From commentor Kathi C:
Taking a break from the tomatoes (prolific beyond my wildest dreams) to show you the Lord Baltimore native hibiscus and one of my butterfly pix. I used to live on a hummingbird migratory route in the mountains of Colorado, where I spent almost every evening hanging out a window with my Nikkon shooting hummers. These days, I miss the mountains but late summer evenings find me hanging out back by the buddleia, shooting butterflies instead. It’s a fair trade, I guess. There’s a lot to be said for zone 6…
Here north of Boston (also zone 6, these days), we’re not getting the tomato bounty I dreamed of back in February; despite regular applications of Serenade, there’s more yellowed and/or blight-spotted leaves every damned day. Also, both of my Paul Robeson plants are dying, as is the Rose de Berne — the plants on either side are (relatively) fine, so I guess these varieties are just more susceptible to the wide range of death blights to which tomatoes are so prone. The Robesons in particular are a real loss, because we’ve gotten just three or four absolutely perfect fruit so far… plump, gorgeous, almost seedless & richly flavorful. I can’t really relocate my “vegetable garden”, which is a bunch of planters on the only consistently sunny spot on our 75×80 lot, but next year I may try putting just the Robeson plants in the flower garden, or next to the front door…
How are things in your gardens, this week?
I’m not a gardener myself, but I always love these Sunday morning threads — reading all the stories and especially looking at the beautiful photos.
I do have a question that popped into my head from nowhere a day or two ago: does anybody grow hollyhocks any more? When I was a kid, they were everywhere (this was in the Midwest, whatever zone that is) but I haven’t seen them, or even pictures of them or references to them, in years if not decades. Anyone besides me remember making “flower ladies” out of hollyhock blossoms and buds, held together by toothpicks?
House where I was a kidlet had four things other than weeds: hydrangea, sticker bushes, peonies and mint.
At least the mint one could make some use of.
And leaves in the fall – gazillions of them – to be raked, jumped in when they were in piles and then burned. For weeks.
Tomatoes are coming in. There aren’t loads of them but a little more than we can eat. I think that’s enough. I’m disappointed in the cucumbers this year. Lots of vine, very little fruit. Hmmph.
On the agenda this weekend is creating a new raised bed, just one and just 3×3. Cabbage plants have been ordered from Burpee and I guess they’ll ship them when they see fit. There is just no shortage of overlords. :-)
The Resident Curmudgeon had never seen a yellow tomato. City kids! What do they know? [He’d probably freak out completely if presented with a yellow watermelon.]
The local butterflies, by the way, seem to like my garden.
Well, going out at 4:30 to try to get a shot of a meteor was useless. It’s pretty foggy so I ended up driving abut 30 miles and finally found a clear shot but didn’t see one much less get a picture.
Fig preserves are the order of the day for the princess.
@SiubhanDuinne: Here’s our favorite Georgia garden expert on them. We’ve got stuff that looks like that but I’m not sure what they are.
I had six butterfly bushes back in my zone 7 garden. But on the other hand, here in zone 3, I do see hollyhocks :)
Don’t know where you are but I grew a butterfly bush in Cleveland and it seemed to do okay. It might be worthwhile for you to try if you wanted to.
I grow lots of flowers from seed, and I finally tried calendula. For some reason I thought it needed a cooler, wetter summer than I get in NW OH, but it’s great. Just buckets of flowers.
I grew (mini) watermelon from seed this year because watermelon is the first seed I planted that came up (when I was 8 years old) and I haven’t grown it since. I was reading Second Nature by Michael Pollan and watermelon is the first seed he ever planted, too. He was 4, and he actually got a watermelon, where I got a plant but no fruit because I planted it in the shade, but I’m now wondering how many people started gardening because someone gave them watermelon to eat and they stuck the seed in the ground and it came up.
I have them along a fence. They come back every year on their own. I planted hybrid seed, so the first year they had clear colors, but then they re-seeded and they’re a muddy mauve; not that pretty. I imagine people don’t like them anymore because the foliage is so raggedy and rough and it yellows but I keep them around because I get a kick out of a flower that’s taller than I am.
@SiubhanDuinne: Yes, I have been growing hollyhocks for years. In fact here, if you have planted them once, you can’t not grow them. They move about from year to year, though & have now migrated from the back garden to the front. I planted some double burgundy hollyhocks this year so we’ll see what they look like next summer.
Once again, I am saddened by the 2 things I cannot seem to grow that seem to grow like weeds for everyone else (and are actually considered invasives in some places) are butterfly bush & russian sage. We’re zone 6 these days so it’s not a climate issue & everybody else seems to have no problem. I am now nursing yet another buddleia to what will almost certainly be a lingering demise in yet another new location.
Tomato plants are loaded with fruit but nothing has ripened yet. It has been quite cool here for August and usually I would have tomatoes by now (although last year I got almost none due to heat & drought) but I have hopes. I have the 2 plants I allowed myself this year in a galvanized tub mounted on a plant dolly so they can follow the sun around the garden.
A little NE of Pittsburgh, I’ve got more cherry tomatoes than I know what to do with. The romas, I peel and freeze but I put in two cherries just because I like them and we’re getting about a quart/day.
Tried butterfly bushes in zone 3 and couldn’t keep them alive.
Mr. Trowel has landed back in Australia which is excellent. Also excellent, he’s too jet lagged to have noticed that his chili plants may have expired during my term as caretaker.
Japanese beetles devoured my roses faster than I could kill them. They are starting to come back now. The butterfly garden is a wild and colorful place! It is in a little square space between the house and the driveway an just outside the kitchen table. It has been so much fun watching the visits from bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
This has been a tough season for my garden. They were living the first part if the summer with the cooler temps and all the rain and then were shocked by the sudden extreme heat.
Hummingbird moth at my butterfly bush.
For the first time this year I tried growing a couple rows of sweet corn.
While we were gone on a mini-vacation down to a casino hotel on the Ohio River, the Racoons decided that half the corn was ripe enough, so they tore the plants down, and stripped the cobs. Corn on the cob. Yum.
They left about 40% that was immature, but I guess the temptation was too much. The came back the next night after we had returned and I discovered their foraging, and tore down the rest.
I got four possibly good ears out of the whole two rows.
I do not want to hurt the critters, but I may do what I did some years ago when I had two grape vines. In order to save the grapes from them, so we could make jelly that year, over a six week period I used my live trap, and hauled off 15 raccoons to a nearby national forest or alternatively, if I wanted a quicker trip, the wooded and corn field river bottom five miles NW of us near a waste treatment plant.
My egg plants have not done well this year, but yesterday I harvested about eight small ones, and created a casserole with sliced egg plant, yellow squash, and halved large grape tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, shredded white cheddar, and chopped Velveeta cheese, with oregano, basil, and parsley. Backed uncovered in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
We’ve had SO much fucking rain in Nashville this summer, it’s unbelievable. Great for my utilities — don’t think my electric and water bills have ever been this low in the summer. Also, I still have black-eyed Susans long after they’d normally shriveled up and died. But some other stuff is just rotting away. I’ve got some herbs like rosemary and even my basil that need way more sun.
Also, I’m seeing way more activity at my bird feeders than usual. I think because of the rain a lot of stuff that would normally have gone to seed by now hasn’t, and the birds are hungry.
In other news, a great guitarist has died. RIP.
Someone on my morning walk path grows hollyhocks year after year. This year, they’re a bright rose color. The only problem is that with all the rain and their top-heaviness, the flowers are rarely upright. So far, they’ve always bounced back.
Yeah we had a similar infestation. Back in the spring something came in and literally devoured my roses like overnight.
@Southern Beale: I sent one of my brother’s in Alabama a link to a news story commiserating on fact that Alabama is 22% above normal rainfall, and Georgia 34% above normal. It is so bad the staple crops of the economy are rotting in the fields.
He fired back attacking me for being a liberal and believing in global warming. We have been going on for over a week in email on this, after first coming close to blows over the Internet.
It is impossible to believe how totally in denial he is, and how completely he has bought every right wing denialist myth about global warming and anthropogenic climate change accelerate global warmth, both in atmosphere and the oceans.
All it takes is one of the Koch brother bought and paid for denialists to point out is colder this year in one place in the world, and that is enough proof that it is just not hotter on our planet.
I am at the point of giving up. I will just wait until he can’t eat because we can’t grow enough corn and soy beans and wheat anymore, which is where we are headed fast, and then point out to him that, as usual, I was right and he was wrong.
Looks like he would have learned after 62 years, which is how old he is.
Three ways to keep raccoons out of your garden.
Couldn’t hurt ….
I’m not a gardener, but I remember my first planting was an avocado seed. Never got any avocados, but watching the top of the seed split and the plant emerge was still pretty cool.
Our second round of tomatoes isn’t far enough along to produce fruit yet, but the plants are looking healthy. Hubby (the gardener) reports disappointment with the crookneck squash. Last week, he asked me to prep for incoming zucchini and eggplant, but a critter got to it first.
As for butterflies, we have more zebra longwings hanging about than I’ve ever seen in the yard. I don’t know if it’s all the rain or what. The mosquitoes are just terrible; you can’t even walk to the mailbox sans bug dope without requiring a transfusion.
Seems like only the most serious brain-dead (sorry, he’s your brother, I’m sure you love him) skeptics are still on board with this denialism. And most of those are in the brain-dead South. The rest, like Inhofe, are really just in it for the profit.
You’ve probably already seen this but Grist has a nice “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” thing that is useful. The bottom line is, it doesn’t fucking matter who believes in climate change and who doesn’t. It’s happening regardless. And the thing is, whether they believe it or not, the market believes in it, because the evidence is there. I find David Sirota really annoying but he was completely correct in his Salon piece about how insurance companies represent the “free market” in action, and they are no longer underwriting conservative ideology.
So sorry about your brother …. but he’s going to have to get over whatever blocks he has to accepting this because everyone else very quickly will come on board. You will see it. Fox News will stop mentioning “hoax” stories and only Limblagh will keep on about it and by then he’ll be back to just 5 stations on the far end of the dial.
I’m off for my morning run.
OT, but people were talking about movies to watch this weekend and I noticed that Advise and Consent, another good lesser-known film from the dr strangelove/Failsafe/Seven Days in May/Manchurian Candidate era is on TCM at 5:15 today. If it’s rainy in the garden stay inside and give it a look.
I wonder if the balloon trick would work for raccoons. In desperation, I started tieing balloons on 3-4′ ribbons and hanging them around the veggie bed this year. They lose air and have to be replaced every couple of days but I’ve had zero critter problems – they’re so light that a tiny breeze bounces them around. The groundhogs and rabbits won’t come near them. Eureka!
It’s nice for me, because my daughter took to it, so you never know. I let her take over a plot one year and she did an all-white flower garden which is something I would never do; I like a LOT of color. It was great looking! I was so wrong. She’s been on her own for 3 years, she lives in Pittsburgh, but I still have the shasta daisies she planted.
Last night we had company over, and the female halves were out in my fruit cage picking blackcurrants (two words? one?). They picked about 6 pounds, and we still have tons. And my family doesn’t like them. But, now I can cut them back and hope that my blueberries will then get more sun & ripen. I made a fruit compote from our blueberries, strawberries & tayberries. Our tayberries ripened like crazy while we were gone on vacation, so we came back to mostly rotted fruit, but I salvaged what I could from the tayberry plant & the strawberries & froze them for future use (which was last night). The tayberry is so sad & straggly that I just want to hack it all down to nothing and see what happens.
Our little one planted loads of wildflower seeds in one of the raised beds, and it looks beautiful. Can’t bring the flowers in because they are covered with little beetles, but I like looking at them outside anyway. We also have loads of carrots, and we don’t eat enough lettuce, so what is left has got to about 2 feet tall, which means they’re really only fit for eating by bunnies now.
That’s what’s happening in a NE Scotland garden of very lazy gardeners.
a fungus killed all my thriving pumpkin plants. That’s a new one for me. I am open to advice. (My tomatoes are thriving.) I am going to rip out all the pumpkins. Do I need to spray something to kill the fungus in the soil? What about all the cedar chips I put down? Could that have introduced the fungus? ARGH. my poor pumpkins.
@Woodrowfan: I’m no gardener, but my hubby knocks back fungus and pests with a neem oil solution. He says it is harmless for beneficial insects like ladybugs and butterflies.
big ole hound
Here in the Bay Area tomatoes have had a great run but the cool weather of late has a huge amount of greens and no reds. Temp is up next week so we will be loaded again. Our garden is in the front yard for sunny exposure too.
All three of the monarch caterpillars I found on some of my milkweeds and brought inside are pupae now. I was hoping to see at least one of them make its chrysalis but two did it while I was at work and the last after I nodded off while watching tv.
The neighbors who have a fruit and vegetable garden have a bunch of mammoth sunflowers with ripening seed. I planted some sort of mid-height burgundy sunflowers in the third week of June and am just starting to see some flower buds.
@SiubhanDuinne: We have a patch of them that re-seed themselves and so appear to be perennial. They are behind the south side of the shed in a big glob of mulch so they just take care of themselves
Same thing here. One day they were beautiful and the next every single leaf was just shredded. The heat hit at the same time so the poor things really were assaulted.
Our tomatoes are also having a remarkable run this year. Getting lots of peppers and eggplants too.
Big lightning display followed by a lovely double rainbow.
Quite the summer, weatherwise.
The county is rebuilding the road in front of our house. As a result they are going to rip up the majority of our front gardens. They just put the survey stakes in this week. What I need is some advice for moving what I can. One problem is that the rest of the yard has a lot of trees and not much sunlight. The gardens consist mainly of lilies, Asian and Day. red sedum, Evening Primrose, Balloon Flower, peoneies, some other stuff.
Would these things survive a season in pots? If I chose to store the bulbs would they last ? What exactly should I do to store the bulbs if they could be stored? Anyone ever done anything like this before?
Thanks in advance
@jeffreyw: We have one bush that attracts tons of hummingbird moths too. Enchanting bugs they are. I was never able to get a great picture of one like you did. My photography skills are Cole-level.
@Schlemizel: Well, All I can offer is I’m growing lillies in pots (non Day ones, they were a rescue so I don’t know much else). I’d say, get some fairly big pots and give it a go, esp if they’re doomed Doomed Doomed otherwise. They can be datapoints. I know my aunt moved balloon flowers about.
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
I’ve got a single Cherry Tomato plant and it’s gone gangbusters. I’ve never gotten so many tomatoes from one plant. Unfortunately, 70% of them are split, I think because of the wet-dry-wet pattern this summer, but heck, they’re edible anyway.
The pole beans grew nicely and overwhelmed the trellis, but not one single bean.
Do have a question, esp for mid-west sorts. Pretty sure the Solomon’s Seals I saw ysterday were the giant ones (3 to 4 feet, large berries). Any clues where we can purchase some? The varigated are everywhere, we’ve got some native unidentifed growing vars, but the giants need to be added to our mix. Clues vastly appreciated.
early morning here in CA. hanging with the kids.
tomatoes are doing well, as are the greens, beets, cukes, beans, strawberries, apples and citrus. rosemary is the size of a hedge.
god, I love gardening in California. Sunset zone 16, just right.
@Betty Cracker: Here’s one sharing Bee Balm with a bee. We have a small tree,big bush thing that I thought was a butterfly bush – it is actually Vitex that puts out a profusion of tiny blue blossoms the Hummer Moths like a lot.
Ack, too many links is my last comment. Spring me please?
@jeffreyw: Very cool! The bush (or vine, rather) our hummingbird moths seem to favor is the Rangoon creeper (which would make an excellent name for a horror movie…or punk band, perhaps).
Juliet tomatoes are ripening like whoa now–I may need to make a chopped tomato pasta sauce this week. Black Crim are behind, but starting to catch up. Disappointed in the Kellogg’s Breakfast–1 huge tomato so far that’s nowhere close to ripe, and yellow leaves with suspicious brown spots. I will say that the Juliet and Crim have avoided these spots, which I think might be blight or some other fungus. They’re more resistant, I guess. Something to remember.
A couple of years ago we got two from another garden and they appear to have just settled in this year because they didn’t do much of anything. If they spread we could figure out some way to get a couple to you. The ones I have seen in the greenhouses don’t get that big I don’t think
@Betty Cracker: Oooh! That looks nice! I don’t imagine it would do well this far north. Mrs J buys tropicals in the spring to place about in containers but they rarely manage to overwinter in our basement.
La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes)
@jeffreyw: thread needs moar kitteh, please.
@Schlemizel: Thanks for the offer and the idea to look for friendly people with existing plants. From what I’m reading, once they get established they’re fairly solid. The more I look, the more I like.
@La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes): I fix!
@SiubhanDuinne: We grew hollyhocks for years in our garden in LEX. They self-sowed quite prolifically. I love them, at least the old fashioned single kind. Since we’ve been in San Diego, we’ve had to learn a very different eco-system, and I’ve pretty much avoided planting too many non-native or non-med climate ornamentals. If we were going to be in this house longer, though, I’d give serious consideration to hollyhocks.
@Schlemizel: You can store most bulbs, corms, tubers, etc. in paper bags in a cool dry place. Basement’s fine if it’s not too damp.
As far as the other stuff, not all perennials can be lifted and divided but for many, that’s the classic way to propagate them. Everything you mentioned but the peonies sounds like it would do fine. The peonies will be trickier – try googling for advice on those. They’re sure worth saving! Good luck with it all.
La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes)
@SiubhanDuinne: We have wild hollyhocks running rampant here in the mountains west of Las Vegas.
We’re zone 7b up here, and I’ve been picking apples (Annas) for weeks, with many more weeks to go of Galas and Fujis. Grapes too. The nectarines and peaches were fantastic this year, but the last of them has been eaten by us or the birds. We had our first good cherry crop this spring, and we picked a few dozen pluots and plums and apricots.
We’ve got birds coming around for sunflower seeds now.
We’ve been picking tomatoes since late May, but now the crop is so bounteous we have been roasting and freezing plenty to get us through the winter. We’re also picking peppers and cucumbers and eggplant.
We’ve got little frogs that showed up to live among the vegetables that do a great job controlling the bugs. Plenty of ladybugs this year are helping as well, especially with controlling the thrip population.
Looks like we’re going to have a good nut crop this year too–almonds, walnuts, and for the first time, a serious pecan crop.
We’re using the Masanobu Fukuoka method (One Straw Revolution). Fertilizer comes from local nitrogen fixing weeds and worms and other little critters in the soil and dog pee. Everything’s grown together in a jumble. No plowing or digging whatsoever except the minimum necessary to transplant tomatoes in the spring. For every other vegetable I toss seeds on the ground, cover with a little bit of straw, water, and hope for the best.
No poisons of any kind, no fungicides or pesticides whatsoever, not even organic ones or soaps or oils.
Every living creature has a place in my garden and contributes to the whole. If one species or another gets particularly ambitious one year or another, I just leave them alone and let nature deal with it.
The cantaloupes in the garden this year came from seeds that apparently planted themselves from last year’s cantaloupe crop.
I’ve given up on the garden for the month. It’s just too damn hot. The antibiotics are kicking my ass too, and that makes it even harder to deal with the oppressive heat and humidity. I’m taking care of myself instead.
That being said, the work I’ve done on it for the last several years is starting to pay off. I’ve done a lot of work planting hummingbird and butterfly-friendly plants and we have an abundance of them. Not hummingbirds quite yet, but they’re about to arrive. Had some guys working on the house earlier this week and they commented about all the butterflies.
@Woodrowfan: If your plant leaves gathered a layer of white on them before desiccating and turning brown, I’d bet it’s powdery mildew. There are some treatments you can buy at a garden center, but another way to avoid it is to water the soil underneath and avoid getting the leaves wet. Cut off any leaves that start getting white to prevent the mildew from spreading to the rest of the plant.
Out on the Front Range, plants have been slow to produce fruit this year, but man are they cranking out the leaves. Serrano and Santa Fe peppers are bountiful and will be keeping us warm this fall and winter.
I believe we took Rusty 11 over the hill after last week’s garden thread. Anyway, we’ve had no more ground squirrel depredation since his removal, and we’re about to have a bunch of San Marzano tomatoes ripe enough to pick.
We’ve finished the wall building in the xeriscape bed in the front. Yesterday, in addition to several previous bags, we threw in three 3 cu. ft bags of soil amendment, which was like spitting in a very large lake. I’m going to see if we can get a load of top soil delivered for a price which won’t make me faint.
The mandevilla we bought earlier this summer has wooly aphids on it, so we stopped by our local nursery for some lady bugs. They didn’t have any, but of course we came away with a couple of new natives*. Very much like walking into a bookstore, I should know by now I will find something I had no intention of buying when I went in, but just couldn’t resist.
*a Cleveland Sage – very bee and bird friendly – and a “Many-flowered Mallow” which will be our 3rd variety of mallow.
thanks for the suggestions. Petorado, yes, it’s that powder fungus. Do I need to worry about it staying in my cedar mulch? I really try to avoid any chemicals other than a little fertilizer.
It’s probably powdery mildew. I would just leave the pumpkins alone, take a long-term view. There are natural parasites/predators for powdery mildew and every other kind of fungus or bug, and if you just leave the nice big crop of powdery mildew there for the natural parasites/predators to find, next year they’ll be there ready to chow down and you won’t have a powdery mildew problem again.
@Anne Laurie @ top
Make sure you are practicing good crop rotation. Tomatoes have a lot of soil-borne diseases so it’s a good idea not to plant them in the same soil year after year. You can help avoid the soil disease problem by building up soil quality with excellent compost, organic fertilizer, using a mulch to keep the leaves from touching the soil, and pinching off any leaves on the bottom so they won’t touch the soil.
@Southern Beale: Thanks for the pointer. I had resolved to start researching, and be ready for them next year. I still think I will play Raccoon Location Service for a while, they are so overpopulated here it is pathetic. And destructive.
what beautiful pics…thanks for these weekly gorgeous pics
I’m in Chicago, zone 5. First year in a new house, last place had so many trees there was no sun for veggies. woohoo!
This year, too many tomato plants in a small garden plot in a corner, and also in 2 earthtainers. Italian Beefsteak, Brandywines, Cherokee Purple, Rose de Berne, Sweet 100, Sweet Million, and an early girl producing well!
My question. There were already raspberries and strawberries in the plot, and the wife is annoyed that she can’t get to her berries around my tomatoes, so I got approval to make some lawn into a veggie garden.
Seems like everyone’s doing raised beds now. Why is that? Any links to how-tos or design ideas? two rows of crops, so I’m guessing 5 feet on the short axis?
Thanks, y’all! :-)
@Woodrowfan: Yes. The spores will harbor in the soil and/ or mulch below. best to remove the mulch. This is why rotating crop areas is also a good idea. If your pumpkins inhabit a new patch next year, the problem may go away or not be so bad.
This is the book that convinced me to try raised beds.
There is also a web site by the same person.
@grins: Advantages of raised beds include faster drainage and less far away. Also: easier to weed. ALSO: you can plant much more densely (no rows!). See, for example, Square Foot Gardening or this Organic Gardening article.
I got my frames from a small family operation in VT–love them, want to add more next year (stacking up) in a smaller size, planting strawberries around the base.
@currants: “Less far away”? What the heck does that even mean? Maybe … closer … or easier to reach?