumped. I am wondering if maybe my stock has weakened and if I should invest in some new tubers for next year.

Another late bloomer for me this year is another waterlily; "Wildwood Marie". Again, this is normally not a late bloomer for me, so I don't know what to think. It bloomed so late and sparingly that I wasn't  able to enter a bloom in any of the shows.

This is only my second year growing "Clearview Debby" so I don't know all of its habits yet. It appears to be a more difficult variety to "eye-up" in the Spring which then delays its planting. My 4 plants sprouted weeks apart, so I ended up with a nice long first and second flush coinciding with the shows in September.


"Lexa" is another variety which took a while to eye-up and then grew at a slower pace. But happily the first or second flush blooms - depending on the plant - timed out with the late September shows.

And another mystery for me; "Alden Snowlodge". I haven't grown this variety for the past couple of years, but I don't remember it being such a late bloomer. I wasn't able to enter a bloom in a show until the final show of the year in Roseburg. The two plants are only now bursting into a second large flush.

Here are two beautiful "Chimicum Les C.", pictured above. My two plants are only now finishing up their second flush. I seem to remember from past years that this is a slow-to-grow variety. I need to get these potted up in early May next year so I might have some to enter in the shows.

My mignon singles are just now branching out and bursting into a nice full display. But I can't blame the variety or the form. But I can blame the rabbits! They got in the fence and mowed down all of my Mignons in July. They have finally recovered and are putting on a really pretty show.

"Stillwater Plum"

This is my first bloom of the year of "AC Kira". Last year the poor plant never even bloomed. While I do love its rich, deep purple color - it didn't photograph very well - it doesn't make a lot of sense to grow a plant that starts to bloom in October! I think I will give it one more year to behave and speed things up. If it is just as late next year I will carry on my search for a laciniated dahlia that blooms on time and has great form.

My last, late dahlia this year has been my "Lakeview Glow" . This variety has always been one of my first to bloom each year and then goes on kicking out blooms all the way until frost. Maybe it was just this tuber, or perhaps it wasn't happy in the location where it was planted. Next year I will make sure to plant it in a different spot and see if it reverts back to its old early ways.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Monday Harvest - It's Cantaloupe Time!

Happy Harvest Monday. This is an especially exciting Monday here because I was able to harvest my first ever cantaloupe. This year I started from seed 6 "Magnificenza" melons and they have been growing and setting melon all Summer. Although this one didn't exhibit the typical yellow rib color they are suppose to achieve when ripe, I picked it anyway. It slipped easily from the vine and my Dad pronounced it perfectly ripe and delicious. It weighted in at 2 lbs. 2.1 oz., a perfect single serving size.

I was also able to harvest 4 more "Lemon" cucumbers this weekend. I had been complaining that my plants weren't setting many cukes, but I have now harvested 12 and there are more to ripen in the next few weeks. This weeks bounty weighted in at 1 lbs. 8.2 oz.

Not surprisingly, my "Galina" yellow cherry tomato plant continues to pump out the fruit. It is my only plant this year not affected by blossom end rot, so it really is a superstar for me. This picking I gathered 167 tomatoes off of it, weighing in at 2 lbs. 6.2 oz.

A carton destined to make many co-workers happy tomorrow!

I really thought that all my other tomatoes had been ruined becasue of blossom end rot. But as I picked and discarded bad fruit today - and there was a lot of it! - I was pleasantly surprised to find a few that had dogged the bullet. I was able to glean 5 "Carmello" tomatoes, that weighted in at 9.4 oz.

Many of the other plants didn't fare as well, but I did get at least one good fruit off of them. From left to right; "Chef's Choice Orange" 3.0 oz., "Wapsipinicon Peach" 1.8 oz., and "Tang" 2.5 oz.

I was really happy as I dug deep in the "Black Krim" plant. The fruit are so dark that I hadn't noticed how many had ripened and very few of them had blossom end rot. So I was able to harvest 26 tomatoes that weighted a total of 2 lbs. 7.3 oz. All in all, considering my blossom end rot problem, I had a descent tomato harvest this week. It was much better than expected and gives me some hope for the next few weeks when the rest of the crop should ripen.

I have to end the post with a non-veggie harvest. I went down to flower garden tonight and picked a couple of bouquets. We are expecting some much needed rain tomorrow and I thought it would be good to do some picking before the rains arrived. On the left, a bouquet of "Crazy 4 Jessie" dahlias and on the right a small bouquet of "Persian Carpet" zinnias.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome September

And just like that it is September. Suddenly dusk arrives at 8:30 PM here and the mornings require a light jacket. The sky is a crystal clear blue but the sun is lower and bathes everything in a lovely, golden light. This will be a busy month filled with harvesting the bounty and enjoying the last hurrah of Summer.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Portland Show

Today I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 AM and headed up to north to the Portland Dahlia Society Annual Show. This year, the show date and location was new. The show was moved up one week earlier from past years and the location was moved from Canby Oregon to Portland Oregon. The actual show site was Oaks Park in the Sellwood district of Portland. This lovely park is located right along the bank of the Willamette river. There are great views north to OHSU up on the hill and toward downtown Portland in the distance.

It was a gorgeous day and the river was busy with sailboats, crew teams, and kayaks.

I had an amazingly successful show. For the first time in 2 years I made it back onto the Head Table. I had three entries on the Head Table which is a record for me and I had my very first Best in Show in Portland!

My Best in Show flower was this single bloom entry of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". It was judged Best BB-sized bloom in show and then went on to win Best 1-Bloom Fully Double In Show. This is a new-to-me variety and I only have one plant of it in the garden. It just began its first flush. The ironic thing is this is the very last bloom that I picked for the show. And I only picked it becasue my sister talked me into taking one more walk around the garden Friday evening. Then I didn't have any vases for it so we carried it back to the house out of water!

But you can't keep a good bloom down apparently! I was really excited about this win. It was completely unexpected. I know the bloom looked good, but I thought it would be seen as a bit undersized and the stem was a bit too long for the bloom, proportionally. But the judges saw otherwise!

I also won best 1-Bloom Pom in Show with this perfect "Willo Violet".

I thought I might have a chance at this award but I certainly wouldn't have been able to pick the variety. I entered 10 single pom entries and I thought many of them looked really good. But it was still a thrill to see one of my Poms on the Head Table.

My third Head Table winner was this 1-Bloom entry of the Orchette "Fancy Pants". Again I didn't have super high hopes for this bloom but I did think it would compete. After two days of 95 degree weather, I was certain that good, open centered dahlia blooms would be few and far between and I was right. All in all is was a great weekend for me and my blooms and a wonderful way to kick-off the dahlia show season.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Night before thew Portland Show

I took today off of work. It was my first full vacation day this year and was very much needed both physically and mentally. But I really took the day off to have a full day to prepare for the first dahlia show of the year. Normally, I have to rush home Friday night and then head right down to the garden to pick blooms. Then its a quick dinner and staging late into the evening. By taking today off I was able to pick my first group of blooms last night. The main reason I picked this early was the either. Thursday hit 95 degrees and today hit 94. Terrible weather to have right before a dahlia show. So I picked 1/2 of my blooms Thursday night, at least allowing them to miss one hot day under the sun. Then I went back early Friday morning and did anther round of cutting. I put all of the blooms in the shop, resting in vases on the floor. They stayed cool and shaded throughout the day. Around 5 Friday, Beth and I went down to the garden and watered everything. After watering she asked me if I needed anymore blooms so I did one more quick look around and picked a nice bloom of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". Back up at the house I began filling cans and vases with foam and water and staging the blooms. I ended up staging from 6 until 9:45! But I staged 22 entries which is a record for me.

At this point I always try to guess which blooms have the best potential to make it to the Head Table. I know I shouldn't "pre-judge" my blooms but I can't help it! So if I were guessing tonight I would say I have 3 blooms with a pretty good chance to go far.

I really like both of the orange "AC Shitake" blooms. They are free of all bug damage - which is HUGE after this hot, dry 2 weeks of weather - and they are rally nice mature blooms. Portland's show allows you to enter 2 blooms of the same variety, so I am going to enter both and let the judge's decide which of the two is better! I also like my "Tahoma Alicia" miniature ball and both of my two open center dahlias. While neither are perfect, the weather has been so hot that it is going to be hard for anyone to bring a good one. An d both of mine look pretty good, especially the "Kelsie Kristie".

Lastly I am happy with my poms. I have a bunch of really good looking ones and have staged 8 single entries and one triple. Part of winning is a numbers game and I have a lot of really good poms.

As  I was staging my blooms tonight, I suddenly noticed that the Western sky was putting on a pretty good show. We haven't had very many good sunsets this Summer, for whatever reason so I grabbed my camera to capture this pretty one.