July Garden Update

I’ve got a fever… and the only prescription is more flowers!

We’ve got COVID – womp womp :(. Since we’ve been home isolating and I haven’t been up for manual labor, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about gardening. It feels like winter to me… stuck inside, going stir crazy. To combat the boredom, I read a book on cut flower gardening (by Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm), watched YouTube videos (this, this, this, and this) on how to arrange flowers, and started filling up virtual shopping carts with bulbs and flower seeds to plant this fall. By the way, if you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to start thinking about and ordering spring-blooming bulbs to plant this fall. 

Here’s the scoop on what’s been going on in the garden lately.

Bugs & Critters

It’s July, and the garden is at its peak (check out the photos tab at the top of the page for the latest garden photos). Flowers are blooming, veggies and fruits are producing, and bugs and critters are having a heyday. The days are now getting shorter since we’ve passed the summer solstice, and with that, the rate of growth of most plants slows down. I’m starting to notice little holes here and there in the garden, either from plants that didn’t germinate, got hit by the heat/dry days we had in June, or have been ravaged by pests. Lessons I’m re-learning: I need butterfly netting for brassicas from now on, squash vine borers are the devil/I do not have the patience and vigilance to grow summer squash, and bunnies and squirrels from far and wide see our garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Here are a few pests I’ve seen lately:

Leaf-footed bug, a relative of stink bugs that likes to eat garden fruits and veggies

Japanese Beetles mating on my canna lilies…grrr!

The dreaded Squash Vine Borer. Killing off my zucchini plants like it ain’t no thang.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Tree Frogs

In the week or two since we’ve been under the weather, there has been a MASSIVE explosion in our tree frog population. Baby tree frogs are EVERYWHERE. While mowing our yard yesterday, I felt like I was playing frogger in the most literal way. I had to slow WAY down to coax the little tree frogs out of the mower’s path. As far as I know, I didn’t hit any, but some of them seemed to have a death wish. Ironically, the She Reads Truth Bible Study going on right now is Exodus, and I’m almost at the frog plague part! 

Weeds

In years past, I haven’t stayed on top of pruning like I should, and as a result, our yard ends up looking like a jungle by July. This year, I’m being ruthless with trimming and weeding. There have been a few plants I wasn’t sure of the ID, so I let them grow until I could determine what they were by leaf patterns/flowers/fruits. As it turns out, some of these very giant plants I have been nurturing and protecting are just big ol’ weeds. Oops! Here they are so you don’t make the same mistake I did!

Tech-Y Stuff

Word to the wise, if you have Google Photos on your phone, you can take a photo and use the “lens” functionality to do a quick image search for plant and bug IDs – it’s amazing. It’s also a little bit creepy because it’s Google, after all.

I’m still working on getting pictures updated. It looks like I’ll need to just re-upload most of the photos that aren’t working, so I’ll work from the current post, going back. 

Well that’s all for now! See you back on the blog soon!

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More Critters, Flowers, and Photos

The garden is looking great and we’ve had some visits from EVEN MORE critters!

Baby Bunny Alert!

So well camouflaged!

Now I know for sure why my bush beans and sunflowers keep getting “reset” down to nubs! We also have lots of squirrels, who are probably “helping” with that, too.

I’ve picked a few more stems for a small flower arrangement. Still learning how to put them together. It’s a work in progress! This one has zinnias, cosmos, and hydrangeas.

Also, the flowers are attracting plenty of beneficial bugs, like these goldenrod soldier beetles on sweet alyssum flowers and spiders making webs between my cauliflower!

We’ve got a few peppers (these are sweet banana) coming in, and plenty of blooms. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

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Fun with flowers

Though I love to grow things, I am TERRIBLE at flower arranging. Maybe I don’t have the right style of vases? Or maybe it’s my lack of style/decorating sense coming out, but I just don’t know what to do. 

SOMEONE HELP MEH - Happy Squirrel | Make a Meme

BUTTT, I’m growing flowers this year with the intention of actually cutting them and putting them inside my house, so here I am, making sad attempts at arranging bouquets.

Here’s my first one of the season… Benary’s Giant Zinnias, Black-Eyed Susans, Salvia, Cilantro, and Gardenia. These were the result of pruning around my walkways. 

Fun fact, the more you cut flowers (or dead head spent blossoms), the more the plant will keep on flowering. It’s ultimate goal is to set seed before the fall gets here, so it’s going to put it’s energy (up to a certain point) into trying to do that by flowering, fruiting, and setting seed.

I’m slowly learning about cut flower growing, and one rule I’ve been hearing over and over is to stake plants BEFORE you think they need it. It just takes one strong wind gust or storm to topple tall growers, and afterwards, the plant is never really the same. After a plant is blown down, it will regrow, but the stem will be crooked (because it’s trying to grow towards the sun). So I’m doing my best to try to put stakes and twine up now… hopefully I can stay ahead of it!

Does anyone have any pro tips on flower arranging? Should I be using a bigger vase? Different shaped vase? Does this need more greenery? Drop some knowledge on me! I’m all ears!

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