A bit cooler today, overcast, but still hot...it's 80F right now, with our forecast high at 90F. We got a couple of brief but heavy rain showers yesterday which was good because after all that heat everything needed to be refreshed.
Yesterday morning I got to work on the Below the Deck Garden, gave it a good tidy. I still have a bit more to go, but it looks much better with the daylilies all deadheaded, the fleabane gone, and everything just cleaned up. There's a wispy kind of grass that I've been fighting for always and that's really got sort of out of hand this year...Once I got that yanked out, it looks much better.
I had "one of those days" yesterday. I've been noticing some "weirdnesses" with the laptop the past week and Sunday morning it up and went the way of all electronics. Panic mode. Ran to WalMart, bought a new laptop, and spent hours getting it set up with my editing programs, online links, etc.. It is always astounding how much you accumulate (and need and use) on a computer. You only realize it when you have to duplicate it. I find this sort of thing very stressful. But by the afternoon, I was up and running again.
Then, this morning, I woke up and this thought popped into my head: why did the old laptop feel so hot? "Pull the battery," Obi Wan said to me. I pulled the battery, plugged in the AC cable and gave it a whirl. There is nothing wrong with my old laptop. The battery went on the fritz and did something to scramble the laptop chips. I don't regret buying a new one; this old boy might just up and die on me anyways. But it is a bit of a let down. But a relief too, because now I have all my "stuff" back without having to jump through any more hoops.
While I was out at WalMart computer shopping, I also stopped at Lowe's to get a bag of concrete for a WalkMaker pad. And of course, I checked out the Clearance racks in the Garden section. I got two lovely tree roses for only $10 each! I have no idea where I'm going to put them, but I have them! Also got 3 pots of pink dahlias for 50 cents each. They look pretty shabby, but I'm hoping they'll green up a bit and I can store the roots for next year. (My fingers itched to buy another banana plant for only $10 but I resisted the urge. Where will I store two bananas during the winter? One will be tough enough to find room for.)
8 pints of Bread and Butter pickles this morning!
Another groundhog is nosing around the garden shed. Time to get out the HavaHeart Trap.
I dunno, maybe watching YouTube garden tour type videos is not a good idea. I've just finished viewing three of them and now I feel totally intimidated and inadequate. My good lord, these gardens are spectacular! Ponds, decks, pools, gazebos, lighting, artwork...there's a frigging water slide in one of them! How am I going to do that?? *LOL* I console myself with the thought that these folks are obviously rolling in money. Must be nice. Have the time and the moola to do all that....not like here, one woman and a wheelbarrow *mutter mutter, gripe, mutter.*
Our heat wave continues. We're dancing around the century mark on the thermometer and our heat index hit 110F yesterday. It probably was as bad or worse today because I think the humidity is higher...it's been overcast all day. One of those truly ugly days of gray skies, high heat, and dry wandering wind. Ugh. I've got to start bucketing some water around this evening. I'm holding off dragging out the hoses because we are forecast to get rain tomorrow and I really dread having to get out the "watering system" if I don't have to.
Spent another good hour-plus in the veg this morning, weeding and harvesting. Did some cleanup around the Pond Circle, but it got too hot to go on. The older more established borders are holding their own, but could use a good tidy. I'm hoping to get to that tomorrow. It's not so much one of those hands-and-knees weeding jobs; more like yank out a weed here, snip down an overgrown plant there. I ought to carry a notebook with me and make notes of what I need to do when the weather gets a bit more accomodating.
Started brining some cucumber slices to make bread and butter pickles tomorrow and I've got more veg harvested. Tomorrow morning I'll try to get the pickles processed and finish up with canning the beans.
I spritzed around some of that smelly deer repellent last evening and no sign of any more deer intrusion. Keep fingers crossed.
Extremely high temps and humidity are combining to make it pretty much impossible to work outside during the day. Weds. I drove up to visit family in Johnstown, Thurs. (yesterday) I was just too tired and unmotivated after the trip to do anything outside, but this morning (Fri), I tore into the veg and got an enormous amount of galinsoga out of the west end. Lots of seeds on the ground, but I've decided that I can deal with that. As soon as they sprout, I'll be able to hoe them up because most of it is in the now cleared onion patch. The onions were an almost complete failure again this year. Just too too wet early on; so many of them just rotted away and the ones I harvested today were very small. What a shame; every year since I've been gardening, except last year and this, I've had great big harvests of onions.
Anyways, now that the onions are cleared out, I'm going to allow the galinsoga to come up, then hoe it down. I did this in beds in the east end several years ago and it works...it's hard work, but it works. I'm also going to try "solarizing" the soil in bare areas.
I've got a real big problem. This morning a deer was in the veg. This is the first time this has ever happened. I've got to get the strip of chicken wire that I have along the top of the south fence stuck up better; I see that it's slipped way down and I think that's how the deer must have hopped over. No real damage, just some silk nibbled off the corn. But there are tracks and I know I saw a deer bolting through my neighbor's yard when I stepped onto the deck this morning. I didn't see it actually leap out of my veg, but that's probably what happened. One thing that I'm going to try right away is a tip I got from another gardener a while back. In addition to raising the height of the south fence, I'm going to stick in some stakes about 4-5 feet INSIDE the line of the veg fence, just ordinary stakes like I'd use for staking plants. Deer are not keen on leaping a fence and landing on spikes, so this may be enough to deter.
Harvest is starting in earnest. I've got more beans picked, and there's more in there but it's too hot to be out right now. I also got a dozen beautiful cukes that I'm going to make into bread-'n'-butter pickles this afternoon. I dug up one potato plant and I am hoping to make bean/ham/potato soup to also "put up" for winter in pint jars.
My tomatoes look so good this year (lots of green ones); I am absolutely terrified that something is going to destroy them before I get any! I'm a little surprised that I'm not getting any zuchinni yet; I've picked a few of these odd-ball squash that came up on their own...I think a cross between patty pan and spaghetti squash from last year...they are tasty and tender. But nothing yet from the green or yellow zuchinni plants.
Not a whole lot to report with the "non-veg" gardens. Most things are going over, the tawny daylilies are finished, and I'm just doing a bit of tidying and deadheading. The black eyed susans are just now coming on...these are getting a bit out of hand and I'm going to have to dig out a lot of them this fall and move them into other areas. I've found some videos on YouTube that feature some lovely gardens and I learned how to take a "snapshot" of videos to save, so I can study the plantings better. I'm gathering ideas for a big re-do of the Front Bed this fall. My idea of a minimalist Asian style planting for the front of the house did not work out as hoped. It just looks plain, boring, and "thin". So, I'm planning to take out the narrow pebble "dry stream bed" that runs through the Front Bed and put in a lot of different perennials. Far from being something I dread, I'm kind of looking forward to it! it's like redecorating a room in the house...
Temps are reaching to the 90sF now, with higher humidity moving in. The past few days haven't been too bad, because the humidity was low and the mornings were still cool-ish. Decided this was the perfect time to continue working on the Folly Wall/Dark Garden area, building the raised beds, digging out a footer trench for the next section of the Folly Wall, etc. Used up all the rocks I had, so yesterday and today, I've been hauling in rocks from my friend E's back yard. Getting the rocks out of her yard isn't too difficult because they are part of a loosely built terrace wall. Also, her yard is level with her driveway, not too far away, and the truck is easy to load.
It's getting the rocks OUT of the truck that's the real challenge. I can only back my truck a short way up the hill toward where the Folly Wall area is located (it's at the top of the property). Which means I have to wheelbarrow the rocks up the hill. Which is never easy, but in rising heat it's really tough. Around about the 6th trek up the hill with a loaded barrow, I began to wonder if it was possible to garden oneself to death.
I thought the red raspberries were finished, but I picked another quart of berries yesterday evening and that is enough....I'm calling a halt. I don't care how tempting and luscious they look, I can't do anymore. The birds are welcome to them.
I have completely lost the onion patch to weeds....I had it pretty well cleaned out, but yesterday when I peeked over the fence to see if my onions were ready to pull they were invisible. So, I better get in there tomorrow morning and see "what's what." I've been working pretty assiduously to keep the weeds under control in the veg, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. That Galinsoga has declared war on me....it's worse than it was last year, and this after I've been pulling it every chance I get. I've resorted to taking secateurs in there with me and simply snipping off the plants and hauling them out. I'm afraid pulling the plants is only stirring up the soil and possibly planting more seeds....the damn stuff seeds like crazy. What I'd really like to know is why the Japanese beetles will eat pretty darn near anything EXCEPT that....
Getting all these rocks has given me an idea (oh god, another idea) for improving the Jungle Cliff area. I want to extend the small retaining wall at the bottom of the slope down and across so that both my small ponds are bordered by it. This should make hiding the plastic edges of the ponds a lot easier and make the area a bit more visually interesting and "polished" looking. This won't be a big project, just a simple dry laid wall no more than 18 inches high.
I'm facing major tree removal here. I supposed it's inevitable after 33 years. A lot of the trees/shrubs we planted when we first built here are now mature and in some cases, past their prime, due to time and disease. I keep putting it off, but I've decided that I really do need to just bite the bullet and start taking out blue spruce from the Woodland Garden. These trees were a mistake from the start. They started out nicely but when the outer row of Scotch pine started to outpace them, they went from being lovely little "Christmas tree" shaped spruce to tall, spindly, bare stemmed things. Now, our area is being hit by some sort of blight that's killing off the blue spruce and they've gone from gangly to outright hideous. I'm pretty sure that at least a half dozen are as good as dead. I think that the majority of them are slender enough that I can manage cutting them down myself, possibly even with handsaws. At any rate, I'm going to have to just go ahead and get started because these are only one small part of what needs to be done. I hate cutting down trees, but I tell myself that I'll definitely be replanting young trees (and better suited trees!), so no harm, no foul.
I blame it on the heat. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in this heat (sorry, Mike)...but yesterday afternoon, with the temperature hovering around 90F, I was suddenly possessed with this undeniable urge to drive south into Maryland and see what Lowe's had on the discount table in the gardening section. A premonition? One brought on, no doubt, by watching Monty Don enthusing about his banana....er... his banana tree. "A banana," the demon whispered in my ear, "would look spectacular in the little jungle garden I'm cultivating in front of the greenhouse...." And Lowe's has bananas....
Got there and found that not only were the bananas on half-off ($15 instead of $30, plus each pot has a mandevilla vine and some vinca as well!), but they had so much other nice stuff... I bought 5 beautiful fibrous rooted begonias (red) for a big pot on the porch, they were $1 each;2 hen and chicks ($1); a Lady Banks yellow climbing rose for $9 (normally $18), a pot of oriental lilies for only $4 (5 bulbs!), and two big pots of calla lilies for $5 each.
Then of course, once I got home, I had to get everything out of the truck and disposed of. Potted up the begonias and hen and chicks, moved the other things into safe locations...
And then I got the most tremendous headache ...and that was pretty much the end of my day of madness in the sun.
This morning was blessedly cool and dry, but the afternoon is heating up. I got more work done on the raised bed behind the Folly Wall, but I really need more rocks to move forward. So will have to talk to E about going over to her backyard and hauling out rocks for her. I also dug out the struggling and straggling daylilies from up there to move them into a sunnier location.