Friday, July 13, 2018

What’s Growing in mid-July in the Mid-Atlantic

I am astonished that the lettuce (Burpee gourmet blend) has not bolted in this prolonged heat near Washington, D.C. I was planning on using the space for tomatoes when it opened up. It’s going strong and I don’t have the heart to pull it out. I have planted the tomatoes among the lettuce as it gets taller and taller. Mind you, the arugula and the spicy lettuce mix bolted weeks ago.

Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin, lettuce, mouse melon, tomato

I was able to collect mouse melon at a seed swap in February. Two plants survived from seedling and they are growing like mad. Must like the heat! They have tiny tiny flowers now and I am excited to see the fruits develop.

I got a couple of heirloom tomato varieties (German Johnson and Rinon Rippled Delight) at the seed swap and also grape variety. I had not started tomatoes from seed before but I was up for the challenge so I was seeking tomato seeds at the swap. I do not use lights or other contraptions, except for the light from the windows, and I was able to grow about 12 seedlings and get them in the ground in mid-May. Most survived – I have birds that really enjoy snapping seedlings in half in the spring and they found a couple of tomatoes and marigolds to decapitate. Because heirloom varieties can tend to grow very slowly and not bear much fruit, I also bought a couple of hybrid plants a few weeks ago to ensure a good harvest this year.

Stuttgart onions were set on St. Patrick’s Day and are going strong. That will be an empty area at the end of the summer in the raised bed. Beets? Spinach?

Green and wax beans are being planted in succession which means as space, any space, opens I put some seeds in the ground. I will continue that through the summer, curious to see how late I can plants seeds and see them through to fruit. I suspect the daylight will determine that. Bean freeze really well so I try to grow as much as possible.

Surprise, it’s a pumpkin growing in the backyard. It must have come from the jack-o'-lantern carcass I threw out there last November. I grew pumpkins intentionally last year, although I don’t think they were pumpkins at all, and they did not survive. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Planning for the Fall Landscape

It has been extremely and unseasonably hot in the Mid-Atlantic where I live in USDA zone 7a. It’s hard to imagine wearing a sweater and admiring the fall foliage. But those days are coming and fall garden planning is on my mind. I have learned over the years that a successful flower bed or vegetable garden requires planning. Otherwise, I always feel like I am racing to catch up. And I never seem to catch up! 

Mum before pruning.
Mum after pruning.

One aspect of the fall garden that I love is chrysanthemums. I have collected a few plants over the years that I have kept alive over the winter and planted in the ground in spring. I get them to bloom in the fall by cutting them back about half-way around Independence Day. This allows the plants to continue growing, and forming flowers at the right time-when I am wearing a sweater and admiring the fall leaf color- and not in the heat of August. Aster is another plant that can be cut back now in order to have blooms in the fall.

How are you planning for your fall gardens?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

#Bloomday April 2018

It's #Bloomday and I am so glad there are things blooming in the yard now. Below is Veronica-Georgia Blue, and lush purple-flowered ground cover that is green all summer and fall, wild violets that started appearing in my yard a couple of years ago and forsythia which has been loving the cool spring here in Washington, D.C.

Top: Veronica-Georgia Blue; Left: violet; Right: forsythia

What's blooming in your garden today?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bringing herbs in for the winter

There was an ugly frost this week here in zone 7, after some very mild temperatures. The annuals that were still hanging on, like the zinnia, batchelor's buttons and marigold, were toast. I was keeping the zinnia and marigolds in the ground waiting for the flower heads to dry so I could gather some seeds. But they are all dead now and I pulled them all out today. Even the mums got zapped!

The herbs survived though, like parsley and oregano, so today I dug them up and brought them inside for the winter. Here is oregano hanging in the west-facing kitchen window. Now I will have fresh oregano, parsley and rosemary over the winter.

Oregano in the window.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Clearing the decks for fall crop

Was I overly optimistic when I declared "There is Still a lot of Summer Left"? It bothers me when the stores and media start rushing fall in August. Halloween candy in the isles at Safeway, the start of meteorological fall, my friends in northern New England reporting a tinge of color in the leaves. Makes me crazy.

Fall Plot Prep
Alas, yesterday I cleared out the beans, pulled the rest of the carrots, picked some kale (my spring plants are still going strong). The Brandywine tomatoes are still really green. Actually all of the tomatoes are still really green. I am now going to remove any flowers that form on the tomato plants in order to direct all of the energy to ripening. And I started the plant list for the fall crop:
  • Spinach
  • Carrotts
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Onions
  • Garlic
When Are Carrots Ready for Picking
I ask myself this question every time I go in and pull them out. I have been relying on the size of the leaves. Yesterday when I picked all of the carrots that remained in the ground, I discovered that the size of the leaves do not correlate to the size of the carrot. I had one PERFECT beautiful carrot (pictured on the right) and the leaves were quite small. I have other kind of smallish carrots with very large leaves (pictured on the left). Good experiment!

On the left, skinny carrot, dense leaves. On the right "Perfection." Large carrot, no splitting, evenly tapered, straight. Very skinny leaves.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trimming Flowers on Coleus

Many of the coleus plants I have around the yard are growing flower spikes. Not so attractive, but this bee was hanging out the other day.

Do you trim back the flowers? I guessed that the flowers created the leaves, but I think I am wrong. According to this short piece in SF Gate:
Cut or pinch flower spikes back to a leaf node as they appear. Coleus flowers are light purple or blue and develop at the ends of shoots. Pinching off flowers before they bloom and go to seed saves the plant energy and encourages vegetative growth.
I won't be saving seeds from these plants so I am going to cut them off.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Lots of bees in the yard today. This is celosia, in the amaranth family.

Today is #WorldPhotoDay. Check out the website for more info.