05 August 2008

Garden Ramble: Meandering Like a Cucumber Vine

It's been a while since I bored everyoen with a gardening update, so I think it's time.
Flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers! My perseverance has paid off. Well, that and a little "cheating" (the 25 cent per pot deal I got on the dianthus and the marigolds). Marigolds, zinnias, cosmos (my 6+ foot tall monster cosmo), flowering herbs, dianthus I'd planted from seed, and the alyssum even decided to join the show! The butterfly bush, a replacement for the same plant I bought last year (I'd potted that shrub, thinking I could bring it in come winter) is taking off in ways that I'd never hoped, and my 2nd attempt at sunflowers are also taller than I am, and very, very close to bursting forth. I lost my Joseph's coat back in July, but I planted some marigold seed I'd saved from last year, and with the pot out on the front stairs and a good mix of rain and sun, this pot of marigolds is growing like crazy.
Moving along in the world of potted plants, my rubber tree plant is soaking up the sun and thriving in the heat. I'm going to have to find a (haha) warm corner of the house come this winter for this guy.
The herbs are exploding as well, with my 4 kinds of mint (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, and lemon balm), basil, sage, oregano, and chamomile making a wonderfully bushy border to the brick path. The lemon balm makes a good tea, too. I picked some fresh last night and used it with some honey for a tea for my throat. It definitely tastes like lemons. Pretty freaking cool.
The vegetables are trending towards phase III for the year. Phase II was fairly successful, with beans and squash and peas and a pepper or 2. The squash plants are done, near as I can figure, and I pulled the black beans last night after a second harvest from those plants. I think I still have some more peas in there, though they might be a small snack rather than a full picking.
The corn came out last night; for cheap popcorn from a bag and a half dozen stalks, I got 6 or 7 ears. Not bad for very little work. We're going to try some tonight, but I don't expect it to be terribly tasty, given that it's not sweet corn.
Even though the squash and beans and corn are largely done (still at least one more good picking of green beans in there), the peppers are just coming into their own, now that they aren't competing with the squash and beans. There are a lot of good young peppers on the plants.
The broccoli is healthy looking, if a bit leggy (same problem as the peppers). I was hoping to have florets to harvest by August, but maybe September? I really like broccoli, so this is somewhat frustrating. Next year I'm going to have to start the seed inside much earlier, along with squash and some of the flowers. If I repeat this enough, I might actually do it. Cucumbers are starting to take off with the squash gone, too. Phase III will have to consider the thriving of these plants.
But Rob, what's Phase III? I'm glad you asked. Vegetables Phase III will be more carrots and radishes (planted in the earth again) and lettuce, for a tasty fall salad. Maybe another bean plant or 2 where the corn was, and one more squash plant, for a good fall squash or 2. This will all be planted in the next week, or not at all.
I'm still dutifully adding grass cuttings, kitchen scraps, soil, coffee grounds, &c to the compost pile, which on the bottom seems to be turning into really good fertilizer. Part of me can't wait to spread it over the ground come October/November. With everything I'm learning this year, next year's garden is going to be phenomenal.

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