I’m Back!

I had good intentions. I truly was going to write about my garden this season, but somehow I just didn’t. I wrote at least one great blog, couldn’t get any of the photos to load, and gave up for a while (turned out to be quite a while).

Here I will try again and give you a few glimpses of my spring and summer garden.

I planted all colors of beans–Wax (yellow), Burgundy (purple), Provider and Roma climbers (green)–in the old chicken yard and mulched them with oat straw. Sam enjoyed walking around in the jungle (free of his leash) and eating the catnip I allowed to grow in a few places (he likes his weed fresh).

We ate a lot of beans fresh, and I froze and blanched quite a few pints that we are now enjoying steamed plain and as Hungarian beans (steamed potatoes, beans, onions, and rehydrated sun dried tomatoes, dressed with a little olive oil, black pepper, smoked paprika, and butter buds–try it!)

My English pen pal, Sylvia, sent me some petunia seeds, and I started that seed (tiny motes) under my grow lights. Here they are in their first flush of glory! I thought of you, Sylvia, every time I entered or left my home.

Here is the spring garden–all neat and orderly. You can see some of my seed coming up. The front garden has come almost full-circle now–or will by the end of the weekend! I still have some things that I am harvesting: Blue Russian kale, turnips, celery, and some herbs. The kale, celery, and turnips are sweetening by frost, so I don’t have to hurry to pick them. Some of the greens that are reseeding like mache can freeze and thaw, so again, no hurry or worry.

How did my straw bale gardening work out? Well, some of the tomatoes in this big pan of vegetables destined to become oven-roasted tomato sauce where from the straw bales, but most of them are from other parts of the garden. I won’t be straw bale gardening again, but I will use the crumbling bales to plant next year’s potato crop!

It was good year for gardening. We had a nice rainy late spring and a dry midsummer. As always, some plants prospered and some didn’t. I transplanted a lot of strawberries, so I am looking forward to the 2018 growing season. Begonia

 

 

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Totality–Bowling Green, Kentucky

This picture was taken with out a special filter, so it doesn’t look exactly like what we saw with the naked eye, but it still gives you an idea.

The totality was amazing. We viewed it from an empty school parking lot. Most of the time we stood under the shade of some small trees (it was a crispy 95F) in a median, and little shadows of the (then partial) eclipse shown on the sidewalk below the trees. The sun’s rays passed through the spaces between the leaves, and they acted like hundreds of pinhole viewers.

At the point of total eclipse, it was as dim as dusk and we were able to see two planets, and you could look at the sun with the naked eye. We experienced the full eclipse for about a minute and a half. It looked like a fiery disk–a dark circle surrounded by flames. Up to this point we had been viewing with our special glasses. (They look like the old-fashioned paper 3-D glasses.) When the eclipse reached totality, the view through the glasses was total darkness.

You can see here how dark it got and one of the two planets we were able to see during the full eclipse of the sun.

We had traveled from Indianapolis, Indiana, where we had spent the night. The traffic on the interstate highway to Bowling Green, Kentucky, was sometimes at a standstill and sometimes moving at 80 mph–in a word CRAZY! We reached Bowling Green about 45 minutes before the big event. The eclipse had been in progress for over an hour by the time we arrived in the parking lot where we viewed the totality. There were lots of places to view. People were standing in fast food parking lots, front lawns, back porches, or paying $20 a carload to gather together in crowds to slow-roast in the sun.

We were very fortunate to pick the place that we did to view the totality. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and plenty of free places to view. We even had a few locals to share the experience with, and before we parted, we traded viewers with them. Now we have Wisconsin- and Kentucky-style viewers as memories of the day! Begonia

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Renewal Pruning My Dwarf Burning Bush

I had a problem with my burning bush. It had grown so tall that I couldn’t hang our American flag anymore! The bush is growing in a raised planter that forms a retaining wall to one side of our front door. I just lean over the rail and set my flag in the holder bolted to the front of our house. Handy–until Old Glory kept tangling in the bush!

I have removed the old growth of this bush over the years and trimmed branches, but the bush had reached a size that called for more drastic action. The bush is a dwarf variant, and I like it where it is because it attracts birds with its berries and its shelter from predators. Even though my renewal pruning job looks brutal, I’m really not trying to kill it!

Lilacs are another bush that can take this drastic pruning and thrive. You may lose blossoms for the first year, but the next year there will be more flowers than ever on all the new wood that replaces the old.

This is a job that you should do when the bush is still dormant or before bud break. (You will note that my bush was a little past bud break when I cut it back.) I used my curved pruning saw, which went through the branches like a hot knife through butter. I did the whole job including hauling the cut branches to my growing brush pile at the curb in about 15 minutes. When you are cutting back an entire bush, you don’t spend a lot of time agonizing about how a cut will affect the shape of the whole–you just get ‘er done!

What looks like a big job isn’t always as big as it looks. Begonia

 

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