The Garden Journal - May 30

Each week it seems like there's not much new in the garden, but when I go out there to take a few photos I discover lots of things have changed! So I guess this journal is a good thing, because it makes me notice more.

For one thing, the hollyhocks are blooming. Yeah, I know they're not a veggie, but they are beautiful and they just grow themselves. I never noticed they didn't start blooming until around Memorial Day. The honeysuckle is done already, sadly, and I didn't get around to making honeysuckle syrup.

The gaura is blooming too. And all around it, the bane of my existence - bermudagrass - is setting seed. Behind it is another of my least favorite plants, a Siberian elm. Eventually we'll get around to covering this area with weed fabric and mulch, but it's suddenly too hot to want to tackle such a big project. Last week it was in the 70s-80s and cool at night, now it's in the 90s during the day and 60s at night.

The gold plate yarrow is blooming! Dave's mom gave these to me a couple years ago, and they are finally looking happy. It's a cutting from her mother-in-law's plant in Denver.

And the most exciting thing - the garlic has sent up its scapes! As soon as they all curl like this one, I'll cut them off and eat them. This allows the plant to put more energy into its bulb. I learned this week from Eli, of Chispas Farm, that the garlic will be ready to harvest once all but 3 to 5 leaves turn brown.

The pomegranate tree has started sending up some strong new shoots. I am afraid it the rest of it really is dead, but we're so lucky its roots survived! I doubt we'll get any pomegranates this year.

Tonight I picked 2 pounds of sugar snaps and one pound of Oregon Trail shelling peas! Shelling them always reminds me of sitting on the back porch of my grandma's house in Illinois.

Now that the peas are pretty much finished, maybe I'll try eating some of the shoots. I tasted these little tips off the sugar snaps and the regular peas, and I think the regular ones actually had sweeter shoots.

Our first strawberry is almost ripe! Unfortunately something got to it before we did - a continual problem. Not sure if this was a bird or a snail. You would think living in such a dry climate we wouldn't have to worry about things like snails, but no! Just add water... and they come out of nowhere, to feast on my strawberries.

The fava beans are blooming (below), but they are looking a bit tired in the heat. I think I planted them way too late. Unlike other beans, they like cool weather and can germinate in barely warmed soil. Next year maybe I'll get serious about fava beans and plant them at the same time as the peas.

The basil seeds I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted (and with them, one of our ubiquitous weeds - I'm never sure if this is knotweed or spurge).

My cabbages are getting eaten alive by cabbage loopers, as I knew they would when I saw that little white butterfly.  So I sprayed them with Bt - Bacillus thuringensis, a bacterial strain that infects the caterpillars when they eat it. It's a pretty safe, organic treatment, and it should work pretty quickly. I guess I'll have to keep doing this once a week until I don't see the butterflies anymore. They seem to like the green cabbages better than red, and they love the kale most!

I discovered something even worse on the biggest, healthiest artichoke plant. Ants... which mean aphids, and sure enough there they are on the undersides of the leaves. Ugh. I feel like they are the hardest thing to get rid of. I guess I'll have to try Michele's idea of the Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap spray.

And finally, I planted my Yard-Long Beans in the front yard, along with a few rows of okra. Two crops that are generally problem-free.  Hooray!


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