summer 2013

Saturday, July 30, 2011


parasitized tomato hornworm

Well, I found my first tomato hornworm this week!!!!  I love mother nature.  This guy is here to eat my tomato plants.  But,  if you wait long enough and don't spray the bugs, the good guys show up to keep things in check.  The white things are braconid wasp eggs.  These are parasitic wasps that target other bugs, not people.  The female lays her eggs in the worm and when they hatch, the  babies use the worm for food, stopping it from eating my tomato plant.

I also have some interesting plants that I started from seeds I bought at Monticello.  They grow plants and sell the seeds from those plants that Thomas Jefferson grew over 200 years ago.

Love-lies-bleeding.   Amaranthus caudatus.

This plant is HUGE.  About 6 feet tall with long, flowing red flowers. According to the packet, the flowers will grow long enough to touch the ground.  This plant is used as a food source in some countries.

Cockscomb  -  Celosia cristata

Tall - about 2 ft.  large blooms, and very soft to the touch.

African Marigold   -   Tagetes erecta

Very tall - 4  feet.  Smaller blooms than our cultivated varieties.    

Also from Monticello.

Sensitive Plant  -  Mimosa  pudica

Fern like.  Touch the leaves and they fold up quickly before your eyes.

Again it was 102 degrees yesterday with no rain in sight.   Grass is dormant.  Not a problem, it will green up when it starts to rain and starts getting cooler.  The trick is to not water or fertilize.  Shallow watering does more harm than good to the root system.  Deep watering is fine, but I have a well and would never water my lawn.  You never know what is going on 265 feet down.  We need the water for other things, US!
I love summer

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Welcome to Latvia and the Philippines!  That takes me to 21 countries!  Very cool.

I am hoping for the best that my garden will survive the next few days.  Over 100 degrees every day, uneven rain.  I have mulched  and mulched and watered and now I wait.  I planted pole beans where the sugar snap peas started the season.  Threw some  lettuce and beet seeds out.  When they germinate (weather permitting)  I will probably use a floating row cover to protect them from the sun.

As an experiment, I planted watermelon and cantaloupes among my tomatoes.  I figured that they would cover the soil between the tomatoes and act like a mulch to keep the soil covered.  It seems to be working pretty well.  I did add more lime to the soil because the roma tomatoes were having trouble with blossom end rot.  I have stepped up the watering too.  We have some pretty tomatoes already.

lime added - I carefully dug it in

A new addition to the farm.  These guys are less than 48 hours old.

Native garden hanging in there.  The plants that made it into the ground the earliest are the healthiest.  When I plant more, it will probably be in October or late March.  That way, they have a better chance of survival.

bee balm - Monarda

joe pye weed

black eye susan - Maryland state flower

Went to add water to my compost bin and lo and behold, there is a cantaloupe plant that has sprung from the base of the compost bin.  Funny thing is, it is the healthiest plant in the yard  :)

Also on the farm,  my husband accidently mowed a wasp nest.  Luckily he was on a four wheeler and was able to avoid most of the swarm that went after him.  Lucky guy.  We did have to visit the immediate care facility the next morning for treatment.

looks MUCH better

More farm pictures

My son's shirt.  You can see there is a friendly rivalry between John Deere and every other tractor.

heading out for a horse ride

tack room

We have to leave town for a few days.  I hope we get a little rain.  If not, I will plant more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dog Days and Bad Bugs

Welcome Ireland!  19 countries and counting.

Well, they are back! STINK BUGS!  At least they have left my home.  I have found stink bug damage on some tomatoes, I have even found them mating on my zucchini.  They pierce the skin and an inject an enzyme that starts to rot the fruit.

This week I have taken down the last of my sugar snap peas and will save the seeds for the next crop.  I also have some blossom end rot on some of my tomatoes.  Totally my fault.  Since I don't live at the farm, I can't see the garden every day to water.  Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium.  There is calcium in the soil, but inconsistent watering is the culprit.  I picked and tossed the ugly tomatoes.  This is not a disease that affects the plant, so the new tomatoes  setting fruit will be fine, it is up to the gardener to step up!

Lost my first squash plant.  Probably squash bugs.  It wilted overnight.  Looking under the leaves, you can see the nymphs going to town sucking the sap out of the vines.  I sprayed the surviving plant with an insecticidal soap.  It was a small plant, the kind these bugs can really damage.  On my larger zucchini plants, just some eggs are on the leaves.  The best way to deal with this is to smash them.

nymph stage of squash bug

more eggs - they look like copper in the sunlight

Dog days.  In the Washington DC area (just rated the 6th hottest city in the US),  It will be hot and humid until mid September.  4 years ago my daughter had an outdoor wedding on Sept 8 and it was still 98 degrees.

On the positive side, some things are thriving.  My native plants.  They belong in this environment, so they will survive the searing heat and inconsistent rain.

This garden is alive with pollinators

Maryland state flower    Black eyed Susan

Some interesting vegetables.  Gita beans - over a foot long.  Scarlet runner beans, bought from Monticello.  They have beautiful red flowers. And, a cute watermelon.  I have the vines running through my tomato bed.  The vines sit on top of the straw mulch.  Just a little experiment.

gita bean

scarlet runner beans

cherry tomato
I am always a little relived when the squash is finished.  They don't freeze well, and we've already had baked, grilled, bread and raw.  Time to move on to another vegetable.