Do you collect seeds from your garden? It is one of my favorite ways to save money on plants. See how easy it is!
This year, I really took the phrase "the dog days of summer" to heart. July was very warm, and I felt very unmotivated to do much of anything. However, the garden marches on and each day comes anyway, and I made myself step up and DO things that needed doing.
This clump of bearded iris has grown full and beautiful. The problem was that it was really in the way of the garden hose storage. So, I dig about half the clump to move to a different area of the garden.
My little girl relaxed with me after I dug the iris rhizomes. (Actually, she rested, I divided the clumps and cut the leaves off, while trying not to drop dirt on her face.) If the transplants survive, this area of the garden should finally be filled with plants.
My little garden helpers also wanted to harvest garlic bulbs with me. They surprised me by digging up two or three each before passing the task off to me for the other 45 or so.
We enjoyed plenty of blooms in the garden during these dog days, as well: sunflowers, gladiolus, purple coneflower, and marigold.
We harvested grapes, blackberries, a few tomatoes and some green beans as well.
I seeded several gardens beds for a fall crop of radish, lettuce, carrot, beet, turnip and a variety of salad greens. I started seedlings indoors for broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage that will go out in a few weeks. My littles helped seed those, so the seedlings came up a teensy bit thick. No worries, I just clipped the extras as microgreens for my lunch one day. Yum!
My fabulously supportive husband finished the last major flagstone path/steps. These flagstone paths make a HUGE visual difference in how finished the yard looks! Hooray! Since we have flagstone left, we will be paving the pathways on between the garden beds next.
Our family took an epic, 5000 mile, cross-country road-trip for 17 days during the later half of June. I worked very hard for the first half of June to prepare the garden to endure during our long trip away, making sure sprinklers and drip lines were functioning properly, harvesting anything that was ready before we left. But, after three weeks away from the garden, we returned to many tasks that needed immediate attention: giant summer weeds had sprouted and grown 2-3 feet tall in our absence; the apricots, cherries, strawberries, raspberries drooped under the weight of ripe fruit; the multi-species lawn pathways were in dire need of a mow; several areas were still under-watered.
So, even though I have been very busy in the garden, I have had no time to write about being in the garden!
The whole first week after our trip, I worked sun-up to sun-down, washing laundry from the trip and putting the house back in order, and harvesting fruit and processing it as fast as I could. The children were assigned the job of getting the lawn and weeds back under control.
Even though it was exhausting work, I could never be unhappy about an abundant harvest to return home to! I bottled several jars of cherry and raspberry jam. (The abundant strawberries were all quickly consumed by children, which is fine by me.) I picked only 1/3 of the apricot tree and made 15 jars of jam, 2 batches of fruit leather and 1 batch of dried apricots. This is adequate for our year's consumption of apricots (aside from the fresh eating we are still doing). So, I decided it was time to share! I invited family, friends and neighbors to come share the harvest, and I am so glad they did!
Now, as I look forward to the next few weeks, I will be harvesting the garlic, collecting pea seeds, covering a few beds with a cover crop, and starting fall crops in others.
Even though the garden still doesn't match my complete vision for it, I am starting to see the progress! Many portions of the garden are finally filling in lush and beautiful. Several other parts have young plants that will fill in within another season or two. For the past few weeks, the floral show has been ramping up and is just getting spectacular!
The first peony blooms (ever in this garden) are just opening. I am so glad the deer did not nip off all the buds this year! (Upper left, lower right). Upper right is lavender, one of the most successful plants in my garden, fragrant and wonderful. Lower left is ice plant (blooms closed) with lamb's ear behind. My younger children love picking leaves off the lamb's ear for all sorts of imaginary play.
Left column, top to bottom: yarrow (summer berries mix), rockcress, dropmore anchusa (a 3.5 foot tall glowing beauty). Middle column, top to bottom: poppy, iceplant. Right column, top to bottom: perennial snapdragon, Jupiter's beard, a globe mallow that volunteered in the garden and I am happily encouraging it to spread.
The spectacular Silver Spring Blooming Butterfly Bush (buddleia alternifolia) which is huge and lights up the whole garden for June. With dusty miller (upper left), snapdragon (upper right), iris (lower left), intertwined maple branch (lower right).
A long view of this spectacular bush.
A Western Mock Orange bush. I wish this was smell-o-vision, because this shrub has the most delectable scent.
This rose bush volunteered by the shed, so we built a support for it to climb up the shed wall. It is filling in nicely this season and has delicate, old fashioned light pink roses covering it. (Pardon the incomplete paint job on the shed.)
Mexican evening primrose. This plant can be vigorous, taking over other plants sometimes. But in this harsh garden environment, I appreciate it's toughness. I have planted it in my parkstrip and in the back corner of the yard that will have a more natural look.
Bearded Iris is another plant that thrives well in this garden. I bought several varieties, but also collected many varieties from neighbors and friends when they divide their clumps.
Two more views of the silver butterfly bush across the garden.
One of many garden visitors we enjoy on a regular basis. (This one pausing just long enough for a photo.)
Peas, lettuce, garlic scapes, and several varieties of greens were harvested in the past few weeks. I love going out to see what is ready to eat each day.
Another plant I absolutely adore is Palmer's Penstemon. It is native to the western US and thrives on neglect. Two areas of my garden seem to suit it especially well and it has spread into large patches. One such patch is under my apricot tree. These photos do not even do justice to these captivating plants. They are 4.5 feet tall, with light pink snapdragon-like blooms.
I will end today with a few longer views of different parts of the garden.
I have completed (a little belatedly) my garden rotation plan for 2016. Last year I made a list of the produce we had too much of, between our garden and the Petersen Farm share. I adjusted the amount of space I allotted to each type of produce according to this list. Of course, the balance will still likely be off, depending on how the garden grows and what the farm share ends up including.
Even though the plan is late, most of the spring garden items went in weeks ago, and some of the summer items are already in as well. I will have the children help me get more of the summer produce seeded this week.
My map is a little skewed, so I could fit (most of) the edibles on one page. I plan each space for two seasons, either Spring/Fall or Summer/Winter.
This week I received a knock at the door from a neighbor informing me that her children and some other neighbor children had picked many flowers from my yard to decorate their sculpture in her sandbox. I went over to the sandbox with her to access the damage, and really, really felt more humor than anger. Those clever kids had created a whole fairyland with a moat and lots of details and my flowers and plants were the decorations. I sure wish I had taken a picture. Most flowers they picked were the spring bulbs, so no real harm done there, since those will come back next spring. (They also picked dandelions, so of course, they could have picked more!) Hopefully, the children have learned a lesson about asking before they pick others flowers, but, honestly, my own children are still learning that lesson.
Many more varieties of tulips are blooming now. Several groundcovers are also in bloom, and finally sizing up so they make an impact in the yard. (And my little picker followed right behind me as I photographed the garden to pick the flowers, without permission... So, see, the neighbors aren't really doing more harm than my own child!)
Several plants are volunteering and/or growing rampantly where they aren't really useful. Raspberry is attempting to take over a veggie garden bed, and on the other side, grow up through the bushes. But, never fear, I have pruners and am not afraid to use them! Some carrots are growng in the path between the garden beds, and the strawberry spinach has seeded itself like mad in the bed in which it grew last year... Well, the strawberry spinach can just be a perpetual crop, I guess. Or duck food.
Our pear tree has some sort of blight or rust or disease on it, perhaps from all the moisture. I will need to do more research to determine what exactly is bothering it. For this year, I've probably already lost the whole pear crop.
I am enjoying the first open iris, a white iris whose name I forget.
The combination of Palmer's penstemon and Saponaria (or soapwort) look great together. I hope the soapwort continues to bloom until the Palmer's penstemon blooms, as I think that would be a stunning combination. I think I'll plant more saponaria near the other clusters of penstemon.