I Grew Corn!

Over the 4th of July weekend, I finally had a chance to put my feet up and watch the corn grow.

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Knee high by the 4th of July? Well, it turns out that my “Jade Blue” heirloom corn never gets taller than knee high and is now ready to harvest.  With 2″-4″ long ears, it’s a fun novelty. It’s beautiful, tasty, and fun to eat…but not very filling.

 

The cucumber and melons have grown to epic heights. I’ve been enjoying the calligraphy of their tendrils for a while now.

I picked the first melon this weekend. John and I decided it tasted good. Because of the small space I have available, I’m limited to varieties that can climb a trellis and have small fruits. I was surprised at how quickly the fruit had gone from being a little knot on the vine to being ready to harvest. The second variety of melon is still ripening. That plant is loaded with fruit.

And there are other summer harvests just around the corner. The first tomato and the first blackberries are just ripening now.

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And we’ve reached raccoon #20! And on that note, here’s a photo of my concrete raccoon with a baby lizard on its butt.

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Favorite Places Around My Garden

I’ve been busy lately, so I haven’t been posting as much, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been taking photos of my garden. Here’s a collection of some of my favorite moments around the garden during June. All of them are set up as slide shows, so if you click on one thumbnail, you’ll get to flip through the show.

1. Blooms and foliage in the perennial bed. First came the flaming astrilbe blooms, then the hostas. Hostas blooming below are the tiny “mouse’s ears” and my favorite “golden tiara” that has a beautifully variegated bloom that’s beautiful with the chartreuse leaves.

2. My brick wall garden continues to make me happy. The ferns, begonias, coleus, and sedums are happy, colorful, and beautifully textured.

3. Sedums scattered here and there around my garden.

4. My old cat watching it all.

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Summer Growth

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A lot has happened in my garden in the last month. The big thing is that my raccoon count has increased by four. It all started several weeks ago when I noticed a few plants out of place and some damage here and there.

My super fancy begonia: CRUNCH!

The sedums on the top of my brick plant wall: What a GREAT perch!

The sedum-filled bird bath on the ground: DIG, DIG, DIG!

Then one morning I awoke to find a good part of my perennial garden flattened. It was as if a bunch of juvenile raccoons had shimmied down the tree and had a kegger underneath it. Irises, coral bells, hellebores, hostas, Solomon’s seal, wild geranium: all crushed, “I’m sorry, but was there something growing under my butt?”

One neighbor asked how I knew the damage was done by raccoons and not something else like a cat. The answer is that it looked like the damage was done by a bunch of real jerks–the tell-tale sign of raccoons.

This was exactly how it all started three years ago when minor backyard trashing led to John and I discovering that the raccoons had moved in with us. This time, John and I decided to trap prophylactically before the raccoons got too comfortable. In the last week and a half we’ve hauled off three juveniles and an adult. The juveniles are a problem because they decide to get defensive as you try to release them instead of running for freedom. John’s tired of their attitude.

MEANWHILE, I chopped down my forest of greens in early June, stowed them for use in tasty soup, and then planted basil in their place.

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Note the awesome, poorly spelled garden marker created by the kids at Patchwork. I’ve got a fun collection of the oddly spelled and spaced ones. Here’s another:

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I’ve also harvested my garlic. I’d cut the scapes off a couple weeks before the harvest and John and I just used the last of them in a garlic scape and pistachio pesto last night. Tasty! Above ground the garlic plants were huge, but below ground I still haven’t achieved consistently large garlic cloves. Still, I think it’s a fun plant.

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I’m cautiously optimistic about the corn. Maybe it will work! A few ears have beautiful purple silk on them. The other day I was watering the raised bed and it was as if the corn plants sighed a breath heavy with the scent of corn pollen. I could have closed my eyes and been transported back to my time growing up in Northwest Ohio.

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The lima beans have a new trellis to climb:

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And it’s blueberry and apple season!

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Gardening from All the Angles

Real human visitors actually standing in my garden! I’ve had quite a few of them lately and it’s been really, really fun!

If you weren’t able to visit my garden in person, here’s a virtual tour. I had the place looking pretty neat and tidy, if I do say so myself, though it was nice of the plants to cooperate with me! Particularly noteworthy was the honeysuckle, which was in full bloom for the garden tours. I wish I could bottle the smell and spread it over the whole year. It’s so sweet and joyful.

Click on any photo below to get a slideshow tour.

And a view from closer up (again, click on any photo for a slide show)…

My elderly cat has been enjoying the sights, also. He’s starting to have trouble getting around but still enjoys watching birds, getting rubs, and eating his fancy cat food. To make it easier for him to look out the back door, I gave him a chair. He’s incredibly happy about that.

Shamoo watching the yard

Crossing the Ohio

The Ohio River has inadvertently wound its way through John and my spur-of-the-moment adventures this last week.

Memorial Day weekend, we decided we were overdue for some time away together, so we went west and spent a day wandering through Southern Illinois. Our friends recommended Cave In Rock, Illinois, so that’s where we began our adventure.

We had a beautiful picnic lunch (including salad from my garden!) on the bluffs over the Ohio River and then explored the aforementioned cave in the rock. Then we took the ferry boat across the Ohio to Kentucky–which was one of the real highlights of the day. It provided a unique perspective on the big river. There wasn’t much to see in Kentucky, so we turned around pretty quickly and took the ferry back to Illinois. Both times, we ended up at the front of the boat with a great view. I was impressed that even farm implements take the ferry. After that, we went to Garden of the Gods and enjoyed the views before heading for a nice dinner in New Harmony, Indiana and then home. It was a very pleasant day (click any photo below for a larger view).

Then last weekend John and I traveled east: back to Northern Kentucky where John had been a pastor before we moved back to Evansville. The occasion was the ordination of one of the young men from John’s former church, which was a wonderful event. After the ordination, John and I enjoyed an impromptu evening together in Northern Kentucky. We briefly went into Cincinnati and walked around Eden Park within sight of the river (and not far from our old apartment in Cinci). Then we had dinner in Covington and made another noteworthy trek across the Ohio River–this time across the Roebling suspension bridge at sunset. It was a great evening, though we’ll have to visit the Cincinnati area again soon because there are so many more people and old haunts we’d love to see again.

Five Years in the Garden

Five years ago I started my garden. It’s grown beyond my wildest dreams.

In 2009:

Perennials in 2009

In 2014:

Perennials in 2014

In 2009:

Vegetables in 2009

In 2014:

Vegetables in 2014

To celebrate all that new growth, here are some images of this spring’s plants emerging (click on any one for a slide show):

I’m discovering that I went a little crazy planting lettuces and greens in my new raised bed. I was too excited by all the new possibilities that the extra space would afford me and now it’s ALL ready at the same time. John and I are doing our best to eat it before it expires!

We’ve done a lot of salads, John’s making green smoothies for breakfast and lunch, and I’ve got a great soup recipe that can incorporate giant fistfuls of all of these greens. We keep harvesting it by the bowlful and laughing because afterward you can’t see the spot where any is missing.

It all tastes so good. The list of what’s growing is:

  • Vates collards from Seed Savers Exchange
  • Cilantro from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Apollo Arugula from Seed Savers
  • Rocky Top Lettuce Mix from Baker Creek
  • Salad Blend Siamese Dragon Stir-Fry Mix from Baker Creek
  • Tatsoi from Baker Creek
  • Shanghai Green Choy from Baker Creek

look at all the greens!

Out and About in the Evansville Area

We’ve finally had a string a beautiful weather in Evansville. I’ve been out in it as much as possible.

For several weekends now, I’ve spent some time birding and this year I saw quite a few migrants. Unfortunately, birding in Southern Indiana tends to include lots of fully leafed out trees and lots of time waiting for a little bird to make a quick appearance from behind a mass of greenery.

I started looking for birds at Wesselman Woods, a nature preserve located in the heart of the city. It’s full of huge, old trees.

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I saw warblers, gnatcatchers, thrushes, white throated sparrows, Baltimore orioles, and a sandpiper. After a couple days at Wesselman Woods, John came with me to try another spot: Eagle Slough. I liked it even better. There, I saw lot of warblers, summer tanagers, indigo buntings, rose breasted grosbeaks, more thrushes, and a wild turkey.

I’ve also had some fun bird sightings in my own back yard. I’ve had male and female rose breasted grosbeaks at my feeder, white crowned, white breasted sparrows, an ovenbird, and a thrush scratching around the ground. I’ve had prothonotary warblers and Philadelphia vireos in the line of trees next door. and a hummingbird who was checking to see if our neighbor’s Rose of Sharon trees were blooming. Not bad for sticking my head out the back door between cups of coffee.

Last weekend I took the trip up to the Azalea Path Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m glad to have finally seen it. The azaleas were just starting to hit their peak, the peonies were also gorgeous, and it was a beautiful day. I only regret that I was a little rushed, fitting the trip in between a couple other things I was doing that day.