Monday, August 17, 2015

The Garden - Midsummer is the Hardest Season

Midsummer gardens here in Western Oregon, in the middle of a hot, extremely dry summer, tend to be time suckers.  A local garden writer touched every gardener's nerve with her story in the paper last week about watering.  Usually a therapeutic, calming chore that we usually looked forward to doing, this summer it has been one of those chores that most everyone desperately wished could somehow be skipped, or at least put off.  Not enjoyable any more, it's now drudgery, a necessity to ensure the bare survival of the garden residents.  It seems I spend my time moving the sprinkler head, set at very low, from one Japanese maple to the next in an unending ballet of survival.  Then there are the soaker hoses woven in amongst the rhodies, hellebores and the 'dry' garden on the west side of the house as well as the roses by the garage/shop and the one that encircles the giant Western red cedar tree in the front yard.  Thankfully Dale installed the drip system a few years ago on the timer for the hanging baskets that surround the gazebo.  Add to that the actual water wanding done daily on three areas, one very small, two very large, and I no longer wonder why I'm not feeling much like I'm enjoying gardening as much as I have for the past 8 years here.
But, we get by.  The pay off is that the melons are simply divine, and the first 'Sapomiels', for the first time ever, have been not only harvested but enjoyed by many.  I took a few to work and everyone who tasted them just raved about how sweet they are.  The tomatoes - plenty of vines and fruit, but in spite of all my supplementing with calcium in many forms, the 'Roma' and 'Oxheart' still had blossom end on the early ones.  The 'Costoluto Genovese' however, had zero problems.  The orange bell peppers and the orange big banana peppers have been sweet and crunchy, the 'Li'l Sweet' cantaloupes have garnered massive praise from everyone lucky enough to take some home, and the vines are STILL producing.  Thus far, I've picked 5 'Kakai' pumpkins; 3 went home with Mickey (along with the 2 Navajo-Churro ewes she actually came out for ) and two are waiting for me to plumb their depths for their hull-less seeds to roast.  In AUGUST.  Luckily, there are plenty of baby pumpkins on the vine that might make October, altho I doubt it.  The first ears of 'That's Delicious!' corn are in the fridge awaiting tonight's dinner.  The corn has had an interesting season, with ears not as robust, somewhat slim, but with 4 or more ears per stalk, which is unusual. 
Most of the hanging baskets are well past their prime and ready to be refreshed for fall.  Some are still doing well.  Many of the succulents bloomed like mad this summer.  The snaps are still going strong, and even some of the pansies are still surprisingly not looking bad at all for how late in the season it is for them.  I picked up three fab penstemons at Jerry's a few weeks ago; not sure where I'm going to plant them this fall, but I'm sure I'll find a spot.
And the heat bakes on.  Looks like another few days in the 90's again this week, no rain in sight as usual.  Been listening to and watching the weather guessers predicting a larger than normal El Nino this winter, but they also said that last year.  Didn't happen.  Nature will do what it does, regardless of what mankind THINKS it should do.
But nature, if you're inclined to listen, we sure could use some cooler days and rain....
 Midsummer overview
 Happy 'maters and peppers
 Grandpa and grandkid 'Kakai' pumpkins
 Corn forest
 Peppers, and peppers and tomatoes oh my!

 A sweet little begonia, ultra hardy, can take 20 degrees and come back like this
 'Honeycrisp' apple, ripe for the picking a month early
 Begonias lovin' the weather
 Above and below, another super hardy begonia.  It lives outside year 'round.  It has fab velvety red undersides to the big matte green leaves and sugar pink little blossoms

 Gaura, queen of the summer garden
 The sweet peas don't know they should be done for the season
 Absolutely lovely geranium 'Appleblossom'

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