Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finally! Picking tomatoes

Now come on! Aren't these little tomatoes just beautiful? They are my first tomato picks of the summer, and I'm particularly proud of these beauties

because I grew the plants from seed. They called "Sugar Cherry" from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a variety appreciated for its intense flavor and sweetness. I ate mine whole with a sprinkle of kosher salt: delicious!

This next photo is our first okra blossom, my favorite vegetable to grow because the flowers are so beautiful and the okra pods appear overnight and are ready to pick in a day or two. The bees also love okra. Look closely and you can see a bee nestled inside the bloom.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Project No. 1: Birdbath Resurrected

The heat in Memphis has been particularly brutal this summer, settling in a month early and staying in the triple digits for days on end. Even for me (I actually like to sweat), the heat has stymied the hard yard work as keeping the beds watered is an ongoing and endless task.

To compensate, I'm focusing on small garden projects that don't involve weeding. On Saturday, I scrubbed out empty clay pots and seed trays from the spring that I'd stacked on a piece of lawn furniture. Now the pots and the trays are stored neatly in my shed.

On Sunday, I resurrected my cooper birdbath, cleaning it and filling it with fresh water. I'd stopped filling the birdbath a few years ago when the West Nile virus made me paranoid about mosquitoes. Now I'm more worried about the birds dropping dead from the heat. Plus, I love the way it looks next to my Japanese maple.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tomatoes: They Are Finally Here!

Gardeners in the South talk about growing tomatoes with nonchalance. Everywhere I go, I hear folks saying things like, "All I got planted were a few tomato

plants" or even worse, "My tomatoes are beautiful this summer."

I envy this camaraderie. With only six or seven hours of sun, my tomatoes struggle. Last summer, the plants grew and bloomed, but late planting and early heat made most of the blossoms fall off.

This summer, I got an early start, as my beds were ready in the spring, and I grew some tomato plants from seed. But the tomatoes refused to grow, and their leaves were a yellow green. An employee at Dan West said they needed nitrogen, so I added a third of a cup of Garden Tome to the dirt around each plant. The transformation of the plants was miraculous, and now they are thriving.

I planted six or seven different varieties to see which tomatoes do best, but the identification tags have disappeared. I'm blaming the squirrels because I blame them for all my gardening mishaps.

I'd like to be able to know which plants are producing these lovely little (for now) tomatoes, but all the plants look alike. Once they land between basil, mayo, and bread, it probably won't matter.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Swallowtails Aren't Afraid of Me!

Last summer, in a fit of ignorant craziness, I killed a caterpillar that was on its way to becoming a swallowtail. I thought it was some terrible pest eating my pepper plants. Live and learn.

This morning, I'm happy to report that I saw this lovely eastern swallowtail checking out my cucumbers. I think she was getting a drink from the drip hose. Fortunately, I left her alone.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July beauties: Coming on Strong!

I am still growing food! Here are a few photos of the produce I picked today. Banana peppers, green peppers, bush beans, and sweet basil.

The fragrance of the peppers after I picked them were intoxicating. It was like breathing in all that is perfect about Mother Earth.

I'm growing three types of beans, but Blue Lake Bush Beans are my favorite. They are prolific, delicious, disease resistant, and very easy to grow. I ordered them from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange last summer, so these beauties grew this summer from the leftovers in the pack.