Monday, September 30, 2019

September's Garden (2019)

The one word to describe my garden this month is "devastated."  

It has been six weeks since it has rained and the temperatures have hovered in the '90s.  Today's high will be 94 degrees (Fahrenheit) and there is still no rain in the forecast.  Despite being watered, most of the vegetables have died.

The yard-long beans over the arch are still producing a few tough, short beans even though the leaves are almost all gone.

All of the other beans are dead except for the Limas.

I love Lima Beans.

This is the front middle of the garden.

This is the view standing in the middle looking right.

And this is standing in the same spot looking left.

Everything is suffering, some things have survived but nothing is thriving.  We are still getting more than we can eat but that is only because I planted so much.  It has been a big disappointment.  Too much of my time has been spent watering.  Even though we have cheap well water, the fear of running it dry is real.  Sucking mud up into the pump would be an expensive repair so we can only water for short periods of time.  Choosing what lives and what dies is mandatory.

Slurp, slurp, slurp.

As usual, all my peppers fell over.  I tried propping them up with bricks, but then they fell the other way.

As an experiment, I followed the advice of another gardener, put them close together to avoid staking.  Didn't work.

Crowding just made it hard to find the ripe ones and - SCOOTER!  MOVE!  I am trying to take pictures!

"I see a cat! I smell a cat! I hate cats!"

Anyway, there is still a little bit of life at the far end of the garden.  

This is the sweet potatoes.  If you look closely, you can see a few green leaves.  

The yellow squash that I celebrated on my post last month, was killed by a squash vine borer and died a few days later.  That makes squash vine borers 100 to my score of 0.  However, the Long Island Cheese is still producing. 

The vine puts down a deep main root and also additional strong roots as it travels across the ground.  The lesson learned is to no longer run winter squash up a support fence because they need the extra roots to survive a drought.

It is still able to produce new squash - SCOOTER, GET OUT OF THE WAY!  Stop sniffing the squash!  I am trying to take pictures!

Sniff, sniff, sniff.  A cat was here! I smell a cat!

Pardon the interruption again, okra loves heat and has been able to endure the drought.  

The Lousiana 16 Inch Okra has grown so tall I can't reach the top without bending it over.  

If I had to guess, I would say we could have had five or ten times the harvest we are getting now if it had rained.  It is hard to know how to prepare for our weather.  Some years it floods, other years it is drought.  If it always flooded, I could raise my beds, but that would be disastrous in a drought.  If it was always dry, I could put the hardy plants together and irrigate.  It is the not knowing that keeps me off balance.  

So I look ahead to the winter garden.  The row in the center with the assorted unknowns was planted right before the drought began.  It is doing well.  Nothing else can be planted in dust so I wait for the fall rains to (hopefully) return.  In the meantime, I water.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Summer Sunflowers

It seems I have received complaints about my writing from two of my most loyal readers.

My mother and brother were not happy with the ending of my hummingbird post.  I am in the dog house.  So to keep peace in the family, these are some of the cheery sunflowers blooming around town.  Nothing can be sad about sunflowers, right?


This is the empty lot behind Walmart.  Year-round it is covered in thorns, thistles, and weeds, but for a while during the summer, it becomes awash with color from self-planted sunflowers. 

This field is located deep in the country on a backroad only a few travel.  Every year sunflowers surround a cornfield.  I asked the elderly farmer if he planted them to multiply beneficial insects, improve pollination, and raise the harvest yields of his corn.  "Nope," he replied to me.  "Planted them 'cause they're pretty."

Even Lowes has sunflowers.

This single sunflower was growing up against a car shed in an unkempt yard.

On the uppermost bloom sat a ravenous small bird enjoying the seeds.

After he had devoured those on top, he flipped upside down and continued eating.  That means he could swallow up.

When I stepped back, I noticed something horrifying beside the sunflower.  

The homeowners who had planted and nurtured the cheerful sunflower had recently lost their period home.  It had caught fire, burned to the ground and perished.  All that was left was the lonely, sad sunflower.

 It appears I can't write anything with a happy ending.  Guess I'm not out of the dog house yet.

Additional Links

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Today's Blooms, September 15, 2019

There has been no rain for almost five weeks, the temperatures have been in the mid-'90s Fahrenheit and there is no rain in the forecast.   It has been a constant battle to keep the garden watered and I am losing.  Everything is suffering but there are a few of the flowers Reese sent me that have been exceptional.  First are the coleus plants.


This unnamed red leaf plant (under the hydrangea) was poked in a one foot round hole encircled by huge rocks, yet it continues to spread. 

UPDATE:  Reese posted and said the red plant is an "...Iresine, if you leave it in the shade it stays green, but the more direct sunlight it receives the more intense the color purple becomes."

The hydrangea was also planted (years ago) in another hole and is surrounded on three sides by large rocks.  If it just survives from year to year, I am pleased; however, it has shocked me and is trying to bloom.

The dwarf cannas have been a pleasant surprise.  A bloom forms followed by a seed pod, then another stalk sprouts from the root.  The drought hasn't bothered them at all.

Sad to say, but the rest of my garden looks pathetic.

Last month I was celebrating how tall my cosmos have grown since they are in full sun now for the first time.  They grew so big, they became top-heavy, uprooted and fell over.  There wasn't even a rainstorm to blame.  They just collapsed and died.  It did open up the understory so the weeds below could thrive.

All I have done this month is water, water, matter how much, it is never enough.  However, I have taken advantage of the drought to rid myself of some problem weeds - Hackberry tree seedlings.  They drop seeds everywhere, usually between big rocks or beside a favorite flower and then send down deep taproots.  It is impossible to pull them up without killing everything closeby.

This one is growing in my flower bed surrounded by flowers and is against a cedar tree trunk.  The taproot is entwined deep between the tree's roots.

This is the solution:  trim the seedling down to a few inches and paint the cut area with Brush Killer.  It will soak inside the stem and kill the root.   As long as you don't spill it, which is why I pour it into a jar, it won't hurt the surrounding plants.  It performs best when the plants are thirsty.  A tiny bit saves so much work.

I make no money endorsing this product.

Last year I tried to dig out the root of this Hackberry sprout but it returned bigger with three stems.   Brush Killer was dabbed on the top of the stems and now this problem will never return.

This cedar tree stump has green foliage planted around the base.  Poison ivy was tangled in the plants.   When I discovered it, I immediately panicked, sprayed a general weedkiller and of course, killed everything surrounding it on the right side.  That was last fall and it still hasn't recovered.  Applying just a small amount of the Brush Killer would have been a better option especially since we have well water.  Using the least amount of harsh chemicals is preferred.  Try to not overreact like me when you find poison ivy.

The second week of September is historically when the first cool snap arrives.  As of today, it is already one day late.  If you think I am watching the weather report eagerly anticipating the first pleasant day of fall, you are right.  My front yard swings are waiting.

Additional Links:
Well, Well, Well
Today's Blooms, July 21, 2019
Last Month's Blooms, August 15, 2019
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day