Friday, July 5, 2013

Post holiday

Hoping all had a relaxing July 4th holiday, time off seems to fly by with the extra busywork any celebration creates. We had a lovely chicken & bratwurst barbeque; which fortunately I had remembered to purchase  at the meat market on Tuesday, avoiding the "elbowing lines" right before the holiday. I did have to run out, at the last minute, to pick up more asparagus for the chilled salad but the produce department is much less popular than the local meat and liquor departments here. The weather co-operated and the fireworks were beautiful. Today of course, it is back to work for most of us...

I am channeling the calm of the garden today before even thinking about my shift at work tonight. Temperatures are back at a muggy 84F (29C) with a slight overcast haze which might indicate some thunderstorms later. Today is my first picking of green beans, homegrown! I am very pleased at the size and quantity. I'm still learning about growing veg and this first harvest feels very successful. This bunch will be steamed and served with leftover barbeque chicken tonight for dinner.

The tomato plants are loaded with greenies but a few tomatoes have a bit of blush. I'm thinking it will be at least another week for their harvest. So far, no splits or black spots on the fruit. I have been carefully fertilizing every couple of weeks and have twice applied some ground egg shell for calcium. We save egg shells year round to blenderize into calcium powder for the tomatoes and compost heap. No sense in paying for a bag of calcium when I am buying eggs weekly...

The honeybees have made an appearance en masse, finally. I think the local wild hives are just now starting to recuperate from a tough winter and the drought last summer. They no longer cluster at the humming bird feeders and are happily visiting their usual food favorites:  balloon flowers, echinacea and lawn clover. The big wooly bumblebees have arrived too, so I am hopeful for a fruitful pollination season.

The hummingbirds have been somewhat scarce this season. The one female is still here, but there are only a couple of males. Nothing like past years when there would be constant squeaky, bickering fights over the rights to each feeder. I was lucky to get a photo of the drab female Ruby-throat hummer at her favorite feeder near the front porch. She had a nest in the neighbor's black birch tree and hopefully hatched a couple of baby hummers.

The gladiolas have started to bloom and soon I will have a riot of color. These solitary ones were bulbs from years ago I thought had rotted. I must say the garden always surprises me. I also thought glads were too tender to survive our harsher winters but they return annually. I enjoy their amazing colors and add about 60 to the yard every Spring. The bulbs are always mixed colors so every season gives the garden a different look. Frequently, I will have to stake the heavily laden flower spikes with bamboo and use craft chenille stems, cut into thirds, as twist ties. It's definitely a flower party in parts of the yard. Once the masses bloom I will post more photos.

This weekend I plan to work in the backyard. It has been a bit neglected with all the exciting veg gardening out front. Our fruit trees are bearing up under their load but the blueberries have been a bust this year. I will need to dig them up and replant them in a trough of peat for better production over the next few years. The lone surviving raspberry has produced three red berries, of which I ate two and shared one. I love raspberries but I am not sure I have any talent with them. I will have to do more studying about their culture. For now, I guess I will still be purchasing my raspberry jam from Aldi.

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