Saturday, July 30, 2016

Butternut Pollination

I have spent many mornings this past week making a quick stop into the Kitchen Garden before I headed to work. My two "Butternut" winter squash plants have had a newly opened female blossom atop an immature squash many times this week. While I could cross my fingers and hope that a pollinator carries pollen from a male blossom to the female blossom, I have instead been hand pollinating these blooms each morning. If today's beauty, pictured above, sets, then I think I will have 4 "Butternut" squash growing though today. The vines are really doing well this year, as compared to my "Crown Pumpkin" which has only set one fruit up to this point.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Few More New Dahlia Blooms

A bit more color in the dahlia garden today! I have gone from one variety blooming to three. The first open-centered dahlia is in bloom; the "NTAC Shelly", pictured above.

It would be hard to miss the first bloom of "Haley's Dream" ! That wonderful hot pink jumps right out from the sea of green dahlia plants. I have 5 "Haley's Dream" plants this year, so I should have lots and lots of these wonderful blooms until frost. I also have the second bloom open on my "Blyton's Softer Gleam". Thankfully this bloom is much better than the first bloom that opened 9 days ago. The color on this bloom perfectly matches its description of a light blend of orange and yellow.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Titus Beans Are Blooming

My row of "Titus" Cannellini Beans down the Big Garden have begun to bloom. If you look deep into the individual bean plants, pulling back the bright green leaves, you can find the first smattering of pure, white blooms. It will be exciting to sit back and watch this "new-to-me" variety and see how heavily it produces blooms and sets pods this year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First Dahlia Bloom of the Year

Today was banner day in the Big Garden; the first dahlia of 2016 is in full boom! Unfortunately, the bloom isn't of very good quality. It's a "Blyton's Softer Gleam" and the color is really all over the place. It is listed as light blend of orange and yellow. This poor guy is orange with one big patch of yellow! It's not unusual for dahlias blooms to have some variance in color. They are greatly affected by temperature swings. I am sure the next bloom or two on this plant will more accurately reflect the true light blend of orange and yellow. But is is still exciting to know that with this first bloom of the year open, that the dahlias season has officially begun in earnest.

I am so pleased with the way the dahlia garden looks right now. I have been working down here for an hour two after dinner each night, weeding, tying, and dis-budding. While I still have some weeding to finish up down in the cut flower rows, the majority of the garden looks great.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

First Dahlia Color

Another rainy day, just as the weather forecast predicted. I did pop down to the Big Garden between showers. The bird feeder needed filled and I spent another 1/2 hour or so tying up more dahlias and doing a bit of random weeding. I have the first bit of color in the dahlia patch now. This bloom of "Blyton Softer Gleam" will be my first bloom of the year, sometime in the next week. This plant was one of the six cuttings that I ordered from Corralitos Gardens this Spring, so it is not a surprise that it will be the first dahlia in the garden to bloom. Looking at the rest of the garden, the Collarettes and Single bloom forms should be close behind.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Raindrops on Melon Leaves

What a difference a year makes. Last Summer we had already hit 100 degrees twice in the first few days of July and were on the path to an extremely hot, dry Summer. This year, with the exception of a hot spell in May, we have enjoyed warm, mild weather. And even more unusual, we are in the midst of a 4-day rainy period in July. As of this morning the rain gauge showed 1/2 inch received since Thursday, with more rain expected today and Sunday. I have to admit that I am really enjoying this break from daily watering. And while the "Magnificenza" melon, pictured above, might not be too happy, I know that the dahlias will love the rain and the highs only in the low 70's. I always notice a burst of dark green, healthy growth on the dahlias after a fresh rainfall.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Pollinator Favorite

The Verbena Bonariensis in the front flowerbed is in full bloom. It is a favorite each Summer of both the Hummingbirds and the Swallowtail Butterflies. This evening, our three big plants had three Swallowtails all working the blooms at the same time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It's Tying Time

Dahlia "Hollyhill Funhouse"

Right after I finished planting all of the dahlias, I thought to myself  "I am all caught up in the garden right now. There's nothing much to do". Well, as always, that didn't last long. In just a week or two suddenly there is much to do! On the top of my "to-do" list is starting to top and tie-up the dahlias. All at once it seems that I have 30-40 plants that are shooting past the 2' mark and need to be securely tied to the nearest stake. I also notice 3-4 dahlias a day that are forming the first bud at the growing tip. I am removing that growing tip to encourage branching and to lower the plants overall height. And there is also much weeding that needs to be done and the lawn needs mowed once again. So much for being "all caught up"!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cosmos Xanthos

This week, down in the Big Garden, I have the first 3 blooms open on the Cosmos "Xanthos" that I started from seed. The blooms are described on the packet as "pastel lemon-yellow colored". While I agree with this, it also appears that the soft yellow blooms have a white eye and are tipped in white. I will have to wait and see if this color pattern holds true as the season progresses and more and more plants come into bloom.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

"Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."

~John Adams

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Garden Project

This morning, with a lot of help from Dad, I completed a fencing project that desperately needed to be done. We removed the temporary fencing and cage that were protecting some of the plants in this "overflow" Kitchen Garden area. Then Dad drove in 6 fencing stakes and we surrounded the whole are with 5' fencing. So MUCH better!

The "Magnificenza" melon now have all the room that they need without any worries of the deer getting at them. The vines on these  plants are going crazy and are covered with both male and female blooms right now.

My cut flower area also has so much more room to spread and looks so much nicer. Those "County Fair Blend" zinnias better get growing - the melon are coming!

Unfortunately, the fencing project happen a week too late for the "Red Chieftain" potatoes. Finn, our resident pest of a deer, discovered the two grow bags last week and has been happily browsing on them ever since. Even spraying the plants heavily with deer repellent didn't stop her. I am not sure if she has done too much damage for the plants to recover from at this point.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tomato Wrangling & the First Set Fruit

I discovered in the past few days that the first two tomato plants have set fruit. I have two, small tomatoes on the "Wapsipinicon Peach", pictured above.

I also found a number of young clusters forming on the "Galina" yellow cherry plant, pictured above. All of the other tomato plants are covered in yellow blooms, so it shouldn't be too much longer before they also begin to set fruit.

Tonight I got out the top tier section of my tomato cages and added them on to the lower tier. The plants have really put on some amazing growth this week and they went from "needing the top section soon" to "needing the top section ASAP" in just a few days. But for once I didn't wait so long that the task was really difficult and I didn't break a single tomato branch in the process. Pictured above, left to right, "Tang", "Carmello", and "Black Krim". Pictured below, left to right, "Moonglow", "Wapsipicon Peach", "Galina", and "Chef's Choice Orange".

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sweet Peas at the End of June

The sweet pea tower in the Sunset Flower Bed is really looking nice right now. The plants have completely covered the lower 1/2 of the tower and are quickly climbing upward. I planted two trays of sweet peas here. One was maroon "Royal Family" and the other was a mixed color tray of "Mammoth Choice". But I also have quite a few volunteer plants, from last year's varieties, climbing up this tower too. So I am not able to differentiate which blooms are what varieties. But truly it really doesn't matter. The whole tower is looking and smelling heavenly when the wind blows And that's all I was attempting with this planting.