Sunday, July 12, 2015

This and That

Cappuccino Rudbeckia

Most of what I do in the garden is never recorded. Deadheading some flowers here. Pulling some weeds there. Trellising, tying up, harvesting, pruning. So many little chores that don't take very long. But I'm out in the early morning to get them all done before the heat hits.

Prairie Splendor Echinacea

Since my perennial bed around the peach trees is new this year, I've been enjoying seeing what the new flowers look like as they bloom. I have the above two right next to each other. I think I'll have to fix that in future years. Both are beautiful, but they really don't go well together. The Rudbeckia would be much better off by another pale yellow echinacea that I have with some coreopsis in the front. Right now I have the red Rudbeckia by that one. A switch is in order. But not now. Maybe in the fall, or maybe next spring.

The cukes got tied up. They love to go sideways across the trellis instead of climbing it. I have to encourage them. While I do this I check the plants for cucumber beetles. I knock them into a jar of soapy water whenever I see them. I do this check every morning and also if I'm out later in the day. I've only gotten a few so far, but they always multiply.

Behind them are the zucchini. I check them every day. When I see both a female and male flower at the same time I ought to uncover them. They really want to get out. I figured the squash vine borer ought to be gone soon, but I read the Extension Service Newsletter. "In years with mild temperatures such as we are having this summer, SVB adults tend to remain active throughout the summer rather than dropping off in summer. . . " Damn. They aren't going to go away. I'll have to uncover and just cross my fingers. I haven't seen a ton of them around, but if I see a few, you can bet there are more out there that I can't see. And it only takes one borer to severely set back the zucchini if not kill it.

The squash that grows under the corn needs constant work. I have to keep it UNDER the corn but of course it goes to the light and tries to escape. My garden isn't big enough to let it run free. So every couple of days I check them and tuck the tips back where they belong and make sure it isn't actually climbing up the corn. While I do this I pull any weeds I see.

Yesterday I needed a bit more. The shorter ones had some bamboo poles under them to keep the cats from digging. But I didn't think I needed them anymore. The corn was large enough to keep them out. So I pulled out the poles. At the ends I put in some smaller sideways stick to keep the cats off the bare soil around the squash. Those won't last long as the squash is growing fast.

In addition since I'd removed that big row cover next to the corn, the wind could now knock it down. One of the problems with growing corn in a raised bed is that it lodges easily. The soil is very soft and you can't hill the stalks up. So I stake the outer most rows, which protect the inner rows from the wind enough that they are usually safe.

Next up was the cilantro. I let it go to seed every year so I can collect both green coriander and ripe coriander (the former for the kitchen and the latter for sowing). Once the seed starts to set the plants can get top heavy and fall over. So I tied them to the fence. Hopefully it is good enough to keep them from trailing on the ground.

The last chore was to pick and prune the currants. I pick the gooseberries while I prune to make picking easier. The currants are younger and I haven't had them very long. It didn't hit me until afterwards that I should do the same thing. It would make the picking so much easier. Live and learn. I like how the Pink Champagne currants grow. They send out new strong shoots from the base instead of lots of side shoots. So I could cut all the old wood out. The Jonkheer van Tets likes to have some of its stronger shoots as side branches which makes it harder to prune. That last one I have to really keep under control as otherwise it blocks the path. But I can't let either get too large, so pruning every year is a must.

I do have one more currant, Rovada, but it isn't quite ripe yet. Soon though. That one I'm trying to train as one leader across my fence, but it is resisting. Hopefully if I'm persistent it will work. If not I'll just let it bush out as that space can take it. But if you have ever seen a photo of Lee Reich's espaliered currant bush you will know why I want one. The red fruit hanging down from my white fence would be very striking. But only if I can get it to grow correctly.

Today was pretty similar, though I didn't get outside as quickly. I deadheaded the daisies and dianthus. I weeded the front perennial bed and near the garden shed. I uncovered the zucchini as it indeed had both a male and female in bloom. I tied up the cucumbers. I extended the trellis for the beans a tiny bit. I staked the last succession of corn. I tucked in the squash, melon, and sweet potato vines that were trying to escape their beds. I swept part of the walk that had sand all over it (the ants have moved in). I noticed some signs of aphids on the Brussels sprouts - ack! I'll have to bring out the sprayer tomorrow and deal with that. Sigh. I watched the hoverflies dance around the cilantro flowers. Then it was time to go in for breakfast. I love my mornings in the garden.


  1. My approach to gardening is similar to yours - little and often. This is the beauty of having my veg-plot right outside my door instead of at the other side of town. Good luck with avoiding the SVBs, by the way!

  2. So leisurely and organized - quite unlike my constant rush to get things done so that I can get more things done ;) I just browsed through that newsletter - you are so fortunate to have such an amazing resource! I wish we still had extension offices.

  3. You are right often there is little to day about a day in the garden even when you have been really busy

  4. I've followed your advice on knocking the cuke beetles into soapy water - gotten about 50 in the past couple of days. Hopefully this, along with the neem oil treatment, will allow me a few zucchini this year (they seem to be focused on the summer squash, thankfully not the winter squash).

  5. Hi Daphne, Your different colors of echinacea is very nice but like you said maybe the two colors would be prettier separated. I only have the pinkish one. Do you plant them right up around your peach tree? I tried planting strawberries around mine but didn't have much luck. I think the soil was too poor and not enough water. Nancy

  6. lovely to read about your chores - the deadheading, weeding and tying up - I think they are pleasurable tasks in the garden. I think weeding and deadheading are my two favourites, and i'm sure it has a lot to do with being an editor - I love 'editing' my garden too!

  7. That Rudbeckia is gorgeous!! I can never get those darn things to come back for a second year no matter how much I mulch.