21 August 2015

Sunflower Thief

A few weeks ago, my amazing red sunflower bush finished making seeds and died.  I got out my trusty Christmas tree saw--oh, for the days of living near enough to the woods to cut my own $5 tree!--and sawed it down.

Yep.  Completely necessary.  I couldn't pull it out by myself, my clippers weren't sturdy enough, and the saw was my only remaining option if I were to get the job done before my husband returned from his commercial fishing adventures.

 Other than the wild sunflowers that grow everywhere and get taller than the house (I definitely used the saw for them too when they were finished), we hadn't managed to get any of our other sunflower varieties to grow.  I blame soil, I guess.

But then this one somehow made it through the winter, and started growing.  And blooming.  And growing some more, until we had a bush worthy of daily hummingbird and butterfly visits.

One day as we drove into the driveway and parked, we discovered another creature loved our red sunflower bush.  I caught him on camera, and he didn't even run away in shame.  

He'd been eating what flowers he could get his hands on, without even waiting for them to make seeds.  Although, judging on the little hole next to the bush, I think he did find some seeds and start to bury them for winter...

Maybe he didn't realize he was just being my assistant gardener.

02 August 2015

Who Loves Hot Weather?

In July, our lowest high temperature was 84F.  Our highest high temperature was 105F, with 17 of July's 31 days reaching highs of 100F or higher.

You won't find me outside very often at those temperatures!

But the garden plants have to be out in it all the time, and although the community garden shuts down this time of year, we've decided to try growing things year round.  I've been amazed to watch as some of our own garden plants don't look the least bit stressed even on the hottest days.

Purple basil (and green basil, for that matter) are some of the heartiest.  They don't wilt in the intense sun, and only seem to produce more as the hot July days wear on into just-as-hot August.  I've been pruning and harvesting the basil every two weeks, and getting two or three quarts from each harvest (from two plants).

Because my husband often goes commercial fishing with his family during the summer, I had the house to myself for a few weeks this summer.  Mealtimes can get awfully quiet when you're always eating by yourself, so I sometimes entertained myself by watching Growing a Greener World online while I enjoyed my lunch.

In the episode on Monticello, my ears perked right up when I heard about Thomas Jefferson growing sesame as a hot weather plant.  I caught a glimpse of their flowers, did a few searches online, and ordered two kinds of sesame seeds right away.  I knew I didn't have any time to lose if I was going to plant them before the June rains ended.

The seeds arrived in the mail just in time for me to get them in the ground with a good rain, and although I was a bit on the late side, two sprouted within two or three days.  

They haven't bloomed yet, but I'm amazed at how, no matter how hot or dry it is outside, they never look the least bit wilted.  I don't know how many seeds each flower and plant will make for us, but we love sesame seeds, and I'm sure we'll enjoy eating a few from our own garden for the first time.  

I almost cried a couple of weeks ago when I came out and realized that the lawn care people had trimmed off half of one of my sesame plants, but in the end we discovered another great thing about growing sesame:  it will just put out new leaves as if nothing ever happened.

You can see that it's still significantly smaller than the other plant that sprouted at the same time as this one, but at least I didn't lose it.  

I'm hoping to plant a fall, spring, and summer crop and get three sesame blooms and harvests each year.