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May 2018, Week 3, The Heat Is On

First, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers here, and to anyone else who has filled a motherly role in the life of a child. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Here we are in mid-May and the summer temperatures continue. Some parts of OK may get some rain relief this week, though mine really doesn't appear to be one of them. I hope that somebody gets nice rainfall without hail and other severe stuff.

In our garden in southern OK, this is the month that most of the cool-season crops are producing their harvest. At the present time we're harvesting lots of snap peas, lettuce, kale, cabbage and broccoli. Some onions are bulbing up and we just pull one and use it when we need it even though they are nowhere near full size. The first green bean harvest will occur in a day or two and it looks like there's going to be lots and lots of beans. I planted early to beat the heat and am glad I did because the heat arrived far too early. The first jalapeno pepper likely will be harvested before the end of the week. This particular plant formed its first fruit literally the day I put the plants in the ground. The others are blooming and setting small fruit, but no other plant has a pepper near harvest size except for this one early bird plant that is in some sort of a hurry to produce quickly.

There's tons of flowers in bloom in the garden now, and I'll try to list them, but am sure I'll forget some. Here goes: pansies, violas, dianthus, Laura Bush petunias, datura inoxia, coral honeysuckle 'Pink Lemonade', autumn sage, meadow sage, salvia farinacea, cardinal flower (aka tall lobelia), chives, echinacea, cape honeysuckle, Black & Bloom salvia, lantana, moss rose, marigolds, Spanish lavender, red yucca, and chamomile. The annual flowers I raised from seed, which includes Texas hummingbird sage, a bat-faced cuphea called Diablo, calendula and all kinds of zinnias are not in bloom yet, but some of the zinnias are getting very close. Also in bloom---the usual veggies like edible podded peas, asparagus (a bee favorite yesterday), green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.

The wildflowers in the fields are showing more and more blooms, but some never bloomed at all, like butterfly weed, and others are very late, like woodland phlox, and others, like Antelope Horns milkweed, bloomed earlier than usual. It has been a really mixed bag with this year's wildflowers. I believe the showy pink evening primrose has been blooming enough to make up for all the other flowers that are either tardy or missing this year.

I got bogged down last week digging out grass roots invading from the garden fencelines so the front garden isn't completely planted yet, but I hope to finish it up in the next day or two. If I can get the northern fence line free of grass roots today, I will plant sunflower seeds there. The western fence line is being invaded by forest plants, not prairie plants, so it is the biggest challenge to deal with. I have three flats of balsam I've grown from seed to plant there and more seeds to sow there once I remove as many of the tree, ground cover and brush roots that have invaded as I can. I can add more plants or seeds later, depending on how bad the invasive root problem either is or isn't. I think it is going to be bad, and may just put big containers there and mostly plant into them, especially right along the fence line itself. That area is about 10' deep and 40' or 50' wide (I'm not good at guessing distances) and the shed sits in the middle of it.

Of the 5 varieties of peas that I planted, only one variety is not doing well. The plants are vining types but are less than half the size of the other varieties. They are blooming but I'm not sure why they are not thriving. Same soil, same growing conditions, etc. They have some funky-looking foliage and might have been hit by herbicide drift a couple of weeks ago when some of the tomato, cabbage, broccoli and zinnia plants were hit. It is hard to say. They might just have some weird pea disease. Maybe pea enation virus. I need to sit still long enough today to look at them and compare their appearance to photos of pea diseases. More cool-season crops are bolting. Our high temperatures have been around 90 degrees---plus or minus a degree or two---every day for ages, so I understand the bolting.

This is the week the back garden will be planted, or at least the first part of it. It gets the hot season crops, so I plant it last, and usually not until mid-May so I guess I'm right on the usual schedule with it, even though the heat arrived early. It is not yet a no-till plot, so I'll get to use my Mother's Day gift back there to prepare the soil. The gift, from my sweet husband, is a new 4-cycle Mantis mini-tiller/cultivator. It looks a lot like our 10-year-old 2-cycle Mantis, but the oil is separate from the gas in this one, whereas in the 2-cycle, you use an oil/gas mix. I haven't used it yet but I like the old Mantis just fine---it is just getting balky about starting and Tim hasn't had time to work on it, so he figured he could work on it and get it working better while I'm using the four-cycle one to get the back garden planted.

Despite relatively low rainfall, the grass is growing fast and really needs to be mowed twice a week, though we only so far seem to manage to mow it once a week.

The tree fruit is sizing up well and I'm thinking the harvest will be early. Squirrels are all over the front yard so I expect we'll lose a lot of the peaches to them. We always do. I guess if we were more serious about growing tree fruit, we'd have to build a fruit cage to keep the squirrels out of the fruit trees....but I just don't think it would be worth the time and expense of doing so.

That's about all the news we have from here. The hummingbirds and butterflies remain plentiful, the purple martins are happy since there's so many more insects out now, and the venomous snakes aren't too bad yet.

It looks like the dreadful heat is here to stay. Tomato fruit set continues to happen because our temperatures are staying just a very few degrees below the threshold that tends to stop fruit set. I hope that doesn't change for a while.

What's everybody up to this week?


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