Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Reading Room

I can't believe it has been 10 days since my last post. Things got a little busy during the last couple of weeks of school. I tell you, I'm very happy school is out and the children and I have time to learn and play together.

Speaking of the children, they are too funny. They are learning so much about the garden, and about nature, that it amazes me. We had an aphid infestation on our bell pepper plants. My husband and I chit-chatted about what to do, then I decided I would just try to manage the aphids by squirting them off with water and hope for the best. I didn't even realize the children had paid any attention to our aphid conversation at all until today. This morning my daughter screamed for her big brother to come quick because she saw an aphid and he needed to "get" it. I have no idea if she really did see an aphid, but her big brother proudly ran over to save the day. I'm not exactly sure what he did to "get" it, but their interaction sure was cute!

Now for some garden pictures...

The bean teepee is growing nicely. The marigolds have helped the beans significantly since this patch seems to be under constant attack by slugs. I call this little spot in my garden the children's "Reading Room".

Speaking of slugs, here's a photo of one of those slimy creatures just moments before a fateful death in the "slug bucket". What's a slug bucket? It's a small white pail that has salt sprinkled on the bottom. I had to come up with a solution to keep my husband from "a-salting" the slugs wherever they were. I just couldn't handle seeing piles of salt and dried up slug all over my garden any more. The slug bucket works very well.

I harvested our broccoli a bit late. It didn't taste as good as it could have, but I'm just chalking it up to a learning experience.

I love how vibrant this ivy geranium flower is. I have many different colors of ivy geranium in my hanging baskets. This is my favorite color in the bunch.

I'm glad I snapped this photo of my Hidcote lavender a few days ago. For some reason, half of the plant died. I'm not sure what happened. I'm hoping the entire plant doesn't die on me. That would be sad.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Good, Bad and Very Ugly

Let's start with the good.

My Kousa Dogwood tree is in full bloom. It always blooms in late spring long after most flowering trees have quit. This tree reminds me that, while it is still spring, summer is almost here.

I love to stand under the canopy of the Kousa Dogwood. The sunlight streaming through the branches casts a beautiful green glow. It is quite peaceful.

Now for the bad... (sigh)

It was one thing to hand pick the cabbage worms off of my 6 broccoli plants when the worms were so tiny that you could barely see them.

I shot the photo above through the magnification lens on this bug box.

Now they are so big it grosses me out to pick them up. Thankfully, I'm not finding as many anymore. Last night I found three. Tonight I found two. I hope I'm almost done with cabbage worms.

And for the very ugly...

I had to pull out 18 beet plants today. I was wondering why the leaves had a white "film" on them. I pulled one plant out to inspect it only to realize that the film was actually the top layer of the leaf. Something had gotten into the leaf and ate the center out. After some internet research - I believe my beets had some serious leaf miner damage. Of course I couldn't leave well enough alone - I had to cut open the leaf to see if I could find the leaf miner. I couldn't.

This post must end on a good note...

The kids and I have enjoyed the sunflowers so much we decided to plant more! Today, my daughter and I planted 24 sunflower 'Moonwalker' and 19 'Lemon Queen' sunflowers. After they are growing, we'll figure out where to put them. Maybe we'll plant them out as "walls" for a fun sunflower room.

Finally - I'll end with today's sunflower photo. I love watching the fringe grow each day around the face of this sunflower 'Kid Stuff'.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where are the Bees?

My sunflower 'Moonwalker' opened its first bloom today, so I thought that it might be a good flower to observe for The Great Sunflower Project. Since I saw two bees early on during my observation yesterday, I thought I'd see at least one or two bees stopping by today. Sadly, during my 1/2 hour watch, no bees visited any of my sunflowers, or other flowers, that are in bloom in the garden.

Sunflower 'Moonwalker' is about twice the height of Sunflower 'Kid Stuff', yet its flowering head is smaller and the yellow color is paler.

Sunflower 'Moonwalker' is a multi-bloom sunflower. It looks like this sunflower may have as many as 10 blossoms on it.

This picture might give you a bit of perspective on how tall this sunflower is. It is much taller than I am, and I am 5'9" tall.

More things are happening in my garden. I was surprised to see these growing on my corn. I have never successfully grown corn before so I'm not quite sure what this is. It's in the center of the stalk. I thought "ears" grew on the side of corn, so I'm not sure if this is the beginning of an ear or not.

The corn "field" is taking on some height. The beans beneath the corn are hanging in there, as well.

Hey - look! I actually have pea plants! It took long enough! Three attempts at sowing peas and I finally have some. We'll see how they do since it may be the wrong season for them to grow in.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Observations for The Great Sunflower Project

Today I gathered some bee data for The Great Sunflower Project. I snapped photos of the bees that I saw in hopes to assure proper identification.

Within a minute of watching, this bee landed on the sunflowers.

Here is a close-up. I'm pretty sure it is a bumble bee. If I am incorrect, please leave a comment and let me know.

Four minutes later this 2nd bee landed on the sunflowers.

I'm not sure what type of bee this is. Is it a honey bee?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunflower 'Kid Stuff'

The plants in my garden that I am truly enjoying right now are my sunflowers. I started these from seed and raised them indoors for quite some time. I was hoping to get an early bloom - and I succeeded! I am sure our recent heat wave helped the sunflowers to bloom earlier than they would have.

Two of the four sunflowers are in full bloom.

I love how the petals have a vintage and ruffled appearance to them.

On the not-so-fun side of gardening, I have been battling the cabbage worm on my broccoli. I made the mistake of not covering my beds during our heat wave. This left the broccoli wide open for the moths to lay their eggs. Since I only have 6 broccoli plants, I have decided to attempt to save them by hand-picking and squashing the caterpillars. Now, I'm covering the beds each evening, as well. I hope I have the cabbage worms under control. At first I was hand picking a lot of them - now I'm just picking 3 or 4 a day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's that Bug?

Can anyone help me identify these bugs? I don't know if they are beneficial bugs or not.

These bugs seem to love my chamomile. They are tiny - about the size of a pin head.

These bugs love to hang out on my sunflower leaves. These bugs are pretty small, too.

Any help identifying these would be appreciated!

A Little Out of Place and More

Every year, when this rhododendron comes into bloom, I wish it was on our side yard instead of in our back yard. There are no "blue" hues in our back yard and it really looks out of place. Someday I may move it - but I'll admit... the thought of digging it out and transplanting it does not thrill me.

She sure does produce a beautiful round flower head though. And she's the last rhododendron to bloom in our garden.

This sunflower has really taken on some height during the past few very sunny and warm days!

I need to find a home for these Lemon Queen sunflowers - and soon!

Those busy little bees did their job well. We have pollination on our tomato plants!

I don't know that this flower (or the one that opened yesterday) will get pollinated - there are no other flowering summer squash nearby (at least none that I know of).

Our beans in the "three sisters" bed have finally begun to sprout!

It is fun to see the changes that are happening in the garden each day.
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