Monday, June 25, 2012

"Fluffy" gardens

I always think that mid-summer gardens have a certain full "fluffiness" to them. Like all the plants are at their fullest healthiest point. Late June is before most flowers start to fade, before most plants start to collapse under their own sprawling size... Here are some shots of how the garden is coming along right now :)  It is filling in nicely. So far I've had enough minor damage from slugs and other bugs that I want to let things go a little further before I begin to thin it out. I had some little tomatoes that were really starting to take off, but when I went down today something had eaten one of them right at the base of the stem, and ruined the whole seedling. For reasons like that, I was to give the smaller plants more time to grow, so that they can survive a little bug damage, before I start to thin them. I have flowers growing along the front border (which have really taken off!) and everything else behind them is vegetables. I have tomatoes, peppers, basil, okra, egg plant, and ground cherries. We'll see which of that stuff is strong enough to actually bear fruit.

Really starting to fill in! Going to have to thin some of that out soon.

See how burned the grass is?? It's been very dry and hot here. Have been watering the garden every few days, and should probably do it a little more often to be honest.

I went out today and starting pushing that bush over the other side of the rail. It has been creeping in on my garden. Some of it was actually touching my tomatoes when I came out today, which is no good since that plant has grasping/twining tendrils that wrap tightly around everything they touch.

No rain for Chicago this year! Every thirsty bee in Chicago was up in my business while I was watering my garden today...

Monday, June 11, 2012

June... Actually The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!

Forget December, June has my heart <3

This week has been lovely :) The best that summer has to offer. I am so tempted to throw on a bikini and catch some rays out in the courtyard by my garden, but I think my neighbors find me eccentric enough as it is.

So along with June having wonderful weather, it's also the month where insects of all sorts tend to descend on my plants. On the back porch I've got some sort of green flying bugs in my Goldilocks and on my inpatients. I sprayed those with some insecticidal soap, and I hope that will solve my problem back there. Out front in my courtyard veggie garden, I've got slugs!! I didn't know what was chewing up my marigolds for the last few weeks, and then this week my okra seeds came up and 50% of them were chewed down to the stem in just one night. But this time there was tell-tale slime trails ALL over my garden. Up and down the brick, stringing from leaf to leaf, leaving nasty trails all over the soil as they traveled to and fro... Ick. They even chewed the leaves off some of my okra and didn't even eat them! They were just bitten off and laying next to the poor pitiful stem. So I went out today and devised a plan of attack.
1) Planted more okra. I put like 10 more seeds in, hope that a few will live to produce something.
2) Covered a few of my okra and one of my peppers with plastic bottle "shields" in hopes that the slugs won't be able to get in there are eat them.
3) Put in some "beer pits" into which I hope the slugs will fall and die
4) ordered some "Sluggo" because I will not be chasing these f***ers around all summer while they destroy my hard work!!

I am hoping my beer pits will get me by for the next few days until the Sluggo comes in. Here is how I made them:
1) cut a water bottle in half
2) bury it about 3/4ths of the way into the soil
3) pour some beer in there!

I'm not 100% sure this is going to work, since i've heard that some slugs just lean over the edge and drink up the beer, no problem. However, if my slugs are small they should fall in there and not be able to get back out. I heard that smooth sided cans were the best option, so I also buried a beer can in there. Hey, this is a class joint i'm running here! You can tell, because the beer is a Highlife ;)

Who knows, maybe the slugs will slice themselves open on the deadly edge of that beer can. Or my neighbors will just think i'm insane when they see this... But whatever, a gardener has to do what a gardener has to do.

I also covered some of my plants with bottles like so:

I am hoping that slugs are lazy, and won't bother climbing in there. If I'm wrong, they will probably climb in there and eat the entire plant because now they are stuck with it lol. We'll see what happens.

And of course, this is on the way:

This is supposed to be safe for pets, kids, and "organic" The product description says "Sluggo Snail & Slug Killer is Effective & Environmentally Friendly. SLUGGO is a unique blend of iron phosphate and bait additives. The bait not ingested will biodegrade and become a beneficial addition to your garden's soil" The reviewers seem to love it, so I'll give it a try.

My tomato and pepper seeds have seemed very stunted this year, so I'm not about to loose what I was able to get going to slugs.

My courtyard garden around 6/1/12

The humble Marigold. Simple, but beautiful.

In other news, my back porch garden is really coming along this year. I think I have started to find a direction for it that I really like. I decided to go with a little less variety this year, in favor of unity and cohesiveness. I brought back my spikey grasses, because they seem to do really well back there and I just love ornamental grass for some reason. There is something beachy about it I think. I also decided to plant perennials in pots along the ground so that I can have a "base" to work with and not have to start from scratch each year. Annuals are fun, and usually colorful, but it gets expensive and a little overwhelming to buy all new plants every year. I am trying to embrace my shade more and go for "lush" rather than colorful. That being said, I was still able to find some exotic begonias this year with great color.

Can you believe this is a begonia?

Why hang my boxes on the inside of my rail? Because i'm 3.5 stories up.
If one of these fell it could probably kill someone... eek. They each weigh ~40lbs.
New fronds on the fern start of golden, very pretty.
These are all perennials, and will grow back next year.
Not a bad place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.