Monday, September 7, 2009

How Sweet the Summer

Come, take a walk through my summer garden. That sounds really soothing; we all know it's not really like that here in the sweltering heat of our Phoenix garden. I can only venture outside in the very early morning or after the sun goes down. Still, life in the garden continues as long as water is applied. Some plants fare far better than others. The tomato plants are still alive, although somewhat crispy on the tips. No tomatoes of course. We have trimmed the plants back and put in a couple of new transplants. The pepper plants look healthy and are full of blossoms and new peppers. The eggplants are hanging in there, with only two eggplants on each bush. Everything is about to take a breath, Autumn is very slowly making it's way to The Valley of the Sun! My Don Juan rose is the only rose in my garden that doesn't seem to be struggling. It has bloomed abundantly throughout the summer. I'm sure it was named Don Juan for the beautiful deep red color that looks just like red velvet. Don Juan is a fragrant 8 to 10 foot climber, the 5 inch flowers have a citrus scent. I'll remove spent blooms and by the end of the month trim it back by one third then, add rose food to the soil. This will encourage a new fall bloom cycle. There are only a few fruits and vegetables that you can plant in July. Cantaloupes and honeydew are two of them. Here, the plant is taking over, but only three melons are growing. I was just reading in George Brookbank's, Desert Gardening, that if you are an observant gardener you will know that your unpollinated female flower will not allow the fruit to develop! Darn, I was trying to watch everything grow from my living room window. Now I have to go out and pollinate. According to Brookbank's, "You take the male flower off the plant, remove the yellow petals and you're left with a long sticky stalk.The pollen grains are on the orange knob. You rub this onto the center of a female flower. Use one male flower for three or four female flowers.This procedure should be done early in the morning just after the flowers have opened up. The flower only lasts a few hours, so its a daily job." Where are all the bees? The Sun Gold Tomato, is winner of the all-around, best performing tomato in my garden! Bright tangerine-orange, exceptionally sweet, 1 inch cherry tomato. This vigorous plant provided us with a prolific amount of healthy garden snacking. Sun Gold replaced my Yellow Pear tomato this season. The Yellow Pear is a 1 inch, mild tasting, lemon-yellow, pear shaped tomato. It does not compare with the sweetness of the Sun Gold, but I love the variety of color in my salads.
Our Araucana hen, BJ (Betty Jo Pickens), went broody. That's when a hen is ready to set and hatch her eggs. You have a pretty good indication of this when she won't move from the nesting box and pecks and squawks at you as you try to remove the eggs. After sitting on her eight eggs for 21 days, only one little chick hatched. The Hen will not let that chick out of her sight! If you've never had the opportunity to watch the interaction between a mother hen and her chick you are missing a delightful treat.
On the subject of chickens, I found a great use for my old terra cotta pots. These are a perfect fit for a chicken. What a simple solution for a nesting box. They are easy to move, easy to clean and they don't rot like wood. Besides, I think I heard my husband mention that he didn't think he could build one more chicken box!
No, you're not at the beach, these are our summer sun umbrellas. I keep an eye out at yard and end of summer sales for market umbrellas to shade my garden vegetables. They are a big help and easier than spreading shade cloth. The only drawback is when the monsoons arrive. You should definitely make sure that they are all closed down. We have had one sail away in the wind.

1 comment:

Packer Family said...

Love it all!!!! Great Idea with the umbrellas!!! I'm going to keep my eye out at the end of this season!