Late July In The Garden

An unexpected few days of cooler weather have prompted me to go outside a bit more lately.  It sure is a relief to walk through, stoop over, inspect, and pull weeds without having sweat drip into my eyes!  We’ve also had some really good rains as well, so no watering for several days now.

The grape and cherry tomato vines have been giving me a good handful of little jewels daily.  DSCN1197.JPGI usually eat a few of them before I even get them inside the house.  Better those than candy or cookies.  Having veggies handy makes it easier to eat healthy.  The Beefsteak and Russian Krim tomatoes are taking awhile to ripen, but they’re at least now turning yellow.  The Russians are a new variety for me this year, and I have no idea how they will turn out.  Hopefully, they will be tasty and plentiful.

The green beans are twirling up and around the deck, and have little flowers all over them.  If I can keep the dang chipmunks from eating the flowers, I should have a good number of beans later.

The cantaloupe vines are going crazy, and have been putting out lots of flowers. DSCN1194 So far, I’ve got only two actually growing into fruit, about six inches long.  I hope the rabbits and chipmunks aren’t eating the others before they have a chance to grow.  I’m suspecting that.  And there is not much I can do about it.

The white pumpkin and gourd vines are doing really well, and have been flowering nicely.  Some of the seedlings were planted in a regular garden spot, into little hills of soil.  Others were placed in an experimental garden area, a Hugelkultur bed that I’ve started this year.  The vines are growing equally well in both spots.  Those in the Hugelkultur bed are behind a bit because they were planted later, but they’re thriving.

A couple of days ago I panicked when I saw many of the pumpkin flowers nipped off their stems and lying, shriveled, on the ground.  My first thought was that an insect was chewing them off.  A thorough inspection of the vines didn’t reveal any though.  To Google I went for some answers.DSCN1203.JPG

A quick read through a couple of gardening websites provided some understanding on the cucurbit family, which includes melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.  Apparently, most of the flowers on the vines for the first week or so are male.  When there are no female flowers, there is no pollinating.  So the male flowers wilt and shrivel, then fall off.  The girls will come soon, forming more toward the center of the plant.  Hopefully, my bee friends will then do their job and spread the pollen around.  If not, I now know how to help the process along using a soft brush or cotton swab.  I will be keeping a closer watch for the female blossoms, and looking for the little fruit to form.  If I don’t see any, then I’ll be hand-pollinating.

The sunflowers that managed to escape the rabbits are glorious. Giant Sunflower 3 The new variety I tried this year has grown to over six feet tall, and produced flowers that are about ten inches wide.  They are so heavy that the stems are bending under the weight, but I’ve staked them with sturdier tree limbs that fell from the last storm we had.  If they don’t get prematurely eaten up by the birds and are allowed to dry, I should have a good supply of sunflower seeds to feed the birds for awhile.  Next year, I’m going to plant lots more of them.  They are so beautiful.

This phase of the garden season is really enjoyable.  I love going out each morning to look for daily changes, and each evening to pick ripened tomatoes.  Growing one’s own food and flowers is such a pleasurable pastime.  Share it with the little ones.  My baby granddaughter loves picking zinnias and looking for bunnies.




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