Watching the Garden Grow

May 31st, 2009




Last week was all about rain, but now it’s really starting to feel like summer.   I must forget each year but it seems like there’s more insect critters about than I’ve ever seen.  Great hoards of gnats and other flying bugs all about during the day.  Maybe the rain really helped them along a bit.    

Thankfully the garden has been relatively pest free.  See?  We have a little garden angel to protect everything.







Except it didn’t work very well for whatever bugs kept eating the beets!  I planted a huge row, and only about a third of the beets made it to a larger size.  Something came along and ate them at the base of the stems or chewed the leaves off.   I’ve planted more starts to transplant in a week or two, along with some turnips.  For now the beets look a little sad between the potatoes and cucumbers.


But everything else is coming along, and we’ve got an experiment going with planting squash near some lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).  The lemon balm has a wonderful lemony scent when you crush the leaves, and some of the same compounds as citronella.  I’m hoping the citrus scent repels a few insects and that there won’t be as many squash bugs around.   The lemon balm is at the back along the fence, with the squash and lettuce in the front.


I’m really looking forward to the tomatoes- they’re growing well and have quite a few flowers already on several varieties.  The boy pointed out a small tomato- it sure seems early.  How long it takes to turn red is the question.  Appararently researchers have found that reddish colored mulch or something under the tomato plant can modify the light spectrum enough to actually enhance carbohydrate uptake resulting in earlier fruit production and development.  I haven’t modified our tomato plantings with red colored mulch or anything, but the mulch is brownish.  Maybe that’s helped, I don’t know.


Something else I’m trying this year- planting all the tomatoes along the south and east sides of a little fence.  I’ve read that soil temperatures above 90 degrees F can really slow tomato production in mid-summer. Last year the ones along the fence did really well in part because the moisture drains that way.  But I’m hoping that during the really hot days of summer the small fence will help shade and cool the roots from the southwest sun while the leaves and fruit up top get all the light they need.  Just a home-grown experiment, but kind of fun to see how it works out.

It seems that Quackers likes to patrol the shoreline of the pond looking for tender plants to munch on.  He also likes bread… okay, I’ll admit it- I walked down and fed him last week.  Now whenever we are near the pond he comes over looking for a handout.  He’s a very relaxed duck, and seems quite proud of himself.   I found him taking a break near the shoreline one day and he didn’t seem to mind my curiosity.


Watching him paddling around evokes a certain lazy feeling, just right for reading under the shade of a tree.  In a few weeks we’ll hear the drone of cicadas high above as spring gives way to summer.

7 Responses to “Watching the Garden Grow”

  1. Up here, the wet spring has created an abundant supply of mosquitoes! But for outdoor plants, it’s the deer that cause the most problems. Nice picture of one ugly (or should I say interesting) duck!

  2. I’m going to anxiously await the results of your squash bug experiment. :) Those things are awfully hard to control once they start reproducing, aren’t they? I had to brush hundreds off one of my late pumpkins and harvest it a little early last year… vicious little suckers…

    Mel’s grandma tried a red mulch/watering thing once. I’m sure the science is sound, but that particular product fell apart.

    Congrats on the tomato! As early as our cool season crop went in here, I’m a bit behind on maters… transplants were pretty small growing in the cold frame… I’ll keep the lid a bit lower next year. At least they were healthy.

    Don’t you just love gardening experiments? There’s never a shortage of things to learn, that’s what I love best. :)


  3. R. Sherman

    I may have missed it, but did you ever figure out the species of that duck?


  4. My navy bean crop that I planted earlier this year was a complete failure. I think I got some bad seed and my schedule didn’t help things either. I think I’m going to have to go buy some tomato plants as a plan B and get them planted tonight. Now I really am going to have to live vicariously through Ron’s, Karl’s and your gardens this year.

  5. Sage- Ugh, you’re right about the mosquitoes. I always try to make sure our gutters aren’t backed up, and things like tires or buckets are not full of standing water. Otherwise those critters reproduce like crazy. And I soooo agree with the word interesting!
    Ron- Oooo I hope we don’t get so many of those squash bugs this year. Otherwise they’re going to get a lot of soapy water on them. Our mulch turns to compost pretty quickly too. But these tomatoes were store-bought starts anyway- so we had a leg up. I can’t imagine growing in a cold frame from seed!? Me too about the learning :)
    R.- Best I can figure it’s a Red-faced Muscovy duck. There’s some interesting stuff out there about the Muscovy duck, in that it might have been named after an English trading company several hundred years ago, or that the name comes from some musky odor it possesses. I don’t plan on getting close enough to figure that out!
    Ed- Navy beans?! Bummer that it didn’t work, but that’s a neat idea to plant them. I like buying tomato plant starts because you can choose a nice, vigorous plant to get things going. Ron and Karl really do have quite the gardens!

  6. pamela

    Good luck with your lemon balm experiment. If all else fails you can always pop it into your tea.

  7. Pamela- Thanks! I need to try it for tea… maybe iced sun tea or something?

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