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okiedawn1

Fruit , Veggie, Herb and Flower News

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
18 years ago

FRUIT TREE REPORT:

The early-blooming plum has very little fruit. The late-blooming one is covered though. The Mexican Plum, which we transplanted from the edge of the woods to its current location when it was tiny, has fruit for the first time this year. If the wild animals don't find the Mexican plums before I can pick them, we'll have Mexican Plum jelly this year. The peach trees have light crops. They had heavy ones last year. I need to plant more fruit trees.

GARDEN REPORT:

I have been spending EVERY waking minute in the garden this week, trying to get all the veggies, herbs and annual flowers into the ground. Since I winter-sowed billions of annuals and quite a lot of them grew, this is proving to be a very time-consuming venture! :)

I have been weeding and mulching, too, as I have found that April is the key month...if I get EVERYTHING in the veggie garden and its surrounding herb/flower border weeded well and heavily mulched right now, then I am on Easy Street the rest of the summer. Conversely, if I don't get that weeding and mulching done now, it gets away from me and I struggle to regain control.

So, for those of you who are interested in veggies, here's the garden report:

COLD-SEASON VEGGIES: I only plant a few cool season crops, as I'd rather save my space for the warm-season veggies we love.

GARLIC: clumps are huge

ONIONS: I planted them Jan. 1st. They are 18" tall and lush and dark green. Barring any natural disaster, I should harvest a nice crop of Texas Supersweets (1015Ys) this summer. They have survived being dug up three times by the chickens.

LETTUCE: Green butterhead types are huge, and I will begin harvesting this week, using the cut-and-come-again method. Red butterhead types are smaller, and need to grow a little more.

SWISS CHARD: Getting huge, and looks too lovely to cut. Think I will actually cut some and eat it though, as I've only grown it as an ornamental in the past.

WARM-SEASON-CROPS:

SWEET CORN: The early corn is about 10" tall, so today I am going to plant the mid-season corn. Once the mid-season corn is 10", I will plant the late corn. I usually harvest corn from late May through August, and so far it is looking like a good year.

BEANS: The first batch of beans I planted are about 8" or 10" tall and looking really good. I think they will start blooming sometime next week. Today or tomorrow I need to plant another bunch of beans. I do a lot of succession planning. So far I have only bush beans in the ground, but will soon plant the pole beans.

TOMATOES: I have about 80 plants in the ground, with another 40 to go. The "late 40" are deliberately late, though, as I stagger the plantings so paste tomatoes produce after my main flush of slicers. My plants vary widely in size. Those started earliest are about 30" tall and blooming. The smallest ones put in the ground are about 12" now. I plant them all really deep for maximum root growth.

I'd say that, regardless of plant size, at least 50% are in bloom. A few have fruit. The largest fruit, on a Better Boy, is now quite large and looking good.

PEPPERS: Hot ones and sweet ones go into the ground today!

MELONS: Today I'll be planting watermelon, muskmelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Almost all of them are heirlooms and I'll be planting about fifteen varieties I think.

SQUASH: Will plant summer squash today. Winter squash and pumpkins have to wait until the weekend, when DH can rototill up their new bed. I plant many, many varieties of these and they have outgrown the regular garden space.

FOR NEXT WEEK OR BEYOND: I hope to get the okra, black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes in the ground next week, 'cause I won't get to them this week.

FLOWER & HERB BORDER:

HERBS: Many herbs self-sowed, especially the tansy, catnip and chamomile. I've been adding a lot of parsely, borage and different basils. Once everything I grew myself is in the ground, I'll add a few plants I'll pick up in a nurery.

I think I'll add some pineapple sage, tri-color sage, lemon verbena, lemon balm, rosemary and maybe a couple of mints.

FLOWERS: Among the flowers in the border around the veg garden:

HOLLYHOCKS:, These are getting big. I have Summer Carnival Mix, Creme de Cassis, the Watchman (black-flowered), Country Romance Mix, and Outhouse Mix.

VERBEBA BONARIENSIS: these tall verbenas seeded themselves everywhere guaranteeing I'll have tons of butterflies all spring and summer. Some of them are about to bloom.

ZINNIAS: I grow about 15 kinds in all sizes, shapes, heights and colors. Some re-seeded from last year and some I winter-sowed. I am raising Magellan Mix and Dreamland from seed in flats. They are about 2" tall.

TEXAS HUMMINGBIRD SAGE: also re-seeded everywhere.

VERONICA: The blue-flowered veronica I grew from seed has re-seeded prolifically, but mostly in the garden paths, so I am moving it to where I want it.

COCKSCOMBS/AMARANTHS: I grow about 20 amaranths and cockscombs. Some have reseeded themselves. Some were winter sowed. The rest will be direct seeded this weekend.

BLUE SALVIA: comes back for me and also reseeds. Some is in bloom now.

PURPLE CONEFLOWERS: Last year's 2 plants have been joined by at least 3 that re-seeded.

KISS-ME-OVER-THE-GARDEN-GATE: About 4" tall in flats. My first time to try it. Transplanting it today.

I already have scarlet runner beans, painted lady runner beans, purple-flowered hyacinth beans and white-flowered hyacinth beans, all planted near the chicken wire fence, and all grown as ornamentals. Joining them will be the usual re-seeded vines that include black-eyed susan vine, cypress vine, and morning glories in several colors, and I'll be adding 2 new ones, Sunspots and Sunrise Serenade.

There's lots more flowers in the border, and I could go on forever, but won't. The flower border is in full, gorgeous bloom by late May and passers-by always stop to look at it and enjoy it.

I'm getting it all planted, weeded, mulched. Eager to get through with it.

NEXT WEEK: In addition to finishing the warm-season crops, I will sow seeds for several kinds of ornamental peppers, which then will be growing nicely all summer. I have seed for Medusa, Chilly Chili, Bolivian Rainbow, Pretty Purple, Poinsettia, and Tri-Color Variegata.

Then, if DH gets ALL my beds tilled up this weekend, I can start on the Barn Border. It will have about a dozen kinds of sunflowers, 9 amaranths, and some zinnias. Also lots of gourds for fall decorations, and Red Stalker corn for fall decorations. And ornamental corn for fall decorations. This is a new bed and will give me room to grow more sunflowers and amaranths and fall ornamentals than I previously had space for.

And, once that is finished, we start the work on the back yard, which will include building a flagstone pathway, doing some rock work around the lily pond, and putting in new shrubs. We will be adding lots of tropicals, and removing lots of bermuda. Yippee!

It's a busy time of year for me, and I love it.

Hopw y'all are having as much fun in your yards and gardens now as I am.

Dawn

Comments (10)

  • robolink
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Wow! What a busy girl you have been! I'm very impressed with all of your plantings and ideas. I'm sure it's a lovely garden---have any pics?

    Tell us more about the "Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate". I've never heard of it.

    Also, you wouldn't happen to have a few purple-flowered hyacinth bean seeds left, would you? I had mine out ready to plant and I think one of my sweet grands carried them off. I've looked everywhere! Maybe they'll come up soon, and I'll find them. HA! Let me know. I'd be happy to send you an envelope.

    Keep sending us your progress reports. It keeps me on my toes!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi Robolink!

    I do stay busy this time of year! Tired, too, but it is a good kind of tired.

    I'll have pics in a few weeks. My digital camera went away to college with my son and will (I hope!) come home with him in May.

    "Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate" is an old-fashioned garden annual. It is Polygonum orientale. I got my seed from this year's Seed Saver's Exchange catalog and they say it re-seeds every year at Heritage Farm, so I hope it reseeds here as well.

    It is a slender-branching plant that get's 6' to 9' tall and is supposed to be heavily laden with pendulous dark pink catkins. They say to sow in place as it is difficult to transplant, but I sowed some in flats and will try transplanting it. If those die, I'll plant the rest of the seeds from the package directly into the garden.

    I don't think I have any purple hyacinth bean seed left, but I will go through my vast seed collection tonight after dinner, and will let you know if I find any. I think I planted them all, as not many seeds come in a package.

    Thanks for your kind words on my garden. I love the veggie garden and the herb/flower gardens around it are my favorite place in the world. They stay full of bees and butterflies and hummingbirds all summer long.

    I will keep posting progress reports all summer, until y'all are sick of hearing about it. LOL I grew up in the city (Fort Worth, Texas) but spent time on my grandparent's farm every summer when I was little, so think I have a little bit of "farmer" in my blood.

    Have a great day!

    Dawn

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  • heidibird
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    My goodness, you were VERY busy, Dawn! I, too, want to see pictures of your gardens. I am envisioning such a slice of heaven on earth when everything is up and blooming. :-) I applaud your work and love of nature. You are truely an inspiration to me.

    ~Heidi

  • enchantedplace
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Sound like 'real' gardening. My parents did that kind, growing almost everything we ate and canned a lot of it. They didn't have a deep freeze. Do you sell any of your produce? We feel fortunate to be able to buy ours from the competent veggie growers. Our garden is more herbal, wildscape, and flowers. We always try to have tomatoes and cantaloupes. EP

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi EP,

    No, I don't sell it. But I give TONS of it away...to neighbors, friends, family, DH's co-workers, etc. I've never actually flagged down a stranger and offered them produce as they are driving by, but if they stop to admire the garden, I will offer them whatever is ripe. You can meet a lot of people that way. Happy people. :)

    I do freeze and can a lot of it. You know, when everything gets ripe at once I start whining about how there is too much, but I never plant less the next year....usually I plant more! It's an addiction, I guess, but I love having all the fresh, organically grown produce we can eat.

    I have a lot of elderly neighbors who are mostly retired farmers or ranchers. A lot of them have pretty much give up gardening by the time the hit 85 or so, and I always make a point of going to see them with an armload of fresh cut flowers and freshly picked produce.

    If y'all are ever driving down I-35 through Love County during harvest season, you have to stop by and see me. I always have enough to share.

    Dawn---who spent 12 hours planting, weeding and mulching today

  • owiebrain
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Man, I'm tired!

    Flowers are all planted. (25 or so varieties.)

    Herbs are all planted. (Various ones. Not as many as I wanted to plant this year but good enough.)

    Alliums are all planted. (Green onions, walking onions, chives, garlic chives.)

    Cukes are all planted. (7 varieties. Total of 100 feet.)

    Zukes are all planted. (6 varieties. Total of 22 hills.)

    Eggplants are all planted. (2 varieties. Total of 18 plants.)

    1/3 of the tomatoes are planted. (46 varieties. Will have a total of 130-140 plants.)

    1/3 of the chiles are planted. (16 varieties. Will have a total of 100 plants.)

    Still to go are 2/3 of the maters, 2/3 of the chiles, watermelon, cantelope, asian melon, honeydew, and will try to squeeze in some green beans and purple hulls somewhere.

    Grapes have leaves and the little dried thingies that turn to grapes later in the season. (Hey, I'm tired--can't come up with actual words right now. LOL) Blackberries have gobs of blossoms and little berries starting. Strawberries have gobs of blossoms and fruit, but none ripe yet. Raspberries--dang, I still need to check on those.

    Now when can we start eating fresh tomatoes?? :-D

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Diane,

    You've been a very busy woman, I see.

    Your garden sounds great.

    At our house we usually have fresh tomatoes before Memorial Day, and sometimes by mid-May, if the good weather holds.

    After last night's freeze, though, who knows?

    I'm going outside right now to see what survived.

    Dawn

  • sarab
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Okiedawn, I think you're absolutely right about April being the key time to get those beds weeded and mulched. Last year I didn't get a couple of areas done in the spring and struggled all summer. This year I'm doing one bed at a time, and doing it right!

    Robolink, are you planning to come to the plant swap April 30? I will probably have some hyacinth bean vine seeds left. I've planted them fairly late before and they popped up in no time.

    sara

  • susanlynne48
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Dawn, you sound like a garden goddess! Weaving your magical spells and planting your magic beans! I'm so jealous, sigh..... Wish I could have a veggie garden, but they just don't do well in my yard. I've tried tomatoes, squash, you name it, but I just don't get enough sun.

    Are you bringing some veggies to the plant swap? I just have to go to the farmer's market and buy them, woe is me.

    You sound like you have a real handle on cottage gardening with all of your old fashioned, antique ornamentals. The one thing I would really, really, really like to have is amaranth 'love lies bleeding', and I had tried and tried and tried to start it from seed. I'm a failure with it, totally. From seed I have grown nigella 'love in a mist', borage (which keeps reseeding every year, and I love it, love it, love it), salvias, basil, cilantro, morning glories, hyacinth bean, spanish flag, hollyhocks (nigra and chater's doubles), fennel, dill, lemon balm, thyme, and Northern Sea Oats. If I can't direct sow it anymore, I don't bother. I don't have the room for pots of seedlings in the house until my kids move.

    I would really like to try more of the Japanese Morning Glories. I tried one last year, and it was gorgeous - the double blue? It had a picotee edge and a star-shaped bloom. Also grew chocolate, which some say could also be mini-bar rose. Chocolate has the biggest blooms I've ever seen on a morning glory. I have seeds from last year, and it may self-sow. Grandpa Ott's is coming up like crazy, but I love it, too. One year, it wound it's way thru my azalea in the front yard, and my neighbor thought I had planted a new purple blooming shrub!

    But, oh for a mouthful of fresh veggies - warm tomatoes plucked directly from the vine........sigh.....

    Susan

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    18 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Sara,

    I have struggled with the weeds ever since moving to Oklahoma in 1999, and have finally determined that mulching is MORE IMPORTANT in the veggie garden than anything else I do, you know?

    I see a lot of people in our area who till up the ground and plant a garden in the spring--say about April. The garden looks great as you are driving by. All that lovely brown or reddish-brown soil and all those tiny green shoots in rows. It looks great by mid-May. By early June you see weeds creeping in. By late June the gardens have as much weed and bermuda grass visable as row crops. By July the weeds and grass have won and the veggies are virtually abandoned by the homeowners. Then the same thing happens all over again next year. I can't understand people doing all the work each year to start a garden and then letting the weeds take over.

    So, every year in my garden I mulch and hand-pull weeds, and every year the weeds are less and less of a problem. Mulching is definitely the key.

    Now, if I could just "transplant" my weed control success from the veg garden to the rest of my landscape!

    Susan,

    I wish the swap were in late June or early July so I could bring bushels of tomatoes and corn and beans! Since the swap is in April, though, about all I can bring is a few letover tomato plants that I didn't have space to plant.
    If I had planned ahead and planted a lot of cool season crops, I might have had some to share. But I save almost all my space for warm-season stuff, and those plants aren't producing yet.

    Love-lies-bleeding is very slow to germinate. I always soak the tiny seed in water and sprout it in pots to get it started. I transplant it while it is tiny. I haven't planted any the last couple of years because it usually reseeds itself nowadays. The problem is that I grow 15 or 20 kinds of amaranths/celosias/cockscombs, so I never know for sure just what has reseeded until they get a foot or so tall. Until then they all look alike...well, all the red-flowered ones look pretty much alike...and all the green-flowered ones look pretty much alike, etc., etc.

    I do love the double blue Japanese morning glory with the picotee edge. I planted it two years ago and it was gorgeous. I haven't tried it since. Simply a space problem. And I do love Grandpa Ott's. It is so beautiful. I noticed that even Wal-Mart has seeds of it now, so guess it it one heirloom that has won full acceptance and has, thus, been successfully saved from extinction.

    I am waiting for that first ripe tomato. Every day I go and look at the 2 plants that have one fairly large tomato each. I stare at them and try to will those tomatoes to grow faster and ripen sooner. Those big fat green tomatoes stare back at me as if to say "we'll get ripe when we're good and ready and not before". I guess I don't have to tell you that the day they are finally ripe we will have BLTs for lunch AND dinner!

    Dawn

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