Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vegetable Garden Update

As August draws to a close, the vegetable garden is bursting with foliage, flowers, and produce. My two varieties of morning glories are really peaking now. The tower of "Mixed Colors" morning glory is completely covered. I am finally seeing a nice mix, every day, of all three colors after having had only white blooms for some time.

The "Heavenly Blue" morning glory is just starting its show. I am now getting 10+ blooms a day of this amazing, electric blue color.

The onions have had a super year. The tops are beginning to fall over on their own; although a few have been pulled over by the squash! I really should knock over all of the tops and let them start to cure while the weather is still warm and dry.

I think the "Prince" yellow storage onions are even larger this year then they were last year.

And the "Red Bull" have done just as well.

It's difficult to tell what kind of success I am having - or not having - with the two sweet potato plants. The "Georgia Jet" plant, pictured below, has completely filled its black grow bag. The foliage seems healthy and remarkable lush for the mostly cool Summer that we have had. I just don't know what I will find beneath the soil!

I have one nice "Gypsy" sweet pepper on my plant. It didn't enjoy this cold Summer and I am sure it also didn't care to be smothered by the Winter Squash and Morning Glory vines either!

The tomatoes continue to grow but I still am not seeing any color hinting that ripening is on the horizon. My "Black Krim" are attaining a nice size.

And the "Black Prince" look good too. They have an interesting blocky shape.

The winter squash are trying to take over the whole garden! It amazes me every year how much growth they put out. This year it's all the more incredible since I only have 4 plants total, instead of the usual 8.

My new rooster had been trapped in a sea of squash leaves - he doesn't look happy.

Right now I have three "Marina di Chioggia" squash growing on the vines. They are attaining a pretty good size too. I would guess they might be in the 10 pound range. This is a new variety for me and it has been fun watching how the squash matures. As you can see below, in its "mid-stage" it is a very pretty medium green and the outer skin is still fairly smooth.

As it ages it is getting more and more "warty" and the skin is getting darker and darker. Stay tuned!

You have to pull up the leaves on the two "Delicata" plants to even see the young squash. I think that I now have a half-dozen set and growing. If September favors us with sunny and dry weather I hope to be able to harvest a dozen or more.

The vegetable garden. A lush sea of green!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Heavenly Blue Indeed!

Its taken it all Summer, but the "Heavenly Blue" morning glory is finally blooming. I am now seeing 10+ open blooms a day and they are amazing! There are so few flowers with true blue blooms - delphiniums, himalayan poppies, and hydrangea among them. Each has its own unique shade of blue.

This morning glory has such an electric tone, set off with its darker blue star and white & yellow throat. The "Heavenly Blue" is growing up a post between two tomato cages. It just glows in this section of the garden and draws your eyes every time. I might have had to wait for this show, but it has certainly been worth it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August Sunset

Another beautiful Oregon Summer day. The high reached somewhere around 89 degrees. We started the day at the Farmer's Market & then watched the Eugene Celebration Parade & Bed Races. Did a little weeding in the afternoon and took a nap. After dinner tonight I watered and enjoyed this amazing sunset. A great day to be an Oregonian!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last Rose of Summer

Every year I watch Dorothy's rose by the big garden. It normally begins blooming with a huge flush of color sometime in June. It then blooms intermittently for the next month or so. It is always fun to see if I can spot what I dramatically call "the last rose of Summer" on this plant. This year, the last bloom on the canes is now full open today. In comparison, the last bloom of 2010 was on September 13th and the last bloom of 2009 was on July 29th. Our two cool Springs the last two years have certainly moved the date of the final bloom much later compared to the hot Summer of 2009. When will the last bloom open next year?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Big Garden Update

Things continue to grow and thrive down in the big garden. I have been so busy the last few weeks with the watering and my big weeding project that I haven't taken much time to sit back and observe what's going on.

The "Hutterite Soup" bush beans are finally blooming at the end of August! I am quite sure that there isn't enough time for the beans to mature and dry on the plant but it will still be fun to watch them grow.

The plants are now about 1 1/2 " tall and have pretty green heart shaped leaves.

I am pretty pleased with the success of all of the varieties of Marigolds that I grew from seed. I know that Marigolds are very common but somehow growing them from seed yourself makes them seem a little more special. Here is a ruffled bloom of "Queen Sophia".

And this is my one plant of "Durango". I like how the underside of each petal is yellow and flips up a bit to contrast with the red top color. Very striking.

My biggest joy has been with the Gem Series of Marigolds. They are about 6" tall in my garden though I think that they would reach close to a foot in height in full sun. They have such fine,airy, detailed foliage and are just getting covered in blooms. This is a plant of "Tangerine" Gem.

And this is "Lemon" Gem.

"Red" Gem is my favorite of the three, I think. I love how each red petal is outlined in orange.

Now this Gem plant isn't like the other three. I think it is a cross from the seed growing fields or a sport but I love it. It looks like "Lemon" Gem & "Red" Gem had a fling! I think I might try to save some seed from this plant and see what I get next year.

All of the Zinnia varieties are doing well too. I get more and more colors blooming each day which is always fun since you never quite know what you are getting when you plant a mix.

The dahlia patch is starting to mature now too. As you can see, I have about 5 more rows to weed and then that huge project will be done! More and more varieties are starting to open their blooms here each day. I love seeing old favorites again but it's exciting to see new varieties bloom for the first time to. You never know if they will be as pretty as the catalog picture was!

Here is "Clearview David" a BB sized Formal Decorative form in lavender.

"Martina" a miniature Formal Decorative in a dark blend of white & purple.

Here's a new one to my garden this year. "Leota Mace" is a Waterlily form in Dark Pink.

"Crazy 4 Jesse" is an Incurved Cactus in a dark blend of dark red & yellow. It was a new variety for me last year and I liked it so much I have three plants of it this year. It seems to be an early bloomer and has been among the first varieties to bloom for me both years that I have grown it.

Good old "Pam Howden" a waterlily form in a light blend of yellow, orange, & dark pink. If I had to choose just a handful of varieties to grow, this would be on my top five list. Beautiful with loads of perfectly formed blooms. Hybridized in Australia in 1995.

Another favorite of mine "Ms Kennedy", a Miniature Ball in Orange. Can you tell that I love orange dahlias? I have won best MB in show with this variety three times since I first started growing it.

More poor neglected morning glories are doing pretty good too. Many have reached the top of the fence now. The bad part about having them growing down in this garden is that I never get to see them bloom except on weekends. The blooms are always closed up by the time I get home from work and make it down to this garden on the weekdays. Above is pictured a pretty bloom of "Milky Way" and below a bloom of "Tie-dye".

And my sweet nasturtiums "Lady Bird Cream Purple Spot" that I bought at the nursery and planted so very late are actually starting to bloom. They are tough little plants!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Blackberry Harvest of the Year

Yesterday we reached another milestone - the first Blackberry harvest of the year! It was another amazing, warm day- I think it reached at least 90 again. I walked the whole property, down the hill to the garden, and back. It took the whole journey but I was able to fill my favorite berry-picking bucket full. As in all past years, the area with the most ripe berries was right by the big garden gate at the head of the secret path. I still don't understand why the berries here ripen first because they certainly don't get a lot of sun or water there compared to other places.

When I picked all that I could reach - and you know the biggest and best ones are always just out of reach - I headed home and washed them all. A quick stop on the scale revealed that I had picked 3 lb 4.1 oz. Not bad at all for the first go-around. There will be many more harvests ahead as the berry ripening accelerates.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summers Finally Here & Now There's Signs of Fall

Yesterday's official high was 92 and today I think it reached at least 90. Finally a weekend that was on the verge of actually being HOT! As you can see, Tom-Cat found a patch of shade and slept away the hottest part of the day. And although Fall is still offically over a month away, Mother Nature is slowly showing signs of its impending return.

The leaves on the three Sweet Gum trees are just beginning to turn from bright green to red.

The Bracken Fern are also making a switch from green to golden yellow.

I found a few actual filberts on the wild filbert bushes. The protective wrappers are drying and turning brown.

Another transition into Fall around here is the sound of crickets at night. They always begin their chorus in the month of August as our nighttime temperatures begin to cool.

And I was pleased to see this juvenile Evening Grosbeak at the feeder this morning. He definitely isn't a normal sign of approaching Fall. In a regular year, the Evening Grosbeaks would have been gone from our area for weeks by this time. But we are still hearing their distinctive "Chir" in the maple trees and I spotted one adult male and this juvenile male this weekend at the feeders. I think that their schedule is as delayed as our plants this year and we are so glad to still have them around.