Friday, July 31, 2015

End of Month View - July 2015

It has been several months since I last had an End of the Month View of my garden.  I haven't had much time for gardening in general recently, and even less time to do any type of blogging.  Besides not having time, I haven't been inclined to spend much time in the garden with our 100+ degree Fahrenheit days in Central Texas right now, where I only get a little time very early in the morning when the sun is rising, or a little time before the sun sets each night to enjoy the garden.

Needless to say, all the gardens are in desperate need of some TLC.  I'm hoping we get some rains soon and that the temperatures cool off so I can get back out there and beautify things.


I might as well start with the worst of the gardens - the veggie beds.  The heat has really killed off most everything in the veggie beds.  It also hasn't helped that I've only been watering by hand once a week.  Last year I had a soaker hose going, which extended my summer season.  I also had a hose set up this year, but I never quite got it functioning right and didn't want to waste water by having it going and soaking one or two beds and doing nothing to the others.  Next summer I'll definitely have to make sure the hose is working, and may want to look into drip irrigation instead.  For now, I might as well clean out the beds and get them ready for fall planting.


The shade tree garden is doing alright, mainly because the big shade trees are preventing the intense sun from burning up the plants.  This garden could still use a bit of clean up, and the trees definitely need some pruning.  There isn't anything blooming other than a stray Turk's cap bloom here and there.


Another unsightly garden is the herb garden.  The lack of rainfall/watering and high heat has killed off most of my springtime herbs.  The only things still going strong are the lemon balm, garlic chives, and artichokes (but just barely).  I do have a trellis of morning glories that help redeem the pathetic look of the rest of the beds, thankfully.


There is not too much of interest going on in the center beds at this time of year.  Not really any blooms and the foliage is looking a bit worse for wear.  Everything is longing for the cooler autumn temperatures.

The fenceline has alternating rose bushes and lavender.  The roses aren't blooming much at the moment, but the lavender looks like it is getting ready to put on a show in the next month or so.  The only splash of color in the center gardens are my orange cosmos, which the bees are thankful for.


The canna lilies and black-eyed susans have ended their showy displays, so their isn't much to look at in this bed other than the excessive amounts of weeds that I'll need to pull up in the next few weeks.  Sigh.


As this month's theme goes, so goes the bulb bed.  No blooms to brighten up the bed, wilting and burn leaves from the hot TX sun, and a surplus of weeds calling my name.


Not much to see here.


Or here.


At least the front of the house looks pretty green despite the hot weather and lack of rain.  Still, no blooms right now.  That will definitely change, come September.  Until then, I just need to try to keep everything alive.

Thanks to Helen over at The Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month View every month, where gardeners all over the world post pictures of how their gardens are progressing.

Monday, July 6, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: Patriotic Celebration

The patriotic colors of red, white and blue.  That's today's theme for Cathy's In a Vase on Monday.  Why?  Two reasons:

1) The United States just celebrated it's 239th birthday on July 4th. GO USA!

2) The US women just won the World Cup 5-2 against Japan on July 5th. GO WOMEN!

I'd say the American Pride has been strong the last few days, and I'm on board.  What a great country I live in.

Today's patriotic vase is brought to you by the American Flag (thanks Betsy Ross), red zinnias (thanks to my good gardening/blogging friend Melissa of Dirt and Wine for my birthday seeds), blue plumbago, and white shasta daisies.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

June 2015 Harvests

Looking back on my June veggie and fruit harvests, I can see it was a very productive month.  Of course, I don't need to look at the pictures to figure that out.  I can just open my fridge to see it overflowing with cucumber and tomatoes to see that I have more produce than my household can consume.

I was especially proud of my blackberry harvest.  I planted 6-7 blackberry plants about three years ago, and didn't get a single blackberry harvest until this year.  Unfortunately, only one of my plants survived the last few hot and dry summers, but I still got a decent harvest from the one plant.  I planted another three plants this year, which seem to really be taking off, so hopefully I'll get some good harvests in the coming years, maybe even enough to make some jam.

With our continued heavy rainfalls, I've only had to supplement watering about once or twice this season, which is drastically different from prior years, when my garden required daily watering.  I recently learned from a Central Texas Gardener episode that some stress on plants by not getting daily watering is actually good for them and makes them more productive, so I now only water the garden about once or twice a week, if there is no rainfall.  The garden seems to be doing well with that method.

I am constantly cooking old and new recipes with the produce.  I use as much as I can fresh, as well as dabbled in some of my first canning attempts.  And my family, friends, and co-workers are willing to let me unload any excess produce on them.

Here are some of the ways I've been using my produce:

  • Tomatoes and peppers chopped and added to egg dishes
  • Blackberries on top of cereal or with yogurt and granola for a parfait
  • Tomatoes and cucumbers added to every sandwich
  • Cucumber soup
  • Caprese salad, with fresh basil from the garden
  • Sliced cucumbers dipped in hummus
  • Blackberries with crackers, cheese, and charcuterie
Side Dish
  • Tomato and cucumber salad with lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Fresh babaganoush with garden eggplant

Here are the June 2015 harvest tallies (37 lbs 7.8 oz total)!:
  • 1 lb 13.5 oz blackberries
  • 10 lb 10 oz pickling cucumbers (19)
  • 7 lb 6.7 oz slicing cucumbers (14)
  • 2 lb 10.3 oz Black Beauty eggplant (3)
  • 1 lb 6.8 0z Ichiban eggplant (5)
  • 4.5 oz Blue Lake green beans
  • 0.8 oz Cayenne peppers
  • 4.3 oz Gypsy peppers (3)
  • 12.5 oz Beefmaster tomatoes (1)
  • 7.5 oz Better Boy tomatoes (1)
  • 6.2 oz Brandywine tomatoes (1)
  • 3 lb 1.3 oz Celebrity tomatoes (8)
  • 3.5 oz Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb 13.5 oz Early Girl tomatoes (8)
  • 1 lb 1.6 oz Grape tomatoes
  • 1 lb 9.2 oz Juliet tomatoes
  • 2 lb 7.8 oz Pear tomatoes
  • 15.8 oz Roma tomatoes (7)

2015 total harvests to date (68 lbs 2.0 oz):
  • 1 lb 13.5 oz blackberries
  • 1 lb 1.2 oz broccoli
  • 5 lb 13.9 oz Fordhook chard
  • 5 lb 13.2 oz Ruby Red chard
  • 7.1 oz cilantro
  • 6 lb 10.3 oz Flash collards
  • 10 lb 10 oz pickling cucumbers (19)
  • 7 lb 6.7 oz slicing cucumbers (14)
  • 3 lb 7.9 oz Black Beauty eggplant (3)
  • 1 lb 6.8 0z Ichiban eggplant (5)
  • 7 colanders salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula)
  • 2 lb 0 oz Blue Lake green beans
  • 3 lb 13.9 oz kale
  • 1 lb 2.9 oz Meyer lemons (5)
  • 6.5 oz parsley
  • 0.8 oz Cayenne peppers
  • 2.4 oz Flavorburst yellow pepper (1)
  • 7.1 oz Gypsy peppers (5)
  • 0.8 oz Mariachi pepper (1)
  • 2.9 oz Pablano pepper (2)
  • 7.5 oz Cherry Bell radish
  • 4.0 oz spinach
  • 12.5 oz Beefmaster tomatoes (1)
  • 7.5 oz Better Boy tomatoes (1)
  • 6.2 oz Brandywine tomatoes (1)
  • 3 lb 1.3 oz Celebrity tomatoes (8)
  • 3.5 oz Cherry tomatoes
  • 2 lb 15.2 oz Early Girl tomatoes (12)
  • 1 lb 3.4 oz Grape tomatoes
  • 1 lb 9.2 oz Juliet tomatoes
  • 2 lb 12.0 oz Pear tomatoes
  • 15.8 oz Roma tomatoes (7)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - Fawning Over June Surprises

My dogs tend to enjoy the wildlife in my garden just as much, or maybe even more than I do.  It is not uncommon for me to find them sniffing out a rodent, or "playing" with a toad out in our backyard.  However, I was VERY surprised to find them licking a baby deer in my backyard a couple weeks ago.

Besides the fact that I was surprised (and very relieved) that they limited themselves to just licking the deer while fervently wagging their tails, I was more surprised to find the little guy (or gal) in my FENCED IN backyard at all.  How did he get in?  Well, considering he is an itty bitty, teeny weeny little thing and probably not more than a day old, he must have squeezed through the fence bars, which are probably only 4-5 inches apart.

Look at those long, skinny legs!  Momma deer must have given birth to the little fawn in my front yard the day before, and thought that it seemed like a safe enough place to leave her babe while she went out foraging for food (I'm not so sure she still thinks that after this little guy's excitement with my puppies).  It is not uncommon for momma deer to leave their young for a full day, returning at night when they feel it is safe to do so.

Apparently in the first week or so of a fawn's life, their danger instinct is less of the normal "flight" and more so "hide and stay very very still."  This little one thought that my flower beds made a nice hiding place.

But something still gave him away...;-)

With the lack of the flight instinct yet, I was able to get very very close to the fawn.  I guess this is why my dogs were even able to get close enough to lick him.  

The fawn moved around into different garden beds throughout the day, and one or two times, I let my dogs out in the backyard to see if they could find him (since I didn't know if he was still out there, or if he had wandered back out through the fence).  Atticus - the true hunter of my two standard poodles, was always able to find him for us.  The fawn's extreme stillness defense worked for him in both cases because, after Atticus sniffed him out, he didn't ever actually find the baby deer, meaning, he didn't realize he found the deer because the fawn was so still that he wasn't noticed by my dog.

After getting a decent photo session in and enjoying the baby wildlife, my husband and I went about our Saturday social plans.  When we returned later in the evening (after yet another I really live in Texas?  Feels more like Florida), we found the fawn moved to another garden bed again, this time enjoying a nice nap in the lavender (maybe he thought the pungent scent may throw off any predators?).

As it turns out, our little deer wasn't an only child.  He had a little twin hanging out in my next door neighbor's yard!  Double the cuteness!! I wondered why the babies weren't huddled together and later found out that momma deer will usually separate their young so that they have a greater chance of survival.  Makes sense, but I don't like thinking that anything bad will happen to either of these little cuties.

I knew it was likely that the momma deer would come around late in the evening to collect her young, so I left my back gate open to make sure she could find her little twin that was hanging out in my back garden beds.  Before heading to bed, I looked outside and saw momma deer nursing her baby in my backyard - what an awesome sight!  I was so relieved that momma came back and found her little ones, as well as safely made their way out of my backyard...but not before nibbling on some of my strawberries and phlox!

This is my absolute favorite garden wildlife experience this year.  Thanks to Tina over at My Gardener Says for hosting the Wildlife Wednesday meme on the first Wednesday of every month!