Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Harvests and a Garden Enemy

The Sungold tomatoes have arrived!  They and lemon cucumbers are what summer is all about!  If I grow nothing else (and I didn't grow much else this year) I grow those two. 

Boo, his ball, and the lemon cucumber "patch."  The small tomato to the right is the blue chocolate cherry, which is flowering.

pineapple tomatillos - as yet untasted

Siletz tomato
The garden enemy is a very pretty cucumber beetle.  I've had the striped kind before, but not the spotted.  This one is on a vervain leaf, which you can has been nibbled.  I hate that I had to squash it like the bug it is. 

If anyone is wondering about bush beans, pumpkins, Brandywine, or potatoes...  Well, I pulled the beans, Brandywine, and pumpkins out, they were performing miserably.  The entire bed seems to have insufficient nutrients.  The tomatillos are there, but for all I know they should be a lot bigger!  I've never grown them before.  I do know the sunflowers there are stunted.  The bed had the same amendments (steer manure, chicken manure, mushroom compost) as the other 4 x 8 bed, so it's not that. 

Potatoes?  They grew-grew-grew up and up, but so far no flowers.  I dug around a bit into the straw mulch and found potato stems, long skinny stems, but didn't find a single spud.  I'll wait until the leaves on top either flower or die and dump the entire thing over.  I had high hopes for my first potatoes.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Wisteria - Finally Planted!

I finally got my wisteria planted!  Oh, I'd put it in a larger nursery container a while back, but now it's in the ground. I know I originally planned to put it in a whiskey barrel, but they, as well as the wine barrels, sold locally are in terrible condition.  The metal rings, or hoops, aren't tight, and the staves will just fall out.  When not in use wood barrels need to be wet once in a while, and the ones at my work have been drying out in our service yard for years.  So, no barrel for me.

I dug out a hole, dug in some manure, peat moss, and potting soil, then planted the wisteria.  It had already grown a lot, and was in desperate need to grab onto something!  The tendrils always twist counter clockwise.  Japanese wisteria vines twist clockwise!  Odd... 

I am not sure what kind of wisteria it is, that is, what variety and name, but it's a kind of Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis.  The seeds and seed pods of wisteria are toxic.

My grandmother had the most amazing wisteria in her side yard, huge clusters of purple blossoms just filling the area.  She just plain had an amazing yard.  It wasn't neat and tidy by any means, but everything grew incredibly lush.  Under her flowers she had wild garlic.  And snails.. I remember the snails!  She would put beer out for them.  Well, not for them, but to lure them into the beer traps! 

New wisteria twinning up the "rose arch," with French tarragon, Jelly Bean blueberry, and a clay pot with oregano and Foxley thyme. 

New wisteria with the herb garden in the background - 8/21/2017

The French tarragon is in the clay planter fully shown in the above photo.  It was pruned back to the ground last week, and has already sent up tender new shoots.

I am unsure how fertile the soil is, which is why I amended it.  Also, there have been bark chips there for years and years, slowly decomposing, and hopefully adding to the soil richness. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Birthday!

So, I just have to share the birthday card made by my son.  It's "my" herb garden, shaped as a 60 (my age), with the dogs, Boo and Edward, and Benny the troublesome cat (Velvet was well behaved and apparently stayed inside!) acting up.  My son designed it on a Wacom art tablet thingie.  I think the
3-D affects are pretty impressive!

Boo and Edward have their heads stuck in the bushes, which is something they often do, especially Edward.  Just yesterday I yelled at him to "get out of the bushes," and then felt so terrible, he was having a seizure!

Edward complete with "rolls of skin" and hotspots!
Benny is a house cat, but if given the opportunity would, at first chance, climb a tree!  

Of course, the card included  a wonderful gift from both my son and daughter!  A gift certificate (the "real" one is coming by mail) to Mountain Valley Growers!   www.mountainvalleygrowers.com

Now the hard part is deciding what to buy!  Definitely garlic chives, banana mint and a dwarf garden sage.  Or an oregano called Dittany of Crete with fabulous bracts?  Moroccan mint?  Moonlight thyme?  How about a lavender named Sarah?  Thanks youngest son and only daughter!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Random Garden Photos

First, some shots of the insects I've encountered lately...

Praying mantis on the cucumbers.

The smallest butterfly I've ever seen on the spearmint flowers.  It was smaller than my thumb nail! If I figure out what kind it is I'll edit this post.  Until I posted this photo I didn't know there was a bee in the upper left corner!  Pollinators really love mint!

...and some flowers.

Sunflower (the one what fell in the "big wind."  I cut off the flower and put it in a glass of water on the kitchen counter, where Benny the Cat ate off the petals in the night. 

Mexican sunflowers and a butterfly garden mystery solved, Indian blanket!  It's considered a "short lived perennial,"  which is too bad, it's just gorgeous.

Mexican sunflower (above) and Indian blanket (below) 

Left ring of the butterfly garden.  I just can't get over how it looks even better than I imagined way back when I sowed the seeds! 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Colorful Butterfly Garden and the Big Wind

There are so many colors in the butterfly garden!  Not a lot of butterflies... yet.  Too many of the plants in the butterfly mix seeds are annuals, but they are self-seeders, so as long as I let a few flowers go to seed I'll be okay.  I'll get more perennials next spring, especially some milkweed.  I am going to take out the pineapple sage (nice green center plant with no blossoms) and give it the poor soil conditions it needs to flower.  Something tall will replace it.  The beds are shallow as far as the raised bed soil mix goes, but I haven't noticed the plants complaining! 

There are purple bachelor buttons, yellow Mexican sunflowers, dwarf godetia in white, pink and fancy pink, golden California poppies, red bee balm, yellow yarrow, white and pink dwarf cosmos, white lavender, purple and red salvia, white and yellow Shasta daisies, and several  mysteries in bud! 

Mexican sunflower (annual)

dwarf godetia (annual)

dwarf godetia (annual)

dwarf godetia (annual)

dwarf cosmos (annual)

yellow yarrow and orange coreopsis (perennials)

California poppies, bachelor buttons, dwarf godetia (all annuals)

California poppies (annuals that readily self-seed)
Last night  there was a big wind storm that brought a large amount of rain in just a few minutes.  Fortunately no cedar limbs fell, just small twiggy dead branches.  Unfortunately a huge sunflower in a container was knocked over.  It had put roots down into the ground under the container (through the drainage holes) so now it's wilted and won't survive. It just started to bloom too. 

Take a look at the size of that sunflower stem!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Herbs - Part 4 - Chives, Germander, and Winter Savory


Chives are members of the onion family.  My chives are common chives, Allium schoenoprasum, or onion chives. They have hollow leaves and a slight onion-y taste.  I use thin slices in scrambled eggs and on top of baked potatoes with sour cream.  The flowers are edible too, but I have never tried them, leaving them for the pollinators.  Mostly I grow chives because the flowers are just so darn pretty!   The individual flowers form a small purple globe.  They are one of the first flowers of spring. 

They are easy to grow, and thrive in my herb garden, even though they prefer a bit more moisture than the other (Mediterranean) herbs there.  There were one of the first herbs I planted, and I didn't know at the time their preferences differed from the other herbs.  They like their soil well drained, and a bit of compost now and again.   Perennial herbs, chives will die back in areas with freezing winters. 

I am not sure when my singular "chive" planted in 2013, became "chives," but they have reached the point that they now need to be divided.  They need to be divided every 3-4 years, so mine are just on time, or a year too late, depending on how you look at it.  The clumps get larger, with more bulbs each season, as well as growing a bit too freely for some gardeners from seed.   I do deadhead my chives, and this year saved the seeds. Not sure what I'll do with so many baby chive plants though! 

I have garlic chives on my birthday list!  They have flat leaves, with star shaped white flowers in the fall.  The flowers don't form globes. Their taste is more garlic-y than onion-y.  


I had never even heard of germander (also known as wood sage) until I spotted it at the Grange Co-op a few years ago.  It grows in a ceramic pot on my deck.  Germander is, yet again, a Mediterranean herb!  It's easy to over-water Mediterranean herbs in glazed pots, they don't dry out like terracotta.  Like a lot of herbs it needs to be cut back close to the soil after blooming.  You can also prune it back into shrub shapes, for a low hedge around a flower bed, or in a knot garden. Pollinators just love germander!  The flowers lasted a long time.  It's one of the "just because it's pretty" herbs I grow.  I would never ingest germander, it can cause serious, even fatal, results.  


There are two types of savory, summer and winter.  Summer savory is an annual, while winter savory is a perennial, which is why my savory is winter; I love perennial herbs! 

Actually, my savory is a creeping winter savory.  I love how it looks draping over the edge of its ceramic pot.  It has very small, very shiny leaves.  I haven't had it long enough for it to bloom its white flowers.  It dies completely back in winter.  I have never tasted savory!  It is supposed to be rather spicy and peppery.  I added some gravel to the soil before planting, to make it more like its "home" in Mediterranean areas! 

Winter savory is not only attractive to pollinators, the "good guys," but repellent to harmful insects. 
Creeping winter savory is harder to find then the usual winter savory, but my favorite nursery carried it.  The Grange Co-op get in a lot of unusual herb plants from nearby wholesale nurseries.  I don't just say that because I work for them, it's true!  I bought my very first original herbs for my herb garden there years before I started working for them, for $1.00 each.  They've gone up a little, but still a bargain, especially when you consider they are perennials!  

Not much left as far as my herbs go... feverfew, and yarrow, medicinal herbs.  I thought I had an endless supply of herbs!  I do have an endless list of "what to buy next" herbs though!  Some need to be ordered online, so that's why they are on my birthday wish list.  My daughter says my list is "boring."   

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Morning Pretties

butterfly garden

bachelor buttons

California poppies

"Ellagance Snow" lavender

pineapple mint

bee balm - monarda

yellow yarrow

dwarf godetia - YES!  I identified another butterfly garden mystery!

skipper butterfly (mardon, probably Klamathensis) on "Up Tick" coreopsis