Saturday, July 23, 2016

Redirecting Your Eye

After having done all I can to restore some sense of privacy to our backyard, only to have the neighbors cut more trees out, opening our previously wooded and secluded view to more and more homes and locations once hidden, I feel like giving up. At this point, since I can't make my trees and bushes grow faster, I need to redirect the focus from our back door and patio. Right now we look out and see the construction machinery and bare clay of the soon to be park. I guess our neighbors wanted us to share in their misery after the woods was clear cut so they cut their trees down as well. Who doesn't like a woods? You don't move onto a wooded property to cut it down.

Anyway, instead of continuing to be bitter, I need to divert attention from the barren ground to a new vista. There will be a number of stages to the project in that the height of the heat spell in mid-July is no time to be transplanting flowering perennials. What I can do is plot out a new garden focal point, plan the removal and transplanting of the 5 foot tall anemone that block the way, trim up some bushes and trees to allow a direct view but keep a bit of mystery and intrigue.

Straw Bale Check-in

As I pick the first tomatoes from my straw bales, I take a look around at my bales this year. Some vegetables have worked better than others. Fellow gardeners suggested root crops which I tried but with which I had little success. What have always done really well are tomatoes. Yum! 

A more compact plant might be ideal but a good long stake right through the bale solves the problem of a large leggy tomato plant. I tie right to the stake but a tomato cage also helps a little.
Wow, this one has really taken over and is covered with tomatoes!

The bales are starting to look a little ragged as they decompose. It's very important to keep the bales watered in this July heat. They can dry out quickly. These bales have peppers and a little basil planted amidst the tomatoes. Sounds like ready-made spaghetti sauce!

I have limited sunny spots and have found that no matter how much care you give your tomatoes there is no substitute for sunshine. I am definitely planning some strategic pruning of the surrounding branches.

One of the surprise successes in the straw bales this summer are the green beans. As I think about it, it makes so much sense. Beans and other legumes fix nitrogen from the air into nodules on their roots. Straw bales need nitrogen in order to break down the organic material into usable nutrients for plants. It's a perfect pairing, Chard and kale have done well but are being crowded by the very healthy green beans!

Straw bales have been the perfect solution to our poor clay soil and a great deterrent to soil born diseases. I hope you're having great success with your own straw bales, as well. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

All a Buzz

Prime time for bees

Pollen collection at its best.

If we were bees we'd barely have time to be on Facebook or Snapchat but we'd be getting a quick post out there.

 "OMG! What a day at the garden!"

"Even the little ones got in the act!"

 "The coneflowers we found."

"The best monarda on the block."

"Hangin' out at Sage. Come down and join me"

"Dinner at the garden, complete with food pics."


Water Responsibly!

“Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom - and lakes die.”― Gil Scott-Heron

Water- life essence if ever there was one. Love may make the world go round but water gives it life. There is just so much of it, no more and it is certainly not evenly distributed across the globe. Where I live we have plenty of it but I think about it because I live at a point on the continental divide of North America. Interestingly, a recent deal was made to allow a county west of the divide to receive water from the Great Lakes, east of the divide. This is after years of storm sewer water had been diverted from west to east so it only makes sense but it makes me wonder about the overall, long term effect of such decisions of which this is only one example, taking place across the world.

  The water cycle. 
 The seasons. 

 Sure, I water my vegetable garden often, as well as my potted plants. I water my flower gardens when it's pretty dry. But we rarely water our lawn; we let it go dormant in the heat of summer.

In the vegetable garden I water at the base of the plants early in the morning to avoid losing the water to evaporation. 

Straw under the plants will keep in the moisture, prevent splash back, keep the soil from caking and deter weeds

Watering leaves in the sun just results in cooking them.

In the flower gardens I have much more opportunity to water in the shade. I like to water by hand and contemplate the garden, gives me time to contemplate other things, as well.

When I find something that needs my attention I often just prop my hose rather than run for a sprinkler. It's best to water  from underneath but when that won't work I go ahead and broadcast over the top. This way I only water what needs to be watered and I can work in the area as well. 

Sometimes, you just need to wash off the dust of local construction of which we've had more than our fair share lately. 

I use whatever is handy. I like the old fashioned brass nozzle for this.

 It's July. We need to get the gardens through the worst of the summer heat. I live in a community where water is plentiful but that doesn't mean we need to waste it. It's a little like alcohol in that it may seem wonderful at the time but we're going to wake up to consequences. Water responsibly, people! Let's be reasonable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

O, What a Beautiful Morning!


I find myself getting up earlier in summer, not only because the sun in shining in the window, but because I'm anxious to get out there to enjoy some time before the heat makes it unbearable or the sun overtakes my shady sitting spots.

I water the vegetable garden so the droplets have a chance to dry before they become magnifying glasses to scorch the leaves.

 I weed a little in the comfort of cool breezes and most importantly, I take my coffee out and appreciate the garden. 

The coffee cup in my hand helps to allow me to stand back and look, rather than get involved with every little problem I see. It usually works, though I often put the coffee cup down and tackle a problem right then and there, on occasion getting dirt in my cup and ending the. act of being an onlooker, rather than a participant in this glorious green aspect of creation.