Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vacation Time in Tennessee

Spent one of our mornings at the historic Carnton Plantation.  Although the outside has seen some wear and tear, the insides have been restored back to the original time period - sans carpeting in most rooms, so as to display the blood stains of the wounded Confederate Soldiers.  Alas, they don't allow indoor photography, so you will have to visit to see it; however, there are no such restrictions on the outside or in the garden. 
And, of course, being of the homo sapiens jardinis species, a brief hour in the gardens was just a tease. (Don't forget to click on the photo to view the full sized picture).
I was somewhate disappointed by the gardens, thinking they would be well tended; however, there were weeds in the beds and cherry tomatoes seemed to have been allowed to sprout and grow randomly.  And, of course, I was visiting at the end of the season, so the bearded irises were sporting berries and most of the flowers were beginning to put out seed heads.  Still, there were many delightly little vingets to be had.  For example, bees that were as big as the first joint of my thumb and darn near as fat.  Their favorite food? Some purple runner beans.

And, the little copper colored butterflies that I chased in my youth, hundreds of them enjoying the late summer bounty.

I love my little garden in the desert; but sometimes, I really miss living in Dixie.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Current Status

Current state of the garden:
  • Sunflowers - 10 in bloom in the main sunflower location  - one "Mammoth" has a central disk about 8" across; however, most have central disks closer to 5 and 6 inches.  Both of the ones in Raised Bed 2 are blooming, as are two of the volunteers (from bird seed) near the nectarine tree.  About 10 more main buds.  Good soil, good water means that many of them look like they will have smaller "side buds" that will bloom later one.  Need to protect the ripening heads from birds and other creatures.
  • Corn - first set is beginning to tassel.  Second set is growing strong, as well as the bush beans planted in between them.  The sunflowers planted between them, of course, have been devoured by some wildling.  I am thinking of planting more corn next weekend - a losing bet to get ripening ears of corn out of them; however, I am sure the chickens will enjoy tearing it up at the end of the season when they are let loose in the garden to eat and till things under.
  • Bush beans - in full swing.  They will probably be done with their crop in a few weeks.  Then time to till them under.
  • Dow Gawk (Asparagus or Yard Long Beans) - the ones in the corn are starting to flower; the new ones planted against the fence along the South are barely surviving.  The ones by the dead apple tree keep getting eaten up.
  • Blackeye Peas and Purple Hull Peas - are both beginning to bloom and set tiny bean pods.  The blooms are lavender and turn brownish after pollination. A few more weeks and we will have "shelly peas."  One nice thing about them is that they hold the bean pods high above the plant, so they are easy to see.
  • Cukes - They are producing the first of their flowers and fruits; however, I think the heat and water stress are causing them to ripen small and fast.  The 3 inch ones I plucked today were prickly and bitter.  But the chickens like 'em!
  • Blue Bedder Salvia (Ornamental Sage) - Has so far survived critter depredations and has its first buds.  It is a perennial, so maybe I will get lucky and see them again next year.  I have 3 small plants that have survived so far.
  • CA Poppies - 3 plants are barely surviving, and one is actually thriving and blooming.  One bloom is done, one is open, and 3 more will be ready later this week.  The plant is small, and the blooms are small, but perhaps next year's seed will sprout sooner and be stronger by this time of year.
  • Morning Glories - in all locations, MGs and Moon Flowers are suffering from being too tasty.  They are prolific and vigorous, so the plants aren't dead, yet - but they don't actually get a chance to thrive.  A casualty of laziness and a disinclination to use synthetic chemicals.  I heard about a fermented solution of garlic and hot peppers that is supposed to keep critters away.  I might try some next year.
  • Raspberry - lives and looks healthy - but not flower buds yet, so no fruit.  But it lives, so that is a grand improvement over its several predecessors.
  • Strawberries - The runners from three hen-pecked plants have re-filled bed two, and I have foolish hopes that next year I will have strawberries to eat.
  • Silver Thyme - done blooming, and now going to seed.
  • Rosemary - finished blooming a while ago, but still sending up new shoots.  This is the longest into Summer that it has ever done so.  I wonder if it is because of our relatively cool weather, or if it is just because it is big and old enough to do so now, or some combination thereof.
  • Oregano - some that I let go to flower looks lovely; the rest looks tired.  Much of it is getting woody.  I think it may be time to give it a sharp trimming so it will grow mostly on tender new stems next year.
  • Melissa (Lemon Balm) - Looks sad and brown around the edges as it always does this time of year.
  • Day Lilly - the one in sun has bloomed several times this season; the other two, not.  I should move the other two now so that they have time to become established before winter.  I am actually quite surprised that they came back this year - they were looking quite poorly at the end of last season.
  • Desert Mallow - my original weed in Raised Bed One from several years ago is in great decline.  I think she is done.  The good news is, I sprinkled seed in Raised Bed Three last year, and one of her progeny has taken root there and is looking quite vigorous.  Perhaps at the end of this season, it will be time to rip out the original plant.
  • Unknown summer squashes - probably yellow straight neck, yellow crook neck, a patty-pan and some more zukes.  Laziness means that I will be surprised when they produce.  They should be ready to bloom in about 4 more weeks - in time to get some good squash before frost.  They are, of course, planted too close together.  I cannot seem to bring myself to either plant further apart or to thin.
Ducky enjoying the kiddie wading pool.  They really are waterproof.