The Garden Journal - July, September, October

Wow, August and September slipped away so fast! My favorite months of the whole year, but I was working too much and barely had time to look at the garden. This wasn't the best year for our garden - less than 3 inches of rain since January, and temperatures consistently over 90 degrees (although we had fewer days over 100). And after our first rain of the year, we were so excited we turned the drip system off, and forgot to turn it back on for a week. I'm amazed everything didn't actually die.

These photos are from July 27, and there's another set below from September 22, but I didn't have time to write about them then. We got just a few strawberries from the plant in a pot on the porch in July, but it hasn't done much since.

One of the coolest bugs I've ever seen! I think the pattern on its back looks like a printed circuit board. I spent an hour searching Google to figure out what it was - a Calligrapha beetle.

It laid these pretty pink eggs, which hatched into amazingly cute fuzzy larvae, then finally became these gorgeous beetles! It really only chewed on the hollyhocks, which can probably handle it - they are tough as nails.

The potatoes bloomed, which means the new potatoes are ready.  They will continue to grow bigger until the plant dies in the fall. These are volunteers from last year's sowing of Yellow Finns. Next year we'll have to plant potatoes in a sunnier spot, because the tubers never grew very big. I never thought to grow potatoes before, because they're so cheap in the store, but it turns out there are tons of cool varieties, and the difference in flavor is so amazing that it's really worth it!

The first tomato to ripen after the Sungolds was this cute little Stupice. It has continued to produce pretty well since July, but I can't say the flavor is spectacular.

The mystery squash grows bigger and its stripes get darker. It turned out to be a kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) - hooray!

The sunflowers volunteer year after year, seeds from a red variety we planted years ago. The lavender is blooming, and there's a little brown praying mantis on one stalk in the back in this photo.

 Aloysius likes to watch from the window.

A tiny watermelon and a tiny cantaloupe. The canteloupe got ripe, then split and rotted before I noticed it in August. The watermelon grew to about volleyball-size and we ate it in September.

September 22 - The cabbages I planted in April are finally starting to head up, but I don't have much hope for them - too many aphids and cabbage loopers.

The artichokes completely died back in August and September - we thought they were dead, but after the rains cooled the weather down a bit, they suddenly sprouted up again!

 I planted some broccoli and cabbage starts at the beginning of September and they are doing pretty well.

The Hopi squash grew absolutely huge - probably 20 feet in either direction. It climbed up the cholla and grew a pumpkin so heavy it took the cholla down! Then it went up the bean trellises and took those down too. We're still waiting for the stems to turn corky, which is how you tell a winter squash is ripe.

We got just one or two apples from the Cort Pendu Plat, none from the Arkansas Black. The deep freeze last winter must have killed the blossoms, just like on the plum tree. Let's hope we don't have another one of those this winter!

And finally, the sad story of the tomatoes. We were so excited to get all that alpaca poop, and we mixed lots of it into the tomato beds... which turned out to be way too much nitrogen for them, so they grew big and green, but didn't set much fruit. What fruit they did set, took forever to ripen. The marigolds sure look great though, don't they? We finally got a few ripe tomatoes off each plant this week, and now that it's mid-October it's too late set any more fruit. Sigh! Live and learn.


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