Friday, July 18, 2014

More From The Trenches

  Yes, I am making a reference to being in the thick of it. Which I am. This is the first summer where I've - more than once - thought "hmmm, maybe there's too MUCH garden going on here. I might have to cut back next year."

I know. Can you believe I just said that?

Okay, let's move on, there are quite a number of photos today. I don't know how I ended up taking so many; all I'd gone out for was a shot of the Crown Princess Margarita rose, but the light was so good I ended up taking 67 shots.

No, no, I'm not going to make you sit through 67 photos of my garden. Relax. I've cut out 10.

Just kidding.

Trust me.

 I know it sounds nuts to say this, but fall planting begins now.

This six-pack contains Georgia Southern collards. I've never grown collards before. In fact I've never eaten collards before, at least, not knowingly.

These were given to me at by the lovely people at the Botanical Interests booth at last year's Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup. And no, they didn't give them to me so I could write about them; they were giving seeds away to ANYONE WHO WANTED THEM. It was like a dream come true for those few minutes I was collecting packets of seed.

 Some more trays of seeds, although these are mostly various types of lettuce. This is the first year I've managed to keep the kitchen regularly stocked with lettuce.

In case you skipped over that last sentence, let me blow my own horn a bit point out what an amazing feat this is. I've never fully appreciated what it takes to keep a regular variety of lettuces and greens in the kitchen at all times for five people: lunches, sandwiches, smoothies, dinners. Could be we just go through a lot of lettuce. Either way, it's been fun, even if it HAS tested my usual level of organization.

 If you don't eat kale you should. I know that sounds bossy but it's SUCH a good green and it is SO easy to eat. My kids refuse to eat it knowingly but genuinely love it in smoothies.
It also looks really cool:

 I was reading an article about garden furniture and garden art. Where do you stand on the topic?

I like having things besides plants in the garden - breaks up the view and add different colours.

It's also a good place to store things. One day I WILL use this broken wheel and that oddly shaped piece of tile, I just know it.
 This plant is commonly known as Goose Necked Loosestrife (no, not that loosestrife). Can you see why?

I've got it growing with some white Obedient Plant and a few hostas. The deer salivate over them every night at about 8pm. Fortunately I've also got a net around these puppies or they'd be toast.

Why yes, I do happen to be on the Stupid $#%*&@ Deer side of the fence. There are way too many of them in my neck of the city.

I had a better shot of this fabulous and weirdly coloured hydrangea, but it didn't include the charming Mr. T slinking by, so you're getting this one instead. His nickname is Lemur Tail. Not that he comes when you call him that, mind you.

There appear to be several permutations of purple going on here: the centres of some flower heads are different colours from others. Some are blue, some quite dramatically mauve, some even white. And you can see that heads themselves are all differing shades of purple.

You too can achieve this effect by mulching just half the plant with pine cones that fall off a nearby handy tree. You can even kick them under the tree when people come over and trip over them, thus saving yourself raking duties. At least, that's what I think happened here. It certainly gets no love from me the rest of the year. And yes, I do feel somewhat abashed admitting this. 

Look at the lovely green of these Holy basil plants. Apparently they are quite good as an insect repellant, but I've yet to try them. Right now we use catnip EO in a yarrow tincture - it's killer.

Holy basil is also known as an adaptogen, good in teas for stress. I'm not familiar with Holy basil but these seedlings are going in the herb garden, so we'll see what they do.

So far all I notice about it is that is has a faint lemonish aroma, is a gorgeous healthy green, and is much hairier than it's cousin Ocimum basilicum.

The Sad & Lonely Shelves of the Greenhouse

 Am I regretting not thinning the peach tree this year?

Perhaps a tad. There's a lot of medium-sized fruit on it this year.

As there is every year.

One day I'll thin. One day.
 Am I regretting not thinning the nectarine tree this year?

Perhaps a tad. There's a lot of medium-sized fruit on it this year.

As there is every year.

Hmm. I'm noticing a pattern here. I think I'm what they call a Chronic Non-Thinner.

 "Four Little Pepperonici Maids From School Are We!"

Squiggley, aren't they? These will get pickled soon.

I made asked Eldest Son to assist me in carrying this chunk of wood home from the beach the other day, because I plan on making some of the aforementioned  Garden Art with it. He'd been slogging along for about 10 minutes when he said "this is pretty junky - what are you going to do with it?" When I told him I was going to paint it so that it would eventually resemble something magnificent, he expressed rather obnoxious levels of incredulity and mirth. Evidently he could not see its striking resemblance to something alive (and swimming).

Can you?

Imagine me blue and spouting!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rambling About The Garden

 I was taking this photo yesterday, in what I thought were cloudy-ish conditions, but after looking at this shot on the computer I realized two things: first, the dry dry grass in the foreground detracts from what is otherwise a rather magnificent display of vegetable gardening (and one that I was hoping to boast about), and second, I need a more overcast day to take garden shots.

Oh heck, I'll boast anyway. In this shot are 13 types of edible plants or vegetables: tomatoes (Jaune Flamme, Juliet, Green Zebra, Tigerella, Black Krim, Sungold, Yellow Pear), beans (Flambo, Hutterite Soup, Blue Lake, Cranberry Bush, Scarlet Runner, Broad), beets (Touchstone Gold, Chioggo, Bulls Blood), radicchio (Palla Rosso), peas (Sugar Daddy), purple sprouting broccoli, onions (Kincho), lettuce (Valmaine, Tango, Tropicana, Red Sails), salsify, celeriac, artichokes, strawberries, and raspberries. Ignore that rude grass.

This shot was obtained by leaning precariously out my bathroom window, screen balanced carefully on my head, with a telephoto lens on the camera. My neighbour, who was exercising her dog in the back yard, looked a little uneasy when I shouted cheerily "Don't worry! just trying out the telephoto!"

Here is a perfectly amazing radicchio. Why did I take so long to discover them? Radicchio has it all: looks, taste, and style. Red Sails lettuce comes close, with its beautiful frilly, red green ruffles, but radicchio wins with those mesmerizing green swirls.

Little sweat bee on onion flower head.
 The box in that pot incurred some frost damage this winter, and is now sitting out the summer in a shady corner of the deck, trying to regrow.
 This bench is strategically placed to block the sprinkler from watering so much of the grass. I don't think it's aware of how useful it's being, but it's such a cantankerous bench that if it DID know, I feel sure it would crumble, just to annoy me. It flipped over in the spring - for no good reason - with a number of snapdragon starts on it, causing most of them to dangle perilously close to the fence, where they were eventually pillaged by marauding chickens. I was not pleased, so the bench was banished to the Really Horrible Dry Part of the backyard. Until now, of course.

Speaking of pillaging chickens, here are Prunella (roosting on the compost screen, hiding from Pip) and Pip (looking around for more seedlings to rip and shred). Pip and Prunella are sisters - they should get along, right? Last month Pip decided that she was sick of Prunella, no doubt because Prunella makes it a habit to shove everyone aside when they get their afternoon snack. She's a good size, too, so the shoving frequently gets out of hand. Sometimes it's accompanied by a peck or two (in the case of Fern).

Pip took to really tormenting Prunella, stalking her, pecking her, and attacking her in rather random ways. It put ole Prunella off her laying, which was when I had to get involved because if there is one thing Prunella is good at it's laying eggs. That hen lays every single bloody day, which is impressive given her very advanced years. So, just as Pip took to following Prunella around with malicious intent, I took to following Pip around, only instead of malicious intent  I had a bamboo pole.

(sensitive types may want to look away at this point) 

Whenever Pip attacked Prunella, I banged Pip across the back with the pole and squawked, trying to sound like I was saying "STOP THAT YOU STUPID BLOODY CHICKEN!" Eventually Pip decided that it wasn't worth having me shout and chase her around with a pole, and she stopped terrorizing Prunella, but not before Prunella decided she was really really really uneasy around Pip.

This shot shows Prunella lumbering up from her comfy roost and looking a little concerned. This is because she's noticed that Pip has noticed her, and she's no doubt starting to worry that it might be the Formerly Mean & Horrible Pip and not the Newly Chastened Bamboo Pole in Butt Pip.

Fortunately I was able to utilize my chicken language skills and tell them they are a pair of fools to put so much energy into fighting.
 Royal Wedding sweet peas. So far these take the top prize in the Best Smell In The Garden contest. They pipped the lemon verbena only because the verbena requires human intervention to release its scent, while the sweet peas can scent the entire top floor of the house in a matter of minutes.
 Toffee, who takes the prize for Most Fearful Cat On The Block, is sitting here, surveying his territory in a safe part of the yard (where he can dart in the cat door should anyone challenge him).

I hate to say this, but I think he thinks that concrete frog is looking out for him. Moments after I took this photo he licked Froggie, as if to say "you're a pal, thanks for looking out for me."

And I thought the chickens were weird.