Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden Delights

We've had the hottest summer on record here and today is the first day in a long time that has felt pleasant. In fact, today is so nice that I was able to open up all the windows this morning and let the breeze blow through the apartment. I also managed to walk to the garden and back without getting soaked with sweat. What a nice change.

Lupine perhaps? Whatever it is, it grows in abundance in the garden and is just coming into bloom.

Yellow Duo

The feral cat family was exploring all the possible uses for a small stone wall including seating, jungle gym, and bed. The three kittens (gray/white and black/white in front of mom and gray tabby behind her) are growing fast but they still know how to have fun. When I ran to grab the camera, they were in one big furry ball. The situation had settled down a bit when I returned.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Broken Pony

A woman ran a stop sign and broke our beautiful beast. The future is uncertain for our once gorgeous Legend Limer. I arrived on the scene just as the tow truck hauled her off. Josh is completely fine but I think both he and I are suffering from broken hearts. He could barely finish his burger at LITM last night and had trouble sleeping. I have not quite accepted the loss. Even if she can be fixed, she will never be the mint beauty she once was.

Until we know for sure, Josh is driving around a Kia which he likened to "driving a dining room chair."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So Far So Good

The squash plants seems to have stabilized. After I visited the garden this morning I decided to read up a little more on those nasty vine borers and realized that I have some more work to do to rectify the situation. Immediately after cutting open the vine to remove the worm, I was supposed to have covered the vine with earth to promote root growth above the problem area. Oops. It's been two days and that hasn't happened yet. Honestly that seems a little counter intuitive to me: covering a fresh wound with a bunch of dirt. In fact, I purposely uncovered the wounded vine and washed it off. I'll be sure to cover it next time I'm there.

Look at this cute little kitten that was hanging out by the mini black eyed susans.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Squash Vine Borers Attack!

While at the garden this morning, I happened to notice that the vine on my largest squash plant (the volunteer from the compost heap) looked more like swiss cheese than a healthy plant stem. The damage was so bad I was actually surprised the plant appeared as healthy as it did with large green leaves, five or six blossoms, and plenty of buds. Right away I knew the culprit: the squash vine borer. Based on a couple of things I've read, I got to work opening up the vine using a combination of my thumb nail and some clippers (probably not the best tools) to hunt down the pest. I found lots of little borers (tiny white grubs) and some other bugs and a sawdust like substance running down the damaged area. I dug out a lot of junk, took the hose and cleaned away the mess, and hoped for the best.

I figured I better take a look at the other plants too. Sure enough, the acorn squash was almost destroyed. I yanked it out and just threw it in the garbage. The stem was holding on by a thread.

One of the crookneck squashes had a big hole in the vine but it wasn't too bad. I opened up the stem and dug out some similar contents. Then I hit the jackpot: a big, inch long, white worm. This must be it! The dreaded vine borer is a big, white, grub-like thing. It tunnels through the vine, munching all the way until the plant's connection to the rootsystem is severed.

I went back to the big plant, determined to find a big, healthy borer further up the vine. I dug around some more and came up with a half inch long borer. Could that be it? I probed a bit longer but didn't find anything else.

Hopefully the plants recover enough to produce a couple fruits. Now that I know what I'm looking for, I'll be more diligent about monitoring them. I'm certain that the borers will eventually win. There were too many babies in the large plant to safely assume I got them all. Also, every other squash plant in the garden has died at this point and I'm imagining they all succumb to the hungry borers.

I know. This is kinda gross. I'm sitting here feeling a little creepy crawly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cooler Weather, Happy Garden

Mortgage Lifter #3 is ripening on the vine. #1 and #2 will be part of dinner this evening along with a couple garden fresh carrots. I've been conserving the carrots.

The red and yellow sunflowers have put on a beautiful show this year.

These miniature daisies are popping up all over the place. They're the only ones who haven't minded the heat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Trip to the Country and Back

We traversed the Hudson via the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world, located right outside the bustling metropolis of Poughkeepsie, NY.

We visited the charming Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to see some rather decrepit flying machines.

We returned to a very thirsty garden. As usual, it is a wonder I can manage to keep a small garden up and running during the summer. We have spent nearly every weekend away this year and in our absence, the heat and dry weather have taken their toll on the plants. The marigolds are ever resilient, but those poor tomatoes, how they suffer!

Luckily we have lots of hardy volunteer tomatoes. Too bad they mostly seem to be that orange cherry variety that I struggled with last year. It's the same story this year: one or two little orange tomatoes every time I water but never enough for a bonafide harvest.

Oops! I split the first Mortgage Lifters with my zealous watering! I guess I should have eased back into it on our return from the country. Now I know better. In my (limited) experience, gardening seems to involve a lot of lessons learned, adjustments, adaptations, and surprises. I guess that's why it always leaves me wanting more: it is nearly impossible to perfect the craft!

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Armrest Built for Two

Hey, what's touching my butt?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Garden

Earlier in the season, I was a little annoyed at these sunflowers for blocking the early morning light needed by my Brown Berry tomato plant. When they finally bloomed I forgave them. They've seduced me with their rich red colors. And anyway, the Brown Berries are a little funky tasting.

Things are finally perking up in the plot. We've had on and off soaking rains for the past few days and the plants are all a little greener and putting out new growth in most cases. The eggplant is finally starting to branch out and at least two blossoms are starting to form.

The compost squash has grown large enough to begin fruiting. We'll see if any of the latest blossoms turn into mystery squashes. I say mystery because they are notorious open pollinators. One never knows what other squash blossoms may have been visited by the bee who made this one possible. It could be some crazy hybrid decorative gourd. I'm crossing my fingers for something edible.

The garden hot pepper is doing just fine. I'm waiting for these to ripen on the vine and may use them for our famous summertime treat: Asian Gazpacho!

These two are always entertaining to watch while watering and weeding in the garden. Sometimes they overwhelm me with cuteness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No Gardening Today

Because it is raining! For the second day in a row!

Josh was kind enough to help me add some organic compost to the garden on Monday. We sprinkled it on and mixed it in the soil between the plants. Everything was looking a little tired and worse for wear with all the heat and dry weather we've been having. I thought adding a nutritious top dressing might revive them and wanted to get it on there before the forecasted rain. Not really believing it would actually rain, I watered heavily on Tuesday morning. Low and behold it rained an hour after I left the garden. And then it rained all day. And this morning it is raining. Finally, after weeks of dry and hot weather, those plants are finally getting some relief.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Make Way for Eggplants

After spending a long holiday weekend at the Bay, the garden was in pretty sad shape when I returned. I had asked several people to water while I was away but who knows if anyone got around to it. Temperatures in the low 100's didn't help either. Most of the bean foliage was fried, the cucumbers shriveled beyond recognition, and the remaining beets wilted to a stringy pink mess.
The situation forced me to make some tough decisions about the beans. We had already eaten quite a few, they were taking up most of the plot, and at this point they looked horrible. So into the compost they went. I spared two plants off to the left. After mulching and giving everything a loooong drink, the plot looked a little more respectable. I trimmed off the dead beet greens and pulled a few of the larger ones for dinner. I also planted three salvia plants between the marigolds to the right side of the plot and added two musk melon plants by the carrots. I put in two escarole plants behind the large marigold row in the front hoping to take advantage of mid-day shade. All of these plants were abandoned and left to die on the picnic table in the garden. I was happy to try some new things.

My hope is that with the beans gone, the eggplant will get more light, water, and soil and grow big and strong and make a huge crop of eggplants. I would settle for just one eggplant. So far the blossoms have all fallen or been knocked off before anything has had a chance to happen.

The pepper seems totally fine. It's the healthiest in the plot and making a few new peppers which I plan to leave on the plant until they ripen to red.

Yesterday the first red sunflower began to open. You can see the big yellow guys in the background already drying out post bloom and preparing their tasty seed crop. This has all happened much earlier this year. I may be pulling the sunflowers in August at this rate.

Today the first red sunflower bloomed. I noticed it is still a favorite to the local honeybee population.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Officially Summer

Now that I'm no longer in the educational system, the beginning of July always feels like the official start to summer. In celebration, I bring you the hot pepper! The official champion of hot n sticky weather and relentless sunshine. I had ample opportunity to enjoy mine today (for about an hour this afternoon) as I locked myself out of my building. Thankfully it was cool and breezy and the hot peppers were feeling photogenic. Our crazy next door neighbor who sometimes has a little too much to drink and then talks your ear off about Puerto Rico or his mother brought me a cold water while I waited for someone to get home.

The baby jalapenos are about an inch and a half long.

The pots are very dependant on my watering them as it hasn't rained in a week or so. Hopefully they will survive the vacation weekend.