Our crazy, warm sunny days continue here in Oregon. Today I took advantage of the lovely weather and harvested all of my squash and pumpkins. The Winter Squash this year was pretty much a bust simply because I got the plants in the ground too late. But the pumpkins, which I grew from seed, did really well. While I was a bit disappointed in only getting 2 pumpkins from two plants, I was really happy with the size of the two pumpkins that did set.
Pumpkin "Howden" - 22.8 lbs & 29.4 lbs
Winter Squash- "Delicata" - 2 lbs. 1.6 oz.
Watermelon- "Blacktail Mountain" - 12.2 lbs.
Now that the show season is over, I get to relax and share my dahlias with family and friends. Because I didn't get my dahlias completely planted until the middle of July, my dahlia garden is now if full bloom in mid-October. With sunny, dry, warm weather in the long term forecast, these bouquets won't be the last that we enjoy this year.
Sunday I noticed that my first two blooms of "Eclipse" had opened. I really love this single form dahlia. The dark purple eye set against the soft white petals is so striking. If you look closely, you will see that each petal is outlined with the dark purple as well. My two plants are loaded with blooms, so I am cautiously optimistic that I might have a bloom to take to the show this weekend.
The exciting harvest news this week was that I harvested the first watermelon from my little watermelon patch. My 3 "Blacktail Mountain" plants set four melon this Summer. Two melons set in July and another two set in August. This melon is from the first flush and I think I might have waited a little too long to harvest it. I will have to see what my taste testers think. But nonetheless, I am happy to have grown a watermelon to full maturity in Oregon. This guy weighted in at 6 lbs. 15.2 oz.
I continue to see a steady ripening of fruit on the tomato plants. I did have some splitting damage this week, I am sure due to the rain we finally received. The damage was minor but you can see it on the two "Esterina" cherry tomatoes pictured on the truss, above. This week's harvest:
"Galina" - (63) 11.9 oz
"Mountain Magic" - (27) 1 lbs. 2.4 oz
"Matthew" - (27) 9.3 oz
"Esterina" - (63) 10.3 oz
"Matina" - (22) 10.1 oz
I also harvested my second round of "Mystery" peppers. These are the peppers that were suppose to be "Padron" but clearly are not. They are a hot pepper and the plant is very healthy and vigorous. This week's harvest was (11) more peppers weighing in at 3.8 oz. They are headed off to become some fiery salsa.
Bit by little bit, the outdoor world is transitioning from Summer to Fall. No where is it more noticeable than on the leaves of the various trees and shrubs. Walking around today, I found a few examples of some early Fall color. First off, there was a small smattering of leaves on the "Royal Raindrops" crab-apple that had switched from their Summer purple to their Fall scarlet red. The tree will be a knock-out when all of the leaves have changed.
In the west-end flower bed, I found the first leaf on the current bush turning a lovely orange. And pictured below, one crimson leaf hanging one of the three Sweet Gum trees. It will be late October before the full Fall color display peaks but until then it is fun to catch some early glimpses.
We have a number of "wild" Hawthorne trees on our property. In our part of the world, Hawthorns are considered an invasive species. None of our "wild" Hawthorns were purposely planted by us. Instead, birds most likely deposited their berries across our acres. Sadly, every Hawthorne that I have found on our land has yet to bloom in the Spring. Why is this important? Because it must bloom in the Spring to set berries in the Fall. Luckily, right on the other side of our fence, is a sweet little Hawthorne that is just covered in red berries.
Tonight after work I walked down with my camera to take a few pictures.
Its branches are just dripping with clusters of glowing red berries.
They must not be quite ripe yet, as the birds are leaving the berries alone at this point. I am guessing that sometime in the next month, the birds will arrive en mass and strip the branches clean. Until then I can enjoy this pretty Fall display.
The excitement in the Kitchen Garden this week is the first glimpse of orange in the pumpkin patch! While one pumpkin is still a solid, glossy, deep green, this pumpkin has suddenly started to turn orange. It will be interesting to see how long it takes it to completely transform.
In a normal year, I would find myself driving up and down I-5 this Labor Day Weekend, attending the Portland Dahlia Society's Annual Show. But this year, due to my less-than-stellar dahlia garden, I decided to take Labor Day Weekend off and rest. It was a good decision. I needed the rest and quiet and my garden is still weeks behind. But I did take notice of one bloom these past few days. My two new-to-me "AC Shitake" plants are just opening their first flush. One bloom in particular looked fantastic and I cut it on Saturday as it neared maturation. It has hit the peak of perfection today, Labor Day. Had it looked like this Friday night, I might have driven all the way to Portland to enter just this one bloom. It looks fantastic! Great color, no bug damage, ram-rod straight stem. A Head-table worthy bloom..just on a Monday.
With September's arrival, my late-planted dahlias are finally beginning to bloom in earnest. The plants still aren't full and bushy but at least I am getting more and more individual blooms to enjoy each day. And thankfully, the rabbits have, for the most part, quit munching on all of the plants too.
One of my all-time favorite dahlias, "Pam Howden", a waterlily form in a dark blend of yellow, orange, and dark pink.
My first bloom of the year of "Clearview Debby" a BB sized fully decorative form in a light blend of lavender and white. After loosing my stock it is so nice to have this one back in my garden once again.
My two plants of "Embrace" are really doing nicely. I had to replace my stock this year and I ended up with really good replacement tubers. Thanks Max!
A new-to-me variety this year; "AC Shitake". So far this first bloom has really good form and I am loving the deep, rich orange color.
Another new purchase; "Bloomquist Dan G" a miniature ball in dark red.
The first bloom of the year on "Sir Richard" a miniature ball in dark pink.
This dahlia isn't completely opened yet but I am loving the color combination on "Island Blaze". I don't think it is going to be much of an exhibition dahlia but I think it will be great in Fall bouquets.
"Kelsey Sunshine" a bright yellow collarette.
"Valley Porcupine" continues to be such a reliable bloomer for me. Great form bloom after bloom, year after year. And below, I discovered this little guy resting in a spent bloom of "Camano Cloud". Yet another reason to garden organically.
With our much needed rain storms arriving Friday night and again Sunday afternoon, I wasn't too sure what damage I might find in the Kitchen Garden. My whirligig art piece had toppled over and was laying in the pumpkin patch, directly one on of my two pumpkins. Fortunately, when I picked it up, the pumpkin - and whirligig - were both fine. Really the only damage, if you can call it that, was some cracking on some of the tomatoes. A very small price to pay for that wonderful rainfall. In the end, I ended up having my biggest tomato harvest of the year this week, just over 4 pounds.
"Galina" - (63) 11.9 oz.
"Mountain Magic" - (23) 12.5 oz
"Matthew" - (58) 1 lbs. 4.4 oz
"Esterina" - (132) 1 lbs. 4.5 oz
"Matina" - (18) 7.4 oz.
I also harvested all of the ripe peppers on my mystery pepper plant. I hadn't really looked closely at this plant for a while and was surprised to find a few red peppers. Apparently the peppers on this plant ripen from green, to deep purple, to red. Since I am not a huge fan of hot peppers, these will be bagged up and delivered to a friend at work. Today's total pepper harvest was 13 peppers, weighting in at 3.6 oz.
The theme of this week's harvest might be called "The Salsa Garden". It was pretty short and simple. The heat lovers are ripening and ready to harvest. I started with my tomatoes. Once again, all of my varieties, with the exception of "Mexico", had lots of fruit to pick. I am beginning to wonder if "Mexico" will ever ripen. This week's harvest was:
"Galina" - (43) 8.4 oz
"Mountain Magic" - (8) 4.4 oz
"Matthew" - (41) 12.7 oz
"Esterina" -(47) 7.3 oz
"Matina" - (10) 4.4 oz
I also picked the last two peppers on my "Gypsy" plant. It only produced 3 peppers this year but all the were big and beautiful. I don't know if I didn't give it enough water or if it didn't like our super hots days. It bloomed like crazy but never set any peppers after the first three. I think I will give it one more try next year since the fruit it did produce was so nice.
The story this week is definitely the explosion of blackberries. On Saturday I picked once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The first time, I don't know that I even walked 20 feet before my berry bucket was full! The berries this year are quite large and very, very sweet. I just don't understand how they have sized up when we really haven't had any significant rain since April and all of the berries that I picked this weekend were on plants growing on a well drained hillside. The fields are all brown and the forest are burning in Oregon but the wild blackberries look amazing. I guess we will just have to enjoy Mother Nature's gift and keep on picking. This week's total was 8 lbs. 4.6 oz. Some of the harvest was cleaned and frozen, some was stashed in the fridge to use right away and the rest was turned into 16 half pint jars of blackberry jam.
The tomatoes are now producing a nice, steady harvest each week.
I picked all of the ripe tomatoes on Sunday after I finished my jam-making session. The results were:
In spite of all the many obstacles facing the dahlia garden this year - late planting, excessive temperatures, rabbits and voles to name just a few - the first dahlias are still giving it their best and opening a few descent blooms. Maybe, if the weather ever cools down and the rabbits quit their nightly raids, I will have even more blooms share.
This early May, I purchased a 1/2 gallon pot of Rudbeckia "Goldstrum".
\ I was a good gardener and got it planted fairly soon after its arrival home. It settled in quickly and has been busy growing all Summer long.
I am now getting to enjoy it in full bloom for the first time.
Rudbeckia "Goldstrum" was the Perennial Plant Association's 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year and deservedly so. Even in its first year, my plant is already putting on a wonderful display. Each bright gold bloom may last up to two weeks and the plant blooms from mid-July to October.
"Goldstrum" is German for gold storm. It was discovered in 1937 in a nursery garden in the Czech Republic. Because of World War II, it wasn't able to debut until 1949 but has quickly spread all over the globe. I am so happy to have finally purchased a "Goldstrum" for my garden.