Sunday, July 15, 2018

Today's Blooms, July 15, 2018

July seems to be a typical month for our area (southern middle Tennessee, USA).  The rain has stopped, the heat has soared and the humidity is brutal.  Working outside is not an option.  I am hunkered down inside hibernating until September's cool weather.  I did manage to rush out and take pictures while constantly wiping the condensation from the camera lens.

The late-blooming daylilies are almost finished so the phlox and coneflowers have taken over.  


My favorite is last.  A few zinnias reseeded from last year's flowers and surprised me.  I know better than to expect them to last long, but I am enjoying them while they are alive.  Growing zinnias is hard for me. 

"Stop whining about the hot weather." snapped Scooter.  "At least you aren't wearing a fur coat!"

"I stand corrected and Pack Leader will fix that problem." replied Mom.    

"I am completely naked now.  It's so embarrassing."

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Scooter Gets Dumped

Mom, I am trusting you to take care of me.
I did it! I did it! I rode in the car without throwing up all over Mom!  We have been practicing taking short trips and today, Mom promised to show me someplace exciting. She claims there is a place close by that is popular with all the local dogs because of the exotic scents. All I needed to do was to sit quietly and not regurgitate inside Mom's purse again.

Since this was a special trip, Pack Leader installed our hitch cargo carrier on the back of the car to hold our valuables.

It fits inside the trailer hitch like this.

Next, they put our impressive smelling trash cans full of noxious decaying garbage on top of the tray.  It was strapped down so we would not lose anything important.

The backseat was covered in old sheets, just in case, and everything was ready.

Then it was time to depart.  I was jittery, my heart was racing but I bravely climbed in.  We headed down the drive and into the unknown world.


Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

After a few minutes, we arrived.    

"Hey, Scooter, this is your ole buddy Max, glad to see you out and about. Welcome to the best smelling place in the county!  Everybody who is anybody loves to come here for the sights and smells. They call it 'The Dump.' Why people want to throw away all of their good junk is hard to understand."

"Everything is recycled first into different containers and piles." 

"All of the old oil is dumped in this building."

"There are different piles for various categories of items."

"They even give away free paint."  

"This is the best part of all.  Anything that can't be recycled is put in this huge powerful dumpster."

"The attendant pushes this button to start the machine."

"It smashes everything flat and then you really can smell the astonishing odors.  The experience is more enjoyable when standing downwind.  Don't you just love it here?" asked Max.

I do love it.  It was the most exciting place I have ever visited; however, there's no place like home.

Mom was extremely proud of me when we made it back home.  She said it will be a few months before we have enough garbage to return and I will get to go again.  In the meantime, we will continue taking short trips until I am able to travel a long way.  I want to visit Nana and Beau in Alabama. It was an exciting grand adventure but it wore me out!  Pack Leader and I decided to celebrate my success by resting our weary bones on the couch.  He read the news while I...

While I...


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Saturday, June 30, 2018

June's Garden (2018)

June's garden is still being planted and is much smaller than any previous year; however, it's compensating by growing extremely rapid.  The front arch was bare one month ago.

May's Garden
This month it's almost covered with leaves. The cucumbers are growing up the back wire fence support, pole beans and tomatoes are going up the center pole and side arches. The leaves have been removed from the lower part of the bean vine to allow sunlight on the tomatoes.  What I didn't anticipate is how the cucumbers would grow toward the morning sun (which rises on the right side of the picture).  I assumed they would fall over the top of the fence but instead, they are growing up toward the top of the arch.  I keep unwinding the vines and moving them to the left side but they ignore me and grow toward the right.

The center tomato going up the pole is a Yellow Stuffer which is hollow on the inside and will be stuffed with salads.  The two tomato plants on either side are White OxHearts which are white and shaped like an oxheart. They have a mild flavor that I love.  Both are heirloom varieties that I have not grown in a few years.

June's Garden
Underneath the arch are two bell pepper plants with carrots below them.  The Kuroda carrot seed packet was not very full (considering what I paid for it) so I did a second planting of Danvers variety a few days ago in the empty spots.  

Don't be impressed by the big pepper. When I bought the plant from the store it was already half grown. You can be impressed by the cucumber.

Directly behind the cucumber arch on the right, are sweet potatoes.  The next row going toward the left is Henderson Bush Lima beans and Dixie Butterpeas.  Next are Giant (and they are giant) Peruvian Bush Lima beans and the empty spot in front of them is planted with green beans.  They did not sprout so it was planted again with another variety a few days ago.

At the far end of the bean and sweet potato row, is another arch.  This one has Calico Lima Pole beans.  The support pole in the center has a surprise tomato that has sprouted. 

Behind the Lima Bean arch is the area where the Collard Greens grew for two years.  These run parallel to the other rows.  Potatoes are at the bottom of the picture.  The empty spot above them has green beans which were planted a few days ago.  Above the bare area are watermelons and cantaloupes.  They will grow toward the sun away from the shade and should overtake the beans and potatoes.  The beans should grow higher than the melon vines.  When we dig the potatoes, it will be easy to push the melon vines aside.  Well, at least that is the plan.

The tomato row is beside the bean area and will take some explaining.  This year I decided to use an old piece of fence with four-inch squares for support. It will require less time tying them up since they can be threaded through the holes.

My preference is heirlooms because I know exactly how they will produce.  Every year my few local stores usually sell hybrid plants - they always stock the newest varieties and it changes every year.  Most of my tomatoes came from the local garden center and are hybrids.  This year I didn't have the time to grow my own from seeds. These tomatoes are Hybrid Big Beef and I will probably never see them again for sale.  So far, they are doing great.

The tomatoes are running up the fence and underneath carrots are growing.  A few flowers, one Malabar spinach vine, three peanut plants and one mustard plant have all sprouted in the area.  It is a bit crowded.

Beside the tomato fence, is the row of everbearing strawberries which are dormant now.  They will begin producing again in a few months and will continue until frost.  A watermelon plant appeared in an empty spot and looks like it will take over the area.

The left row will be okra and herbs.  Nothing is tall enough to photograph.

Strawberries & one watermelon
Okra and herbs
When I said everything was late this year, I meant it was really late.  Everything in these two rows should have been planted at the beginning of April.

Both rows will be my hoop houses this winter.  Since I am so far behind I decided to try putting them up early to see if it will make a difference.  Only one is up now and the other one will go up in a few days.  I am trying to see if using them will keep bugs away and shade the cool weather plants in the heat of summer.  The second row on the far left is in the process of being planted.

Soon to be a hoop house
Uncovered hoop house

All of these are cool weather plants which have been sitting on the porch waiting for me to get them out in the garden.  My assumption was that they would immediately bolt and die from the heat but they haven't!

Blue Curled Kale
Nero di Toscana Kale
What a surprise, Siberian Kale is loving the hot weather!  The Scarlet Kale is not very scarlet because it is the cold weather that changes the color.

Scarlet Kale
Dwarf Siberian Kale

Tronchuda Kale
All Season Cabbage

Brunswick Cabbage
Swiss Chard

This was a shocker, Michihili is loving the hot weather!
UPDATE: I originally called this Green Seoul but later found the name tag buried deep under the plant.

Not everything loves the summer. Tokyo Bekana has not done well at all - it can't take the heat or dry soil.  I must water it every other day and if the ground is anything less than soaking wet, it wilts completely.  Bugs seem to find it irresistible and I have had to spray to keep it from being devoured. I think it is because the leaves are thin and tender.  Anything that requires spraying and constant watering is not for me. In the future, it will only be grown in the spring and fall.

Tokyo Bekana
Aichi, Komatsuna, and Tyfon are oriental vegetables which have thin, tender leaves but seem to be able to handle the weather. We will see how they do in July. 


Komatsuna Mustard Spinach

This year's garden has been different than years past because everything has been planted one to three months later.  My growing season is six months long from April 15th to October 15th. We have rainy springs, then the rain stops in the summer.  It has always been a rush to get everything planted so it can either be finished before the sweltering dry heat of July or so it can be established well enough to withstand the droughts. Even though we have unlimited, practically free well water, I hate to spend hours watering the garden.

Some of the things I noticed that are different is that my okra missed the onslaught of Japanese beetles; however, the one and only hibiscus in the front flowerbed felt their fury. The flea beetles also did not have anything to feast upon when they hatched (ha, ha). The cabbage looper butterflies are circling the garden looking for delicacies and are finding none -  all are under the hoop house. There will be no summer squash because of the squash vine borers. I can't win against them.  Planting later has its pros and cons.  I am undecided as to which way is the best, early or late.

June Bug
"It is hot outside, hot in the garage, hot in the basement, hot everywhere!" moaned Scooter.  "Dustin has moved his smelly technical thingies into the living room so he can work where it is cooler.   I am helping him by blocking the air from the fan.  It would be a shame if he got too cold."

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Last Month's May Garden (2018)

Last Year's June Garden (2017)