Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another glorious day!

Another amazing Fall day today. Like it has all week, the day started out foggy and strangely warm. Around 1:00 PM the sun broke out and it is now 78 degrees at 5:30 PM. The sun's rays are low and creating long shadows and everything is bathed in a wonderful golden yellow light. The first "Butternut" winter squash are finally turning pale yellow, so there is hope that I might have a good harvest after all. All the outdoor creatures are enjoying this gift of a day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Morning Glories 2010

This was a pretty good year for my Morning Glories. While I did experience some trouble with my plants down in the big garden getting munched on by the rabbits, I was also able to try quite a few new varieties. I am so fortunate to be able to buy from Log House Plants and get to try all of the amazing different varieties that they sell.

My biggest success this year was "Ferringa". I purchased just one 4" plant from Log House and planted it in the vegetable bed by the house. I trained it up the new metal leaf art that we bought at the Oregon Plant Fair and it absolutely thrived there. I think Morning Glories really love full sun. "Ferringa" was particularly fun because of the two different colored blooms that the plant produced. It also set a lot of seed so I will be interested to see if I can grow a plant or two of my own from saved seed next Spring.

Another new variety that I tried this year was "Crimson Rambler". This Morning Glory produced hot pink blooms with red stars and white throats.

"Blue Star" was another pretty new one for me. Large pale blue flowers had royal blue stars with soft yellow throats.

"Sunrise Serenade" started blooming while still stuck in the 4" pot that I bought it in. And then it kept blooming and kept blooming! Then, in mid Summer the darn bunny ate it almost to the ground. It got a second wind, grew new vines and started blooming again! It had the most unique shaped blooms for a Morning Glory. They actually reminded me of bougainvillea.

A returning variety from last year was "Grandpa Ott's". Unfortunately, the bunny got this one too, and it barely survived to grow a new vine and bloom in late Summer. This picture isn't very good. It has a beautiful deep purple blossom with a fuchsia colored star and white throat. It is also a great producer of seed.

Yet another new-comer for me this year was "Milky Way". It had a beautiful, true white flower with a purple star. Very simple, yet striking. I will definitely look to grow this one again. In review, I only confirmed- and increased - my love for Morning Glories this year. I found lots of new "favorites" and I hope to try to grow some from seed next year too.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Harvest - Finally!

A funny weather day today. It started out sunny, but a thin layer of clouds rolled in. It became sticky & humid . Every time I was outside it was uncomfortable. But that didn't stop me because I had a huge "to-do" list that I was working on. And on that list was checking the tomatoes. Finally I found some ripe fruit! Unfortunately I also found split, browned tomatoes on every plant too. They didn't appreciate last week's wet weather and cool temperatures. The good news was most of the fruit survived and I was able to keep more than I threw away. Here are the results:
  • Black Krim (2) 8.7 oz.
  • Orange Blossom (3) 9.5 oz.
  • Persimmon (18) 2 lb .4 oz.
  • Seattle's Best (6) 8.8 oz.
  • Taxi (7) 2 lb 7.8 oz.
  • Total Harvest  6 lb 3.2 oz w/36 tomatoes

Saturday, September 25, 2010

And the sunshine returns!

It was great to be back at the Farmer's Market this morning. The sun was out and so were the crowds. As always it was fun to see what new things arrived this week, the last full week of September. My first discovery were these Sweet Potatoes. I am a huge fan of Sweet Potatoes so it was particularly neat to see not only one variety being sold but two!

I was amazed to see, even with all of the rain we have had the last week, the huge amount of tomatoes that were for sale. Almost every stall had mounds in of them in an array of colors.

I was also surprised at the "Chanterelle" mushrooms. There were huge bins of both the Golden and the White available everywhere.They were as common this week as carrots or peppers. Obviously our rainy September was good for something!

My eye was caught by this basket full of "Dragon's Tongue" Beans. Their shell color is very similar to the "Bingo" beans that I am growing right now.

There continues to be fresh garlic available. This variety had a lovely rose-purple blush to its papery skin.

Over the last few years, the availability of unique cauliflower varieties has really exploded. It is common now at our market to see the traditional white, the cheddar-colored yellow and the amazing violet. But I had never seen this variety called "Verdi". In my picture it looks like a soft yellow but it was in fact a vivid lime-green!

And I couldn't help but take a picture of this stack of Pumpkins. They just make me happy!

Just like today's return of the sunshine and 80 degree weather has made all of the felines extremely happy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome Autumn

Autumn officially arrived yesterday at 8:00 PM PST. It has been such a strange Summer this year, filled with too many cool, grey days. I think because of this it almost feels like Summer has been gone for a long time already but one look around and you can clearly see that Mother Nature is just starting to put on her Autumnal show. Our 3 sweet gum trees are just starting to turn their amazing scarlet red and the crab apple is slowly transforming as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

After the storm

As anyone who lives and gardens in Oregon knows, last Friday afternoon a strong storm rolled in. By Saturday evening our rain gauge had overflowed its 1 1/2" capacity. Today after work was the first time I had a chance to walk our property and survey the outcome. As I strolled across the footbridge on the way to my big garden, I heard the unmistakable sound of running water. The storm had dumped enough rain that the creek has started running again. Normally this doesn't happen until late October.

The second thing that jumped out at me on my walk was the abundance and size of the wild blackberries. They are amazing this year. The only issue is getting them picked before they get too damp and begin to mold.

Down in the garden everything is doing the best that it can, under the circumstances. My "Persian Carpet" Zinnias are really starting to open. Their much smaller bloom size has served them well with all of this rain. I haven't had a single plant tip over yet.

I also have two nice plants of "Taxi" yellow tomatoes. This determinate variety is truly determined to ripen its fruit, sunshine or no sunshine.  You have to admire that.

Also trying its very best are my "Bingo" pole beans. They have turned the most amazing color. Their skin is a light green with a marbled overcoat of maroon.

And my poor, sweet little "Canoe Creek Colossal" cantaloupe. It's about 4" long now and is slowly getting munched on by someone. I guess, since it will never reach full maturity, someone else might as well enjoy it if the humans can't.

The dahlia plants were hit hard by all of that rainfall. I had done a great job this year with my tying and dis-branching but it was no match for all of that water weight. Still, after I was done cutting off all of the broken stems and tossing the blooms over the fence, I still had an equal number of good blooms left on the plants. This is a pom called "Irish Miss".

A beautiful waterlily form called "Kelgai Ann". It fades badly in full sun but is stunning when it opens in cool, overcast weather.

And here is "Jessica" a BB sized incurved cactus bi-color.

This last weekend was the last dahlia show of the season. My garden was really peaking and I staged more blooms to enter than I ever have before, for any show. Here are my 24 entries Saturday morning right before I packed them into the car.

And when the judging was over, I won Best Miniature Ball in Show with this variety- "Odyssey".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Very Wet Weekend

It started raining here Friday afternoon around 4:00 PM and has rained - or poured - off and on ever since. We dumped out the rain gauge Friday morning. This morning the gauge has 1.5" in it and is full, so there is a good possibility that it rained even more! I am trying to focus on the fact how good this is for the earth. All the brown meadows will green up again soon and the forests will no longer have any fire danger. But the gardener in me who has so many immature vegetables is having a really hard time with this!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September in the Vegetable Bed

As September marches to mid-month, I am finally seeing maturity in the vegetable bed. While some of the above color is the zinnias, the rest of the color you can see are ripening tomatoes. Finally! I must have 60 green tomatoes on those plants. The garden desperately needs three more weeks of dry, warm weather...and the long term forecast doesn't look promising. So, all I can do is celebrate the current successes and keep my fingers crossed.

A "Black Krim" tomato ripens on the vine.

A cluster of  orange "Persimmon" tomatoes.

Two " Black Plum" fruit. This bush contacted blight early on, but all the fruit it had set early on survived and are slowly ripening.

Two "Seattle's Best" tomatoes.

I am about to be overwhelmed with "Yellow Patty Pan" squash. I have watched the small fruit for what has seemed like months, waiting for the little yellow orbs to get around 3". I waited and waited. Then the other day I looked under the bush and they all exploded overnight from 1" to 6" in diameter. Supposedly they aren't very good tasting at this size, but I did find a recipe the other night for a good sounding soup that uses older and larger patty pans.

My red "Mars" onion are huge and ready to pick as I need them.

The same goes for the "Prince " yellow storage onions.

The "delicata" winter squash are still setting and none of the fruit have ripened at this point.

Most of my "Butternut" winter squash have reached full size but still need a few weeks to ripen.

And last, but not least, the Zinnias. They have started blooming but are getting swamped by the squash vines.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The last roses of Summer

Tonight I was down in the big garden and noticed that the last two buds on Dorthy's rose had opened in the last few days. While this rose didn't get started blooming until the very last week of June, it has bloomed continuously ever since. It might be an older rose, and very susceptible to black spot, but 10 weeks of bloom is hard to beat.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's Canning Time!

Like every other growing thing, the wild blackberries are late to ripen this year. In a "normal" year, I can begin picking sometime in early August. This year the first ripe berries were spied at the end of August. The good news is, with all of the rain we had in June and the storms this month, the ripe blackberries are big and plentiful. I finally had the time to pick last Sunday and Monday. Over those two days I filled two buckets with a little over 5 pounds of berries.

I washed them up Saturday morning and even had a few left over for piling onto vanilla ice cream. Saturday night I made two batches of blackberry jam, using the basic recipe that come in the pectin box. It is the only recipe that I have ever used and has always turned out well. Below, the fruits of my labor!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday at the Farmer's Market

The last two weekends I have been out of town, so today was my first chance in quite a while to visit the Saturday Farmer's Market. And what changes there have been, not only in the calendar but with the produce available. Right as we arrived I spotted "the corn pickup truck"- a sure sign of late Summer in Oregon.

And the Winter Squash have arrived ! You know my love of these - both for their taste and their beauty.

Two varieties of Pears at this stand.

Berry baskets full of mixed varieties of cherry tomatoes.

Two kinds of watermelon. These small varieties have a better chance of maturing in our climate.

There were mounds and mounds of peppers at each stall.

I was excited to find this rare french "Charantais" cantaloupe for sale. I bought one for dad to try.

Besides the more common fruits and vegetables that are normally available, it is always exciting to find the new "crops" that Farmers are trying out each year. This stand had two different kinds of hops for sale. Calling all home brewers!

These were lovely stalks of lemon grass.

And how about this amazing yellow oyster mushroom!

Two different stands had fresh Figs for sale.

And finally, it wouldn't be the Farmer's Market without beautiful bouquets of seasonal flowers.