Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvesting Veggies

The veggie plants are finishing up and I'm harvesting lots of stuff each day. Here's today's haul:

Squash, corn, cucumbers:

More cucumbers:

Tomatoes, jalapenos, green bell peppers. Half the cherry tomatoes were eaten by the fam before I could even get a photo. So yummy!:

I've really been enjoying growing a veg garden this year. I don't miss the squash bugs, tomato juice sucking bugs, or the nighttime temps in the 80's and 90's and daytime temps in the 100's that would keep my veggies from setting fruit. Nope. I don't miss that one little bit.

I do miss tex-mex food something terrible, though. At least I can make my own pico with my garden haul. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Fall in the Veg Garden

It's early fall and mornings are now starting off blanketed by fog. View of the veg garden while sipping my morning tea:

That purple and white stripy petunia in the pot there? It came up all by itself in the middle of the pumpkin vines. I dug it out and put it in a pot so I could enjoy it up close. *smile*

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hummingbirds, Critters, and such

The Rufous hummingbirds seem to have left for the season. I haven't seen them around in about a week or so. The Anna's hummingbirds are still around though and courting! They are supposed to be year round residents of this area. I guess that must be true if they are courting right now.

I was watching them yesterday. As the female was busy sipping nectar from the salvia, a male would swoop down from way up high, make a noise right as he passed her, then swoop way back up in the air making ginormous U-shapes in the sky. There is a nifty video I came across of the Anna's hummingbird courting ritual that shows pretty much to a T how this all went down.
See the Anna's Hummingbird video (the video is near the bottom of the page).

He did this over and over for 5 minutes or more. The female didn't seem terribly interested, though. She would fly away and perch way up high at the very tippy-top of a fir tree about 150 feet up and just hang out there. Then she would come back down, sip some more nectar and the whole scene would play out again. Eventually they just started chasing each other around the yard.

Anna's hummer way up at the top of the tree. No, really, she's there:

You can  see her here in this closer pic:

This was as far as my lens would zoom. She's way up there! Good lookout point I suppose:

Here's the hummer at the salvia:

While all this courtship excitement was going on, a red squirrel was very busy in the big leaf maple pulling down the helicopter-like seeds to eat for lunch. Time to store up those calories as the cold weather is right around the corner. Mr. Squirrel even has a lunch companion:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Day of Autumn

It's the first day of autumn today and it has very appropriately rained this morning. It has been a glorious summer up here this year, but am so very excited for the arrival of autumn. It has been a decade since I experienced true seasons. Sure it freezes in Austin and the plants go dormant and it even, on very rare occasions, snows there. But it's not the same as experiencing true seasons. I never could get used to the way the leaves would stay on the trees until the end of December and then fall off all at once! And then start to leaf back out at the end of February. So odd. Why even bother dropping leaves at all? Or the occasional cold snaps that would turn all the greenery to smoosh and then have it be 90 degrees the very next day. One afternoon in October it was 85 degrees and 2 hours later a front blew through and sleet was smacking into the windows.

Now that I'm back in the PNW, autumn is arriving and the leaves are beginning to change, the mornings are starting out cool and foggy, and the rain is moving in. Soon it will be snuggly sweater and hot apple cider weather.

Check out the rain on the spider webs this morning:

And on the ghost plant:

Raindrops on fuchsia:

The veg garden is looking very autumn-y. The squash and pumpkins are ripening:

This one is buried under the chard:

Squash pumpkin nestled amongst the still blooming nasturtiums:

Patty Pan squash:
A few sunflowers are still blooming, but most are going to seed:
Giant Sunflower going to seed: 

The birds are loving the seeds. This one is being picked over:

One of the culprits is the Steller's Jay. He sits high up in the cottonwood tree, swoops down and snags seeds from the seed head and flies back up to his perch in the tree. Occasionally I'll see him sit on the sunflower itself, but mostly he just swoops and snags. Kind of like a bird fast food joint, I guess:

I understand that if you want to try a keep the seeds on the flower heads long enough for them to ripen for roasting, you can fasten a paper bag on the flower head to keep out both moisture and birds. This site has directions for saving sunflower seeds:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fresh Pico De Gallo

Since I have all these fresh from the garden tomatoes, jalapenos, and onions AND because I was missing Austin a bit, I made some Pico De Gallo:

I altered a recipe I found on line and this stuff came out amazing! So good! Nom, nom, nom....

Pico De Gallo:

2 Tomatoes, diced
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 jalapeno (or more if you want it hotter), diced
3 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
1 green onion, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Couple of twists of sea salt from the salt grinder

On a side note, I simply cannot believe all the recipes for this on the interwebs that don't add lime juice. Lime is the ingredient that makes pico taste amazing!

Kersplat went the Jalapeno Plant

As noted in previous posts it has been warmer and drier than usual this summer up here and this weather has been super-splendiferous for the peppers. Yesterday I was providing the garden with a good watering and from the deck I heard a 'craaack' and a 'splat'. Uh-ohs.

I quickly made my way through the jungle that is the garden and came upon this:

The jalapeno plant was overloaded with peppers and the water just made it heavier and it split all apart. *sadface* This is really partially my fault as I should have had it staked more efficiently. I guess I'll be making a pile of pickled jalapenos.

Anyone out there have any good ideas on what else to do with bunches of jalapenos? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


The tomatoes are finally ready for harvest. I got them in a bit late this year so I wasn't sure how they were going to fare, but the unusually warm weather has extended into September and the tomatoes are ripening in large bunches.

Some of the little ones split - that's ok, I'll just have to eat them right away. Gardening is a rough job. :)

Sweet 100s, Early Girl, Beefsteak, and Black Krim are all being harvested:

I see blt sandwiches and oven dried cherry tomatoes in my future.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September Bloom Day - a day late.

I'm late with bloom day. It happens. I wanted to post what's blooming anyway.

It's been really warm and dry for September so far. I'm not sure if it's just that I had forgotten how nice September can be in the PNW or that it really is warmer and drier than normal. Regardless, the weather is sure to turn in the next couple weeks. It's hard to believe it with the deep blue skies and temps in the 70's and 80's lately, but the days are quickly shortening and the highs will soon be in the 50's with the clouds and drizzle socked in for the duration. Fall is definitely in the air. The mornings have been in the upper 30's to the mid 50's depending on the day and early mornings in the garden are requiring cuddly sweaters and sweatshirts. Autumn is almost here and the flowers are on their last hurrah.

The sunflowers are dialing down the blooms and hanging heavy with seeds. Here's a giant one:

The cosmos are over 8 feet tall now and still blooming it up:


The Hollyhocks are finally blooming. I started them from seed in mid-may:


The California poppies are about done, but here's a clump still blooming:

Tithonia is looking spectacular right now. A very appropriate orange shade for the fall:


Plains coreopsis is gorgeous with its yellow and rust flowers:

Loads of dahlias signal the closing of summer:

The zinnias are still looking beautiful:

Russian sage is also still looking great:

as is the agastache:

Blue salvia grown from seed this spring is looking wonderful:

The Big Red Sage brought from Austin is still blooming and attracting hummers:

Red riding hood penstemon just keeps on blooming and doesn't mind the dry weather at all:

Blue flax is blooming:

Granpa Otts morning glory took a while to get going, but is stunning right now:

Nasturtiums are still blooming, although they are beginning to get overtaken by aphids as of late:

The lupine is finishing up blooming and I have begun to collect the seeds. A few spires are still going:

Dianthus has bloomed from spring all the way through summer and keeps on blooming:

I purchased some guara at the local big box store on clearance a couple weeks ago. I love these as they remind me of my Austin garden *smile*:

And last, but not least, the fuschia are still blooming. I have a few different ones in pots, but this one is especially interesting as it was one I bought in Austin in the spring of 2011. That was the year we had 3+ months of 100+ degree temps without a break. This fuschia melted by April that spring and I just stuffed the whole hanging pot of what I thought were dead plants in a corner under the eaves of the house behind some shrubbery and forgot about it. There they sat all through the torrid summer, a casualty of the heat as happened to every fuschia I ever bought down there.

Then, in the Winter of 2012, the darn things began to grow again!! I couldn't believe my eyes. I drug the pot of  the shrubbery and put it where it could get some rain in our unusually wet January and February of this year. The little survivors kept growing and pretty soon I had some good sized fuschias going. I packed them up with me when I moved this spring and when I got here I replanted them in a pot with some pink geraniums I also brought with me. They kept growing and in the temperate Pacific Northwest climate, they flourished. They began to bloom and have been one of the hummingbird favorites all summer for me. The fuschia are 'Angels Earrings' and are true survivors. I'll be overwintering these ones for sure:

Happy Bloom day everyone!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon

A Blue Moon shone over my garden the other night. It's not really blue, but still beautiful: