Sunday, July 9, 2017

Some Days it's too Hot to Garden...

Just blocked & dry
So, when it is too hot to work in the garden I have been knitting. While I was in Scotland this April, I was not only visiting new sights, but I was also on a personal international yarn crawl. I came home with 16 skeins of yarn! It wasn't all for myself, though I was tempted, my daughter received some skeins of yarn from that suitcase stash too.

I selected a wonderful lace weight yarn to knit first. I had made this purchase my first day in Edinburgh at Kathy's Knits, see http://www.kathysknits.co.uk/ . I was wandering, a bit lost with my backpack and looking for my B&B when I noticed Kathy knitting in a patch of sunlight at her basement shop doorway. I was very tired, my backpack had become much heavier the longer I walked, so I was more than happy to leave it on Kathy's stoop and shop for a few skeins of yarn. She suggested this limited edition wool, called Autumn, by http://www.blackbat.co.uk/ , a 50% Romney/50% Shetland lambswool yarn. Its color scheme reminded me of a mossy forest having olive greens, rusty browns and mushroom-y silver shades that stripe. I purchased this 50g skein (380 yd/350 mt) whose label had a photo of Kent, the sheep whose wool produced this yarn as a memento of my wanderings. I returned to Kathy's Knits later on my trip to purchase more yarn and found this wonderful shop a calming place to chat and relax, a LYS that made me feel "at home."

The pattern I used for this shawl is Sylvia McFadden's "All About Love," see here http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/all-about-love . This pattern was fun! You initially cast on for the lace border, then complete short rows for the stockinette section. Yardage-wise, I still have approximately a quarter of the Autumn skein left after completing the pattern as written. This pattern is completed as ONE piece, which appealed to me because I do not consider myself skilled at attaching lace borders. I now have a lovely souvenir of my springtime visit to Scotland. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tomatoes!

Have just picked, or rather harvested my first tomatoes of the season. The larger Roma finally got fully red and the two yellow pear tomatoes are a great size for "minis."

I am looking forward to an upcoming deluge of tomatoes from my three plants. They are loaded with green tomatoes, so I will have to be patient while they ripen, but I am pleased with my on schedule success.

There isn't any vegetable tastier than a warm, sun-ripened tomato. I shall be slicing these three up for a gourmet tasting tonight.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pests

The Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) are back... I know I was all excited about being a Humane Backyard, but I checked the paperwork and insects are not listed for nonlethal resolutions to their presence. As I have said before, I do not spray anything but Neem Oil and soapy water, but with this many Japanese Beetles, I have resorted to handpicking them or knocking them off the plant into a coffee can with an inch of water before killing them. Also, I have noticed leaving a few crushed beetles around the roses does seem to discourage any surviving beetles from returning for a couple of days.

I have to admit that these bugs do creep me out with their front legs splayed like pincers, and they frequently fly in your face if you miss squishing them too. Every year they seem to target a different selection of plants; this year the Knockout roses, echinacea, butterfly bush (Buddleia) flowers, and surprisingly, only the yellow gladiolas seem to be their menu favorites. My son's poor nectarine tree is also infested, so I think this will be another year we see the fruit feeding nature instead of us.

These destructive insects emerge from the soil, where they have spent a year as white grubs underground. Historically, the Japanese beetle arrived from Japan before 1912, since then the beetle has spread west and north from New Jersey. See here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_beetle

So, while these beetles are doing their best to eat through my roses, I am committed to smooshing them before they complete the egg laying portion of their life cycle. I am sure this battle will end up at best a draw, more likely, I will make little impact in their population. In my gardening notebook I will highlight the timing of my Neem oil application next year for a late June hatch. Hopefully, the spraying and my squishing efforts this summer will create a smaller population of Japanese beetles next year.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Growing now...

The garden has been growing so well this season! Here's a few more pictures of my garden plants doing what plants do. I have to say that I am very excited about the ripening tomatoes, I am going to have ripe produce on the usual Missouri expected date of July 4th. The gladiolas are brilliant this year, I planted another 70, but the speckled cherry one has been reappearing for the last few years. The large, heavy petalled orange gladiola is one of the new ones I planted this year. The "tigerlily" has been a little less productive this year with fewer plants. I am hoping the seeds from this years growth will increase this charming plant's presence on my backyard garden slope.