Sunday, August 26, 2012

Melon Experiment

This is the first year I've been able to grow anything for real, and outside. I decided to try and grow melons (watermelon, canteloupe and honeydew) and they worked surprisingly well. I went with two types of watermelon, red and yellow.

A friend asked me if I were planning to grow a square watermelon... When I said just trying not to kill them was goal enough for the year, he made me a "watermelon box" and told me to try it. I have engineer friends :) I put one of the small yellow watermelons into the box....

On July 30th, after about two week in the box, the yellow watermelon looked like this:
View from the stem end, about two weeks after being put in the box

And view from the back, where the melon is already growing against the plastic sides...
 But a few weeks later (Aug 20th), there was trouble!:
The melon is escaping! The box was glued and screwed together...
I left it on the vine another week, and this is what it looked like when I brought it to the patio:
It only got worse over the next week...
The box had deformed so badly, power tools were required to open it. When viewed side by side with a "non-boxed" watermelon from the same vine, it appears pretty obvious what happened:
Boxed (top) and non-boxed (bottom) melons from the same vine, plus a tape measure...
Both melons were about 9 inches high, but the non boxed melon (bottom) was almost 16 inches long, while the box constricted the other one to about 9 inches long. It does look pretty cube-ish though:
It's kind of like a cube...?
So maybe a bigger box (or stronger box?) would work? Maybe next year... but I'll either have to make a new box, or get someone to make me one, because this one is toast!
The remained of the box... the pins were so deformed they couldn't come out...
But still a pretty cool experiment! Hopefully they both taste good... except I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do with two huge watermelons now...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pollinators in the Garden

With the hot weather cooling off just a bit, I took a look outside to see what was buzzing around the garden. I used to be scared of anything that looked like it could sting, but most of the buzzing creatures seemed happy to have their picture taken.

I did see some things that I did not expect, like this blue-striped bee/wasp?

sitting on the white butterfly bush in the back garden

 There were more on the Coreopsis, along with bees and wasps of the yellow-variety:
The blue ones did not like sharing, and were big enough to push the smaller wasps off.

This shows  how distinct the blue markings were. They might be mason bees?

I thought this picture came out rather interesting - the wasp (?) is making a bee-line for the Coreopsis verticillata 'Route 66' ...
It's free!

what look like three different species on the same plant.
 This big black bee (a carpenter bee, I think?) was buzzing around the Salvia greggi. At first I thought the sound was a hummingbird, it was so loud...
The best picture was blurry - the thing would not sit still, except on the other side of the bush!
 But the award for the biggest thing buzzing around the garden that day went to this guy:
Sitting on the back of a bloomed-out sunflower, eating?
It was LOUD, and kind of bumbly, but when it finally stopped moving, it looked more like a giant beetle than anything else. I tried to use both Bugguide and What's That Bug to try and id this guy, but I'm still not sure what it is...

For more (and better!) pictures  of pollinators, there is Alan's post at It's Not Work, It's Gardening. His pictures are gorgeous!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


It's been a crazy two weeks - between an unexpected work trip, and a broken computer (it won't turn on! at all!) I need to get back on the blogging band wagon. Thankfully, the garden turned out the bear my absence well enough (except for the crazy grass, that grows everywhere I don't want, and the aphids), so I should have some new things up soon. The broken computer has been replaced... if only getting rid of the aphids was as easy... They disintegrated my watermelon plant!

grass, aphids and watermelons... sigh.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Harvest

Since this is the first year I've planted vegetables, I was very excited when some of them were ripe. The first ones were a bunch of Lemon Cucumbers, that I harvested at a couple of different sizes:

4 lemon cucumbers, eaten, and made into cucumber water
The smaller ones were so good I just ate them like an apple! I also made some cucumber water, and pickles (adapted from this recipe here). They're really good right off the vine, but I have found they don't store very well. Even a day later, they get a bit mushy.

The second plant that started ripening was the "black cherry" cherry tomatoes:

First six cherry tomatoes. All eaten shortly after this picture was taken!
 Unlike Carol at May Dream Gardens, there was no elaborate ritual for the first tomato, but they were tasty none-the-less. The first yellow tomato was also ripe, but I ate that one so fast, there was no picture! The first of orange sweet peppers met a similar fate. I need to be better at taking pictures!

In the next week, the first watermelon should be ready! I already can't wait... There is also a watermelon-experiment on-going... pictures to come soon!

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Plant: Agave Schidigera

When I first started redoing the front garden three years ago, I ended up with a lot of grasses - mainly blue fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'), pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and Mexican Feather grass (Stipa tenuissiam). They all provide a very "soft" look, and what goes better with soft than spiky?
This one shouldn't get more than ~1 ft diameter, which is good.
There's another new sorta-spikey addition to the front garden bed: an Agave Schidigera!

This is a smaller Agave, that only grows to be about a foot wide and tall, and instead of teeth, it has these cool "threads" instead - kind of like the false red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) It does have spines though. It's currently sitting next to a blue fescue, and they're about the same size - I think the contrast between them in kind of cool:

And this one come with a cool surprise - 7 pups/offsets! Since it is right next to the path, I didn't want an entire colony of A. Schidigera, so I pulled off the pups and potted them up into their own containers:
All the pups! Now I just need to figure out where to put them. On the slope?
Now I've got plans for an all-agave (but different types!) front row for one of the beds in the back garden! Or they'll go on the slope... Maybe in a container or two?