Life Lately | July 2017


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+In My Head
I’ve got a lot on my mind these days, namely some things surrounding pollinators and separately, plastic. Both of these deserve their own blog posts to be expounding upon but I’ll get to that at a later date.

Regarding pollinators, my main qualm is hornworm hate and the lack of interest in other pollinators other than the big two: monarchs and honeybees. Now, don’t get me wrong I love both—I grow milkweed for the monarchs and we have a honeybee hive. But I’m also very interested in creating an equal opportunity (mostly, I’m not sure we need mealybugs or scale.) wildlife habitat and trying to come to terms with caterpillars who use the edible garden for their life cycle. Maybe this includes being more proactive in using netting over the brassicas in the winter instead of spraying Bt. It makes me a little queasy when we have such a problem with declining insect populations. Sure, Bt is organic but organic kills, too. Like I said, there’s a lot to wrap my head around and do some research on this topic, but it is something I’ve been pondering. This post on Garden Rant the other day had me nodding my head in agreement and glad someone else was mentioning it, too.

On the subject of plastics, this is something that has also slowly been building. Sure, we usually bring bags when we go shopping, though not always, but we try. I’ve also been noticing just how much plastic is covered in other things from food products we buy to things like cutlery at restaurants. It’s been a recent change at Chick-fil-A I think, but now their plastic cutlery is individually wrapped in plastic. I mean, plastic cutlery was bad enough but additional plastic around it? Arrrrrrgh. And straws are something that I’ve thought about in passing but never really thought a lot about until the last six months and now I’m attempting to start not using them when I can. Chris brought up that I need to actually hand it back to the waiter at restaurants because if it was left on the table it will probably be just thrown away, too, even if unopened.

I started thinking about plastic even more last month when the Slow Home Podcast talked about Plastic Free July. There are lots of ways to take the reduction of plastic consumption to further steps and hopefully we can start implementing some of them. One thing I’ve been better about lately has been to take my Nalgene with me when we go out on weekends. There’s nothing more annoying than having to buy a bottle of water because I’m thirsty! I don’t drink sodas so having to buy water just irks me.

So, I’m really thinking hard on these two subjects as of late.

+Watching

Not a whole lot. I am super stoked about the Outlander Season 3 Trailer. The new season debuts in September! I watched Bad Moms over a few evenings and caught the last 30 or 45 minutes of Free State of Jones and then went and found it airing at a later time to record the whole movie so I can watch it in full. Most recently I watched Lion, which I highly recommend.

Not watching a whole lot around here!

+Outside My Window

Green with slight tinges of brown because all of the afternoon thunderstorms that have popped up recently have been avoiding our house. Yesterday it thundered from all directions for several hours but every cell kept moving around us. We’ve had a light shower here and there but nothing that would result in a good soaking and we really need it.

+In The Art Studio

I went over to the studio this morning to do some cleaning up while Chris and Forest went to the grocery store. I finally feel like I’m getting to a point where I want to be there again and once I wrap up a scrapbooking project I think I can bring Forest over to color on the table while I do other things. I found a blanket I was making for a friend’s baby two years ago and I thought it was still in a state of disarray but apparently all I need to do is put the binding on it. So, that’s one project I can work on!

+In The Garden

Over the last few weeks I have been working steadily on getting the paths and beds in the vegetable garden to a state of less weeds and I finally feel like I’m semi-on top of that now. I’ve moved over to the flower beds again and have been working on beds and the paths as well. I noticed a female monarch laying eggs yesterday so I went around and found 8 of them and collected them to hatch and raise over the next few weeks. Hoping I’m successful in getting them through their full cycle!

+Reading

I hit a lull recently but just devoured Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson over the last two days. A June and July book report is on the agenda soon so I will be sharing more of my reading soon.

+Loving

+I’m really loving the last few weekends at home. Being able to relax in the middle of the day and watch movies with Forest has been wonderful.
+Aristolochia fimbriata seed pods!
+The Seminole pumpkin taking over an entire bed. Waiting on it to start flowering, though.
+Painted lady beans beginning to bloom!
+Woodstorks on the pond! We’ve never seen them on our pond! I can’t remember if it was before or after Forest was born, but I was driving on Tx 6 between Hearne and Riesel somewhere when I looked over and saw birds flying. I did a double take because I thought they were ibis at first and then I realized they were woodstorks. I hadn’t seen any more since then, but when Chris came running outside where I was pulling weeds one evening exclaiming that there were woodstorks out with the roseate spoonbills, we rushed over to try to get photos. I got a few photos in passing with the 50mm lens that was on my camera before they flew off. We haven’t seen them since, but maybe we will get them again before the summer is out.
+Getting Grow Curious in the mail last week. It is the first and only Kickstarter I have ever backed and I am extremely happy with the book and what Gayla has created. It reminds me a little of Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith in the thinking outside the box creativity.

What’s up with you?

A Golden Evening


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I find myself longing for hikes and camping these days. Most everyone else not in the humid south is out enjoying hikes and adventures and here we are sweltering in Texas, hibernating indoors during the afternoons. This is fine, I enjoy letting Forest play upstairs for awhile as I read a book or do some chores. I peer outside the windows at the garden or pond, often falling into a daydream. It looks enticing to get out there but the heat has a way of making us cranky. I’ve actually been enjoying getting a run in at lunch twice a week with the searing sun beating down—the only thing I keep forgetting that would make it more enjoyable would be to get my hat off the rack when I leave the house and maybe slather some sunscreen on my arms. *Duly noted.*

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Over the 4th of July weekend we were at Chris’ mom’s east Texas house for a few days. It was last 4th of July that I had taken Forest for a mid-day walk in the stroller to get out of the house for a bit. He wasn’t quite two yet and playing outside with some self direction wasn’t on the table at that stage so off we went for some diversion and sanity. I ended up finding a little trail to explore at a later date and made a mental note to go when I could. It only took a year to get back there but I finally got to explore the trail.

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Chris, his mom, and Forest went fishing one evening after it had cooled down a little and I took the time to explore the trail. I knew it wasn’t long but my goal wasn’t to put in some miles but really to just go see what I could find, enjoy the evening, and get some peace and quiet for myself.

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I found it.

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The trail was wide at first, following a slight slope down a cleared powerline before turning towards the bottomlands adjacent to a creek. Ferns stretched wide across one section and I was immediately enticed to stop and search for tiny bits of delight. Plants were labeled in some areas but I didn’t have a field guide for some of the ferns so I wasn’t sure if the labels were accurate.

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Only wearing tennis shoes, I didn’t linger in the fern areas long as I didn’t want to get my shoes wet. Moving down the creek I saw the sun was lowering on the horizon, rays of sunbeams reaching through the forest canopy. The creek bed was made of red clay and the sunlight made it look more spectacular than it might have been during the middle of the day. The nearness of a populace and access to the road meant there were pieces of trash here and there.

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If I’d had boots I would have climbed down into the creek bed and begun walking up the creek but I kept to the banks and went looking for plants and interesting tidbits beyond where the trail dead-ended. I wasn’t disappointed. Getting off the beaten path is delightful and I haven’t done it enough in recent years.

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I tinkered around for awhile and then got the feeling I needed to check in with the other three. Sure enough Forest was being very toddler-y and needed a little mom time. I attempted to get him to come back to the trail with me, which he was interested in at first, but quickly became even more challenging and wanted to be in the company of all of us. Bedtime was calling and things were going downhill fast with toddler behavior. No extra trail time to poke about a little bit longer, though I know he would have liked going if he’d been up for it.

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It wasn’t much but sometimes you take what you can get and hold onto it until the next time.

A Summer Sunday


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Every morning after I wake up I realize that I get to have coffee. And on weekends I realize I get to have it while sitting on the couch, relaxing. It’s such a small delight but it is one that makes me very happy.

For the moment the house is quiet as Forest and Chris are on the porch working on a leaky faucet. There’s a rosy wolf snail crawling on the siding on the porch and someone is chainsawing across the pond. Last night’s thunderstorms are gone and we’ve got a warm and sunny morning gracing our day. Today I’m hoping for no rain so that I can do some garden chores that I didn’t get to yesterday. It’s time to get another last summer crop sown, something I wanted to do about two weeks ago but I just hadn’t gotten to it. The blackberries are done and I need to prune the dead vines off the fence so it will look a bit cleaner and let the new vines grow for next season’s crop.

My birthday was last week—37! Didn’t I just turn 30?—and I got a couple of garden related items from Chris’ mom: a butterfly tent for raising caterpillars and Gaia’s Garden, a book about permaculture. I did see a monarch the other day, something I hadn’t seen for awhile, so maybe they will be migrating back through here soon. The milkweed became its own ecosystem this year when the oleander aphid population swelled, and the milkweed bug population blossomed, and then the ladybugs came in with their are cute alligator-like larvae all over the plants, in addition to juvenile green lynx spiders. I also noticed something different than I was used to and I figured out that it might have been a syrphid fly larvae. I’m sure there were/are other critters that I haven’t seen yet but it has been such a fun experience seeing what all have made the milkweed home this summer. I need to start looking more carefully for monarch eggs so I can begin raising them.

Over Christmas I received some money and Amazon giftcards from family and mostly squirreled away the money until I could figure out what to buy. I used some of the cash to beef up my summer clothing wardrobe a few months ago but I finally put some other birthday money into the pot and decided to buy a full sized digital piano. I played piano through my growing up years on a smaller sized keyboard and have always wanted an actual piano. A piano is not in the cards at the moment but a decent beginner keyboard was so I found one with good reviews on Amazon and it arrived last week. I still have all of my sheet music from those formative years and while I am very rusty I can manage to play some of the very basic tunes. I’m having to remember where to place my fingers and how to read some of the notes (thank you younger self for writing in the notes!) and now I need to Google some of the other accompanying symbols and language to get up to speed. I’m hoping with some practice I can be decent enough to teach Forest a little and maybe he will want to learn himself in a few years. We’ll see!

If you don’t visit the site much and read in a feed reader or via email, could you pop over to the blog and check it out? I actually updated to a WordPress theme instead of keeping the coded HTML that I’ve used for years. It took some banging around with dealing with the CSS but I finally got it to look decent, but if you are viewing it on a phone, tablet, or just another computer, can you take a peek and make sure it looks alright to you too? It had been awhile since I did any banner changes and I also streamlined a bit more on the side bar. I have a few more favorite posts I want to add to the side but other than that I think it is how it is going to look for good while.

Happy Sunday friends!

Skipper + Agastache


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Did you know there are a ton of skipper butterflies? I sat down yesterday to try to identify this one flitting about on this anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) the other afternoon and and I came up empty handed on an identification. There are a couple that look similar, and man, I lost patience pretty quickly with it, wishing I was flipping through a book instead of the internet. We have a butterfly book for Florida, Butterflies Through Binoculars, and it is helpful sometimes but the different region definitely makes it difficult to figure out solely from that book sometimes.

I really love the anise hyssop for the sole fact it is pollinator friendly and *crossing fingers* the deer have not chomped it down yet. Maybe they aren’t hungry enough? I thought they didn’t like lemon balm, according to internet sources, but they do. They’ve kept the lemon balm nice and tame this year instead of its usual cascading-over-the-bricks-and-into-the-path manner. Also, the anise hyssop spread easily by seed so it can fill out an area of the garden if you want it to. I’ve seen several people mention other varieties of agastache on their blogs and I’m very interested in possibly diversifying with more cultivars around the garden because of both of the reasons listed above.

We are definitely hitting the height of summer where we want to hibernate inside for a lot of the day. You can look outside and feel the humidity and heat from the comfort of the A/C and know that you’d be sweating in a few minutes without doing much other than sitting.

I’m trying to drink it all in, this summer, but we got a taste of fall the other morning when a storm front came through—darker than typical at 7:30 am and in the low 70s—and it had me yearning for early October.

Sunday Reads


Ahhh, good morning! I’m sitting here watching, over the screen of my laptop, a cartoon called DinoTrux on Netflix—a toddler’s idea of the perfect cartoon—dinosaurs turned into trucks, what’s not to like? Although, we *have* watched Toy Story 3 a gazillion times over the last week, so maybe that’s the perfect cartoon? Anyway, I’ve got a great mug of coffee and am finally able to lounge and relax away my mornings over the weekend.

Here are a few interesting tidbits I’ve read this week. Let’s start off with a couple of tweets!

In response to:

And in a similar vein: The Tale of the Dictators Daughter and her Prince by Sarah Kendzior. Yeah, yeah, I’m dipping my toes back into politics again after a few months away.

Jane Austen: The Political via The Weekly Standard

Sheila Michaels, Who Brought โ€˜Ms.โ€™ to Prominence, Dies at 78 via the New York Times. I had no idea the history behind the title and it is one I prefer, too. Mrs. just sounds very 1950s housewife and unprofessional. And to be honest, just use my first name.

A preview of the Piet Oudolf documentary.

Season 3 of Outlander preview photos!! *squee*!

As “OMG, it’s a hornworm!” season has begun on social media I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable by the upturned noses by gardeners to other important pollinators that just so happen to use our tomatoes as host plants (or insert other edible here) when somehow the swallowtails are ok because they eat parsley and fennel and dill, and of course, happen to be really pretty. I don’t know, call me crazy, but there’s some pollinator bias going on in the gardening world. It’s all “Save the monarchs! Save the honeybees!” and kill anything else it seems. Yes, this deserves more than a little blurb I’m writing here so it may be a real blog post eventually—more pondering and thoughts need to occur first—but in that vein, More Than Monarchs: All Pollinators Need our Attention, Where Have All The Insects Gone, and No More War in the Garden.

Anything good you are reading around the ‘net lately?

July


Gaillardia amblyodon

If I’m out and about in the car, which we have been quite a bit over the last several weeks, I notice changes, the changes signaling the upcoming seasonal shift. It is still two months away, but it is coming. It is noticeable on social media feeds and garden blogs, too, with people thinking about fall crops. We may be smack-dab in the middle of summer but for me it already feels like we’re on the top of the peak and about to start the downward slide. Sure, there’s plenty of heat left in store for us but it took living in Florida for me to really pay attention to the phenological changes that mark the passing of a season. It always drove me batty when I would hear from people in Florida that there weren’t any seasons! Sure, there might not be snow on the ground in January, but there was a season called winter. There are seasons, they are subtle and that same effect is here in my area of Texas, too.

I’ve noticed the goldenrod already begin lumbering over the surrounding vegetation, aiming for that late August and September bloom period. The beautyberries have been blooming for awhile and there are already little green fruits forming, patiently waiting to turn that wonderful shade of purple. I was going to call it aubergine but it isn’t that dark. It’s beautyberry purple. Can we have a shade of purple named beautyberry?

In the garden the formosa lilies are the stars of the garden currently. There are plenty of other plants blooming right now but the lilies are what you see front and center when you pull up at the house. It’s been an easier time trying to maintain the gardens this summer though we are by far not on top of everything. I’ve pretty much put weeding the flower bed paths as lowest priority and that has begun to show, so I guess it is time to start working a little bit on that. The deer have been something awful this summer, mostly thanks to our neighbor feeding them. It wouldn’t be a big deal if, you know, we didn’t have a garden, but they migrate over to our yard between their meals over there and not only are they eating some plants but their hooves are tearing up the mulch so I’m constantly trying to fluff the dirt back.

We’ve had busy out-of-town weekends the last three weekends with a fairly full schedule the weeks before that. Needless to say, I need some introvert time at home. All of the travel has really helped to speed up the summer, too. I wanted to do a few crafty things with Forest and maybe some evening park explorations around here. It is really too hot to do a lot of hiking but evenings are sometimes cool enough to enjoy something like that.

Along with just taking it easy for awhile, it is time to do some cleaning out and moving around of baby and toddler items. Forest is officially out of his high chair or booster seat and is now a full-fledged member of the dinner table. And his crib came down in May and so he sleeps on the crib mattress on his floor for now. There are transitions afoot. Three is coming up fast for Forest!

That’s where summer is for us right now. I’ve been reading fairly heavily and will have another book review at the end of the month. I’m also finally in a lull with tv/Netflix watching. I caught up on Orange is the New Black and Better Call Saul so I have nothing until the fall tv season starts up unless something gets scheduled for an August release that I’m not in the know about.

What about you? How is your summer going?

Lake Explorations at Brazos Bend State Park


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As I mentioned in last week’s post about Brazos Bend State Park, there are plenty of alligators at this park to oogle at. Elm Lake and 40-acre Lake would be the primary places to see alligators but the smaller lakes host alligators, too.

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Alligator gar Chris spotted this quickly on one of the little docks on Elm Lake.

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Thalia dealbata

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Of course there was some fishing time put in on 40-acre Lake!

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Yellow-crowned night heron

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Yellow bladderwort

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Yellow and purple bladderwort

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Dragonflies were very active in the wetlands. I really need to get a dragonfly identification book.

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I am awful at telling the difference between anhingas and cormorants, especially from a distance. Every time I see one I’ll say “Oooh, there’s an anhinga!” and Chris will reply back, “That’s a cormorant!” And the next time I’ll say, “Oooh, there’s a cormorant!” and he will reply back “That’s an anhinga!” But, I really think this is an anhinga this time! A helpful guide. “โ€œAโ€nhinga โ€“ โ€œAโ€ is a pointed letter and the
anhinga has a pointed beak”
.

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Little baby catching a ride on Momma!

I still have the butterfly post to share with y’all and hope to write it up this weekend. We’ve been out of town the last three weekends and fairly busy for weeks before that so I’m ready for a breather around here to catch up on writing, creating, gardening, and of course, cleaning! My house is a little dirty right now! More soon!

On the Trails at Brazos Bend State Park


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Now that we’ve entered the non-camping zone of summer, I am now looking back at our second to last camping trip of the season. In early May we went to Brazos Bend State Park; it was warming up but it wasn’t unbearable quite yet. Thanks to the shady campsite we had, we were able to stay a little cool in the middle of the day by lounging in the tent. Our last camping trip, to the LCRA Matagorda Nature Park was the opposite of that—hot, sticky, no shade.

At Brazos Bend there really is a plethora of things to do and it is probably one of the more popular parks in our region due to its accessibility to Houston. Also: there are alligators. I mean, there are alligators in many places in southeast Texas but this is where you can see them up close, and we all know people love coming up close to animals that can eat you. I’m a little sardonic here because I think there is a very tenuous line being towed at the park with the public and alligator interface and and the public not quite grasping just how dangerous of a situation they could be in and the park not posting enough signs about harassment of alligators. That’s the Florida in me coming out. Sure, there are a few signs but not enough and not enough explicitly stating the danger. Anyway…I’ll have a separate post about our trips around the lakes. This one is about a couple of the trails we hiked, further from water.

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Asclepias virdis, green milkweed

We hit up the Horseshoe Lake and Big Creek Loops the first afternoon we were there. It wasn’t terribly hot but in the sun we started feeling the impacts of the heat fairly quickly. The three of us began wilting.

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Big Creek

Forest fell asleep somewhere down the Big Creek trail. We hadn’t put sunscreen on him and the sun ended up being rather harsh along that trail as it was more open than I was expecting. Back towards the far reaches of the park the forest thickened but on the way to and from the sun beat down on us. We glimpsed an alligator in a little pond on one side of the trail but other than the alligator and a few birds this trail was very quiet.

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Scutellaria ovata

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Forest woke up when we sat down to take a break near the trailhead. We sat in the shade getting a snack and watching the birds on the water. A few other people passed us on their way out to the Big Creek trail.

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Coreopsis

The next morning before lunch we walked the Prairie Trail near the entrance to the park. It was out in the open, being a prairie and all, and the late morning sun was beginning to heat up the trail, which consequently made us the only ones out exploring the trail. (also, no water views) I really loved this trail because there was quite a bit in bloom and a lot of butterflies as well. Butterflies were very prolific during our trip and they are getting their own post soon!

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Liatris

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Passiflora incarnata

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This trail had an abundance of passflora growing all over it which in turn attracted the gulf fritillary caterpillars.

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Solanum elaeagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade

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Don’t forget other insects like wasps are pollinators, too!

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Green milkweed seed pod

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Some kind of Helianthus??

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Yucca arkansana—probably?

The last trail we did was on our way out on Sunday morning, down the Red Buckeye Trail using small sections of the White Oak trail for access. It took us down to the river with excellent views on the bluffs! I didn’t take any photos of the river due to my use of a 100mm macro lens—who wants a closeup view of the river?

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Slightly blurry shot of Aclepias perennis, aquatic milkweed. I was manually focusing with a macro lens and was having a hard time.

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We almost squished this guy—he will reappear in the butterflies/caterpillars post I do because I haven’t identified him yet.

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Matelea gonocarpos, angular fruit milkvine

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Rhus copallinum

I really enjoyed this particular area of the park and would love to explore more of the park on the back portion towards the river. It is definitely not nearly as busy as the front of the park—where the alligators are!

In the Edible Garden | Early-Mid June 2017


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Tomatoes have started slowing down in production, which frankly—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—I’m glad about. The hustle of getting food processed over a few short weeks when everything is in abundance can be tiring. Especially tomatoes. That said, we are still rolling in blackberries and green beans are still giving us a good amount to stash and freeze once a week. We should have more beans over the coming month or two as I recently planted Dragon Tongue, Painted Lady, and Royal Burgundy. In addition, I should have Big Red Ripper cowpeas coming eventually, too.

greenbeans

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A crazy canning and food preservation day a few weeks back.

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Earlier in the month I managed to get a few squash, pumpkins, and melons planted in beds that were empty after pulling out spent plants. It took awhile for some to germinate but now everything is up and, so far, thriving.

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Newly germinated Dragon Tongue beans.

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I was really upset to have to pull all of the dill but they had all acquired powdery mildew. I had planned on letting them all set seed so I could just save it but I noticed some mildew on the gooseneck gourd and decided to just pull the dill, bag it, and throw it in the trash instead of risking it spreading more. I know that the humidity and water combination down here helps that mildew to occur but I didn’t want to make things worse. There are still a few springs of dill around the garden but not to the extent that I had. I’ll resow in September/October and hope to get some more saved before winter.

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One of the more exciting developments in the edible garden is that my asparagus is finally putting on shoots that are large enough to eat if we wanted! I’m only getting one or two at a time so I haven’t been cutting them as the come up, but this is great to finally see!

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I’ve made about 24 jars of blackberry jam this season. There’s probably enough blackberries in my fridge at the moment for nearly another 24 if I wanted but I think I should probably make some cobbler instead! Maybe a blackberry pie?

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In front of the blackberries I had planted various greens in late winter. The chards are still going strong, aided by a good deal of shade in the back of the edible garden. I’m kind of hoping I can get them to over summer, but we will see. I have more planted underneath some of the tomatoes that are still thriving and a stray Chinese cabbage going strong, too.

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Currently, I need to get a hold on the weeds out in the paths of the edible garden but haven’t really found the time. I already transplanted a few tomatoes that will be fall tomatoes that I had germinated in mid-spring and grew out in pots. I attempted fall tomatoes last year but I sowed seeds in July and was about to get fruits in early December when we had a freeze. So, I am trying a different route this year and will see how it goes. I’ll probably cut down a couple of tomato plants here in a week or two and replace them with the three remaining plants I have. Some of the tomatoes are still doing well but some are starting to wane and look ragged thanks to the heat. We shall see!

What’s growing in your neck of the woods?

Enjoying June’s Blooms


milkweed

The patches of tropical milkweed have been blooming profusely the last few months and have now made it all the way into seed setting stage, with their fluff floating seeds about the garden, ready to start more milkweed wherever it pleases. Last year I moved a couple of plants that had sprouted next to our driveway about 30 feet away from the garden.

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I went ahead and sowed some seeds on the potting bench in an effort to get more milkweed germinated ahead of the August/September return monarch migration in hopes of having some plants in containers by then. I have three I also dug up from the compost that are thriving in pots and will go into rotation should we decide raise some monarch babies.

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This is the first year I’ve noticed milkweed bug nymphs, Oncopeltus fasciatus. I’m sure they have been there before but this is the first time I’ve paid attention.

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The milkweed patches have turned into little ecosystems of their own these days, between the milkweed bugs, oleander aphids, ladybugs, and some grasshoppers and spiders I’ve noticed on the plants. I haven’t seen a lot of monarchs recently but there was one flitting about a week ago. I have not seen caterpillars since April.

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You can see some of the patch in the fenceline bed here, including the yellow version of the tropical milkweed over on the right. I’ve been working hard on this bed weeding it and it is looking really good right now. Still a few patches I need to get before I move on to other beds. This was taken before I did a lot of the weeding.

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The evening light that pours onto the leaves of the Amorpha fruticosa always makes me pause and attempt to soak in it for a few seconds before I’m on my way to the garden.

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All of the beds are starting to fill in nicely, though there are some gaps that need to be filled and some plants that really need to be moved.

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Earlier in the spring I threw some chia seeds out into the garden, a little too many—I had thin a lot and Chris didn’t like how thick some of it is—but I am pleased with how it has grown for the most part. Chia is a salvia and this produces a pretty blueish-purple bloom. I attempted to sow some two years ago on the side-yard bed but it was too shady and the plants never stood up well. They are thriving where they are now and look like they should start blooming soon.

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Most of the variegated milk thistle are gone to seed now. I have a huge plant I need to cut down in the edible garden and put into the compost.

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Forest is obsessed with Easter eggs right now so he’s been bringing them into the garden too! As you see in this photo, the paths need help. That focus is on the back burner currently until I can get a handle on some other weeds in the beds first.

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The mountain mint is clumping and blooming nicely under the Amorpha and has produced a layering effect that is pleasant to look at. I’m enjoying it a little more than previous years because it is a little more contained than it typically wants to be.

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The marigolds that reseeded themselves from last year have done well taking over a section of the driveway flower bed and I’m fine with that. They bloom continuously and provide some cover to a decent sized area and always look great!

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The winter knocked back the ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia but it has recovered and I’m hoping it will obtain the clumping size it has in previous years by the end of summer.

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Creeping thyme doing its thing—creeping along and blooming!

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Over on the left the Formosa lilies are standing tall and ready to bloom in a few weeks. Love their blooms!

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We missed our opportunity to move the ‘Black and Blue’ salvia earlier this season before it got big. It really needs to be moved away from the path and over to the back of the beds as it takes up a lot of space and always leans over into the path late in the season. This bloom is above my head, hence the sky in the background.

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And it seems rather early for the pink banana trees to be blooming already but there they are.

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One last look towards the back of the side-yard garden. The figs are also starting to ripen, earlier than usual as well.

As you see, there quite a bit going on in the garden. Can you believe in about a week and a half we will have been living here for 5 years?? I’ll have to do a post about that, too.

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