Early August Garden Updates, 2020

We’ve had a lot of things happening – it was really hot for the beginning of summer, so my garden was growing like crazy. We’ve cooled down a bit for the last few days, and today it got sunny again. Here are some nice pictures of our gardens and yard:

bee balm
Some bee balm growing against the house. I split this plant – took some and put it in the cottage garden.
destroyed garden 2
Last month, I went out and found that my beautiful herb spiral was ruined by something – we suspect skunks. They moved the rocks, and then have been digging for grubs or something. Some plants survived – they didn’t eat the plants, just messed them up on their way to the grubs.
destroyed garden
Here you can see another spot where my spiral was messed up, but not as bad. I tried fixing the spiral for a couple days and then gave up. I will get some motion lights to try to deter the skunks before I try recreating it.
squash jungle
Here is the squash jungle. This part is butternut squash.
gete okosomin
Here are a couple baby Gete Okosomin squash. There are tons of them on the 3 plants I am growing.
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Here is a Gete Okosomin that we accidentally picked early. It was in a weird spot and I wanted to keep it off the ground – I went to adjust it and knocked it off the vine. It was 6 pounds. They can get up to around 20 lbs when ripe. We cut it up and it was soft like zucchini, so I used it as I would zucchini this week.
gourd plants
Here are the gourd plants. They are both birdhouse gourds. I had a mixed pack – there is one plant that is very tiny by the door in the background. I don’t know that I’ll actually get any gourds from it. I was hoping for a bowl gourd plant.  But birdhouse ones are nice. I want to make some cool gourd art eventually.
gourd flower
Here are the gourd flowers. They are really cool, I was expecting them to look like squash flowers. I like how these are growing, they just look really whimsical.
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Here are some gourds getting bigger on the vine.
tall sunflower
Our giant rogue sunflower (grew from last year’s seed, randomly in the garden). This was just before something knocked it over – it was broken at the base but still connected. I tried tying it up to save it. It still flowered but the leaves look dead.
tall sunflower 2
Here is the bloom – for a few days after I tied it back up,  the leaves would wilt by end of day, but be all healthy looking by morning. But for the last few days the leaves have been wilted all day. It now has 3 blooms though, even though the leaves look sad.
red sunflower
Here is my first red sunflower – one I started from seed this year (on purpose instead of volunteer/rogue).
squash jungle 2
Another picture of the squash jungle, from inside the garden fence.
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Here is a terra cotta frog I have in the cottage garden. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
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The terra cotta frog sits under the foxglove. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
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Here is another view of the foxglove. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
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I’m growing Balsam for the first time – the blooms are pretty. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
toad
Here is a little helper, (well, kind of a big helper), Mr. toad. He was living in the main garden, I found him under my tomatoes.
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I’ve been wanting a wind spinner. I have a plastic colorful one, but I wanted a metal one. I had some scrap aluminum sheet, so I made my own. I just made it the other day so I have not seen it actually spin in the wind yet. We’ll see how this works. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
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My Wizard has a friend. This black and white kitty comes to our yard sometimes. She has stayed with various neighbors around here, but I don’t know what home she originally came from. My son named her Shadow. She and Wizzy are good friends. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)

Deer Devastation

Our strawberries have been coming in well – I had gotten a couple cups a few days ago, and at that time there were a bunch almost ripe and ready to pick. So yesterday morning,  I walked out to the strawberry patch to harvest, and came across this sight:

deer eaten strawberries

A deer got into my strawberry patch and eaten the tops and the berries off most of my plants. The way they were eaten and the amount taken points to deer. And we have deer in the yard a lot. Here is what the plants were SUPPOSED to look like:

stawberries last week
My strawberry plants last week.

Luckily they just got the tops of the plants, so the plants will live to give me strawberries next year. I have it all fenced with a makeshift gate, but the gate had been off, since I don’t have to worry about chickens getting in there. The deer must have figured out she could get in through the open door.  The deer also got into the open gate of the cottage garden (which I also had left open since we don’t have chickens anymore) and tried a bunch of other things. She must have thought it was a salad bar:

deer eaten beans
Some of my green bean plants got the tops taken off.

The deer ate some bean plants, some chard, some lettuce, a bunch of my orach, some Borage and some broccoli. She wanted nothing to do with the huge patch of Kale or Asian greens that the chard and orach were between, for some reason.  This deer just came in and had a taste of random things.  A lot of herbs were untouched as well, fortunately. I have since made sure that gates are closed, and also got some fence to cover things a bit – I laid pieces of fence a little over so the plants are okay but the deer can’t get to the leaves, just in case they decide to just hop the fence to get some more salad. I was lucky that they didn’t completely devastate anything, but it was close. I only will get a few more strawberries, not the nice crop I was hoping for.

One bright spot was that my poppies are starting to bloom:

poppy

I’ve been trying to get poppies started for a few years and usually the seedlings disappear after I plant them. I put a ton in this year and they are all coming up and now this was the first bloom.

Harvesting and Freezing

I’ve gotten a lot of vegetables so far this year.  I’m still waiting on my tomatoes to ripen, but they are coming along. I’ve been picking suckers and new flowers left and right, and I can see the tomatoes are starting to get a pinkish tint to them.  We’ve had 80-90 degree temps this week, and it’s expected to continue – I think that will help with the ripening.

In the winter we were buying a lot of kale, so I grew a bunch of it, and we haven’t used a whole lot yet.  So this weekend I decided to pick as much as I could, and freeze it.  I left the plants, with new baby leaves in the centers, so I will still have fresh kale until we have snow (it supposedly can survive frost, and gets better after a frost, so we’ll see how that goes).   I ended up with a giant basket of kale:

My big basket of kale.  This basket is about 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and just under a foot tall. That's a whole lot of kale.
My big basket of kale. This basket is about 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and just under a foot tall. That’s a whole lot of kale.

I took the leaves off the stems, blanched them for 2 minutes, and then froze them up.  I ended up with about 10 cups of frozen kale.

This year I decided to grow lemon balm.  I picked some to dry for tea.  It smells so good!

Lemon balm.
Lemon balm.

I have had tons of zucchini and yellow squash, and I have frozen a lot of it.  I read online that you can get away with not blanching it first, so I am trying that this year.  Last year I blanched it, and it worked fine but it was more labor intensive;  Also, since it was wet when I put it in freezer bags, I ended up with blocks of frozen zucchini.  I don’t know if the slice/freeze method will still produce this result; I’ll have to wait and see.

I also grew acorn squash for the first time this year.  I had four plants; most produced only one fruit – I did have two forming on one plant, but when I went out this weekend I realized that one of the fruits was rotting on the vine.  The other four seemed ready to pick.  The plants still have flowers so it may produce more, I will have to wait and find out.

Acorn squash.  Yum! We love eating them roasted with cinnamon sugar and butter.
Acorn squash. Yum! We love eating them roasted with cinnamon sugar and butter.

My corn is getting close to being ready.  The silks are turning brown on the cobs. Last year I read that you wait 10 days after the silks turn brown – I checked a few cobs and I think by this next weekend they may be ready.  I noticed today though that I must have raccoons or something attacking the corn.   It must be raccoons – they are notorious for getting into corn in this area – I found a half eaten cob in my garden on the ground. I hope they give me time to get at least a few ears before they get them all. I’m not sure how to deter them – they climbed my fence.   I’ll have to figure out some kind of raccoon deterrent – maybe putting a lip on the top of the fence so they can’t come over the top of the fence.