Dear Gentle Reader, 

I took several photos before I left on my trip, and then more this morning.  So, I think I will compare before and after pictures. 

This was the corn the evening before I left.  As you can see it has grown over the PCP pipes I have for the winter cover.  The pipes seem to be helping to hold the corn up when it is super windy.  On this evening, the corn had begun to make tassels, though it is difficult to see here.  Also, some of the stalks were just beginning to show a little silk. 

Corn on June 24, 2010.

And here we are a week later, on the morning of July 1, 2010.  It is much taller, way over my 5’4″ head.  All of the corn has tassels, and most of them have tassels for an ear of corn.  How many ears of corn does a single plant get in any way?  One ear?  Two?  More?  Interestingly, some of the ears have white silk, and others have red silk.  The plants with the red silk also have some reddish coloring on their stalks and leaves.  Since this variety produces both gold and maroon ears, I am guessing that the white silk goes with the golden ears, and the red silks go with the maroon ears. 

Silk on a baby ear of corn.

Corn with red silks - a maroon-colored ear coming up? 

The cucumbers are all growing well.  First, lets take a look at the Mexican Sour Gherkins.  These plants are growing like gang-busters.  And they are covered with teeny tiny cucumbers.  The whole plant is kind of tiny (leaves, fruit, flowers) except that it grows many really long vines very quickly.  For those who aren’t familiar with Mexican Sour Gherkins, they are a bit sour (of course) and look like tiny watermelons (with the green and white stripes).  In the second photo, below, you can just begin to see the stripes on the little cuke.  They will make great pickles.  

Mexican Sour Gherkin Covered with Baby Cukes!

Baby Mexican Sour Gherkin

As far as the H-19 Little Leaf cukes, they are growing well, and covered with flowers.  But I have only seen male flowers so far.  Today, I actually planted three more H-19 Little Leaf starts, as I have only one vine on the trellis.  The others were munched by something.  Maybe Bambi? 

H-19 Little Leaf Cucumber on Trellis.

Is it a male or a female bud? We'll see soon.

I need to harvest the leeks this weekend.  They are looking kind of bad, as they were blown over in a storm a couple of weeks ago.  But, here you can see what the flowers look like.  It is kind of interesting, since they start out white and then turn pink. 

Old and new leek blooms.

The bees seemed to really like the leek blooms.  They were all over them.  I got a picture of this odd bee.  It was shiny metallic bottle green.  I thought that it might be a fly, but it didn’t have the fly eyes.  So I looked it up, and apparently it is of the genus Agapostemon virescens, a kind of sweat bee.  They are solitary bees, like mason bees.  I but up a mason bee house, but haven’t seen any activity there yet.

Agapostemon virescens having a leek lunch.

And finally, I wanted to show you the royal velvet okra.  It is a pretty plant, though the stem seems to be kind of spindly.  The leaves have lovely dark maroon spots, veins and stems. 

Royal Velvet Okra.


Dear Gentle Reader,

I checked out my garden this evening, after I got home from work.  It rained once again.  So it’s hot and humid.  It looks like there is a lawn in the back yard, but it is a trick.  When you walk around, your shoes squelch in the mud, leaving sloppy foot prints.  Hippy Skippy. 🙂

The leeks are growing well.  I should have harvested them a couple of months ago, but they started making scapes, and that was interesting.  So I left them, and now some of them are 3-4 feet tall.  The flower buds are huge and starting to open.
The fava beans are coming along.  Some are getting pretty big.
The tomatoes are even making tiny little fruits.
And the corn is standing tall.

Dear Gentle Reader,

Well, I was able to get outside and take some pictures tonight.   I sure was busy last weekend. 🙂  It really makes me feel good to get so much done.  Here is a quick look.

New Lasagna Garden Next to Garden Boxes

It doesn’t look like much, but I build a new bed (the square-ish brown pile) using the lasagna method.  I used dirt that was saved from last year, when we dug the holes for six blueberry bushes (they were planted in peat).  To that, I added about 1/2 bale of rotting straw, two bags of last years leaves, some slow release organic fertilizer, about 1/4 bag of composted manure, 1-1/2 bags of generall compost I got last year from Missouri Organic (when I built the garden boxes), a little bone meal, and some green grass clippings I happened to have.  I layered it all, but also kind of mixed it up.  You have to water each layer, and it was difficult to get everything wet enough.  Then, I planted purple bush beans, being sure to use innoculant.  There were lots of worms in the dirt, so I’m sure they will be happy to eat all of these leaves and straw.  I am thinking that the beans are a good first crop, since they fix nitrogen.  I didn’t have a lot of green materials, so I will be sure to chop them up (after harvest) and mix them back in.  Also, I may plant clover, oats, harry vetch, etc., as an over-winter ground cover, and then turn it under in the Spring.  BTW, you can see my four garden boxes in this view.

The Corn is Growing

As you can see, the corn is growing.  I have discovered that it probably wasn’t a very good idea to start the corn in Jiffy Pellets (well, we already knew that).  The roots are very shallow, and it tends to fall over with our Kansas winds.  Maybe it is just the winds, but farmers around here don’t seem to have too much of a problem with it.   Maybe they do but it’s not something that you notice when you are whizzing by on the highway.  Sounds like something to investigate.  I could ask some farmers at the farmer’s market, for some advice. 

In addition to corn, I have two pie pumpkins.  They are doing really well, but I am concerned that they will not have enough room.  I’m not sure how big they will get.  After they are really growing well, I could cut back to one plant, but I want to wait, just in case some cut worm takes one of the plants out.

Tall Fava Beans

As you can see, the fava beans have gotten very tall.  All of them are flowering, and some of the flowers have wilted and turned black.  The ants are still there, but not bothering anything.  And joy or joys, some of the beans have begun to form.  See below.

Baby Favas

There are two beans in the picture above, sticking out from the stem.   They are a little bit yellowish, compared to the leaves.  These beans are about the size of quarters, so they have a lot of growing to do.

The Amish past tomatoes are growing well in the SWCs.  Some of my tomatoes are starting to have buds!

Amish Paste Tomato in SWC

  My Meyer lemon is putting on a nice new flush of growth and blooming once again. 

Meyer Lemon

I moved several plants in the side garage garden, including a rose, some Shasta daisies,  and a big swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata  L.), a perennial Kansas native plant.  Last year, I didn’t realize how big this milkweed would get (up to 8-feet).  It was HUGE.   Also it needed some support.  So, I moved it away from the garage wall, and put a tomato cage around it.  It is pretty happy, and the rose is ok, but the daisies aren’t very happy.  Hopefully, they will survive.

Swamp Milkweed

We also have some common milkweed, but I don’t have any photos.  The lawn guy weed-wacked it, thinking it was a weed.  Well, it is; but I want to keep it anyway.  So, I moved it where it won’t get weed-wacked, and it is growing back.

Happily, my DH pruned (i.e., hacked back with a machete) a volunteer peach tree that was hanging down into my gardens.  I had about six thin trunks (since it is a volunteer, it had been mowed over several times many years ago) that couldn’t support themselves.  It has that pink peach leaf curl fungus, and bugs in the trunks.  Since my DSIL loves this tree, DH cut down only two of the trunks, and the lowest branches of a third trunk.  Now, I don’t smack my head into it when I’m walking between it and my gardens, it isn’t actually IN the gardens any more, and there is more sun getting to the gardens.  I hope that my DSIL understands, cause she really likes that tree.

Other than that, I put up a bunch of little pots with new starts for summer, including two kinds of rudbeckia, two kinds of cone flowers, and probably some other stuff, but I can’t remember what.  They are out in the sun, so they will learn to live with our fabulous Kansas weather. 🙂

Hope you all had a great weekend.  I know I did. 🙂

Plant Something:  This was a VERY busy weekend.  I got tons of planting done.  I planted almost all of the starts that I made last week, including the corn.  By the time I got around to planting it, the corn roots were all over the place.  Usually, the roots went through at least one other start.  So, I had to pull them apart.  Hopefully, it will be OK.  I tried to be really gentle.   I also was careful to make sure that the entire root got into the ground.  Here is what the finished bed looks like.

The planter box is 4×6′, so this is pretty close planting.  But I was reading about corn the other day, and it said that when planing small patches, it is really better to plant close together, so that as much of the corn as possible gets pollinated.  We shall see.  I also planted three pie pumpkin starts.  The red plastic cups, on the bottom right, as Jerusalem artichoke starts.  I need to plant them in grow bags next weekend.  Then, there are two kinds of garlic on the left.  Finally, I have lots of marigold and pansy starts planted around the edges.  Yipee!

In another of my four planter boxes, I planted my indeterminate tomatoes…

On the right are four Al Kufa tomatoes, a slicing tomato.  On the left are three cherry tomatoes.  I planted four yellow zucchini in the middle.  I still have some radishes going, and some tiny carrots.  But, I had to take out several radishes.  They had grown absolutely enormous, from all of the rain was have had recently.  Oh well.  I plan to plant more radishes and carrots with the tomatoes.  I sprayed with beneficial nematodes today (all the gardens and the yard).  In addition to taking care of fleas, the nematodes will take care of the radish maggots.  Apparently, there are lots of things the nematodes will take care of.  More on that in a later post.

My determinant tomatoes went into their SWCs.

As you can see, some of the SWCs still have fava beans growing in them.  That’s ok, since the tomatoes are small.  I just wrapped the beans around the tomato cages.  These SWCs come from Gardener’s Supply Company.  I have had them for several years.  I got them when I didn’t know how to make them myself, and when I had no yard.  In the fall, I clean them out and give them a rinse with bleach, to kill diseases.  The dirt goes into the compost pile.   The large SWC has two Amish Paste tomatoes.  The small SWCs have only one tomato.  I am making a permanent spot for the SWCs, since it was a mess having them out in the yard last year.  Today, I laid down weed-block fabric along the back of the garage.  Then, I began edging with some old bricks I found lying around.  And, then, I began putting town mulch on top of the weed-block.  I only had 1 bag of mulch, so I haven’t gotten too far.  But, eventually, this will be a pretty nice area that will be level and that drains well.  Also, this is the one area of the yard that gets lots of sun most of the day.  The rest of the yard, well most of it, has some shade from nearby trees.  So, I’m pretty happy about getting so far with this project. 🙂

In a third grow box, I planted four H1 Little Leaf cucumbers and red velvet okra.  Can’t wait for that fresh okra.  The H1 Little Leaf is an open pollinated pickling cucumber that is resistant to a lot of problems, like powdery mildew and bugs.  Yay!

I also have a garden on the side of the garage.  Eventually, the garden on the back will curve around the corner, to the side, and it will all be nicely mulched.  Anyway, in the side garden, I planted lots of mammoth sunflower starts, two blue Hubbard squash starts, and lots of Fiesta nasturtium starts.  Horray!  It is so windy here, that the sunflowers have to have some protection.  Otherwise they will get blown over.  The trellis for the Hubbards, which is an old folding painters ladder, will go in front of the sunflowers, to protect them some more. 

And finally, I transferred some mexican sour gherkins starts into pots.  Right now, they are tiny.  But they will make really fun pickles, since they look like tiny watermelons.  I think I first saw them on Tigerss in a Pickle.  Can’t wait to try them.

Harvest: none

Prep: I am learning to bake sourdough bread.  I baked two batches of bread.  It’s really great.

Eat: sourdough bread

Build: taught my daughter how to bake the bread.  Nothing else.

Well, I took a look at the starts I  planted last weekend.  Most everything is sprouting.  Hooray!  But the corn looks a little funny.

Corn Starts Gone Wild!

Each of these little Jiffy Pellets has one corn start.  They look like the little yellow sticks.  But, they all have roots growing out of them and into the neighbors.  Several of the roots have been pointed out with blue arrows.  Who knew that corn had such big roots?  I probably should have known better, since corn is such a big plant.  I might be in big trouble.  I don’t really want to plant them in muy garden, only to have them die.  I would rather start with new seed.  But, since I don’t have new seed, I guess I will give it a go.  I plan to build the bed this Saturday, using the lasagna method.  It is going to be a three sisters garden.  I guess I’ll cross my fingers.