Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whoa-- Where did summer go??

Wow did summer fly by me! There is something about all that sunshine that deters me from going to the gym and updating my blog- woopsy. But as the season is winding down I wanted to give an update on how things are going here in my urban oasis.

I received permission from our apartment management to put a few pots in our courtyard. After all those seeds I started I just couldn't pass up on this one really sun shiny corner of the yard that was just begging for me to "PLEASE! grow veggies here!!". Unfortunately, our spring was really odd this year. We had nights dipping into the 40's all through May, which means I couldn't put my peppers and tomatoes out until almost the first of June, which is too late to be ideal. Because my plants were a little behind they ended up flowering right in the middle of the worst heat wave we have had since I moved here. I only have ONE pepper flower that lived through it and grew to normal size. I'm talking about like at least 10 days in a row of 90+ temperatures and nights hovering in the high 80's. For my plants it was just too hot and they ended up dropping a lot of their flowers, which means the flowers never get a chance to turn into fruit. I think if they had been out a few weeks earlier, and had already developed their fruit, that they wouldn't have been so badly impacted by the lasting heat, but Mother Nature does and Mother Nature pleases... Anyhow, about 2 weeks ago my pepper plants started a new round of flowering, and because the temperatures have cooled off, the flowers have successfully budded into fruit! Now it's a race against the clock to see if they will have enough warm days left to grow to maturity. I really hope so!

My one successful pepper so far this year.
Tell me this thing doesn't make you want to sing
"Chilies! Baaaby back ribs!"

I am out there everyday inspecting my plants to see if they are growing, and it looks like they are really taking off. It also seems like some sort of bug is biting me while i'm poking around over there... Not very fun, but totally worth it lol. Do black ants with wings bite or sting? Speaking of weird bugs-- Has anybody seen the "Cicada killing wasps" that are flying around this year??? Holy Giant Man Eating Bugs Batman!! These babies are like 2 inches long and fly RIGHT AT MY HEAD every time i'm out there. Word from my mom is that they don't sting and are actually very docile, but they still really freak me out. And, I really don't appreciate them killing all of our Cicada bugs, because now my courtyard at night is quiet and not filled with the romantic late summer sounds of the Cicada bugs. What is worse than the silence is that some new bug (maybe the wasps??) is making this really eerie clicking/rattling sound that grosses me out and makes me feel like there are bugs in the house. This wouldn't matter so much if not for the fact that I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building, directly in line with the branches of the tree in our courtyard. The branches are only like 2 feet from my windows, so whatever is going on in there feels like its IN the living room with me. For some interesting information about these wasps check out these links---

Chicago Tribune -- if you are looking for a good overview for whether or not these are dangerous and what to do about them. Maybe these bugs are old news to other people, but it's the first time I've seen them here in Oak Park.

And thank you to Cicada Hunt for posting this picture of the Cicada Killer Wasp.

And this is just to get the picture of those wasps out of your head...
you can thank my neighbors for growing this beauty!