Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall is in the air

The mild temps are helping me get into an autumn mindset, as are the colors beginning to appear in the garden. This is inspiration enough to get to work this three-day weekend!
Itea virginica "Henry's garnet"

Nandina domestica
Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus) begins blooming in late summer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seven Cucumbers and Other Disappointments

I'm slowly getting over the cucumber fail, as summer is waning anyway. Too busy to pull them before vacation, I left them to do as they will, and they have managed to form about seven fruits. (Yes they are supposed to look like that--they are lemon cucumbers.)
A lot of the cucumber plagues look alike to me, but this seems more like downy mildew and not the bacterial wilt spread by cucumber beetles. I am quite familiar with that one! (Plus, this year I have not seen many cucumber beetles.)
I sent photos to the master gardeners' office, but they have not responded to my request for a diagnosis. I'd just like to know if I am correct, there is not much that can be done at this point.

With this disappointment combined with the others this season, I am a bit bummed, and more important on a mission to determine what I am doing wrong--do I have a drainage problem in my soil, or am I not watering enough? It could just be bad luck. I'll likely never know. That's gardening, I guess.

sickly cukes

The good news is, soon I will be removing all of the failed plants of this season and planting anew. I love cool-season gardening, when *fingers crossed, all I have to worry about are slugs. But then there's this.
The rabbit has moved on from the small red drying beans to the black eyed peas. They were decimated while we were away for a week. Time to build a fence? I've seen signs of mice activity also, and that is something I do not even want to ponder right now. Will my fava beans stand a chance?

My final lament is that the tomatoes never really bounced back from their various ailments. Pitiful!

The squash continue to produce, and the eggplant are doing quite well. My biggest success has been that I've been able to grow a respectable amount of sweet peppers (a first!). The key seems to be both giving them adequate food (organic fertilizer and fish emulsion at least monthly) as well as giving them a bit of respite from full sun (they are at the back of this bed. Hot peppers on the side do not completely block the sun).
If you've looked at this blog any before, you know I do this every year--whine about how I can't ever get it together timing-wise at every seasonal transition. Will this be the year? Not likely, as so far I have missed the date to sow broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts seeds inside, but I've got plenty of time to get all of my other root and leaf crops planted.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Smile

I'm hoping this bloom means my sweet potato is happily producing tubers. It's my first attempt at any kind of potato, and I put them in a grow bag. We'll find out in a couple months.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day August 2012

The large view of the garden is not entirely impressive just now, so let's do some closeups!

I like this accidental combination of Amsonia (blue star) and Agastache. I'll be expanding this in the fall.
This Ageratum (mist flower) was far too aggressive for the flower bed, so I've moved it when I can still watch the butterflies flock to it.
The fall blooming Japanese Anemone has bloomed a tad early!
Butterfly weed needs a companion in the garden for when it dies back--any suggestions?
The beauty berries are beginning to turn pink, with Joe Pye Weed in the background.
Butterfly bush
Artsy chamomile
Lavender (marigold in background)
Northern sea oats
Spiraea "neon flash"
Verbena bonariensis
Veronica "red fox"

Enjoy the bloom day inspiration by seeing all of the postings at May Dreams Gardens.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three+ Years of DinkyDo

I recently came across the real estate listing photos of our house, and then danger garden did this great "looking back" post, so I thought I'd get in on the fun. In three short years, the DinkyDo garden has come a long way.

Let's begin with the front yard. You can't tell from this photo that the holly and false cypress on the far right were nearly dead when we moved in, so they were removed. I've also removed some of the yew and all of the day lilies and the false cypress on the left, after my pruning doomed it. The other major change was removing the liriope (monkey grass) along the path and replacing it with Sedum. I've added Spiraea, northern sea oats, a couple of small pines and heathers, plus lots of Dianthus and Sedum. The Dahlias' days may be numbered, except for the purple-leaved one, as they just look too terrible in summer. Overall, it's a good color scheme of deep dark green, pinks, chartreuse, gray-green, and purple.
The front yard continues to be tinkered with (see posts entitled "curb appeal"), with a main goal being to simplify because the front yard is too small and close to the street to hang out in anyway. Eventually I'd like for it to be something like the conifer garden at the National Arboretum. The grass is completely shot, but I hesitate to rip it all out because of the snow (and salt) that can be dumped here in winter. 



The difference in the back yard is more dramatic, as it went from nothing to ... a lot!
I cannot quite replicate the angle of this photograph without focusing on the compost pile, but you'll get the idea.
 After the apple tree fell, we added this Magnolia, and then I filled in from the tree to the shed.
Along the side fence, I installed my first planned garden border, all native plants for this shady spot beneath a black walnut tree.

The rear and other side of the yard were quite similar to the photo above, just fence. (I cannot believe I have no photos of this blank slate!) The first year I grew annuals such as sunflowers and nasturtium, and I've been progressively adding perennials ever since. I've got big plans for fall, but this area looks rough right now because I had to dig up all of the Ageratum that I planted last year--it was taking over!
Here is its current state:


And across the yard in the sunniest spot is the vegetable garden:

The back of the house waits patiently for its garden.  I added the Carolina jessamine vine to the shed. Behind the two raised vegetable beds, the ground is uneven, so I need to add topsoil. I'll also remove the day lilies along the shed (they are just dormant in the first photo below). Last, I'll plan a new garden once we remodel this shed on the back of the house into a patio room. The type of windows (or doors) and siding we install will dictate what goes here. We'll re-do the patio one day.


Not too shabby for three year's work, but imagining how it will look in three more years is even more satisfying!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012