right now

right now

Jul 27, 2010

very busy and loving it!

The heat seems to have broken for awhile! Yesterday and today temps in the mid-upper 80's and very low humidity, so I was finally able to venture outside to survey the damage. Kind of feels like when you finally go out to assess the yard after a hurricane, although at least hurricanes are in and out of here in a matter of hours, not weeks!

Heirloom Tomato Alley was a big casualty. I picked a very bad year to try out tomatoes in containers! They were all cooked to death except the one in the pot above, and go figure, it's another UFO tomato plant! I sure wish I knew what it was, it's the healthiest tomato I have ever grown! Ripped out and trashed yesterday were the Vorlon, Black Krim, True Black Brandywine, Brandywine and Paul Robeson.

The kids' rooftop garden box is officially dead! It was way too hot up there to be in a container, too bad since there was a couple of mini pumpkins just starting too. I will rip that out tomorrow and wait a few weeks then start some Scarlet Runner Beans and see if those will work out.

The Orange Wellington hybrid tomatoes came through like a champ! There are 2 plants crammed in this hot container and they are starting to really produce like mad. I definitely understand now the reasoning for having a few hybrids around, they seem to be hardier than the heirlooms.

I built something a little crazy yesterday...

It's my UFO Tomato Super-Structure! I'm getting pretty good at this "use what you have" thing! I had tons of PVC from the huge hoophouse we tried in the winter over the whole garden. These tomatoes are massively tall, taller than any Brandywine I've ever grown, which are famous for being huge plants. I should have put a kid next to them in the picture, but they are easily 8-9 ft tall. I had to stand on a chair with a box on it to tie the top, it wasn't pretty. I called out to the kids to go tell the neighbor if I break a leg. Imagine the chair slowly sinking into the raised bed dirt as I am tying knots LOL. I'm thinking the bendy-floppy structure may be of benefit during hurricane season. Last year, I used the Florida Weave with strong line and metal fenceposts, it ended up being so rigid that the plants themselves tore at each section of line and shredded in the wind. Flexible might be better, then if the cage can completely fly off, maybe only some of the vines/stems will go but some might remain. We'll find out in Sept/Oct!

Cosmos loved the heat, I had to tear a bunch out to find my apple trees!

There's another apple tree I haven't found yet... see it? Got a machete?!

Believe it or not, in May I landscaped this back of the yard compost area. Pulled weeds, added mulch, flowers, stepping stones and coleus all along the right side. Hopefully I will get to this in the next couple of days.... it's all completely obscured now by stupid Sassafras! Trees pop up everywhere and jump to about 5 feet in a month! I also see a volunteer squash of some sort along the pavers... but I don't see my coleus, or my stack of straw, or the woodpile LOL!

Hacked back ALL the grape vines and bagged them for trash, now I can actually see my garden. They loved the heat too apparently, they had jumped out into my beds and had tendrils wrapped around tomato cages, cucumbers, even grabbed ahold of a jalapeno! I wonder how many Japanese Beetles are being cooked to death in those plastic bags (grin)!

Here's the current state of the fenced garden: the grapes are planted on left and right and far back center of the split rail fence, so removing them really opened up my garden visually. the empty space is where I have been repeatedly trying to grow lettuce, it sprouts and wilts in the heat the same day! The front left bed is cucumbers and Roma tomatoes with some random cilantro and zinnia, the back left bed is all the peppers, back right is the UFO's , chives, cilantro and dill, and front right now is only a few herbs and a teepee of Malabar Spinach

While cleaning up the brambles, I noticed these branches heavy with new blackberries! I thought they were done but I guess there's more to come.

Help me out with this watermelon! It has looked ripe for weeks now, it's getting very heavy, but there is no yellow spot underneath and is still very firmly attached to the vine - yet the overall plant is starting to die from the heat I guess... what is it like if it gets picked too early?

I started these marigolds from seed and they are fantastically HUGE! Cool foliage, too... they loved the heat apparently, since they are stuck in a small wooden box!

Mama Dove, her young'uns are foraging in the perennial beds below the deck. She always sits here and watches for the dogs. When I go towards the back door and call the dogs, she rounds up the babies under a bush. Funny thing, she doesn't move when I walk out by myself, do you think she knows the dogs names? Or maybe the sound of my voice when the dogs are called?

That's all for now, time to mow the lawn! It feels sooooo good to be outside! I kind of want to sleep outside in my kids' fort it was so nice last night LOL!


  1. Wow, your yard is huge! It's nice to see shots of everything! I love the garden! I'm looking at your bags of grapes and thinking, oooh, I wish I could take those grape leaves off your hands. I love stuffed grape leaves, and since now I have the pickling bug, I've been wanting to pickle grape leaves. My grape vines are too small to be picking leaves off them. Your marigolds look great. I love marigolds! They do love the sun.

  2. Give the lady a little cool(er) weather and she can do anything! You've been a dynamo in that garden. I'm sure it is soooo good to feel you have things under control again. Nuthin' worse than a run-a-muck garden area!

    Thanks for sharing all the neat pictures.

    I go now to pick edible podded peas. When I picked raspberries and blueberries before lunch, the mosquitoes were so bad I must be down a quart. If they are still bad, the peas may just have to grow until tomorrow!

    Wishing you continued tolerable weather.

  3. Erin, you sure did work hard. It all looks so good. You still have cilantro? I can never get it to last this long, even in a normal summer. Guess I have not found the right spot for it, where it gets some sort of shade cover in the heat of the afternoon. I put a ton under the dill, hoping they would shade it, but the heat just zapped them. I hope at least they seeded for next year. I might need better soil too...it's pretty hard.

    Thanks for the tour. You have a lovely yard and garden.

  4. Wow! Even with the heat, it all looks so wonderful! I'm not an expert on watermelon, but we always pull ours when the little runner closest to the plant dies. I think that is something we heard from one of the ole fella's around here anyway. Enjoy being outside!

  5. So glad you got a break from that heat. We're still bad off, but it did rain a bit last night which was welcome.

  6. meemsnyc, that's why we stay here! Our home is not in a great looking neighborhood and it's less than 1000 sq ft, but I get McMansion type people over here for my garden group and they can't believe the size of my yard. Up until the heatwave, we do a lot of our living outdoors, so the small home is a small price to pay for having outdoor space. You wouldn't want those grape leaves in the trash bag, they are all chewed up with Jap Beetles! The beetles are about done for the season, so when I chop them off there is still enough time that the grapes will put out some new leaves that I can use and won't be bug damaged.

    Mama Pea, mosquitoes SUCK, no nice way to say it! I had hoped to be out all evening after dinner, too, but when we went out we heard thunder and it started getting humid. Humid+_Cloudy+Dusk+Sprinkles = blood loss! We called it a day, and I'm happy with it!

    Lorie, I bet you got a lot done, too. Did you have that lovely cool evening last night too? This morning I let the dogs out at 6 am and was greeted with 68 degree air, perfect!

    Apple Pie Gal, that's what I've heard too, but the little tendrils aren't even brown, wierd. I am so afraid I will "miss my window" on my very 1st watermelon! There is a lot of pressure on that guy out there since it turned out we all hated canteloupe LOL

  7. I found this on a website: "Watermelons should have a dull (as opposed to shiny) rind, a dried stem, and a yellowish underside where the watermelon has touched the ground. Immature watermelons have a shiny rind and a white, pale green, or light yellow underside. Thumping does not indicate ripeness."

    Have you all found this to be true? My watermelon is still a bit shiny, it just seems like forever!

  8. Earlier this summer when the mosquitoes should have been out, we had none. Now they're making up for it. :o(

    Watch out for that lightning . . . just heard on the Duluth, MN, news that two people were struck by lightning there today. No rain, just thunder and lightning so they were still outside. Yuck.

  9. Here I was, expecting your garden to be wilted like the boys rooftop garden, due to all the heat you've had. What a surprise to see it's still hale and hearty and green and producing! Too bad about the tomatoes, but at least you have the UFO!

    Unripe watermelons are just nasty. Of course, you would probably like them, as they aren't sweet ;-)

  10. Ribbit, I feel kind of selfish now that I've had 2 days of good weather, I'm willing to share if it was possible!

    mama pea, lightning struck an underground gas line here (the city, that is) last night, can you imagine? It was on the news this morning, looked like a propane torch blowing out of the ground in the street surrounded by houses!

    Granny, "they're nasty, you would probably like them" LMAO! I wished we lived next door so we could barb each other on a regular basis! I'll throw hot peppers over the fence and you and Mr. Granny could sit on the deck spitting your watermelon seeds and when you were done zing the rind over to my yard LOL

  11. Lorie, my cilantro is actually mostly in the coriander stage now, sadly. I started more but it's tiny and not sure it's going to take off, I have it shaded in the pepper bed. Why is it that when you need the cilantro in salsa season it's done for, and when you need the dill for pickles, the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are happily munching away? Thankfully at least the dill is easy to keep on growing.

  12. Erin, you're amazing! Your gardens are beautiful! I can't relate to most of what you're able to grow, but I sure love to see it! By the way, in the photos on my last post we were camped at Ester Lake, up the Arrowhead Trail out of Hovland. :) I hope you get to camp there sometime soon!

  13. Patty, I will definitely put in on my summer list for our next trip back home and up 'nort! Hopefully we will get up there during the Holiday season this year so definitely no tent camping this time LOL... although that might make a good "what NOT to do" in Northern MN in the winter post :)

  14. I was also amazed to read that you still have cilantro growing in your garden, until I read your comment above about them being mostly in the seed stage. This year, it seems like all my cilantro plants bolted as soon as they germinated. I'll try another planting for the fall. I'm also considering growing them indoors in my grow box along with my baby lettuce. The rest of your garden looks really beautiful, and I'm impressed with the size of it and all that you grow in it. Let us know how that watermelon tastes when you harvest it!

  15. Yes, I agree with thyme2garden. No sooner did I put the plants in the ground, they turned into these dwarf bolting cilantro plants. I got a few leaves for fresh cooking, but it is NEVER enough. I have also tried to grow in pots where I could control the sun, but alas no success there. But I am not giving up.

    A friend gave me about 8 plants this year and I planted hoping they seeded for next year. So the cilantro battle continues. Cilantro 4, me zip!

    Yes, Erin, our weather is delightful. Humidity is gradually raising each day, but it is still better than the 100+ temps. Some rain is developing our way tomorrow and perhaps this weekend. Sure hope you get some of it!

  16. Hey Erin, sorry to hear about your tomatoes. I like your PVC contraption though! I tomatoes are starting to flop over majorly...I have no idea what to do!

    I've read that watermelons are ripe when the small tendril closest to the watermelon dies back Here's a link with pics if you're interested!


  17. Thyme, I even cheated last time and bought cilantro from the nursery, but it still bolted as soon as it went into the raised bed! I can't stand the grocery store stuff for salsa, to me it is totally flavorless and aromaless, and that includes the Mexican grocery in town. Thanks for the compliment, I only profiled the fenced-in garden, but in the way background are the rest of my raised beds. Hubby built them last year and I don't know how I survived without them! I'm going to try some box lettuce on my deck too.

    Lorie, warmer still today and back to 97 tomorrow, but what a nice couple of days we had, enough to re-energize? I hope so!

    Thomas, good link, thanks! Experience has taught me not to purchase or buy new anything for tomatoes, nothing ever works perfectly! I actually have a melon that is 2 weeks behind the big one whose tendril is brown, I guess I'll get that one today and see... I wonder what gives with the big one? None of them have even a hint of lightness where they have been resting on the ground. Have you been to Granny's place yet? You might want to hop over, she's putting you down in the basement in our future commune! LOL!!

  18. Our yard is 1/3 of an acre, and I'm wishing it was even bigger for a larger veggie garden! Ewww, beetles on your grapevines. Yuk. I haven't seen many beetles in our garden, then again, I haven't been looking very hard.

  19. I'm so sorry your rooftop garden died...I planted scarlet runner beans just a couple of weeks ago to replace the two other planting that had died from drowning!

    In spite of all the heat it all looks wonderful! kim