Saturday, September 30, 2017

September's Garden (2017)

The word which describes September's garden should be "neglect". It has remained hot and humid until the end of the month, and I am tired of it. All I have accomplished is harvesting what was ripe, ignoring the remainder and planting seeds for the winter garden. Sometimes you have had enough, and this month was my limit. Next month will be rough so I have allowed myself time away to do other things.

The first row, closest to the field is okra which has grown so tall I must bend the plant over or stand on a stool to reach those at the top.

The pods need to be picked every other day or they become tough.  Since I am known to be neglectful, I tried a new variety this year, Louisiana 16 inch Long Pod (upper) which is supposed to remain tender at longer lengths.  It does stay tender a bit longer than my usual favorite, White Velvet Okra (below), but not that much, certainly not what the seed catalog claimed.  Before the large seeds turn black, they can be used to add okra flavor in recipes such as rice, soup, stirfry or beans.  Cut the top and bottom from the pod, then peel it like a banana and knock the seeds out.

The row next to the okra is Henderson Bush Lima Beans. They love the hot miserable weather and have managed to produce a second harvest. 

It didn't appear the second crop would make it before frost, but yesterday I checked and they are loaded and ready to be picked.

Next is the row of an assortment of odd things.  This area will be used for one of my winter hoop houses.  Soon almost everything in this row will die when it frosts. The seedlings which were started earlier this month will be planted here.

The strawberry bed is in desperate need of weeding; it too has been neglected.  The flavor has improved and they are sweet again.  It is time to put the net back over because the birds have realized they are now delicious.

Peanuts are ready and waiting for a good rain to soften the soil; then they will be pulled up by hand and stacked in the front yard to dry.  I must put them close to the house or the squirrels will help themselves.  It will be a big job.

The tomatoes are being invaded by the sweet potato vines. The sweet potatoes will be the last thing harvested.  I like to wait so they can grow as big as possible.  A hard frost will kill the vines but the potatoes will store under the soil for a while.  It will be a difficult chore because the whole area must be dug and every inch searched for potatoes.

There is always a surprise. The sunflower finished blooming and looks ragged. Since the birds love the seeds, I left it up for a while longer.  Beside the root, in a small empty spot late in the season, I planted a banana melon seed.  It has circled beneath the sunflower plant, grown up the stalk and out on a branch.  Will they ripen before frost?  I sure hope so.

This month the compost pile looks even worse than last month. The Tahitian Butternut Squash has begun to suffer. The vine on the fence has deteriorated but the vine galloping across the field is in better shape. As they spread across the ground they root as they grow.  The vine on the fence is limited to only receiving nutrition from the single root under the compost pile.  Soon I will see how many squashes are hidden in the field.

The volunteer bean plant which sprouted in the compost pile and grew up the blocks beside the fire pit is growing rapidly.  I have discovered it is some type of Lima bean.  I love Lima beans!  The more the better.

Since I am located in lower middle Tennessee, we were hit first by the tail of hurricane Harvey, then by the tail of Hurricane Irma. We received high winds and rain, rain, rain.  Not enough to do any major damage, but enough to make everything soggy for weeks.  I never thought I would live to see the day I said it rained too much in August and September.

My Intense Purple Amaranth could not handle the winds along with soggy roots.  It is gone, but not before dropping a million seeds for next year.

Before Hurricanes
After Hurricanes
My tomatoes cracked and rotted on the vine due to all the water.  We were able to harvest enough to eat fresh but not enough to can.  This was not a good year for tomatoes.

Of course, the saga continued with my second yellow squash plant also being devoured by squash vine borers.  No surprise.  I did open up the vine so you could see it to be repulsed and I could enjoy smashing it beneath my shoe.  Revenge is sweet.

What little time I have spent in the garden has been used planting for winter.  As usual, I am far behind.  The seedlings should have been started around the middle of August but, better late than never.  The best way I have found to start my seedlings is in paper cups I make from newspapers.  Avoid the slick colored pages because the ink may be toxic.  I fold the newspaper, roll it around the wooden mold, put a drop of glue on the edge, then press the bottom shut.

This is my plant nursery.  It is on the east side of the front porch and catches the early morning warm sunshine. The white siding reflects the light back and the concrete holds heat long into the night.  Warmth is not important now but it will matter soon when the nights begin to cool.  When they dry, the water faucet is close which makes it easy to fill the boxes with water.   

Plastic CD holders with a hole drilled in the bottom are perfect for starting seeds.  After they sprout, I move them to paper cups filled with a mixture of dirt and potting soil then place them in cardboard box tops lined with plastic trash bags.  After the seedlings are a few inches tall, it will be easy to transplant the whole cup into the ground.  The paper cups keep the roots from being damaged so the plants will not be shocked.  After they are planted, the plastic bags are trashed and the cardboard is composted.  

Empty spots in the garden have been planted with saved seeds from last year's winter garden.  Nothing has been weeded yet.  All I did was rake the ground and throw the seeds out.  This is an empty flower bed in the front yard that I never got around to planting.  This area was chosen because I did not have enough empty spots in the vegetable garden during August.

This area is in the back of the vegetable garden by the woods and has been munched by many critters.  Since showing it in last months garden update, the few plants left have grown large and I have sprinkled seeds in the empty holes.  This will become hoop houses when cold weather arrives.

These are the collard greens that seeded themselves from the plants that bolted in the Spring and we have already eaten many of the leaves.  This area will also be under a hoop house although collard greens don't really need to be protected.  However, they are my favorite and I want to make sure I have enough in February.  

Next month we transition from summer to winter gardening.  Around October 15th, the first frost may hit and kill the summer garden.  All the warm weather produce must be harvested by then while at the same time preparing the winter garden.  It is a frantic race against the clock as I watch the weather report constantly.  

Harvesting summer crops will begin with digging and drying herbs. The last of the beans will need to be picked, shelled and frozen.  The peanuts will be dug, washed, dried then it will be time to dig the sweet potatoes.  The butternut squash must be found where they grew out in the field, pears will need to be picked, dehydrated or made into jam.  The pecans may be ready to harvest and must be watched closely or the squirrels will get them.  At the last minute right before frost, the remaining tomatoes, peppers, okra, and herbs will need to be picked.  Strawberries prefer the cooler weather and will begin to produce.  It will be a hard month.

The weather will be magnificent.  Fall in Tennessee makes living through the summers worth it.  Every second outside is enjoyable.  Mornings will be spent on the back deck with a cup of coffee.  It will be difficult to come inside at night.  Evenings will be enjoyed on the front porch watching the sunset with a cup of hot tea.  When it cools, blankets will be used; when it becomes cold, I will drag out an electric blanket, plug it in and stay even longer.

This morning's sunrise from the back deck. 
This past September was hot but Scooter knew how to cope while waiting for someone slow to finish picking okra.  First, find shade beneath the biggest plant where everyone can witness your misery.

Next, face Mom (she is the easiest to manipulate) with your eyes closed, pant hard and act as if you are exhausted.  Make sure there is a leaf hanging in your face and pretend to be too tired to move your head.  She will not notice how goofy you look, nor will she think you are beyond lazy because you won't bother turning your head to avoid the leaf in your eye. Just keep panting. Eventually, she will feel sympathy and let you back into the air-conditioned house.

If she takes too long to notice, peep out and see if she is looking then pant harder.  This trick works every time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

R.I.P., Hemerocallis fulva

I am so distraught.  It is time to celebrate WildFlower Wednesday for September and link up with other people sharing wildflowers from around the world.  I, on the other hand, with a heavy heart must tell a sad story of destruction...and MURDER!

My post for WildFlower Wednesday this past June shared my amazement of this daylily who had self-seeded on the pavement.  I had been watching it grow and spread for years because it was a marvel of strength and hardiness.  It planted itself, grew and spread without help from anyone.  It bloomed and brightened this hostile barren spot while cheering all who passed.  It asked for nothing more than a bit of sunshine, a little soil, and occasional raindrops.

This week I once again traveled through its' small hometown and as always, glanced over in anticipation of a bit more multiplication.  To my horror, this is what my eyes beheld!


June 2017
September 2017
It was gone!  Destroyed!  MURDERED!  This garish yellow, metal plate now occupied the place of honor previously claimed by the tenacious daylily.

While attempting to control my emotions and refrain from collapsing with dismay, I began a quest for clues as to who committed this appalling crime.  While looking for fingerprints and footprints, I noticed all criminal evidence was hidden under a layer of new pavement.   

June 2017
September 2017
NEW PAVEMENT!  Who would have the resources to bury all traces of their nefarious doings under a layer of asphalt?  My mind raced and then recalled my July Wildflower Wednesday post where I complimented this road paving crew and said: "they were way smarter than sheep." Oh, they were smart alright, smart enough to think they could commit murder and get away with it. Not as long as I am around to shine a light on their guilt and show the whole world these mens' dastardly deed.  They steamrolled over the world's most beautiful flower!  All in the name of progress.  I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

Shame, shame, shame.
Hemerocallis, fulva, Ditch Daylily, ? - 2017
You will be missed by many.