There’s been a definite jungleization of the garden since the beginning of June photos I took. The cucumber photos I show here are now a massive tangle of vines, threatening to over take each other with a few vines wanting to just have a run of the bed. Which is fine, I suppose I’ll be eating a lot of cucumber salads over the next few months. It’s just too bad the tomatoes aren’t on the same page—or rather our climate isn’t on the same page.
Actually being able to enjoy the garden this year has been wonderful. Ooo, as I’m writing this from our dinner table I’m watching a momma deer scope out of the leaves on the ground under the mulberry. There are at least five fawns in the vicinity of the yard and plenty more around the neighborhood. Future garden chompers that are just really too adorable for their own good! I’ve been tossing the tomatoes over the fence that the leaf-footed bugs or the birds get to before I got to them in hopes the deer will enjoy a tasty treat.
Ok, back to the enjoying the garden bits…so, yes, I’ve been enjoying the garden more the last few weeks instead of constant weeding, though I’m still doing my fair share. Between the mimosa weed and the chamberbitter out in the edible garden, it will always be a battle of constant vigilance. It looked good before vacation but I knew it would all come back because the seeds, in particular from the chamberbitter, are embedded by the millions in the garden thanks to letting it get out of control the summer of 2015. I am working to put down some new mulch on the paths that hopefully I can get wrapped up in the next week or two so I’m hoping that will help. I put down new mulch on those paths in October/November of last year and it has decomposed a lot as well as washed away in the mini-flood back in May.
I did start fall tomatoes before we left for vacation. I’m giving it once last try. Every garden article in Texas talks about fall tomatoes but I don’t know many people who have great success. I suppose it would be the people on the coast who have milder winters than the rest of us. The problem usually means that it stays too hot for too long which means the tomatoes start flowering later and by the time there’s any inkling of a tomato forming we get a cold front or freeze. It wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t getting a freeze…even if it was dipping into the high 40s but warming to the 60s during the day would be ok. But nope. Not happening. So, I’m trying a northern variety this year, Red Siberian, which supposedly can handle light frosts. We shall see. I need to get them in the ground in the next week or two so they can get established.
The flower garden is doing well. The milkweed I’ve sown is establishing itself despite being chomped by milkweed beetles constantly. I was surprised how quickly some common milkweed grew from seed. As well as what I’ve determined to be green antelopehorn milkweed. I had collected the latter from a random seedpod I found while hiking—the main part of the plant was long gone—so I didn’t know what it was until it grew up. Neither will be big enough to sustain the monarchs when they come back through, though, but next year they will be. I will have to keep an eye out for eggs and caterpillars when the mommas come laying or else they will be chowed to the ground! The whorled, tall green, and short green milkweed have germinated and are all around 3-4″ tall but they aren’t as robust as the other plants. They’ve also been eaten heavily by the milkweed beetles. (Does anyone else have to correct themselves and not write beatles? Hah!)
The gulf fritillaries returned about two weeks ago and now eggs have been laid and I am spotting caterpillars. I am going to attempt to raise those and see how they fare in the tent. Maybe just five to start. I havw one in the cage right now. I did learn quickly that the passiflora vine cutting has to be in a floral tube or else the plant wilts and dries incredibly fast. No caterpillar wants to eat crummy food! We’ll see how it goes.
Now, to get out and do some more gardening in July!