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RE: back to gardening....

>So how did everyone elses garden fair this year?

It's been interesting. We had rains very late in the spring that turned
into too much heat too early, then a lull, then the horrible heat wave
of July, and now it feels like early autumn. There was no normal this
The sprinklers for part of my front garden failed during the early heat
wave and the roses on that side, which had just started blooming, had
the blossoms turned into little crispy things. Then the second wave of
blooms started along with the incredible heat wave and despite water,
once again the blooms all withered and crisped up. The only rosebush
that looked good this year was Betty Boop, it's one of those...mmmmm
what's the word...it isn't a real full rose, you know, not a lot of
petals. I couldn't keep up with deadheading the coreopsis and
gaillardia, so that only looked good for a few weeks. 
The geraniums were amazing this spring. I had our front trees trimmed
and I think the extra sun and perhaps the extra water early in spring
really helped. I mean they were HUGE, and covered with blossoms. They
have been reseeding themselves too so they are getting a little messy
but it was sure pretty. And the monarda that I planted under there in a
moment of madness also bloomed, which is rare. The daylilies on the
south side are very nice but the north side ones really need to go. I
bought a big package cheap from one of those discount places when we
first moved to this house and they are not much to look at, and over the
years the trees have grown so much that many of them are in too much
shade anyway. I have some Shasta daisies that need to be divided too,
they look very nice and lush but are overgrowing their area. 
The Japanese garden needs a little attention. The pine tree I planted
needs to be trimmed and shaped; I've been pinching off the candles but I
haven't done much else. The Japanese maple...poor thing...it is alive
but really suffering. It might be kindest to dig it up and pot it for
the patio, perhaps it would be happier in some shade. My camellia
sinensis is doing okay...with more TLC, in a few years I might be able
to make myself some green tea from my own plant. The hakenechaloa (sp?)
grass is hanging in there too; one looks fine, two are not as fine but
all are still alive. The liriope around the edges of the teahouse really
suffered from critters digging under there, and I'll be replanting quite
a bit of it this fall. That's the plan anyway. The other ornamental
grasses, the thyme, the azaleas, the mahonia and cistus, they are all
quite happy although the cistus is way too big for where I put it. I
need to be ruthless and dig it up, but I haven't been able to bring
myself to it yet. 
The dry garden is fine; the penstemon palmeri and salvia greggii look to
be reseeding themselves, and the russian sage is sending up volunteers
too. The russian sage and greggii are still blooming, the desert willow
covered with blossoms, the red yucca and germander have a few blooms,
everything else is in summer holding pattern. If I were bright I'd re-do
my whole front yard like that it sure takes a lot less water. Although
we can't get rid of the sycamores so I guess I'd have to water there
anyway. Never mind... 
On the veggie side my onions were great, although they need to be
harvested and I haven't any place to put them. The peas gave us enough
for a few good meals but the critters took a toll, and the lettuce was a
complete loss. The herbs had that weed problem and it hasn't gotten any
better, although I did harvest a large amount of cilantro and the basil,
although surrounded by weeds, is going strong. The dill struggled but I
got a few heads - and since I didn't make pickles I've just put them in
the freezer. I'm still giving away zucchini and now cucumbers, even
though I planted way less than usual. The eggplant and okra which I
thought would drown me in produce like the zucchini are not doing a lot,
they are producing some. The melons are going nuts but I'm not growing
honeydews again, I can't tell when they're ripe. The peppers are
wonderful. I have so many and they look so good, I'm quite pleased with
myself. The tomatoes are a different story. I had a lot of trouble early
on with critters and then the heat. The paste tomatoes never got very
big as plants, the heat prevented them from setting much so far, the
critters have eaten bites out of good ones and too many have blossom-end
rot. I will get enough to make a few batches of things but out of ten
plants I ought to be drowning in them, and I'm barely picking anything.
The fresh eating ones are quite curious. Because I did things very
slap-dash this year I am not entirely certain what I planted. I have two
plants which I thought were paste tomatoes but have instead turned out
to be enormous yellow-red marbled beefsteak types. No idea what seed
packet I got those out of! This is the second year I planted Black Plum
and the second year the plants have died on me in mid-summer. So it's
gone. I put in Porter's Pride and it has not produced a single fruit.
Not trying that again...I planted an heirloom striped one, Mr. Stripey
maybe?, and it's not very productive; not awful, but not worth trying
again. I bought a beefsteak type at the store to replace one the
critters ate and it's produced a couple. It just has not been a good
year for tomatoes except those yellow-red ones, which are attempting to
take over everything else. Too bad I don't know what they are.  And we
grew some field corn - two beds planted out of the feed we buy for the
sheep, and one bed of heirloom seed I bought. The livestock feed grew
fine, we got interesting looking ears, the chickens and sheep are having
fun eating them. The heirloom, well no wonder it's so expensive, it
doesn't produce any seed. Ten foot tall plants and when we stripped the
ears...they're naked. No kernels. I figure it was trying to pollinate in
110 degree weather. So we likely won't do that again. Maybe I'll do
sweet corn next year...we are mostly low-carb eaters but a few meals
with corn on the cob would be nice. 
My fruit trees gave me a lot of apricots and plums but not many peaches.
My dogs stripped one peach tree before I could get to it and the others
have four or five each, but they're not ripe. I haven't checked on the
jujube in weeks, I'll have to see what's happening there. 
I turned in my preserved food fair entries yesterday and will give them
the vegetable entries on the 25th, then we'll see how I did. I'm happier
with the jams after tasting them the other day than I was when I made
them, so we'll see how it goes. I'm glad I didn't spend all summer in
the kitchen but I'm sad I don't have a lot to compete with...I'm not a
logical person I guess.  
Non garden related, we are putting up our horse stalls and should be
finished in a couple weeks, then our horse can come home. We rode him at
my sister's place last weekend and are pretty happy. He is really a
good-looking horse in addition to being nice and calm, my sister says
"He won't kill you, and that's the important part".  We'll probably be
looking for horse #2 in a couple months. Funny, once people hear you are
interested in buying a horse you get offers from everywhere. Who knew
there were so many? The trick is to figure out why they're for sale. 
Tomorrow my friend and I are headed for Lotusland in Santa Barbara. I'll
have some pix to put up later. It's such a neat place. 


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