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.
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.
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.
Here is a terra cotta frog I have in the cottage garden. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
The terra cotta frog sits under the foxglove. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
Here is another view of the foxglove. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
I’m growing Balsam for the first time – the blooms are pretty. (photo courtesy Elton Powell)
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.
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)
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)

Start of summer in the garden

We’ve been really busy and the garden is growing well! Here are some pictures of our plants and flowers:

Here are my acorn and spaghetti squash plants. They are doing pretty well.
Here is the cottage garden – I need to get in there and weed. I’m planning on adding some mulch to the paths too, it’s starting to get hard to figure out where to step as I wait for the flowers and other things I’ve planted to grow. At the foreground of this photo are beans and ground cherries.
Here is the garlic and shallots patch. (with a weedy path on the left).
I mulched my haskap/honeyberries the other day. It looks really nice and should keep the grass down. I have fence over them to keep deer from eating the bushes.
We actually have some honeyberries this year! Only a few, but that means our local pollinators have been busy. These bushes don’t self pollinate, they need pollen from another bush to set fruit.
I got some free plants from a friend, we thought they were baby lilacs – they were under her lilac bushes. We didn’t even think “oh, the leaves are not the same” or anything, until the next morning, I realized that I had been mistaken. I put the mystery plants in a spot in the back of the garden to wait and see what they were. I have discovered that these are Valerian bushes. They are starting to flower, and I matched the leaves up with an online search. I will keep them where they are, they should have some nice flowers once they actually finish blooming, and they’re a nice addition to the cottage garden.
Here is one of our peonies (with some comfrey growing around it).
Our lupines are doing well, this is the view standing at our mailbox. These have naturalized since I was little – they used to be at a house down the road, and have spread since then to most of the ditches up and down our street.
My cat Wizard loves to hang out in the garden with us.
I caught this bee mid flight! The bees love our comfrey.
Last year I planted sunchokes, and the deer seemed to eat them all. I didn’t even attempt to dig and see if we got any chokes, because I figured I’d wait and see if any came back this year. I put a fence in this spring to keep the deer out and these are doing well now.
Here is a Mullein that is growing near the sunchokes. I planted some sunflowers near here but they don’t seem to be coming up (it’s a really dry spot, far from where our hose reaches for watering). But the Mullein are loving this spot. There are 3 or 4 large plants like this there.
Here is a shot of my main garden. The plants here are doing well. I have onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and cauliflower on the right side.
On the left side of my main garden I have more cauliflower, summer squash, cucumbers, and then more tomatoes (near the lemon balm bush at the back). Oh, and a grape vine at the far end.
Another pic of the main garden. I like taking photos through the season to see how it explodes into green once everything starts getting big.
One of my 3 cauliflower patches in the main garden. (We eat a lot of cauliflower).

The garden is doing well, I can’t wait to see how it grows through the summer!

Adventures with seedlings

I’ve been busy getting ready for my summer garden.  I have an elaborate plan for this year, and I’m starting pretty much all of this year’s plants from seed.  I’m working with a staggered-out planting schedule – I started some seeds in early April, and yesterday I planted my Early-May seeds.

I had a lot of success so far with my seedlings from April.  Most things did well, but I did have a couple of things not even sprout.  I started some aster seeds, and none of them sprouted – I’m not sure why, except maybe my seeds were bad.  They were a leftover packet from last year. I’ve usually had great success with asters, they are one of my favorite garden flowers. I love their little colorful puffballs.   I usually start too many seeds on purpose, just because sometimes you get some that don’t sprout – i.e. I planted 6 tomato seeds but really want 4 plants.  My tomatoes are growing well, I planted three different kinds, I ended up with 5 plants of two kinds, and six plants of the other.  Most of the April seedlings are now replanted into pots – they got too big for their original peat pellets.

I only have one spot to start seeds inside, a table in a south-facing window that’s about 5 feet x 2 feet, with a grow light hanging overhead.  I needed that whole space for this new Early May batch. Which meant that I had to figure out what to do with my older seedlings.  I can’t put them outside yet.  But I do have another grow light.  I devised a plan:  To hang the extra grow light underneath the table, and put the older potted seedlings below that.  Here is my new setup:

Here are my under-table seedlings.
Here are my under-table seedlings.

I also have a cat that likes to eat plants – I found this out while potting some of these up – he came up and started chowing down on some.  We have some extra window screens in our bedroom that aren’t in the windows currently, so I used them to block his access:

My setup with the screens in place.
My setup with the screens in place.

In the pictures, the sheets of paper hanging down below the seed trays on the table are my charts of seeds in the trays – otherwise I could end up lost with mystery plants. Some things I would recognize, but I’m trying a lot of new plants this year, so I need a map.

Here is the whole setup:

My seed starting setup.
My seed starting setup.

I have a few small seedlings that are still small enough for their peat pellets, so they are sharing the far left tray with some new seeds – about half the tray is seedlings, half is seeds.

Here are some of my little guys close up:

Tomato pots.
Tomato pots – I have 5 plants in each pot for now – they are small so they can share space.
Comfrey - this is a new plant for me, I'm excited to see how it does.
Comfrey – this is a new plant for me, I’m excited to see how it does.
Black Eyed Susan Thunbergia - a vine with little orange/black flowers.  This is new as well - I had to give it a trellis, and separate them from everyone else - they were trying to climb my tomatoes.
Black Eyed Susan Thunbergia – a vine with little orange & black flowers. This is a new one for me as well – I had to give it a trellis, and separate it from everyone else – they were trying to climb my tomatoes and even the cord for the grow-light.

I love plants, they are a ton of fun to grow.  I just hope that nobody gets too big before I can get them outside – their beds won’t be ready till probably the end of May.  Plus it may be too cold before then – my plan is to get them outside over Memorial day weekend.  We’ll see how the weather is.  I got a mini pop-up greenhouse I can put them in later this month.  I plan to harden them off out in that before actually putting them all in the ground.