Friday, July 27, 2012

Harvests Beginning!

Great morning in the garden!  Still not a lot of beans or berries, but we are getting there! 

Himalayan Blackberries (yes, an invasive "weed"), Lemon Cucumbers, Capitano and Jade Beans 7-27
 The beans will be served with dinner tonight.  The berries went straight to the freezer (saved for pie quantity).  The cucumbers will be eaten with lunch (great on peppered turkey sandwiches!) or just because!

And last night...

Lemon Cucumbers

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Squash Bugs Won... and other news

I had to remove all but two of the pumpkin vines.  Even the ones with small pumpkins.  The vines were nearly dead, and more leaves were yellowing daily, while the pumpkins themselves had stopped growing weeks ago.  I didn't compost them, as there were squash bug nymphs and eggs on them, I threw them in the garden waste trash bin (with lid).  The remaining vines look green and healthy, and I am doubling my bug finding efforts, but it may not be enough.

Cinderella Pumpkin Bed (what's left)
There is hope for more pumpkins from the healthy vines, but so far I am only getting one.  I think it is big enough, and ripe enough (orange at least) to be fine with what I did to it!  While trimming back dead and dying vines I cut its lifeline to the plant!  I buried the stem hoping it would root at the joints.  So, the Cinderella pumpkins are mostly a loss this year.  I may not bother with them next year, now that I have experienced squash bugs.

On a happier note:  I am enjoying the cherry tomatoes, Sungold!  I do not have a photo of the "first fruits" since I ate them before I remembered to document their ripening!

Lemon cucumbers are forming like crazy.  They suck up water like mad; I have to water them morning and evening. 

Lemon Cucumber

We have eaten 4 Wonder Bell peppers.

The Ace and Japanese Trifele tomatoes are doing very well.
The Japanese Trifele is forming an amazing number of pear shaped fruit.  I  hope they taste good!  Legend is nearly dead, but Mr. Stripey is setting fruit at last!  Yellow Brandywine is just starting to set fruit, but is healthy with lots of blossoms.  Its leaves are huge!  Yellow Brandywine and Japanese Trifele are the first tomatoes I have grown with potato shaped leaves.  They look so healthy and strong! 

Mr. Stripey July 25

Ace July 25

Yellow Brandywine July 25 (only a mid-sized leaf!)
Japanese Trifele July 25

The eggplant is forming new fruit.  We haven't eaten any yet.

The few large bean plants are putting out lots of pods, but not enough for a meal yet.  The Capitano beans are forming flat pods that are turning gold.  The ones I planted a week or so ago are growing nicely, but I am not sure they will manage to do much before the end of the season.

Capitano July 25
I have a baby watermelon!  It is so cute, but I am pretty sure not going to grow to size!

Sugar Baby Watermelon July 25

I am freezing the blackberries as they ripen, trying to save enough for a pie! 

Ripening Himalayan Blackberries

I rearranged the area surrounding the compost pile, putting in new straw to keep down the dreaded foxtails.  They are under better control than last summer. 

The weeds you see here on the other side of the fence (my back fence with an empty lot on the other side) were cut down a few days ago, right to the fence line.  Nice.  But, now there is less privacy and Boo is afraid of the people and cars he now can see in the driveway of the duplex on that street!  The others, Cookie and Edward bark more.

 Boo July 5
Edward "laughing" July 3
Cookie June 16
I am off now to do my morning "bug check" and water the cucumbers!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Garden Snacking

Straight off the plant into our mouths! Well, not the eggplant, which is waiting to be sliced, breaded, fried, and cheesed!  We (my son and I) ate the peppers like apples.  The lemon cucumbers are a bit spiny on the skin, but delicious inside!  He thought the blackberries were sour, I didn't think so.

Wonder Bell Peppers and Orient Charm Eggplant

Lemon Cucumber
And the "almost ready to eat"

Sungold Tomato

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Warrior Bugs Arrive!

The Warrior Bugs have arrived to save the day!  I am not sure they can  handle full grown squash bugs, but the nymphs are fair game!  I noticed what at first glace seemed to be gray aphids, but in reality were squash bug nymphs.  Boy, if I hadn't found the eggs they would have overrun the pumpkins by now.  They have an incomplete metamorphosis, which means no caterpillar stage, just egg to nymph to adult.  Egads!  I still do a bug and egg check several times a day.  Another mating pair got the soapy water this morning.

GO WARRIOR BUGS!  (Praying Mantis on Pumpkin Leaf)  

Green Zinnias

I am so disappointed....  My zinnia from the FFA sale at Crater High School is green.  The plant is healthy, and getting huge, but the flowers are the disappointment to me.  I was expecting some beautiful, bright, vivid blooms in orange, yellow, pink, or red.  Like my other one, shown here, which only came from Walmart!

No, it is green.  I thought something was wrong with it, in fact, considered it a "colorless" zinnia!  Come to find out, people actually plant them on purpose, and gloat online that they are growing "Green Envy" zinnias.  To each his own, I still find it ugly and colorless. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bug Update

The unknown brown bugs are no longer unknown.  They are "squash bugs," or Anasa tristis.  No wonder they are found only on my pumpkins!  It sounds hard to get rid of them.  How do they find their squash in the first place?  There was no garden here before this year.  On online hint says to make a circle with regular flour around the plant stems.  Apparently squash bugs do not like to walk in powder, or alternatively, they eat it and it gums up their mouths.  Neither sounds very logical, especially the walking bit, as they have wings!  Why walk on the ground when you can fly onto it from above?  Oh, well... the solution is still to hand pick them off and put them in soapy water.

My son and I checked the underside of EVERY pumpkin leaf, finding lots of eggs have already been laid!  Most were on the leaves, some were on stems.   I poked them off with a pencil and finger, into the soapy water cup.  We found only 4 bugs this morning, but 2 of those were in the process of mating!  "Two for one," as the Master Gardeners told me!

I have grown pumpkins many times before and never had squash bugs.  The adults winter over and come out to fly around looking for squash plants.  Maybe no one grew them near me before.  That is likely, there are many more backyard gardens and farms in my neighborhood now.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Latest News: havests, growth, and nasty bugs!

The lemon cucumbers are growing, ripening, and allowing for very small harvests!
This was the first one...

Lemon Cucumber

There have been 4 blackberries so far, but many more are coloring up nicely.  The ones I ate were still a bit sour, I think they could do with a bit more time on the plant, but I was in a hurry to taste them!  We used to pick them in Tilden when we lived in CA.  When my oldest son was little there were huge brambles along a path to a park.  We would take containers and fill them for pies.  


Jade bush beans are starting to form long pods.  They are very thin, but long.  My son ate the first few right off the plants.  

Jade Bush Bean
The eggplant is almost ready to harvest. There are many more teeny eggplants and flowers too.  I am still impressed with this plant, it is very attractive even if it didn't bear fruit!

Orient Charm Eggplant

Orient Charm Eggplant

Wonder Bell Peppers. I can't imagine how such a tiny plant is growing such large peppers!  I have been removing blooms so it won't try to produce more peppers than it can handle healthily.
Wonder Bell Peppers

Now, the "nasty things" in my garden! 

 Stink Bug!  Probably Chlorochroa kanei.  I have found this primarily on the blackberries.
Stink Bug (unknown kind, but I think maybe from the "Tribe Carpocorini") and a Cucumber Beetle. 
Both the brown stink bugs and the cucumber beetles have been found only on the pumpkins.  The Master Gardeners at our County Extension office told me to knock them into soapy water.  That was fine with the littler black ones in the first photo, but those brown ones are terrifying!  They sense you coming for them, raise themselves up on their long legs, and back up, raising their heads toward you!  Ewww!  I hate insect pests!  My son wanted to crush them right out instead of using the water, but once he tried that he gave in.  It made a nasty pop and crunch noise when he stepped on it!  And that was the little one.  The Master Gardeners said that stink bugs are not easy to kill with poisons.  Great...  They also said this is the time of  year they mate, and you can find them "two for one" that way.  I did...they were mating right on my pumpkin plant!  (The cucumber beetle is kind of pretty, isn't it?  Fast to take flight though.   Oh...I wonder if those big stink bugs fly?  I would hate to have them head for me!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pumpkins Take Off!

I think the Cinderella pumpkins are doubling in size daily!  Well, maybe not doubling every day, but you can see the growth that occurs day to day!  Sure, my photos aren't taken from the exact same distance each time, but you can see the size in relation to the flat stone I placed under the fruit.  Just take a look...

July 6

July 7

July 8

July 9

July 11
Just compare the same pumpkin only 6 days apart!

July 5
July 11 again

The bees LOVE the blossoms on these pumpkins.  They are so heavy with pollen they often can't fly straight.

Honey Bees in Cinderella Pumpkin Blossom
I have never grown pumpkins that were yellow right off.  Any I grew started out green, and stayed green until they were large and starting to get orange.  Of course, I have never grown Cinderella.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Non-Edible Beauties in the Garden

Non-edible from my point of view that is!  I know several of these flowers are routinely consumed, but I grow them to enjoy the flowers in the garden, not on my plate. 

What I love about portulaca is that one plant produces a variety of different colored flowers.  I find that amazing!  


I am pleased with these, as I grew them from seed. They are very slow growers, so these are the result of my babying them along since January!  I found they grew quicker just direct seeded in May. 


Here with portulaca.

These are my son's favorite.  He enjoys repeatedly snapping their "jaws!" 

The New Dawn Roses (see April 5 post) are doing well. Even the one that looked dead when I got it has rebounded nicely.  The haven't climbed anything yet, but stretching out long stems in preparation to.  They have a nice aroma, like the old variety rose they are.  New roses are beautiful, but at the expense of their fragrance.

Even unidentified weeds can be gorgeous!  Of course, they aren't allowed to remain in the garden!

My camera seems to be doing pretty well considering it is 7 years old, has been dropped countless times, and barely survived a tropical thunderstorm on horseback in Puerto Rico!  That's Sony quality!