Friday, July 29, 2016

Wildflower Hill is an Amazing Sea of Butterflies and Wildflowers

Let's talk about Wildflower Hill today. You all may remember we purchased our property three and one half years ago. At that time we had to clear a lot of trees and scrub growth. After everything was cleared we wound up with predominately broomsedge grass on the Wildflower Hill portion of our property. While broomsedge is not bad for wildlife I wanted forbs in order to feed the pollinators and wildlife such as birds and deer. 

My solution for adding forbs was to wintersow a good amount of native wildflower seed purchased from Roundstone Seed in Kentucky in February 2014. This was after speaking to the Tennessee biologists about the area of my land I needed help developing. I really wished for help doing a prescribed burn but help was not forthcoming so Mr. Fix-it and I went it on our own by wintersowing. All of my research told me it would take a few years for the wildflowers to even show up let alone spread and take hold after seeding. Enter summer 2016 and we are now seeing some results from our labors. The above gray headed coneflowers are definitely one of the seeded forbs I added to the area. This is the first year I have seen it and I am very excited!
Here is a long look at one part of the approximately two acre area of Wildflower Hill. It looks like a jumble of weeds--and some might consider it so but not me! It is pure beauty.
Coneflowers have been growing in the area for two summers now. They are beginning to seed about a bit. I am ever so happy to see happy wildflowers!
Goldenrod, mountain mint, and wild beebalm already had seeds laying dormant in the soil. While some of these wildflowers may be from my seeding the wildflower seed I think the majority of these seeds just needed to be exposed to the sun in order to sprout and grow. I say this because the goldenrod is a fairly common roadside weed that grows abundantely just about everywhere. The mountain mint and bee balm are thick as thieves in one particular spot of the Wildflower Hill and that is not a spot where I sowed my seeds. Those two wildflowers are spreading out and attract predominantly swallowtail butterflies. On any sunny day I can ride down the hill and marvel in the hundreds, if not thousands, of butterflies partaking of these plants. It is almost really surreal! Imagine everything in slow motion without hardly a sound around and you see black butterflies gently swaying back and forth between flowers. Amazing, simply amazing.
A close up of the mountain mint.
A close up of the goldenrod. This is a wonderful wildflower and I think it will help to sustain my bees over the winter. I never find any honeybees on these flowers but I can smell the distinctive smell of goldenrod nectar as they bring it to the hive. Hopefully they will make lots of honey to sustain them over the winter.
Queen Anne's lace is a non-native wildflower that has naturalized here in America. I like it even though it is not native. I always finds lots of bugs partaking of its goodness.
Tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) grows predominately at the bottom of Wildflower Hill. Two years ago it was a solid mass of flowers. Last year and this year it has not come back as strong and robust as that first year.
Greater tickseed is a pretty little ray of sunshine.
Queen Anne's lace.
I am not sure what type of wildflower this one is. It may be more Coreopsis major or a type of cup plant or something else. I need to do more research on this one.
Rose pink (Sabatia angularis) is a biennial that showed itself big time two years ago. This year it is back but not in such great numbers as it was two years ago. This is not an issue limited only to Wildflower Hill because I noticed that along the roadsides it has not shown up as much as two years ago either. 

Also flowering but not pictured are: bee balm, verbascum, butterflyweed, asters, and ironweed....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vegetable Garden Update-July 2016

Good morning! Summer is in high gear and we are under a heat advisory this week. The above rudbeckia and butterflyweed don't mind the heat but for the most part you'll find me in the air conditioning. Stay cool you all!
The vegetable garden has exceeded my dreams. It is doing SO well this year. Mr. Fix-it and I harvested hundreds of new potatoes and onions. Yum! The onions did so well! It was almost like a miracle to me as I've never had luck getting onions to bulb up. The garlic was over done and we did not get any of that. Now we are picking tons of tomatoes and cucumbers. I have to spend time indoors every other day putting up tomatoes. That is a good thing. Above is a long shot of the garden looking west. Let's look at each bed now.
The southeast bed is loaded down with mainly cherry tomatoes, vining crops, and pepper plants.
The northeast bed has some early corn in the mid part of this picture and later corn in the foreground. I also stuck in some vining crops where I could. The other end of this bed has some newly planted bush beans. I don't care for beans but Mr. Fix-it does so I planted some for him.
The strawberry bed doesn't change much.
The herb garden is really doing well. The rosemary, thyme, and sage attract all sorts of pollinators. I also seeded some borage and am hoping it comes up soon.
The southwest bed is full of predominately cucumbers. The early cukes have been producing prolifically. The newly planted cukes in the foreground will pick up once the older cukes have gone by. I also seeded vining crops around this bed too. So far they are small plants. I was late seeding them but I think the lateness will be a benefit in that there won't be as many pests around (I hope!)
The northwest bed is full of tomatoes. They are doing really well!
Some of the tomatoes have split. This is okay and is due to too much water at one time. We had about ten inches of rain in one week. I love it! You'll never hear me complain about split tomatoes. Lots of rain means green gardens and no watering for me.
Some of the cucumber leaves are spotting and turning yellow. This is most likely a fungal problem but I have not had time to investigate the cause. Since I am mostly organic the problem is not really a problem as long as the cucumbers are still producing. I'll keep an eye on the situation and take action if need be.
Around the outer edge of the garden where irises are planted I have cleaned up the irises and allowed self seeded zinnias to come back from last year's plants. They are slowly growing and blooming but I do wish they'd grow faster.
The iris/zinnia beds are hard to keep weeded since you should not mulch irises.
Lastly, all vegetable gardens (really all gardens) deserve a special cat. This is Smoke. He is on pest patrol and does a great job....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden