Sunday, September 30, 2018

September's Garden (2018)


September has been a typically horrible month.  It began scorching hot with everything dying in spite of my constant watering.  Then last week it began to rain and would not stop - for five straight days.  Now it's cooler and wonderful outside. When it slowed to a drizzle for a few minutes yesterday, I rushed to the garden to see if anything had survived the deluge.

The two rows furthest from the house will be the winter hoop houses.  Some of the seeds and winter seedlings have been planted but there are more to be transplanted. The little baby rabbit who was munching my seedlings has grown up and moved away.  


In the next row over, the okra are loving the hot weather.  The basil beneath has been cut back and turned into pesto for the winter.  More leaves are sprouting so there will be more to harvest.


It's hard to believe but this is the row where the world's best watermelon vine grew last month.  Four smaller melons were picked before it died.  (I picked all of them when they were perfectly ripe.  I'm so proud of myself.)  It appears the watermelon leaves shaded the strawberry plants too much so most died. There are a few survivors at the further end on the other side of the parsnips where the vines were not thick.  It's not a disappointment because I want to try a different variety.    

I have begun turning the soil over and it is rich, loose compost (AWESOME). This area is too good to let go to waste so it will be a third hoop house for this winter.  I have only planted a few seedlings.


The tomato plants are overworked and look spindly.  They did a great job producing an abundance of tomatoes and now they will gather strength to begin growing again.  


The peanut plants that sprouted from the few left in the ground from last year's crop are spreading.  They are tangled in the black netting but managed to grow through it.


Beside the tomatoes, are the rows of green beans, Lima beans, and sweet potatoes.  We had trouble with armadillos again and this was their favorite digging spot.  They tore the ground up and killed some of the plants before one was shot by Dustin (I am so grateful) right in the middle of this area.  Since they may carry the leprosy virus and blood probably splattered, I have not harvested any of the beans.  They have invaded before and the horrible details are here Something Pretty, Something Putrid and Something Pretty Putrid.


The sweet potato vines are taking over the yard.  Since we still have another armadillo occasionally visiting, I have not picked any of the sweet potato leaves for salads. 


At the end of the bean and sweet potato row is the Lima bean arch.  The tomato which sprouted under it has not done well. We only picked two tomatoes.  It is too shaded beneath.




Today the rain FINALLY stopped so I was able to do some harvesting.  This is the arch with the yard-long green beans and it is out of control.  No beans were picked for four days because of the rain.  


How well did the arch work this summer?  The cucumbers planted early in the spring were failures, but the beans which grew slower took over the arch and are prolific.  The biggest failure is the height of the arch - it's too high; I can't reach the top without climbing in a chair and that's been a disaster.  I didn't factor in how thick the leaves would grow preventing me from reaching through.  


A success was the White Oxheart and Yellow Stuffer tomato plants growing up the poles with the beans.   

White Oxheart
White Oxheart has a mild flavor, is a pale yellowish white, has almost no seeds, is mostly flesh with easily peeled skins so they don't need blanching when canning.  I use them fresh and to add color to canned salsa.  I don't use them for sauces.  Yellow spaghetti is unappetizing.

WHITE OXHEART TOMATOES
The Yellow Stuffer tomato looks exactly like a bell pepper.  The inside is hollow with very few seeds and is best when stuffed.

Half-ripe Yellow Stuffer
My preference is to stuff it with chicken salad, chopped onions, and peppers


The lower front of the arch has bell peppers and Kuroba carrots.  The peppers produced well but I won't do it again.  The arch must be facing due south to ensure there is enough sunlight below; mine is at an angle.  The beans and tomatoes overhead are getting thick so there is barely enough light now.  I think lettuce or herbs would have been a better choice.

September is the month where the summer garden begins winding down and the winter garden starts.  Exactly what is still growing in the vegetable garden?  

These are heat lovers and will not survive the first frost
Louisana Long Pod Okra
Bell peppers
Malabar Vining Spinach
Sweet potatoes: Orange and purple varieties
Lima beans: Henderson bush beans, Calico Pole, Black, Peruvian bush
Green beans: Yard-long and bush
Tomatoes: Big Beef, Aunt Ruby's Green, White Oxheart, Yellow Stuffer, White Cherry
Peanuts
Herbs: Dill, Calendula, Lemon Verbena
Basils:  Licorice, Holy, Lemon, Sweet, Mammoth leaf, Lettuce leaf

These can withstand cool weather and will continue through fall and part of the winter
Assorted Lettuces
Parsnips
Strawberries (5 plants are left)
Carrots - Kuroba (2 left) Danvers Half-long, Cosmic Purple
A few kales and cabbages are left from the late spring planting.  They have been stripped to the stalks because I am eager for every little leaf. 

Next month my focus will be getting the seeds and seedlings for the winter garden planted.  They need time to grow before the bad weather arrives.  The other big problem to solve is finding a way to reach the top of my arches.  This morning my chair sunk in the mud and broke while I was standing on the seat stretching for the highest Lima bean.  I was not hurt as I tumbled, but my delicious morning cup of coffee was spilled!  It was a catastrophe!  Good coffee wasted.  At least I wasn't embarrassed because no one saw me but Scooter.


"I saw it and I thought it was funny! Ha! Ha!" laughed Scooter.


Additional Links



Friday, September 21, 2018

SWARMED!!!!!


As feared, my neighbor's honey bees have discovered my feeders.  Neither I nor my hummingbirds are pleased.



The bee guards only slowed the bees down but didn't stop them.  They covered the spouts, the hummingbirds poked the invaders but they didn't move. They swarmed me when I walked out on the deck because it seems I smelled sweet.  These pictures were made by sticking my camera through a slightly raised kitchen window.  



The bees stayed on the feeders until they drank it dry then crawled inside to get the last bit of sugar off the wall (This is the feeder without bee guards).  Feeding my neighbor's ravenous bees is not something I am willing to do.


 If anyone knows what I can do, I need advice.


UPDATE:  PROBLEM SOLVED
I took the advice of Christel, who commented and suggested searching the internet for a solution. Bees and wasps swarming feeders appears to be a common problem; however, I learned if you spray the feeder with cooking oil (I used olive oil) it makes it too slippery for the bees to land.  They slip and slide then fall off.  It is hilarious to watch!  We have been standing at the kitchen window laughing all afternoon.  This one landed on the top where there was no oil and walked around and around in circles trying to find the spout.  He wisely avoided the oily areas.


As for the hummingbirds, they too had trouble with the oil.  They were also slipping and sliding as they tried to drink.


We laughed at them too.  


After a while, they discovered if they leaned forward as they drank they could balance and not slip off.


As soon as the bees left, the hummingbirds all returned.  They were hungry and didn't mind the laughter coming through the kitchen window.  

Oh, if anyone is concerned.  No hummingbird was harmed in the filming of this post.  They are BIRDS and don't fall down.  They fly!

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Additional Links About My Hummingbirds

Feathered Neighbors, 2018

"Ping Pong the Great" returned leading the flock.
Today's Blooms, April 15, 2018

Feathered Neighbors, 2017, "Ping Pong the Great"

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Wild Bird Wednesday

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Feathered Neighbors, 2018

View from my kitchen window.
The hummingbirds are once again migrating through my area on their trip to South America.  Each year I welcome them with feeders full of sugar water; they love it.  We have feeders attached to the rail on the deck outside my kitchen window.


This year  "Ping Pong the Great" led the migration in the early spring then left.  He has only returned a few times so I think he has discovered a sweeter flower.  We have missed him but many more have taken his place.  


My nearest neighbor moved: their house and feeders are empty.  It appears all their hummingbirds have migrated to my yard.  To feed the large flock, we have added two more feeders.  This one is hanging on the wall beside the window.  It has a little extra sugar to encourage them to come close.  It isn't the first time I have enticed someone with sweet treats to get what I want.


Peeping Tom.  He is hovering around the kitchen window looking at me demanding the empty feeder be filled.

  
They are always hungry.




The only thing they enjoy more than drinking nectar is fighting amongst themselves. This is their favorite feeder.  The white plastic bee guards were ripped away by the rascally raccoon who was emptying it during the night a few weeks ago.  A plastic net wrapped around the deck rail discouraged him from returning.  Another close neighbor keeps bee hives but they haven't discovered the feeders yet.  If they do, and if they swarm (again), I will buy new guards.


There was an empty spot on the feeder but this naughty hummingbird decided to smack the one sitting, drinking and behaving.  Even though I haven't tried drinking from each separate spout, I have no doubt the syrup tastes the same.





While this one was enjoying the feeder, another hovered a long time behind him.  It was a staring contest.  There was an empty spot on the feeder but neither one would move.



During the daytime, they disappear to enjoy the blooms in my garden and the fields.  When the sun begins to set, all meet at the feeders for one last battle.  They fight, attack, then right before dark sign a truce and everyone sits down for dinner.



They are tanking up to make their long trip south and will be leaving soon.  I will miss them but won't miss constantly filling the feeders.


Additional Links About My Hummingbirds

UPDATE:  A week after this post, my feeders were SWARMED!!!!

"Ping Pong the Great" returned leading the flock.


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