Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A resilient glad

I remember Mama used to gather her gladiolus corms in the fall into a bushel basket and overwinter them in the cinder block well house.  I liked the way the brown corms looked, and the dark red glads, which were my favorites, had a darker corm.  They would be replanted in spring, and in summer there would be a row or two along the upper edge of the vegetable garden.  It seems I remember how we would look at the row as we were leaving for church on a Sunday morning to see which colors were blooming. 
Years ago, I got a few glads myself.  It's been so long I don't even remember where I got them, but I probably ordered them from a catalogue such as Henry Field's.  Only a white one still lives, but it survives the winter in the ground and comes back every year even though it is getting shaded out by the Japanese maple and crowded out by honeysuckle, poison ivy, and leriope that the birds "planted."  I remember once, ages ago, a neighborhood kid yanked the glad out of the ground just for meanness.  At the time, I cut the bloom off and put it in a vase; I replanted the corm, and it just kept going.  I'm amazed at how it has managed to survive.  I think there have been some years that it didn't bloom, but it did this year.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Great grey slug?

Just in the last few years, I've been encountering some giant slugs around here.  I view them as pests.  Here is one I found on the house siding this morning.  If this is a great grey slug, it is not a US native, but an accidental introduction.  Sometimes those introductions can have a dramatic impact on the ecology of an area.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Blue potatoes and color on the dinner plate

Eat your colors.
I guess it's a sign that I'm still a novice that I brag, "This was from OUR garden," but it might be a sign that I want credit for the hard work I put in.  Anyway, the cuke, tomato, blue potatoes, and squash were from our garden.  Classic summertime fare.  Darling husband was a little leery about the potatoes, but I love expanding an old man's horizons!
The cuke was the first one of the season in my garden.  Just a few days ago, I had glanced and only seen little 1 to 2 inch prickly nubbins, so I was startled to see this 6 inch cuke.  I had better check the vines more closely today.  (Those muffins are the second batch from my own blueberries.)
I wasn't terribly impressed with the blue potato harvest.  I had started out with 3 seed potatoes.  I had cut 2 of them in half at planting.  This is the harvest.
It's more than I started out with, but it's a poor yield.  I don't know if the rodent that was in the neighboring Yukon Gold potatoes got any, but there is no evidence of teeth marks on the potatoes here.  (There are some fork marks where I accidentally pierced them in digging.)  So if a rodent ate any, he ate the whole kit and caboodle.  Also, the potatoes I cooked had just a little slit or opening in the middle, a "hollow heart" in potato speak.  That is supposedly caused by environmental factors, but some varieties are more susceptible to it than others.  The flavor was good, but I've had better.  I may try to keep a couple of the potatoes for seed.  (They say the early ripening varieties don't keep as well, and this is considered "early midseason.")  If they rot over winter, I'll probably not buy any to plant next year.  Overall, a bust, but the novelty of it was worth at least a little. 
I hope you're enjoying a colorful plate this summer.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Daylily blooms

The ample rain we've had lately has been a boon to the daylilies.  Here are the first blooms on this lily that opened yesterday.
This one can have blooms as late as October.  It's a winner, in my book.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blueberries, tomatoes, six confirmed kills of vine borers

I'll start out with 2 nice pictures, and then if you don't want to look at the vine borers, you don't have to scroll down.
The weather has been favorable for the blueberries--generally speaking, but of course I will proceed to the nuance of the specifics in a moment.
Here are some premium sized blueberries that I picked last night.
I had already made one batch of muffins from the berries I picked Monday or Tuesday. 
I have noticed that the birds are eating a lot of the blueberries.  There is no wild cherry crop this year, and when there are no wild cherries, which the birds love, there is more bird pressure on the blueberry crop.  Perhaps the cold snap back in the spring, which only did a little damage to the blueberries directly, hurt the wild cherry crop; indirectly that is affecting the blueberry crop.  Interesting connections, I say.
Birds in the berries, stink bugs on the tomatoes...  We ate our first tomato last night.  It had sustained some stink bug damage, and I had brought it indoors to finish ripening.  I picked a few more tomatoes last night to let them ripen indoors as well. 
We've been eating squash practically every night, but I don't know how long that will last with the pressure from the vine borers.  I killed 3 more borers this morning.  That makes 6 confirmed kills.  At first, when I would see a little of the "sawdust" oozing from the vine, I tried to stick my tiny knife in and hopefully kill the borer without opening the vine up, but I never knew if I was hitting the borer or not that way.  This morning, I did get enough of one part of a borer out to know I had killed it, plus I got 2 additional borers out entirely.  One was quite small, the other was large.


I'm still picking off some Japanese beetles and tossing them over to my neighbor's chickens, but there haven't been so many lately.  My neighbor put up a trap, he said, so that undoubtedly is helping.
In other news, we've gotten 2 3/4" of rain within the last week.  The rain that waters the vegetables also waters weeds (including those that we call our lawn).  Things are starting to look, to use the word Mama would use, rank.
That's the update on the garden "plot."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More hornworms, vine borers, and stink bugs

When I checked my tomato plants yesterday, I saw this on a leaf.
That alerted me  to this.
I found another one also and smashed them both with a brick.
This evening, I cut the third vine borer out of my squash vines.
The stink bugs are wreaking havoc on the tomatoes.  I'll be out to get them in the morning.
The bug battle rages.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Planting for pollinators

I recently watched an online video which described the problems facing bees.  Essentially, bees are suffering due to human agricultural practices such as use of pesticides and monocropping and from loss of habitat and from disease.  A practical way to help is to plant flowers that benefit pollinators (and, of course, refrain from using pesticides on those flowers).
I have noticed that things that sometimes would be signs of failures in the lawn and garden, such as white clover in the lawn and Queen Anne's lace in the border are actually things that benefit the pollinators.  Letting things be a little loose around the edges has its benefits.
Right now the bees are loving the white crepe myrtle.  (I assume this is a pollen source for them.)  I also have a few other things that the pollinators like.  I made a bouquet of some, but there is plenty left outside for the bees and butterflies.
Some of the flowers here are butterfly weed, purple coneflower, oregano, yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, and hoary mountain mint.
I'm sure there are lots of online guides for choosing good plants for pollinators.  Here is just one example:  http://www.pollinator.org/guides
My coneflowers are from a packet of wildflowers I planted about 20 years ago.
As a side note, I thought it was fascinating that, according to the video I referenced above, the bumblebee loosens the pollen from tomato plants by vibrating its flight muscles at a frequency similar to the note C.  Darling son said he was surprised it wasn't the note of "bee."  Then he added, "I guess that bee was sharp."  (B# is C.)
When I consider what bees do, I'll say they are sharp indeed!