This week I have been busy planting seed for beans, cucumbers and zucchini.  I also bought small vegetable plants at the nursery and got them in the ground.  I bought eggplant, mustard greens, brussel sprouts,  kale, yellow crookneck squash, basil, thyme, and maybe something else.  I like to try a lot of different things and see what grows well.  While I worked I was enjoying the blossoming trees.

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American Plum Tree Blossoms.  There were just a few blossoms on the trees, but they have beautiful intricate detail.

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Amelanchier Laevis – Allegheny Serviceberry Blossoms.  This serviceberry has been in the yard for four years and is a native shrub I bought at Possibility Place.  The small berries in June are very tasty if I get them before the birds.

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Pollinator on Serviceberry blossoms.  With bees having such a hard time due to pesticides and mono-cultures without flowers, such as lawns or a corn field, it is important for them to have flowers all season, from early spring to late fall for them to gather nectar from.

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My lawn has a lot of violets, which I do not mind at all, and I am sure they keep some pollinators happy.

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I have put daffodils in almost every blog post this spring.  Different colors just keep opening up!  A bee would be attracted to check out the trumpet of this coral colored flower.

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In order to fit in all the vegetables I want this year I have been planting them in between flowers and in every spot I can find.  I bought four eggplants this year.  This one is a Japanese variety called “Ichiban.”  It’s a very tasty variety and will hopefully withstand the advance of the daylilies  that will surround it.

Green smoothies:  Buying organic greens can get expensive.  Now we are starting to have more greens to put in from the garden.  We have kale, from last year’s stalks, although they are trying to flower now.  We are starting to eat romaine and we threw in some dandelion greens today, which are certainly easy to come by!  Of course when you mix in blueberries, bananas, dates, and cocoa powder, any greens taste pretty good.

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Summer Surprises

August 29, 2012

If you want to find something interesting in the garden you can’t just spent two minutes outside.  You need to wander around and notice things, preferably with a while nibbling on a tasty treat.

The yellow moss roses morphed into white ones this year.  The leaves are dainty like a wedding dress.  Good analogy, since it is our anniversary this weekend.

I was surprised to see these yellow foxgloves blooming today.  I hope they come back next year. and many years to come.

Ants on corn tassels.  Also blooming are yellow tomato flowers and orange and pink zinnias.

A baby caryopteris started itself in the garden and I moved it to this location in the spring.  It looks like it settled in and is starting to flower.

My garden is a bit of a mess, but that is my theory of gardening.  All these plants mixed together keep the pests away.  In this picture are corn, red swiss chard leaves, peppers and kale.

Black beauty eggplants.  There are four eggplants hanging on this plant now.

Black swallowtail caterpillar.  I am hoping that a parasitic wasp did not get this caterpillar, as he was not moving much.

Something I am wondering about:  Can I do something with dried fennel seeds?  We have a lot in the garden.

Showy Edibles

July 20, 2012

We finally had rain Wednesday night and that helps the vegetables grow again.  Even though it is still very dry in the yard these plants work hard to produce beautiful fruits.

Eggplant flower.  Dan and I cooked up a big eggplant this week with olive oil, tomatoes and peppers and ate it on rice.

After the rain the tomatoes were starting to crack, so I picked the first yellow tomatoes and they were really sweet and delicious.

Heirloom pepper – ‘Round of Hungary.”  Because of its small size this pepper ripens more quickly than the big bell peppers.  I am growing bell peppers also, but I like these little peppers!

We have a lot of kale in the garden this year. We have eight curly kale plants, like the plant to the left of the path that looks like a big spider or crab.  We also have one dinosaur kale plant, just in front of the curly kale in the picture.  On the right is the bean pole, which should have beans soon, if it doesn’t already.  I noticed that the pole tipped over slightly from the thunderstorm the other night, but I set it up straight again. Behind the kale you might be able to see the tall cucumber vine.  It is right next to the cherry tomato and those vines will be fighting it out over the next months, but I am pretty sure that the tomato will be the last one standing.

Dan is working on increasing his vegetable consumption, so I made him a big salad today with cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.  (not all from the garden….)

Looks like we have one corn cob coming.  Maybe more in a few weeks….

I love the design, color, texture and smell of these common sage leaves.

Dan and I had the day off so we went and explored at the Morton Arboretum.  We have a Chinquapin Oak in our backyard, so we found a lot of Chinquapin Oaks to see what ours will look like one day.  We also explored this path in the woods around Sterling Pond.

First Fruits

July 1, 2012

We have had near drought conditions, but since Thursday we have had three quarters of an inch of rain, which has really helped.  I also watered the vegetable garden with the drip hose twice.  Now I can start to enjoy the produce!

Cucumber blossom.  There are lots of blossoms today, so I had better get ready for the bounty.  So far I have eaten cucumber in my lunch salads this past week and prepared cucumber slices for the family today.  But we will soon have to eat it more quickly or give it away.  I also saw the first zucchini blossom today.

Grown from organic cucumber seed.  “Marketmore Cucumber”

Bean pole teepee.  The agressive vines have reached the top of the poles, and down below they will crawl over everything if I don’t watch out.  In time I will start to see blossoms and then beans. On the left you can see sage, kale and yarrow.  On the right, onions and romaine lettuce that is starting to bolt.

First wax beans.  I grow a Burpee mix of bush beans:  Blue Lake, Royal Burgundy and Super Wax.  These are seeds I bought three years ago and I am still using them up.

Blossom for the royal burgandy bush bean.

Forbidden Fruit:  The neighbor’s raspberries that he never picks.  If I can reach them I eat them….

I am successfully growing eggplant for the first time.  I am growing two types and the Japanese “ichiban” produced fruit first.  After they grew a little bigger than this picture I had them for supper last night, sauteed in olive oil with tomato and garlic.

Seen in the yard this week:  The chipmunk has definitely become more brave.  I wonder if it is living in the hostas.  This is another addition to the wild life in the yard.  I also ran across the snake in the compost pile again last weekend…  Will that keep down the mice population?  Other than that the dry weather has kept the insects down.

Spring is a busy time in the garden and I feel like I am just starting to catch up.  Last week we pruned some shrubs that were overgrown.  I have pinched back the plants that could grow very tall and tip over.  I have been staking or tying up some of them, as well.  Then there is the weeding.  I wanted to get rid of the weeds before putting down the mulch and the weeds had been a little out of hand.  But now I should be ready to reap the harvest and enjoy the beauty.

Yarrow.  I did not realize how tall these would get.  They block the view of the bird bath, but luckily I tied them up a month ago, so they did not fall all over the lawn in the recent strong rains.

You can see another bunch of yarrow starting to bloom in the vegetable garden.

The foxgloves self-seed in the garden.  Each spring I move some of the plants into partial shade, but leave one that is easy to see from the kitchen window.

I finally weeded and mulched the vegetable garden.  On the left are the potatoes.  I have no idea when I should pull them up!  Next is a small eggplant with a cicada shell on it.  The red stemmed plants are swiss chard.  In the front, the cucumber is just getting started and in the back the zucchini plants are starting to spread out.

We are just keeping ahead of the slugs on the strawberries.  This weekend I made some rhubarb and strawberry sauce and also ate a lot of strawberries and cream.

This bee finds a sheltered resting place on the viburnum during the rain.  This year we seem to have so few pollinators compared to last year.  I noticed the neighbor spraying chemicals, so that may have decimated some of them.

Sightings in the garden today:  bluebird; medium sized toad; very small snake skin!