In the waning days of Summer

These blue flowers are apparently "to die for".

These are some of Hummer’s fave flowers – black and blue sage, or “Salvia”

Our flowering trees have faded, leaving a mess to clean up. Now Hummer’s main attraction in our yard is this incredible black and blue sage. He’s real defensive of these flowers, he doesn’t tolerate anybody messing around them.  I sit on my patio in the morning, listening to him squeak and hum as he ducks from one tiny blossom to the next.  

Motivated along by my friend over at Town and Country Gardener, I planted lettuce seeds in tiny containers and set them in a sunny spot in the side yard. Every day I go out and water them. it’s fun watching them come up.

This lettuce mix came up fast. I'm not sure I planted them all right, but so far I'm getting quite a few little plants.

This lettuce mix came up fast. I’m not sure I planted them all right, but so far I’m getting quite a few little plants. I used every little container I had in my garden shed.

 

My husband has been busy turning over the garden with our old tractor. We got this little used tractor, with a rototiller and some other handy attachments,  when we bought this big property.  It’s paid for itself at least once over the last ten years.  Right now my shovel blade won’t even go into the ground, it’s impossible to pull weeds without a good soaking. But, my husband just runs a sprinkler over the area for dust control, and then chews right in.  He rips out the crab grass and johnson grass after one run, then comes in a couple more times to get the dirt nice and soft. First we rake it out to get as many of the weeds as we can, then we take flat shovels and dig paths, throwing the dirt up to make raised beds.  We stomp the pathways and the sides of the beds with our feet and beat  them with shovels, then add some worm farm dirt or peat moss to the middle.  I’ll put in these little plants when they get a little bigger. Last year I had pretty good luck in containers, but eventually found there wasn’t enough dirt to support the plants. My son had great luck in raised beds, we’ll see what happens.

What’s left of the garden got hit pretty hard with aphids last week. My squash plants had been producing so nicely, coming out with tons of baby squash, and then all the sudden, disaster struck.

I'm still getting a few baby squash here and there.

I’m still getting a few baby squash here and there.

Aphids move in so quick, sucking the life out of everything.

Aphids move in so quick, sucking the life out of everything.

And here's the mold that results from the sticky mess they leave. I hear it's like heroin for ants, but it sure kills your garden quick!

And here’s the mold that results from the sticky mess they leave. I hear it’s like heroin for ants, but it sure kills your garden quick!

 

I got out there as soon as I noticed the tell-tale yellow, and sprayed the infested plants with a solution of soap and water, but it was too late, the plants had already taken a pretty good hit. Soap and water works good in the spring, when the plants are young and vigorous, but at this time of year, they’re already weak and ready to go anyway. My husband will pull whatever little squash are good to eat, and then huck the vines in the compost pile. 

These vines have produced all Summer, and still bringing them on.

These vines have produced all Summer, and still bringing them on.

 

I have been picking late tomatoes, and noticing still more green ones to put away for winter. They ripen pretty well in a box under the counter or on a shelf in the garage.  Sure, they’re not “vine ripe,” but who cares in January?

This tomato we got late at the Saturday Farmer's Market. They are starting to get fruit now, so maybe we'll wrap them up good with freeze cloth and try to keep them going for a while.

This tomato plant we got late at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It’s just starting to get fruit now, so maybe we’ll wrap it up good with freeze cloth and try to keep it going for a while.

 

Another hummingbird lives alongside our garden, sitting up in a young oak tree, watching over the pink morning glories on the fence. They’re fading fast.

I love these pink morning glories, and this year they made a curtain of our garden fence.

I love these pink morning glories, and this year they made a curtain of our garden fence.

 

We stripped our green apples the other day, and I juiced all the wormy ones. Tonight I’ll make some hot apple cider. I put the nicest ones away in the fridge, where I still have some fuji’s we got earlier this summer. They stay crisp and sweet in the fridge.    This is the first big haul we’ve had off those trees, only about seven or eight years old. The worms ruined about a third of them, before they were even ripe, they were rotten. So, I’ve looked into “coddle moths,” and studied up on preventing them. I already knew you have to keep the ground cultivated, which we are not the best at. I also found some interesting traps, including a 2 liter plastic bottle full of a concoction of apple cider vinegar, molasses, ammonia, and water. I’m going to try that next year. For now we are waiting for the first rain to soften the ground in the orchard so we can get out there with the tractor and the shovels and turn over the worm infested dirt.  I also learned, you need to clean and check the trunks of the trees for signs of cocoons, some of them cocoon in nooks and crannies in the bark. 

I get frustrated, sometimes I want to spray, but I remember what Joni Mitchell said – “give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees!”

 

 

 

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