We’d like some real rain…please and thank you!

The typical ides of late summer, come earlier than usual, of course.  While we await a much needed, hopefully-for-real, forecasted spell of precipitation in a few days, you are invited to take a short tour through the nooks of the CG, as it gets cleared of tired and/or over-browsed plants after harvesting the bounty!  True, most of the yard looks great, (just a bigger water bill to keep them from dying, and grateful we don’t have water rationing); but their stress is detectable.  Fortunately the lower sun angle as we drift towards fall helps keep moisture around longer. Given the soil crevasses in the beds, surrounding any soaker-hosed segments, it is always amazing how productive and resilient some plants are, with relatively small root systems, relative to their top growth!

The season of thinning out!

The season of thinning out!  Basil and tomatoes galore.

They've had enough!

They’ve had enough!  Hot and dry is OK for awhile, but then just the right humidity makes the mildew pop right up on those leaves.  The melons are pushing the usual size limit for this ‘Margarita’ variety.

Fabulous colors of garden bounty! The lime-yellow of 'Margarita' melons laced with sweet red peppers! These melons are pale green inside, with a very mild flavor--the color of margaritas!

Fabulous colors of garden bounty! The lime-yellow of ‘Margarita’ melons laced with sweet red peppers! These melons are pale green inside, with a very mild flavor–the color of margaritas!

Our discriminating deer is wise--no eating hot peppers, just eat all the leaf tips!

Our discriminating deer is wise–no eating hot peppers, just eat all the leaf tips!

Bound and determined bushes have eeked out a few beans from their bases.

Bound and determined bushes have eeked out a few beans from their bases; while the 4-footed browser insists on picking at whatever stems he can reach through the netting.

Bee party still going strong in the summer squash blossoms!

Bee party still going strong in the summer squash blossoms!

Aspen and Juni checking out the photo session.

Aspen and Juni sensing some moisture in the air, but where is it for the ground?

House yard still holding its own; lavender is tired and resting for the season.

House yard still holding its own; Spanish lavender is tired and resting for the season.  Echinacea takes over supporting the pollinators!

Luscious grapes, still a bit tart, but almost ready for harvest!

Luscious grapes, still a bit tart, but almost ready for harvest!

Aspen finding the easy way to deal with heat...shade!

Aspen finding the easy way to deal with heat…shade!

 

Early is the name of the game

Mature and harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is lushly growing, immune to browsing.

Mature, harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is growing lushly, immune to browsing.

Early to bloom, early to ripen, early demise.  On the calendar that is!  Our “endless summer” has mitigated its heat wave temporarily, so plants look a bit more refreshed.  As observed over the last couple of weeks, some squash leaves signaled their fatigue and resignation to powdery mildew, as the fruits of their efforts came into maturity.  Spaghetti squash and delicata bushes were harvested and removed, providing some more freed crawling space for the little margarita and chanterai-type melons.  It seems so early for all this, but then again summer weather started very early.  Our first tomato pickings, too, and now they are moving into more continual ripening.  Zucchinis and yellow summer squash are still very active, and the cucumbers come in little waves.  I haven’t dared to peek under the acorn squash yet; and it is still quite mildew-free, so there’s a bit of time to catch the breath before doing more work.

The hidden gems of min-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

The hidden gems of mini-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

As much as I’d like to start planting more lettuce, it is still too early, given the soil and air temperatures are too warm; must be patient till at least mid-to-late August.  It is amazing how well beets will hold up if they can keep their roots shaded from too much light.  And, it is always amazing how beans will recuperate from moderate deer browsing, to push forth more flowers again.  Seems like we might have the deer stymied for the time being, although he does come by to see what vines he can possibly nibble on that might escape the protection of netting.

I have been watching for the signs of summer fatigue in the landscape and forest trees this last week, after another 4-day marathon of 100-degree heat.  Whereas the subtle shift of green to green-gold comes in mid-late August, there are some trees that have flat-out protested the whole summer, with leaves turning brown, curling up, and are blowing off this week.  I had a brief glimpse of fall there, then realized these were severely heat-stressed!  Lavenders have recuperated a bit, and providing plenty of nectar for the bees and butterflies.  Life is good!

Step carefully…

The July jungle is now in full swing!  Evidently our watering regime is working well despite an ongoing drought, and waves of very hot days replaced by cooler, more “normal” temperatures, with heat spikes in between.  We simply use soaker hoses for 10 to 15 minutes daily on everything but the tomatoes, which may be on an every other day schedule, temperature dependent.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The bounty is coming in! Mostly summer squash and the oldest planting of bush beans, with a few extra pounds making their their way to a local food bank. The winter squash are prolific, too, just not ready!  And while scouting around the squash some mini-canteloupes and margarita melons showed themselves!  Always such a thrill to find the hidden gems!  Thinning the prolilfic tomato vegetation is allowing the tomatoes to see the sun and a few are just blushing.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started.  Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started. Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

The dilemma of outwitting our browsing buck continues.  Almost a game in a way; one week we are “safe” from damage, and the next week he lets us know he is smarter, or more desperate, probably both!  While we now have extra netting stretched over plants within the already-netted perimeter, our nemesis continues to jump in and scout around, browsing anything that might poke through the netting.  Damage control is tolerable under the usual circumstances, but now he has earned the reputation of  being “bad, bad, bad, really bad” by succeeding in wiping out the beans that had just recuperated from a setback 2 weeks ago.  Apparently this was achieved by literally walking on the netting!  Maybe I should start tally marks on an extra zucchini.  Deer wins this week’s round.

Netting on netting.  Ambushed! Now the deer doesn't mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

Ambushed! Now the deer doesn’t mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

 

Peak light

While it is the start to “official” summer, with the continuation of mainly dry, warm weather since February, it feels like we’ve been into summer for almost 2 months, and now it should be mid-summer.  I am smiling as I think about June 21, 2011, when most of us were either staying indoors, or braving wet weather as a cold front moved in for a few days.  Opposite spectrum.  With the forecast of another heat-wave presenting itself a few days after the solstice, it is going to be interesting to witness how the regions’ plants endure a long summer “drought”.

While we have had the occasional hot days without an evening westerly breezed to cool us off, the more typical afternoon winds have been coming around daily this last week, making for frequent watering needs everywhere in the garden.  It is hard to keep everybody hydrated very long!

Cherries are at prime right now, rather than closer to July 4th, strawberry season long gone, and blueberries coming on 2 to 3 weeks early!  Since early May, the local forests have given off their fir- and cedar- aromas normally detected only in later summer.

The CG is holding up in a more typical manner.  Squash and melons just take their time finally kicking in and growing, and they love the warmer weather.  Radishes and arugula have decided it’s time to bolt and flower, and beans are growing magnificently.  Earlier than anticipated, there are some green roma tomatoes, just found this morning while watering.  Maybe it will be the earliest tomato season I’ve witnessed!  And there are even some chile peppers.  The local four-legged browsers are leaving evidence of lurking nearby, munching on succulent apple leaf, and dogwood tips, but have not breached the deer fence.

The fence is restretched and reinforced with another layer of netting in one area, while I contemplate a different method of using “smoke and mirrors” to visually fool the browsers as to the actual height of the fence.

Exponential growth kicking in!  Summer Solstice greetings!

Exponential growth kicking in! Summer Solstice greetings!

The longest days of the year in the northern hemisphere are here, providing exqusite summer evenings, and there is potent light energy coming through right now.  Enjoy summer in your yard or out in a local park or forest, or in any way you are able, that lifts your spirits!

Come Together…CG 2015 is underway

It’s always a great feeling when all the seeding and planting is finished, and can announce that the CG is “open as usual.”  This year it has been hard to assign the right time to put everything in, given the incredibly warm and dry spring we’ve had.  March, April, and May have seemed to be intertwining months, with no real differentiation in their feel of time.  In April it felt like it was almost time to plant, but the calendar reminded me that tomatoes are best not put in before mid-May.  And so it is, and the tomatoes have their red spring jackets on.  Because, inevitably it may be warm for weeks, but when you get ready to plant tomatoes, the temperatures cool down a bit.  Variability is the name of the game.

Finally underway!

Finally underway!

As of today, the spaghetti squash once again wins the race for first emergence of all the squash, melons, and cukes!

Since our precipitation has come primarily in the form of spitting drizzle, it was necessary to wet down the soil with an oscillating sprinkler a few days ahead of planting.  We were rewarded with more ease of fertilizaer and soil preparation, and the emergence of tiny lettuce, beet, and radish seedlings in record time.  The cooler weather has actually been a boon for transplanting, but is deceiving in that the breezy, dry conditions require more watering than thought.

Neighbor's artistic use of bamboo at back of our property to confuse deer.

Neighbor’s artistic use of bamboo at back of our property to confuse and deter the deer; at over 8 feet high, we are hoping it works!

While awaiting the sprouting of squash, cucumber, and melon seeds, it’s time to contemplate the next phase of deer defense, as they have found their way into the house yard through the few open spots of the back area.

In spite of our overcast, cool, yet very dry weather, the bees are actively buzzing amidst the Spanish lavender!

In spite of our overcast, cool, yet very dry weather, the bees are actively buzzing amidst the Spanish lavender!

Hope your gardens are emerging and growing well, wherever you are!

Winter bypass

Winter (for Western Oregon) showed up in brief spurts in mid-December, in January, and seemed fairly negligible in February, leaving many of us wondering what is in store.  Many of us love the sunnier and unusually warm days that have presented themselves, but it does not bode well for water availability in summer, since there is essentially no snowpack in the mountains right now.

Spring arrived early, like mid-February.  Usually not this many plants showing so much growth, and March required a lot of pruning!

Spring arrived early, like mid-February. Usually not this many plants showing so much growth, and March required a lot of pruning!

February now goes down in the weather records as the driest and warmest month Oregon has ever experienced.  We welcome the next episode or rain scheduled for tomorrow, to give us allergy sufferers some brief respite.  The air itself looks a bit brown, which is really unheard of in February and March.  Undoubtedly, we are very grateful not to endure the harsh weather patterns in the eastern states, yet it all seems a bit surreal.  To spend the last half of February in warmer Costa Rica (which had its own atypical weather patterns happening), then return home to find I needed to start pruning everything, was a bit of a time warp.

Checking in with a local beekeeper a week or so ago, he wasn’t too happy about the weather, although there are plenty of blossoms out for the active bees.  Nights are still very cold, and he is concerned about any potential cold snap over the next 2 months that would kill many bees because their physiology has changed to warm weather activity, after which they don’t adapt quickly/well to sudden temperature changes.  And bees are a precious commodity anywhere, so we’ll have faith that this will be fine.  My Spanish lavender plants have overwintered better than last year, but having a sudden, brief deep freeze in mid-December, just after a warm fall, really tests their limits.

Wandering around in shorts and sandals for a couple of hours the past weekend I marveled at the warmth.  By February we knew everything would probably bud early, if no cold weather arrived, since some of us noticed daffodils and tulips pushing out of the soil in late December. There is nothing to stop a brief winter blast from hitting us anytime into April, of course, and that could present some issues, both for plants and for bees.

Some gardeners are getting their veggie beds ready for planting the early lettuce, spinach, etc., but my brains aren’t there yet, since we tend to enjoy warmer weather produce.  Also, it’s one thing at a time, and right now that thing is more pruning, and feeding blueberries, kiwis, strawberries, roses, and such.  That will be a few evenings and weekends of time.

Today, March finishes with more typical weather, just in time for the fickle month of April.  An imminent thunderstorm and a cold front of rain moving through right now; almost fifteen degrees cooler than yesterday!  And rainbows brightening the clouds when least expecting it.

Bees, get back to your hives!  Spring has sprung…

Newly leafed and blossomed apple enjoying no pruning by deer; we'll see how long!

Newly leafed and blossomed apple enjoying no pruning by deer; we’ll see how long!

Sign, sealed, delivered…with rain

Almost to the hour, a long-needed dose of rain started to fall as we officially entered the fall equinox.

Our seemingly extended summer outdid itself in record-setting days near 90ºF for weeks on end, especially since the last post.  Any hints of rain or moisture seemed to vanish into some other reality, or released more as vapor than solid precipitation.  Watering became a daily need until after Labor Day, when the sun angle was lower and there were noticeably fewer daylight hours.

Blessed with three days of substantial rain, delivered mainly during the nights, with a couple of strong squalls during the day, we are now enjoying some beautifully mild temperatures.  As I write the sun is getting low on the horizon and there are many tiny insects buzzing, whirling, and floating in the bright light, also highlighting the many gossamer strands of cobwebs.  And there are about ten raindrops glistening as they fall from the stray cloud that is just passing overhead.

It smells heavenly, and myriad plants are looking more relaxed.  A bit of a paradox for some of them, as the change in season also diminishes their stimulus to grow indefinitely.  Most of the squashes have succumbed to the familiar mildew, yet a couple of them keep pushing out some new growth, making the plants look rather hilarious.  The tomatoes are following suit, and most have already been harvested.

Sept26-2014a

Relief on the way with fall rain. Tomatoes and squash are succumbing to the change in season, while the nasturtiums have come back onto full glory.

Things were looking pretty good for awhile for a new crop of green beans and a succulent row of lettuce….until last weekend, when the Bambies found their way into the garden again, and munched down the bean plants plus a few tender tomato sprouts.  The beans themselves are looking a little bigger, so there may be some for picking, but somewhere in the last 2 days they returned and munched down the baby lettuces, so there is fall’s crop gone.  At least they don’t like beets or basil

Four-legged browsers at it again!  Where there is a will there is a way....in.

Four-legged browsers at it again! Where there is a will there is a way….in.

Hoping others are having a bountiful harvest! it’s time to make some pesto before the basil declines with wet and cooler weather!