Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Time

I'm so busy with work right now that I haven't been paying much attention to the garden (or y'all's blogs - sorry!); however, I can always make time for Halloween pumpkin carving! Tonight, Scott, my brother Jeremy and I carved our pumpkins. Here is my alien:
Scott's Decepticon (from the Transformers):
Jeremy's creepy mummy:
Here are our pumpkins from 2008. Scott's pumpkin-headed horseman:
My evil kitty:
And from 2007... My ghost:
Jeremy's spooky tree:
My friend Katherine's cute bat:
And Scott's scary skull:

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Summer Vegetable Garden Recap

The summer vegetable garden hasn't come to an end yet, as shown by the (random) vegetable flowers interspersed in this post. Still, it's winding down, so now seems like a good time to report on the varieties I attempted to grow this year.
I grew everything from seed except the Serrano pepper, which was purchased at Lowe's.
Lemon Cucumber (1): Vine was large and fairly productive. Cucumbers were delicious, especially when harvested before they turned bright yellow. I only ate these raw. Vine eventually succumbed to bacterial wilt, but appeared to be somewhat resistant. A keeper.
Sumter Cucumber (2): Grown for pickling and salads. Unfortunately, vines were infected with wilt quickly and I only harvested one small, deformed cucumber from two vines!
Black Krim Tomato (4): Delicious medium-sized tomato, resistant to cracking. Fairly productive. Vines were last to succumb to disease. Tomatoes were good raw and cooked in tomato tart. Will definitely grow again.
Yellow Pear Tomato (6): Huge plants, very early and very prolific. Tomatoes were good, but not nearly as good as the tart Clementines I grew last year. Better cooked (roasted in oven with other veggies or heated through in cream-based pasta sauce) than raw.
Beefsteak Tomato (2): Harvested approximately 4 tomatoes from two huge plants. Tomatoes were good-tasting, but not exceptional or unique in flavor. Vines were first to succumb to disease. Not impressed.
Cherry Peppers (1 red; 1 chocolate): These tiny plants took a long time to get established and start producing. The peppers are slightly spicy, not sweet like colored bell peppers. They would be good to use as appetizers, stuffed with some kind of dip, but they are so tiny that seeding them is a pain. Probably best for ornamental use.

California Wonder Bell Peppers (8): Slow to start producing, but going strong from late summer into fall. Typical green bell pepper flavor (I haven’t let any turn red). Plants were visibly boosted by a side-dressing of compost after fruit set. Plants are tall, requiring staking, and have had no problems with insects or disease.
Early Long Purple Eggplant (6): It took ages (and bottom heat) to get the eggplant seeds to germinate and grow into decent-sized plants, but it was worth it. The plants are problem-free (though they seem happier staked), and the eggplants are tender and tasty, especially when harvested young. They have produced steadily from mid- to late summer through fall.
Contender Bush Beans (1 pkt.): My first time growing beans, and I definitely picked the right variety. These plants were care-free and the beans were plentiful and delicious. They produced for a couple of months with regular picking.
Shallots: I planted my shallot sets too deep. They multiplied, but not much. I’m going to be replanting the best sets soon.

Yellow Squash/Zucchini: Borers killed every single squash plant before a single squash came to fruition. I’m done with summer squash.

Serrano Pepper (1): The one plant has been completely problem-free, and has produced what seems like hundreds of peppers! It produced consistently through the summer heat and is still going strong in the cool fall.

Hope this is helpful to someone. Have a great week!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Today's Harvest

Black Krim Tomatoes
Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Red Cherry Peppers

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Color, Deep South Style

You probably think of red, yellow and orange leaves when you think of Fall color. Well, in Mississippi most of our trees haven't even started changing color yet. Prime raking season here is around Thanksgiving. Fall color here means lots of flowers, and not just mums and pansies!

This begonia is at its peak now that it's not quite so hot and dry:
The Gallo Peach Blanketflower continues to bloom:
Butterfly-weed isn't very impressive from afar, but amazingly brilliant in color up close:
I didn't notice the ants until uploading the picture:
I have a few of these flowering shrubs (camellias, perhaps?):
This one is decades old; the others are younger and not so full:
Pineapple sage is just starting to bloom:
These hardy mums, which I got from my mom, are very common in our neighborhood:
They bloom twice a year. Here is a close-up:
Aster and Mexican Bush Sage help conceal an ugly downspout:

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Birthday and Halloween Fun

Scott isn't the only one who spoiled me on the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday (do you like that?)...
I got all sorts of other awesome gardening gifts. My mom's best friend Jennifer, who I call Mom #2, gave me a subscription to Garden Gate magazine. My mom bought me some plants at a charity plant sale, including a thyme and the pretty black-and-blue sage and butterfly weed below:

She also gave me a collapsible salad spinner, which will come in handy with the lettuce I'm growing this fall, and a birthday card (below) with about 20 kinds of annual and perennial flower seeds embedded in it!
(Excuse kitty legs in background, please!)
My dear friend Katherine, who I've written about here many times before, gave me this AMAZING (and HUGE -- see picture with me for scale!) bat house:
I am sooooo excited about this, especially since we have a terrible mosquito problem! I've seen bats flying around the neighborhood at night when I take the dog on walks, so it shouldn't be too hard to attract them to our backyard.
If you thought the bat house was a big gift, check out the awesome rain barrel my in-laws sent!
I'm really excited about using this water to refill the pond when needed and water plants!

Enough of the birthday talk.... Q: How do you know when it's approaching Halloween?

A: When you find THIS upon opening the washing machine! (Yes, I screamed a little)
Here is the graveyard in our front yard:
The vampire bat is hanging from a huge branch that recently fell from a tree. We just stuck it in the ground.

The zombie is a new addition this year. Did you notice Scott traded out the skeleton head for a deer skull?
It's extra creepy now, isn't it?
I have tombstones and rats in some of my large flowerpots.
I made these monster-themed cocktail napkins for Katherine for her birthday yesterday (patterns from Sublime Stitching). She loves Halloween, too!
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Purple Haze

No, I'm not talking about the Jimi Hendrix song, or one of my favorite Abita beers... I'm talking about our yard/garden, where the color purple seems to have taken over!

This aster is the palest lavender. I love how at its peak, it has hundreds of blooms at once.
The beautyberry in the back has been stripped by the birds, but they haven't discovered the one in the front yet:
The beer bottle garden features purple with its elephant ears and coral bells:
My endless summer hydrangea has morphed from Wedgwood blue flowers to lavenderish-pinkish flowers over the course of the last few months (interestingly, without any soil amendments):
Mexican bush sage is blooming for the second time this year:
I had no idea this was a re-blooming iris!
Eggplants give us a double shot of purple. First the flowers:
Then the pretty vegetables:

Have a great weekend!