Friday, July 22, 2011

In the Garden

No Ordinary Homestead, an American ex-pat in Germany, has started hosting a Friday link-up, "Garden Life." This time of year is all about the vegetable garden: tending, picking, eating, canning & freezing... so today we join the celebration. Here's a true 'overview' of the garden to-date.

view from the roof
This has been a tough year for this brand new garden. At first I just thought it was something we had done wrong (soil amendments, etc.) but after talking to all sorts of local gardeners* I realized everyone was having similar problems. Turns out that the combination of a lack of moisture and high temperatures puts the kabosh on the sex lives of plants (too). Lots of plants put on male flowers - again and again - but the production of female flowers was delayed until conditions were more favorable. That's why it looked to me like nothing would 'set,' all those flowers and not a tiny fruit anywhere. While the arrival of the 'monsoons' is still overdue, the overcast afternoons cool off everyone and everything, and the occasional soaking rains have created a better climate for the production of pollen and the pollinators who help out.

black-eyed pea flower

rattlesnake greenbean flowers
okra flower (edible pod to the left)
Some of my favorite memories of growing up were my Granma Cassie's fig preserves. Canned in heavy syrup, they were served every morning on bread that was fried in butter to a perfect golden-brown. My Dad carries on the tradition with figs from the same shrub that fed his great-great-grandmother. When we heard figs would thrive here and over-winter without much problem, I bought four varieties from three different sources. Of the six shrubs we planted, five remain and three of them are bearing fruit this year. There aren't enough to can so we're enjoying them with blue cheese, water crackers and a glass of wine.

blossom end of a fig

Besides the figs, we've been eating eggplant, zucchini, black-eyed peas and chard from the garden. These are some of the offerings that aren't quite ready...

golden midget watermelon

this is a Chinese long bean, what's wrong with this picture?

rattlesnake green bean

All the happy activity in the garden has attracted a few visitors. This week it's a juvenile or female Flame Skimmer Dragonfly (not a pollinator but a friendly predator in the garden). Embiggen at your own risk; management is not responsible for nightmares (no really, do it: it is so cool).

I'm going back out to pull weeds but if you've got the time, buzz around here to see what else is going on in the garden and then head over to Garden Life to continue the international celebration of vegetable gardens.

*You might not know this about me... I will strike up a conversation with almost anyone, anywhere, about anything. So if I was within hearing distance of another adult human being -- standing in the checkout line, buying straw, banding birds, wine tasting, etc., -- I asked, "Do you have a vegetable garden this year?" 


  1. Wow! How did you get the dragonfly picture?! It is amazing. Your garden looks beautiful.

    Meg @ Adventures as a Small Town Mom

  2. Hey Meg! Thank you so much! I just kept getting closer and s/he didn't spook until I had taken lots of photos and was nearly on top of it. When I went to crop the pix the resolution was so good I just made the cut as tight as I could. The camera and Picasa did the hard work.

  3. I don't guess I've ever seen black eyed pea blossoms before --they are gorgeous! We have had a crazy summer over here and it's been a bit more moist than many of the plants would like (they're getting a lot of powdery mildew which I'm trying to combat) but at least it's all still growing :)

    Beautiful garden. So glad you joined the linkup and hope to see more of your garden later this week -- or some other garden fun ;)

  4. What a beautiful garden! Last year was a difficult garden summer for us as well, and like you, I was wondering if it was just us until I started talking to other gardeners and found out it was just a bad summer for gardens. However, even your "bad" summer is looking good with that produce! Popped over from NOH, so glad you linked up!

  5. Tiffany: I know what you mean about the flowers; that has been one of the joys of looking at it so often through the camera lens. Thanks again for hosting the garden life link-up! Sorry to hear about the powdery mildew, hope you beat it.

    Carrie: Thanks & thanks for coming by! It looks like it was just a hard start this year as things are coming along nicely now. Wherever you are, I hope this year was better for you, too.