Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monsoon Moisture

   It's so nice to finally get a break from the heat wave (long streak of 100 degrees or more with no rain).  The brutal heat all but stopped tomatoes from producing fruits and many plants didn't look their best.  So it's a welcome relief to see storm clouds brewing in the sky and hear thunder on a regular basis for the past week or so.  The clouds and rain have kept the temperature hovering in mid 80s to mid 90s during the peak heat of the day, and I am seeing the plants responding to the change in a positive way.

   It's hard to believe that today is Day 114 for my Spring Veggies Box.  I have been picking and eating from this box for quite some time.  I am really glad that I planted the Sweet William and Marigold.  The colors are nice and the butterflies and bees they bring are such a nice addition to the garden.  The Swiss chard has been my favorite to eat after the spinach has finished.  I have since planted more in the spinach square with Swiss chard.  I love their color and versatility in many dishes.  The arugula has been bolting in the heat.  I usually pick and throw the flowers to the compost pile, but here you can see the pale yellow flowers.  They are kind of pretty. ^^  The soy beans are showing flowers, so I'm expecting to be harvesting them soon.

   The Summer Veggies Box is a little bit out of control.  The broccoli, soy beans, eggplant, and four o'clock are all taller than 2 feet and obscuring the boundaries totally.  They really are overflowing.  Looking extremely vigorous.  The ones that really didn't live up to my expectation were the tomato plants.  They started out wonderfully, in June, but then quickly suffered from the 100 degree heat and disease (The unfortunate thing with heirloom tomatoes is their lack of disease resistance.).  I've also noticed in my neighbor's backyard that their tomatoes are producing something like cherry tomato when I know they planted regular size tomatoes.

   My Black Krim tomato has fruits that are starting to change color finally, but the plant itself is also showing signs of some kind of disease.  The Yellow Pear had been stunted for a while during the brutal heat and dryness, but starting to turn around by showing signs of new growth as well as turning the fruits' color into bright yellow.  The Brandywine, which I was so looking forward to, has not done well at all.  The plant has small fruits that are only about 2 inches in diameter and the whole plant is looking yellowish.  The small fruits have turned red, but it's neither the shape nor the color of Brandywine fruits.  It makes me wonder if they were marked wrong at the nursery...  Come to think of it, right next to the group of Brandywine seedlings were some cherry tomato variety.  It would be quite easy for some prankster to switch the tags.  Hmmmm.

   The four o'clocks in the Summer Veggies Box.  Measuring about 2.5 feet tall and about 2 feet spread, totally overflowing its square.  This plant was supposed to have variegated bi-color blooms, but as you can see, the seed produced a solid pink flowers.  Still very pretty and smells wonderful.  Can't complain too much.

   I have three flowering kale plants in pots right next to the Summer Veggies Box.  For some reason, the ones in these pots are growing so much faster than the one that is in the SFG box.  I don't know why.  It's like the Miracle Grow commercial, showing the difference between 'grown with' and 'grown without'.   Here in the picture is one of our kitties, Chaba.

  Already so pretty, and it hasn't even turned colors yet.  That will have to wait till the weather cools off in the fall and early winter. :D  I'm so excited about these guys.

   The Strawberry SFG Box looking phenomenal.  The strawberries seem to really enjoy the break from the heat and dryness.  Ever since we started getting regular afternoon rainstorms, these guys started to look really green with much larger leaves.  I have also given them 2 feedings of the fish tank water.  They continue to produce a lot of white flowers and red berries.  The size is still a little random -- some regular size, some tiny.

   After getting a plant with pink flowers and a plant with white flowers, I was delighted that the third plant to bloom was actually true to the seed variety I purchased!!!  Here's the first of the pink and white variegated Four O'Clock.  No two flowers from this plant are ever alike.  Some have so little pink they are almost white, while others are almost all pink, and there are some that just have such pretty markings.  It's a shame that these blooms are so short-lived!

   Speaking of short-lived, our water lilies only last about 2 days in the sun.  The pond is in a location that is away from the house or trees, so it's completely exposed for much of the day.  They are so gorgeous on the first day.

   Another short-lived flower is the morning glory.  I have them trailing on a fence along the north property line.  The seeds were planted in mid May (rather late) and  it took them until July 28th to produce their first bloom.  I have a mix of different colors along the fence (including the moonflower vine), but this color was the first to appear.  Pale blue with purple and pink star.  We had the rain shower in the early morning, and this photo was taken shortly after.

   Along the sunflower patch in the backyard are more four o'clocks and the sulfur cosmos.  I love this variety of cosmos.  The bright orange, brick red, and yellow colors compliment the sunflower's yellow so well.  They look great as cut flowers, too.   This photo completes my first update in almost 2 weeks.  Our chicken coop is getting close to completion.  I am hoping that I can put a nice series of photos up soon.

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