Monday, June 28, 2010

the garden of earthly delights


I've been trying this week to keep up with the garden more closely than I had been - these very hot days dry everything out very quickly. Since I took the squash, cucumber, and zucchini plants out, I noticed immediately that the remaining squash bugs migrated to what I thought were my watermelon mounds. 

Score one for the squash bugs - they knew exactly what they were doing. I must have gotten my seedlings mixed up, because the watermelons are not watermelons! I now have a yellow squash mound and a zucchini mound!
So it's back to doing battle with the squash bugs. We'll keep them at bay as much as possible, but I think we've had our share of yellow squash and zucchini anyway, so if these mounds start getting inundated with bugs, I'll take them out as well.

And lesson learned about seedlings: have the beds ready so the seedlings can go in the minute they're ready. I lost a number of things because I ran out of space and waited too long to transplant. (and didn't pay as much attention to those seedlings in tiny containers as I should have)

Right now, as I wait for the basil and the tomatoes to come fully into harvest, the sunflowers are keeping me happy and entertained.

There is something about sunflowers that brings a big smile to my face no matter what.


Even the new ones not yet blooming are stunning. I can't get enough of them. 


When selecting tomato seeds early in the spring, I decided to plant German Johnsons in honor of my dad. When I was growing up, I accompanied him on his annual spring search for German Johnson seedlings to plant in his small but very well-maintained garden. He always loved the German Johnsons, and during the last 15 years or so of his life, the variety became more and more difficult to find. One year we went to the farmer's market together and he patiently asked grower after grower if they had German Johnsons. We didn't find any that year, and I don't think he ever found them again before he stopped his gardening.

I found this about the variety:
GERMAN JOHNSON PINK is a North Carolina heirloom tomato notable for having been one of the four parents of the famous Mortgage Lifter tomato. If you want to be able to brag about your tomatoes, German Johnson Pink is a variety to grow as the hardy plants produce huge pinkish red beefsteak type tomatoes that weigh 1.5 pounds or more. Their flesh is very thick and has few seeds. The fruits have an excellent flavor and are outstanding for slicing, but may also be used for canning. Good disease resistance and very productive despite the large size of the fruit. The indeterminate vines will grow very tall and bear fruit all summer long. Mine each require triple staking because of the weight of the fruit and the large vines. This variety has consistantly ranked high in the tomato tastes held each year at Thomas Jefferson's preserved estate Monticello.

I started everything from seed this year, and when I saw the German Johnson seed, I snapped it up. So far these vines are doing well, and the first tomato is starting to pink up now, and it's huge. The moment it's ripe, I'll pick it and have tomato sandwiches in honor of my father. He'd be proud of the harvest, but would probably shake his head at my gardening practices - no formal staking, planting very close together, random watering and in some ways benign neglect.

We all have our gardening styles and my personal theory is that I want to feed our family, I don't mind sharing with wildlife, and I have so many other things to do in a day I can't really be a slave to the garden. So... I'll take messy vines and some bugs, and we'll eat what we get, which so far has been more than enough.

One thing I wish is that he could have access to our November Hill compost - I think he'd enjoy growing his summer garden with the gift from our horses and donkeys.

This German Johnson is for you, Dad! 


It's slated to cool down to the mid 80s on Wednesday, so once it does, I'll be planting more seed in the space now cleared. More dragon tongue beans, and whatever I have left. I lost my eggplant, so will try to get more of those going, and I'm going to try a catnip mound to see what the five fearless felines do with it.  The feed store has row cover material by the yard, so I'll use that to get the seedlings going and test out how it works with keeping bugs away!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Your garden sounds delicious. I love fresh tomatoes, but have never heard of the German Johnson. I'm glad you found the seeds and will enjoy a good tomato sandwich in honor of your dad.

It's good to hear that your temps are going to lower to something reasonable. Maybe you can even get in a bareback ride one day.

billie said...

Arlene, I'm hoping to get some rides in - unfortunately this cooling off coincides with my husband's business trip to Brazil, so the work load is heavier than usual around here! I need to look at cutting back the chores in order to get the ride in - the idea that I have to do it all does me in... :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - maybe you need to add some ducks to your menagerie as they are great bug catchers in the garden & certainly would provide the equines with further entertainment....

billie said...

We have been thinking of chickens, but hadn't thought of ducks. I wish we could bring some in just long enough to clean things out and then let them go home again - right now the idea of anything else to monitor and care for is overwhelming to me!

If we had a pond though, I feel sure we would have some ducks. Our neighbor down the lane has a family of Canadian geese who have become a favorite destination for our walks down the lane.

Anonymous said...

i just saw a very nice show that used Brown Khaki ducks for pest control. Not only are they great garden patrolled but lay very nice large eggs.

You do NOT want chickens in your garden as they will peck the vegetables - ducks will not.

Geese are great weeders and will pull up or eat, anything green.

Guinea Hens might be an option as they are very independent and would take care of bugs, snakes and gang up on the cats.....

billie said...

I just looked up the brown khaki ducks and they are very handsome! They would be wonderful if we had ponds - maybe we should buy the property across the lane (empty for over a year now, and finally back on the market as a bank-owned property) - it has two ponds and would be a perfect place for ducks!

I am worried the guineas would terrorize the neighborhood - we have thought through this before and ended up doing nothing, as we haven't quite found the right solution yet.

Thank you for the brown khaki info - that is a bit of info I will file away and who knows? Maybe an editor will call and make me an offer on the pony books and I can add to my modest dynasty. :)