In the Garden – Week 4

This week at Ye Olde Homestead there has been a lot of growth and activity.  Most notably, it has rained TWICE!!!!!  In fact, I think my rain barrels may have finally filled up.  I’m so excited I could cry.

Many of the herbs have started to flower and I will need to harvest and dry them in the week to come.  For some such as Feverfew I will need to research the best method for preservation.  The Passionflower Vine has now made it about 3/4 of the way up the arbor on both sides and the Nasturtium has easily quadrupled in size.  While not a useful plant, the Clematis is one of the first things I planted when we started gardening and I love it.  I have never seen it look so full and healthy as it does this year.  There are literally dozens of blooms on it at any given time.

The tomatoes are swelling larger and larger each day, the squash has started producing some very small fruit and the blueberries are overloaded and starting to blue up one by one.  The watermelon has finally started to trail and I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s taking over.  I’m loving the look of the basil too.  I can’t believe how many years I struggled just to keep it alive and never got anything but a straggly mess of sun-burned inedible leaves.  After throwing it between the tomatoes in the garden last year for lack of space, I’m now getting full, healthy basil BUSHES.  We’re also seeing quite a few Lima Bean sprouts popping up.  These are a new venture for us this year as we usually do green beans on the trellis instead.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, we’ve lost about 10 Strawberry plants, a Pink Brandywine Tomato plant, one of the Sunflowers and all of the lettuces and carrots.  After replanting the arugula, kale, lettuce, spinach and carrots after the heavy rains I fully expected to see some sprouts popping up out of the ground.  So far, the only thing that has even attempted to sprout is the spinach.  I will not replant the rest again until fall as I think the unseasonably hot weather we’ve been having may have contributed to its failure to thrive.  The collards were starts but have been eaten alive by something.

Friday I came home from work to find a 5′ tall box on my doorstep.  Inside was the beautiful Kumquat tree that I ordered for DH’s 39th birthday.  He loved it and I have to say that I am beyond impressed with the specimen.  First, the tree was packaged in a cardboard box with one hole in each of the four sides for air-flow.  Inside the cardboard box was a perfectly fitted styrofoam square that the 5-gallon plant was nestled into.  A piece of round cardboard sat on top of the slightly damp dirt in order to keep in the moisture and ensure that the dirt didn’t all spill out in transport.  A plastic bag was then tied around the pot to make sure any possible spillage would be contained.  A smaller cardboard sleeve was then placed over the foliage to keep it stable throughout shipment.

When I tore into the box I was impressed that only a handful of leaves had dropped during transport.  Nothing significant and not a single leaf appeared diseased, sun-burned or otherwise imperfect.  I love that the tree was shipped in its pot.  Most trees and plants ordered online are shipped bare-root style to keep shipping costs down.  Clifton’s Nursery, however, ships all of their plants potted to minimize transplant shock.  It’s more expensive, to be sure, but I believe I got a much healthier specimen in the long run.  The best part, however, was that the tree was actually bearing fully formed Kumquats already and had many flowers and buds growing.  None of the Kumquats were orange and ready to pick yet but I’m sure it won’t be long.  Inside the box came a page with some generic directions, nothing tailored specifically for Kumquats, however, I had ordered the book Growing Tasty Tropical Plants In Any Home, Anywhere and found the information I needed.  The directions stated that the tree should not be re-potted for 3 – 4 days to give it time to acclimate.  We will be heading out today to find a suitably sized pot.

My father-in-law is retired from DuPont and is an excellent woodworker now in his spare time.  He is involved with a group of like-minded men who make high-quality wooden toys for underprivileged children.  His work is AMAZING!  Every year he gives my son, his only grandson, one of the toys for Christmas.  They have done various large cars and trucks and a U.S. Map Puzzle.  He loves woodworking and routinely tells me to give him plans if I want something built.  So far he has made me a 3-bin composter and a very large arbor.  When he was up yesterday I gave him the plans to make me a Rocket-Box Bat House.  The plan is to install it in the middle of the vegetable garden to attract bats.  The bats will eat the mosquitoes and other bugs while the Bat Guano will fertilize the garden.

This Week’s Harvest

mint
stevia
lemon balm
nasturtium blossoms
dahlia flowers

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