Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
Fall doesn't begin officially until next Monday. But it's already starting to look and feel like fall in yards and gardens.
Maple trees are sporting a few flame-red flickers.
The tomatoes are tapering off after a flurry of ripening. There are only about a dozen still hanging on my scraggly vines, and the squirrels have beaten me to most of them.
Garden fatigue is setting in. A friend told me she usually quits watering her garden by early September, having lost interest in what little is left there.
Me, I keep trying to preserve the last bits of garden goodness. My garden almost always has some late surprises up its sleeve.
Last week, the morning glory that I planted in May finally produced its first gorgeous flower. They're always slow to bloom in my garden, which has gotten too shady for morning glories. But they're worth the wait.
I still have some late peppers and squash ripening, and I'm hoping they'll be ready to pick and eat before the frost hits.
And my cannas have a couple more clumps of buds that may or may not open into one last burst of autumnal bloom.
So I'll keep watering -- and savoring these last few days of "summer."
How about you? Have you lost interest in your garden, or will you keep nurturing it until the bitter end?
When I blog, I usually like to include pictures from my garden about the topic of the day. What I’ve chosen to
What happened this year? August and September I’m usually searching for different pickle recipes because I can only eat so many bread and butter pickles. I bring the overabundance into work for my co-workers to enjoy. Not this year. I barely have reaped enough for a salad.
No cucumbers with sour cream to enjoy. No cucumber soup.
My back yard is subject to a little powdery mildew; so I thought maybe it was a local/weather thing in Minneapolis, but my brother-in-law complained about his lack of cucumbers too. He lives in Brainerd. Another friend in Coon Rapids reaped a miniscule harvest.
What gives? Is anyone making pickles this year?
Gardens spring forth with high hopes, but by mid-August, the garden is what it is. It's time to savor the successes -- and write off what didn't pan out this year. Here's what's going on in my garden, the good, the bad and the ugly:
THE GOOD: We are now harvesting awesomely delicious tomatoes, plus as much basil and oregano as we can pick. Squash and peppers will soon be ripe and ready for the table. And my nasturtiums are still ablaze with tasty blooms for tossing in salads. I love the peppery kick of the flowers and the leaves.
On the ornamental front, one of my succulents surprised me by shooting off a long arm, which is now covered with hot-pink buds. I've never gotten a succulent to flower before. Cool!
THE BAD: What happened to the morning glories? I plant them every year, usually from seed, and I typically get like three flowers, and not until early October. This year, I bought plants at the garden center, figuring that would speed up the flowering. But I still haven't seen a single bloom -- just a few feeble bud-like nubs that dried up and fell off. What the heck?
THE UGLY: An intruder has discovered my awesomely delicious tomatoes. Every morning when I check the vines, there are two or three more tomatoes with giant gaping bites taken out of them. I suspect the bold chipmunk I often see darting around my deck. But we also have an army of squirrels snacking on maple seeds in the tree right above my tomato pots, so it could be one of them. I'm glad they're enjoying them -- we have enough to share.
What's good, bad or just-plain ugly in your garden, now that summer is winding down?
Sometimes gardening is a mystery. Because I’m a Master Gardener, people think I know all the answers.
Some are easy, some require research. Of course I like the easy ones because it makes me look smart, but the toughies can be a fun challenge. The first photo is an easy one. “Milkweed. Let that grow so the monarchs have something to eat.”
That said, many mystery plants can be fun. Like in the third photo case, a mystery squash. Let it grow and see what color it turns, then eat it. I’m thinking a pumpkin by the looks of the stem, but maybe not.
Have you had mystery plants pop up in your yard?
And then: August. Ooof. Our gardens turn muggy, buggy, weedy and wilty. Even the produce that thrilled us with its first onset starts to seem like a chore, and we secretly hope that the peas peter out so we don’t have to shell one more batch.
For me, vacation plays a role. I have one blissful, cool week on the North Shore, but my weeds and produce didn’t take the week off. When I come back, the garden seems overwhelming, and I start to avert my eyes from offending parts of the yard.
If you’ve been bitten by the garden flu, here are five strategies I use to fight back:
1. Count to 10. Pull 10 weeds from one plot each day. Or spend just 10 minutes weeding – you’ll have given enough blood by that time. I have to squelch my mistaken idea that it’s not worth gardening unless you can spend at least an hour. Six days of 10 minutes each adds up to that same hour, and if it’s really super hot, I’m not going to want to spend an hour out in it.
2. Garden by the sun: Unless your garden enjoys complete sun, chances are good there’s shade somewhere in your yard in the morning or late afternoon.Chase it, and move the minute the sun catches up with you.
3. Start fresh: Give up on beleaguered early season crops like lettuce and peas, and plant some late-season offerings so you restore some novelty. Some fall-loving kale, spinach or colorful Swiss chard will take off where your arugula bolted. A colorful annual on clearance sale at the garden center can perk up a lackluster window box or planter.
4. It’s never too late to mulch. Get off the weeding treadmill by putting down mulch. You’ll get a boost of enthusiasm from having a tidy area of your yard where you don’t mind looking. And any area you get under control this year will make next spring that much easier.
5. Make something tasty. I always get a boost of enthusiasm when I try a good new recipe using my garden produce. Clearly my basil needs topping. Usually I just make a bunch of pesto to deal with the excess, but this time I think I might give this basil aioli a try.
How about you? What are your strategies for getting out of a garden funk? And what's your favorite way to use up basil? (As if there could be too much of that good a thing.)
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