State of the garden, in pictures

Got some pictures to follow up on yesterday’s post! Enjoy!

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State of the garden, mid-summer update

Still not a whole lot to speak of going on in the garden. The okra still seems to be the only plant holding up well. Between squash vine borers and the potted plants drying out so frequently with our lack of rain, this year is turning out to be a bit of a disappointment. But then again, life rarely goes according to plan, so you have to always be ready to take some detours. The biggest obstacle right now to a big harvest is lack of ground space for planting in the back yard (the field beyond the shed hasn’t been cleared yet), and that’s because of wire grass spreading everywhere! Vinegar weed spray only slows it down, same with hand pulling. I’m considering just throwing down some layers of newspaper and building a raised bed over it, rather than killing myself digging and pulling.

On a more positive note, the neighbor hauled away the massive debris pile we had accumulated in the back yard, from 2 months of pruning and general clean up after we moved in. With the pile gone, we’ll be able to get some equipment over here soon and start clearing the field out back for future planting! That’s it for now, hope to have better news as we head towards fall. Kale, broccoli, and a few other cool weather crops are on the menu for the few spots of ground presently available.

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Video update: let’s get this harvest started!

Finally got around to doing a quick video tour of the veggie garden. Most everything is in pots right now until we can get the back field cleared out, which should happen this fall. With all the rain we’ve had lately everything is looking great. I’ve started picking okra and squash while the peppers and tomatoes are not far behind. I’ve harvested some mint and my wife made an excellent homemade mint ice cream out of it! Yum!

Next week, I’m planning on posting about the efforts being made by Washington DC and Baltimore to help wildlife with the use of native plant and habitat gardens!

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Native plant of the month: Ninebark

Great article here on one of my favorite native shrubs, Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius

http://vnps.org/blog/three-cheers-ninebark-physocarpus-opulifolius

This is truly a four season shrub. New growth emerges (on most cultivars) a bright chartreuse, changing to a beautiful reddish-burgundy through summer and fall. By early summer the arching branches are smothered in clusters of showy white flowers. Then by winter, the leaves drop the showcase attractive exfoliating bark, not unlike that of the river birch. Ninebark is quite tolerant of whatever situation you give it, but does best in full sun and average to moist, well drained soil.

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Show and smell

UPDATE: Thanks to @BellingtonFarm for the answer. This mystery plant is Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius

I was over at my soon-to-be new home, dropping off the veggie plants when I smelled a very pungent aroma wafting from the fence along the side of the yard. After “sniffing” around I figured out the nauseously sweet aroma was coming from this shrub or vine:

Post a comment here if you know what this plant is. I love the blooms, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t smell better.

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Herbs Galore!

Just got home from spending the morning at one of my area’s biggest plant sales, the Herbs Galore! plant sale at Maymont Park here in Richmond, Virginia. The annual faire features 20 something vendors selling (mostly) locally grown herb and vegetable plants as well as flowering shrubs, small trees, annuals, perennials, and everything in between, as well as gardening workshops and a number of food trucks. The weather this morning could not have been more perfect…sunny, crisp and cool with a light breeze. I surprised myself and refrained from spending hours and hours browsing and loading up on more plants than I have room for. This is what I kept myself to:

herbs

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Mint
  • Milkweed
  • Parsley
  • Fennel

Meanwhile, my tomato starts are progressing nicely as they harden off on my side porch, alongside my lettuce and kale (looks like I’ll be having salad for lunch and dinner!)

tomatoes

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Seedy shrubs

Spring is now here (for real this time…no more teasers!) and the garden chores have commenced. Remnant leaves have been cleared to make way for fresh mulch, shrubs have been pruned back, and stray seedlings of Rose of Sharon, Burning Bush, and Nandina are being pulled up.

That last one is turning out to be a real chore, and why I’ve had a change of mind over the last few years about those shrubs, as much as I’ve enjoyed them. After I got the leaves raked up, I found dozens and dozens of little Nandinas coming up from where berries had dropped off the parent plant or were distributed by birds and the seeds germinated. Same story with the Rose of Sharon and Burning Bush. Suddenly the true reality of non-native, invasive plants hit home. Permitted to freely re-seed like this, these shrubs potentially overtake native plants. When this happens, important food sources for wildlife are jeopardized. If you haven’t already planted butterfly bush, nandina, or burning bush, don’t. If you already have them, remove the berries (Nandina berry clusters look wonderful in a vase on the table!) so as not to encourage a forest of that particular shrub overtaking everything else.

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