Trying Something New

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

New ideas and new plants are always part of the garden scene. The same is true this year.

As discussed in previous entries, there are five large clay pots on the south side of the house, and a new raised bed. The marigolds and tomatoes in the pots are alive and well. We have had 2.1 inches of rain—0.9 on June 17 and 1.2 on June 19. Even though the pots are near the house, they are getting watered. The water remaining in their saucers is a testament to this. I need to deadhead the marigolds, but the tomatoes are setting fruit. The most prolific producer so far is the bush tomato Fantastico. I’m not sure how large their fruit will get, but their shape is either like a grape tomato, or a larger Roma tomato. They are green and hard, so time will tell.

The large raised bed is doing great! The bush tomato growing in it, Early Girl Bush 2, has fruits that aren’t quite as large as a golf ball, but they are getting close. The ground cherries on the south side of the bed are spreading out, and have begun to produce fruit. The cucumbers on the north side, Patio Snackers, are setting fruit as well. I may harvest a couple of them to put in my spinach salad as early as this weekend. I will use size to determine if they are ready to pick. Their skins also get a little smoother, and don’t have as many of those little spines. They will be small, but that is fine. The eggplant in the middle of this bed, and the peppers on the north east corner, are struggling; look for warmer and sunny weather to solve this problem. The early crops which I pulled this weekend also gave them too much competition. The two ghost peppers on the southwest corner of this bed are doing well.

It is the first year for bush tomatoes and Patio Snackers cucumbers. It is also the first year for two more plants, these being flowers. In the blue bed, I have hardy gloxinia. They have begun to bloom. Some tell me their flower form resembles petunias. It may resemble Nicotiana more. Mom used to raise gloxinias which had large, fuzzy leaves. These leaves do not exhibit this feature, but their flower form does. The only difference is that my variety has much smaller flowers. I am told they can survive the winter, with mulch. I don’t think they’d survive last winter, but we’ll see what happens in the upcoming months. They aren’t my favorite, but they will do.

In a large pot along the north garden fence are summer daffodils. They bloomed in May, and although their flowers are long gone, their leaves are alive and well. I’m not sure what to do with them this winter. However, I do remember where I ordered them, and before the ground freezes, I will call this catalog firm. They are worth keeping, whether they are hardy, or I’ll need to store the bulbs in the garage.

The large milkflower in the blue bed gets to stay. It is pregnant with flower clusters, and it may bloom as early as next week. The leaves are full of red beetles, and since this flower is an extra, I won’t interfere with their feeding. Beth has also seen monarch butterflies hanging around, so their caterpillars may be feasting soon as well. The flowers and seed pods are the main attraction for me, so if the leaves get chewed, so be it.

Is it a weed, or not? On the southeast corner of the herb bed is a large “something or other” growing. It appears to be a large and ugly weed, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, for a little while longer anyway. It doesn’t appear to be an herb, which means it already has one strike against it. The nearby garlic is doing well and is getting ready to bloom. If all else fails, after the garlic dies in July and I commence harvest, I’ll “harvest” that other plant as well if it is undesirable.

The peppers just look too good to be real. With several dry days on tap, it is time to dust with Repels-All Animal Repellent or blood meal to keep the rabbits at bay. Picking spinach is another priority—and a mighty pleasant one, I might add.

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