High summer garden

Sorry for the complete lack of posts the past few weeks, people. It’s summertime in Montana which means we’ve had some visitors! And I think those visitors would rather I hang out with them than update my blog. Apologies, blog friends. So, to make up for my neglect, I’m going to post quite a few times this week! I’ll update you from the backlog of the past few weeks.

First up: a little garden update. While I write this, the sky is darkening and there’s a dislocated thump of thunder in the distance. We are so excited for rain, and we hope it does actually rain instead of passing tantalizingly overhead. It’s been very warm here, in the 90s, which is not normal, folks. Aaaah, global weirding. Anyway, it’s finally cooling down, back into the 70s. And I think my poor plants will appreciate the reprieve from the heat. They’ve been rather limp the past week, despite their daily dousing.

These photos are from three days ago, but things haven’t changed much in the garden since then. Things are continuing to ripen well. We’ve pulled three nicely sized zucchinis out and we’re having a bumper crop of green beans. Here’s our Thai peppers reddening into ripeness.

I am excited for the heat they will add to our cooking this fall and winter. A good way to remember the warmth of summer.

My pumpkins are oranging nicely on the vine. Yes, oranging. I did just make that word up, but I think it works well.

Remember the pumpkin photo from July 31?

Here’s the same pumpkin three weeks later:

 

These aren’t the only pumpkins I’ve got growing. I’ve got another that’s still quite green that’s double the size of the other two.

We’re looking forward to pumpkin pies, cookies, and muffins. And pumpkin mush for our son!

The sunflowers are much taller these days. The tallest is about seven feet tall. Here’s yours truly again for scale. Seems like every few days we have a couple more lovely sunflower blooms out there. I planted two varieties of sunflowers: the standard yellow sort and one called Mexican Torch. I adore the Mexican Torch variety. Here’s a bloom:

Definitely saving the seeds from this flower. Isn’t the color just amazing?

The bees like the sunflowers too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Progress and plants

It’s been three weeks since the last garden update, and my how things have grown! I find myself grumbling about the heat, but when I am doing that I must remind myself that the heat is making my garden flourish.

Here’s June 19:

Here’s July 6:

And here’s July 30:

Some things have already started to flower/go to seed, like the dill and cilantro in the photo above. Pulled up the spinach last week, and will turn under the lettuces next week (they’re starting to get bitter, which means they’re about done).

The plant I can’t wait to check on every day is one of my pumpkins. Here’s the beauty:

Cannot wait to eat that sucker. Seriously. Can. Not. Wait. It’s a pie pumpkin and I’m having delicious visions of that pumpkin for Thanksgiving dessert. Below is a photo of my foot for scale:

So it clearly has a ways to go yet, but it’s getting there! And it’s bigger every day.

Here’s a photo of yours truly with the sunflowers for scale. I’m 5 foot 7 inches.

Remember that tiny little carnival squash plant? Here’s what it looked like in early June. It’s the first squash at the bottom of the photo between the corn:

And here’s yesterday:

Has a few male flowers on it, but no ladies yet. They’ll come. And with them, squash! Squash is probably my favorite vegetable. Acorn in particular.

The peas finally have pods on them (I planted these about a month late), and we’ve been enjoying some in our salads for a few days. They’re really great. Crunchy and sweet.

Oh hey there, little guy.

Now if only the weeds weren’t keeping pace with the vegetables…

How does your garden grow? … Mine? Slowly.

OK, I’ve been promising a garden update for some time now. So here it is! It’s been an interesting season for me. I live in a place that’s sort of on the cusp of both zones 3 and 4 (less than 100-day growing season). Which means it’s hard to grow here! I would have liked to start planting in March, but was delayed until May because of snow and frost. So my garden looks woefully behind those of friends in friendlier climates it would seem. But despite that, I’ve had some successes, some failures and overall a fun time.

In the front garden, I planted an assortment of flowers and raspberry cane. The flowers that are thriving are bachelor’s button (the photo above) in white, lavender and blue and orange poppies. My sunflowers are coming up FINALLY, but they’re only six inches or so tall and I don’t know if they’ll make it to six feet before the frost. They’re Mexican torches, supposed to be bright orange.

There was a bee buzzing around the poppies yesterday.

I have to be careful to water the front garden every day. I usually dump two water pails on it, most of which goes to the raspberries. Since the garden is south facing and narrow against brick, it’s a hot place and the flowers and raspberries need a lot of hydration.

My romaine is going positively gangbusters. The spinach bolted at the first sign of heat (sigh), but the romaine just keeps on going. We’ve had a number of salads from the romaine patch now! Those salads always taste fabulous because about five minutes before they were eaten the lettuce was still in the ground.

The rhubarb is still growing like the giant beast it is. I had to somewhat decapitate it yesterday because it was shading out the beans. The carrots, which I’ve gradually thinned, seem to be growing well. When I thinned yesterday, I pulled out some tiny carrot nublets. Despite being only a centimeter or two long, they were delicious and orange! I thinned the onions again, as well as the rainbow chard. The pumpkins and squash I planted must have drowned in the couple long rains we got a few days after I planted. Alas, they wouldn’t have made it anyway, I don’t think. Too short a growing season.

Raspberries and romaine from the garden.

I also toddled up the street a few houses to snap some photos of a neighbor’s flower garden. It’s really quite beautiful. The folks who live in the house must have the garden planted in a succession because there are have been flowers there since May and they’re always changing.

These red and yellow sunflowers are called Velvet Queens. The pretty white butterfly was having a heyday amidst these beauties. In addition to the Velvet Queens, the neighbor’s garden has some great orange lilies, but I’d have to go up the stairs and into the garden to gets good shots of those and well, that’s creepy.

The neighbor’s garden.

In other news, my husband and I are moving about an hour east Friday. We’re moving so we can both go to school. Shawn will be doing most of the commuting, but I’ll be taking a free bus to campus. I’m so excited for school to start! I am so NOT excited to move. The only thing that’s really keeping me going on the packing process is the knowledge that the new apartment has a dishwasher, washer and dryer. Amenities I’ve lived without for four years. It’s time to rejoin modern society. Huzzah! I’m sad to be leaving the garden behind, but we’re planning some veggies raids later on in the season. On the positive side, though our new apartment doesn’t have a yard or space for a garden, we’ve already located a community garden nearby that I hope to join.

I hope your gardening this summer has been successful and delicious!

Finding forever in a song

I had the good fortune to spend the past weekend in Lincoln, Neb. for a friend’s wedding. When not playing the role of dutiful bridesmaid, I was able to get some last minute wedding plans secured with my fiance, Shawn.

Bright and early Friday morning we sampled wedding cake. The chocolate — I was sure I’d be getting the chocolate — was disappointing and tasted a bit like moist cardboard. The pink champagne flavor induced tooth aches. But the almond flavor was just right.

Flowers have been finalized. Sunflowers, orange solidago, red hypernicum berries and chrysanthemum will provide the splashes of color at our otherwise black-and-white affair.

Image from http://flowersvegfruit.co.uk/

Got the marriage license. Alarm bells didn’t start ringing on the state of Nebraska computer alerting everyone in the building that my fiance and I are cousins — we’re not, but after hearing a horror story to that effect, I admit I was just a teensy bit worried.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend (other than the beautiful wedding Shawn and I attended) lasted just a few minutes in the santuary of the church where we will be married.

Shawn and I walked into St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Lincoln and it felt like coming home. It’s a grand old church with beautiful, two-story stained glass windows. It’s the church we attended while living in Lincoln.

The wooden pews sat silently empty, uniformly facing the altar, as if in eternal, crouched worship. The sunlight streamed through the windows to illuminate the sanctuary with gentle light. We spoke quietly, our voices ringing off the stone walls.

We met with John, the man who plays organ at St. Paul. He treated us to a short concert to prepare the music for our wedding. I’d never seen an organ played so close before and I was transfixed.

John’s fingers nimbly leapt from keyboard to keyboard to keyboard. He pulled on knobs and pushed buttons to alter the sound, I think. His feet moved in a neat, practiced jig on the pedals that control the deep-voiced pipes. The former silence was broken by the surge of sound. It swirled about the pews and rose to the ceiling.

Then John played “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy on the piano, the song to which the bridal party and yours truly will promenade down the aisle. Many people recognize it as the song that plays while the fountains dance in “Ocean’s Eleven.”

As John played, I let my eyes wander about the church, filled with a moment’s fantasy. I watched the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle. Then I watched myself walk with my father down the aisle.

My ears filled with song. My heart swelled with this glimpse into forever.