Monday, August 31, 2015

Vegetable Garden Update August 2015

Good morning! It seems the month of August has almost gotten away from me but alas, I was able to snap pictures of the large vegetable garden just in time to get a post up. I enjoy the vegetable garden posts I do because my vegetable garden pretty much takes care of itself and is one of the easiest gardens I manage. Hence, it looks somewhat presentable most all of the time. I am slowly whipping the other gardens into shape and feel comfortable enough I will begin showing a few pictures of them too. Gardening on the new property has, like everything else in my life, been a process. Processes take time and effort and sometimes wear me out. 

We start out with a long shot of the vegetable garden. Each time I take pictures I find I have a process (that word again!) and it works. Therefore, when I look back at the vegetable garden pictures they will all pretty much be in order and in a sequence. I am quite proud of my vegetable garden in that it is very neat, beautiful, functional, and the showstopper in my front yard. Yes, it is mainly my entire front yard. We had a couple of PhD students come out to Tiger Way Gardens to take samples of vegetables for a dissertation in school (TSU). I was most excited to meet the three. One was from Nepal, one was from Tanzania, and the third was from Kenya. It was exciting to meet them all especially since they were so well traveled and well rounded. They loved the vegetable garden and I think it was mainly because it was neat and organized. Organization is key to productivity I think. Just my two cents-as is everything I post.
Entering the vegetable garden proper from the east end. Remember there are four large vegetable beds, one small raised herb garden, and one central raised strawberry bed. All paths are crush in run. The crush in run is a great floor for the garden. It is sturdy, packs down well, and I think it looks good. So far weeds have not been a problem in it. Every now and then one will show its ugly head in an out of the way pocket but it is usually easy to pull.
The right bed (NE) is filled with eggplants, peppers, and tomato plants. Each bed is approximately 8'x16'. I was able to fit five tomato plants, three pepper plants, and four eggplants in this bed. The tomatoes really have been a disappointment to me. I really haven't had enough for fresh eating let alone freezing or canning. We'll try again next year. The peppers are the same. The eggplants tho have really exceeded my expectations. I've had more than a dozen good sized eggplants from the four plants. This, despite gardening organically and having the plants severely attacked by flea beetles, is an ode to the hardiness of plants because my eggplants just laughed off the beetles and produced well.
The left bed (SE) has watermelons, cucumbers, and cantaloupes growing in it. The cucumbers were all planted by seed and have produced wonderfully. Had I been on it I would've done a later planting and would still be harvesting cucumbers but life gets in the way and I did not have the time.
This watermelon is the fourth one to grow and we have several more still coming! The watermelons have been a delight. Next year tho I will plant seedless ones.
The herb garden looks and smells good! The zinnias have filled in as have all the herbs.
The tiered strawberry bed is something else. The strawberries are doing so well we battle it out as to who will win the gravel paths. I plan to be the victor but it is a battle to keep the strawberries in control. Despite the solid layer of plants weeds have had a chance to get a foothold in this bed. It is frustrating to me because the plants themselves are so solid I can't figure out how weeds are able to thrust their heads up to the sun. I think with time and good management practices as well as a good pre-emergent herbicide (last resort) I might be able to get the weeds under control.
This bed (SW) had corn and zucchini squash plants growing in it. The corn produced marvelously. We enjoyed a lot of fresh corn and in fact, had so much that a good many of the ears dried on the stalks. I have since removed the stalks and tied them in bundles to be used for decorations on my outdoor gates. The zucchini died out quite a while ago thanks to squash vine borers. The black plastic bags are filled with leaf mold. I will soon be adding an organic fertilizer and turning over this bed in preparation for fall crops. The leaf mold will be topdressed as mulch and as it completely decays it will add organic matter to the soil. My soil needs organic matter in a big way.
The last bed (SW) has bush beans, trellis beans, and carrots growing in it. We have harvested tons of beans and also carrots. I have actually let the carrots go too far and they are beginning to get woody but that is the gardener's fault. I enjoy the greenery and the fact the carrots are there. The chickens also enjoy the greenery when I do harvest the carrots.
Here is an up close of the beans. The Phd student is doing a project to see how a natural bacteria will work on preventing fungi on mainly beans. She came to mainly get several samples of these plants for her project. 

Next up for the garden is to seed more carrots, lettuce, and plant transplants of cool weather crops such as: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. I also need to begin planting garlic soon.
Lining the entire vegetable garden as a border is a garden containing mainly irises. This one is a reblooming iris called 'Immortality'. If you don't grow reblooming irises make it a point to add some as they are delightful in August when you get lots of blooms. This particular one smells nice.
I had planted a packet of zinnias in another garden and forgot about them. Ha! All of the zinnias sprouted and were beginning to bloom. That was nice but unfortunately all of the plants were in one location approximately one square foot. I was very negligent in transplanting them. Finally, about a month ago on a rainy day I separated out all of those zinnias into over a hundred plants and moved them into the iris bed around the vegetable garden. Since you cannot mulch irises the soil in this bed is open to the air and there is pretty good circulation and full sun in this bed. It appears that all of the zinnias survived the move and are now beginning to bloom. Soon the irises will disappear and the zinnias will take over. It is my hope the zinnias will self seed and come back each year in this bed. Iris foliage is not bad to look at but the color of all the zinnias is so much nicer. This bed should become an iris bed in spring with zinnias in the summer. A perfect combination in my book.
We have a few more crops coming in. The five fig trees growing in pots on the back patio are doing phenomenally well. We pick figs weekly. Have you ever eaten a fresh fig? They are very unique and good for you. I was growing the fig trees in the orchard but I lost 50% of them due to the soil being waterlogged over the winter and freezing. Placing the fig trees in pots and moving them to the garage is a much better option for me and freed up some space in the orchard for a serviceberry tree. 

We also have volunteer pumpkins growing in an ornamental garden. Pumpkin vines are really a lovely plant and the large pumpkins are not bad to look at either. They should be ready just in time for Halloween. I'll show them at a later date...

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Allium 'Millenium'

It has been a long time since I have done a plant profile and I am not really sure why other than time gets in the way. I love plants and especially love good plants. I have a good deal of good plants in my gardens. These are plants that look good all season, are easy to care for, serve a purpose, and provide nectar and/or pollen for the pollinators. One such plant is allium 'Millenium'.
This allium is a very new addition to my garden. When I visited Ohio in June I also visited a great deal of plant nurseries and got some good buys. Did you know plants vary by region? Even plants that will grow in my Tennessee garden might not be available in my area. Therefore, traveling to other states and plant nurseries help to provide a smorgasbord of options for good plants that not only grow in other states, but also grow in my Tennessee garden. This allium is perfectly hardy in Tennessee and has withstood heat and drought and being newly transplanted and divided admirably. It is a winner all around. I was most excited to find it.
A good deal of alliums are prolific self seeding perennials. Not this one! This one is sterile and grows from a rhizomatous bulb that will slowly spread to form a good sized clump. Right now my clumps are small and kind scarce. That is to be expected since I bought only three pots but divided those three pots into six or seven clumps. Next year they'll be bigger and better.
I planted mine at the front of the foundation border near some garden phlox that echoes the color of the 'Millenium' allium. Both the phlox and the allium are beloved by butterflies. I could not really get a picture of the allium without a skipper partaking of its goodness. Okay, I could've but geez, don't you love the skipper on the flower? Pollinators are quickly becoming a passion for me in my garden.
These are long blooming attractive in any season perennials. They are also deer and rabbit resistant. So far so good!
The next time you are looking for a great plant look up 'Millenium' allium. It just can't be beat for late season color and ease of growth....

in the garden...

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Proof Positive Butterflyweed Hosts Monarch Caterpillars

Finally! After many years of growing butterflyweed, aka Asclepias tuberosa, I finally have found monarch caterpillars!!! Each year I would hunt for the cats but never found any. There was always plenty of Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars but never any monarch. Finally, they are here.
There are quite a few of them too. These cats are small and are probably third instars as they are not even an inch long. I planted five small butterflyweed plants in a front garden about a month ago and these are the plants hosting the monarchs. I checked my wild butterflyweed (planted and grown by Mother Nature), but could not find any monarchs on those plants.
Each plant had one of two monarch cats happily munching away and not paying any attention to the photographer.
This one is just below a section of one plant that was already eaten. Note the frass in the crotches of the leaves. I purchased these small plants in Ohio last month. It is hard to find good butterflyweed plants growing in pots because they have tuberous roots which can have difficulties growing in pots for too long of a time. These plants were in 4" square pots and were only about 6" tall. The seedpod you see was from the blooms that were on the plants when I purchased them. Right now the plants are coming into a second bloom cycle with lots of new foliage.
I am simply thrilled to have monarch caterpillars and have applied for our garden to become a certified monarch waystation.
The butterfly weed also is hosting a few milkweed bugs.
Lastly, the 'Henry Eiler' coneflowers are blooming up a storm....

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An Imperial Moth Visits Tiger Way Gardens

At first glance I surely did think this was a leaf; albeit an interesting but strange one. Doesn't it look just like a leaf?
Upon closer inspection I could clearly see it was a moth. We leave outside lights on during the night so all sorts of cool and interesting moths are attracted to the lights. This was one of them. Luna moths are another common moth we find outside in the mornings. I have posted on luna moths before as well as leopard and milkweed tussock moths. Moths are the nighttime counterparts to the beautiful butterflies we see during the daytime.
This one had some amazing colors and patterns. I had to research it to discover its identity.
It is an Imperial Moth. Adults do not feed and it is possible this one was at the end of its life by this point. The caterpillars feed on multiple host plants including: box elder, sassafras, oaks, maples, and even the Colorado spruce. We have all these trees on our land except the Colorado spruce.
  We find all wildlife pretty fascinating....

in the garden....

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