Sunday, August 25, 2013

Too Soon for Summer to be Over?

Things are a happening outside in my garden and beyond that suggest summer is preparing to be over. Oh please, say it isn't so!

Earlier this season I dug a couple of wheelbarrow loads of compost into this garden. A plant sprouted from that and I decided to give it a chance. Well, let me tell you, if you have never before grown butternut squash, then you are in for a treat! Just give it a lot of space. This is what the vine looked like on August 12.  Keep in mind this is growing on/alongside my front walkway! See that butternut in the front foreground - watch out for it later.
Here you can see what is growing - this photo taken on August 23 just two days ago.
Here's that one from the front foreground. Apparently I am going to have to get ruthless and cut back the vines (confession - I did some pruning this morning) because any squash just beginning to develop now will not have enough time to grow fully before the first frost. Wow, I hate having to cut things back.  But there are at least five almost fully grown butternuts on the vine now so that is a bonus!
Here's a tomato plant of an unknown type. I purchased it marked as a black cherry but it clearly isn't that. The fruits do not seem to ripen to a full clear red and they are a small roma style shape. Yet another of my garden mysteries.
Here's one of my volunteer tomato plants. The fruit on this one are great tasting and a little larger than a cherry tomato but not really a full sized one.
I had company staying for a week and I was not picking tomatoes as often as I should have been. Once I went out to gather ripe ones I found  a number of tomatoes that were over-ripe. Rather than bring them inside I left them on the brick edging thinking the critters could have them. Who knew butterflies liked to eat tomatoes?
Dinner tonight was porkchops in the slo cooker seasoned with rosemary from my garden, green and yellow beans from the farmers market seasoned with basil from my garden and a side salad of tomatoes also from my garden also tossed with basil as above. The sweet potato puree, potatoes and onions were from the supermarket.

The butterflies have been frequent visitors to the summer garden - not as many as in previous years but still plentiful in number.
This might have been a photo of yellow finches feeding on the coneflowers which have gone to seed...but the yellow finches don't like to pose for the camera. But you might want to note the fine dill plants nestled here in the front garden. We enjoyed dill from them with our smoked salmon and scrambled egg lunch today.
Last week we had a lot of hummingbirds fighting over the right to feed from the feeder. But on Thursday - pouff! - they were gone. Flown south for the winter I am left to understand. I thought I might as well leave the feeders out for a few more days and sure enough, this afternoon I saw a couple of hummers visit the feeder again so I guess they don't all fly south on the same day. It has been such fun watching them this summer.
And another place where you might have seen the yellow finches but alas, they did not wait for my camera here either. What you can see if you peer closely is how efficient the rabbit has been pruning down the back row of coneflowers - look in the right front for the stalks.

These birds are looking a little bedraggled as they pause on their way south - w a a a y south is where they come from!
A couple of weekends ago I was on the Chesapeake Bay and was introduced to Ospreys. And I have been totally captivated by them. I really did not know anything about them so when I got home I went to my friend google to have an introduction. In my googling I came across a livecam that has been set up on a nest that had seen three chicks hatch earlier this season. Here's a screen save of a couple of the chicks on Friday.
I have become very attached to this nest and have my laptop set up downstairs with the livecam left on during the day so I can see what's going on. It took everyone in my house a little while to get adjusted to continually hearing the chirping/squawking coming from the nest but they are fascinating to watch. You might like to join in - go here (that should be a live link but you can only see them in the daylight).
These birds are also about to fly south for the season.
Here's a sunset scene from the Chesapeake on August 10.

The equinox is still some weeks off but it seems to me that there are plenty of signs that the season is coming to an end.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scenes from my garden today

A gardener can always find something to talk about on the weather topic. And without trying to bore the non-gardeners, this has been a weird weather summer so far. July was really really hot with day after day in the 90's F and loads of humidity. August, by contrast, has been much cooler with many overcast or rainy days. As a result garden items that need sunshine to ripen have been impacted.

 The butterfly bushes around the garden have been successful this year, as usual, in attracting butterflies. Look for the swallowtail in the top right area of the bush. The yellow finch are having a banquet every day as they flit from the black eyed susans to the coneflowers - but they are less enthusiastic about pausing for the camera.
 The tomato plant with the best crop currently is this one - but it is a volunteer so I don't know what it is.
 Next to it is this yellow pear tomato - this is also a volunteer albeit one I would really not bother to keep growing if I could identify it better as a seedling. The fruit splits very easily and it does not have very much of a taste.
 Now this one was a plant I paid money for. But something is not quite right. It says "black cherry" on the label but the fruit is neither a cherry shape nor black. H'mm.
 Usually by the third week in August I am picking this dish full every day. But not this year. I left more plants to grown this year but some of them barely have any fruit on at all. And the ones that do are not exactly loaded or fast to ripen. Guess the weather is to blame.
 The hummingbirds are enjoying my garden however. They seem to have slowed down a little today but in the past ten days it has been a really strong competition to get to the feeder with birds swooping around and driving the others off.
Out front is another of my volunteers from the compost heap. I thought the idea was that the heat buildup in the heap was enough to kill off weeds and seeds. But no. Earlier this season I dug in a few wheelbarrow loads of compost before I planted new bushes in this front garden. I got a number of tomato seedlings which I quickly removed but then there was this one plant that I was intrigued by so I left it alone. At first I thought it was a summer squash - maybe zucchini or yellow squash I hoped. This plant grew like Jacks beanstalk for a while and finally I had to go to google to see what I had growing. And the answer is a butternut squash plant. You can see one in the near foreground and there are three or more that I have been able to easily find and still loads of the big yellow flowers.

Fortunately I don't get a lot of people walking along my front walk. But those who do are quite amused by seeing my garden surprises.