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Can I just say it? From graduating high school at age 16 to retiring from my sales career at age 48, I have always been in a hurry to “get it done”. This is not necessarily a good thing, as other things seem to be overlooked as my projects get underway. So it has been this year as my writing has fallen short. Nevertheless, this year’s projects have been fun and rewarding (photos below) and I hope you may find some inspiration in them too.
A new wall as a backdrop to the cutting garden. It totally brightened up a dark gloomy wall of Leyland cypress!
A new garden bed … because I fell in love with the pale conifer and stone bird bath and they required a new home! (These are still baby plants waiting to become fabulous.)
New boardwalks in a newly cleared forest. Note that you can now see the lake in the background, the beautiful deep ravines, and the masses of native Christmas ferns and running cedar.
A second raised bed with stone wall … added in full in SUN for growing more cut flowers! The tall stalks are ornamental broom corn for fall arrangements.
A new garden sculpture, designed by artist Steve Cote, to greet visitors at my cutting garden. (Note the outstretching hand offering a daisy, and the caption below that read “Here”.) Click here for Other Sculptures by Steve Cote 919-548-0303.
New metal deck railings … to improve the view and foil the carpenter bees!
And, a new, brighter, more functional kitchen thanks to my fabulous builder Kevin Jones Design Build LLC. Here is the before picture…
And NOW the new improved kitchen!
We have done our part to grow the economy this year, but so happy with the results!
Enough of that… I have much news to share with you!
First, Mark your Calendar for some Fun Events!
What to do in the garden now:
While my need for daily hand watering has subsided for the moment, my new obstacle is a wild turkey and her brood who have chosen my garden has their grocery & excavation ground (they are rotilling!) I am gladly accepting tips for repelling wild turkeys!
If the heat, bugs and disease are stressing your vegetable gardens, now is the time for some preventive measures! Squash, cucumbers, & melons all start getting powdery mildew and slipping into decline. I treat fungus & mildew with a spray of 1 part milk (any kind) to 3 parts water, plus 1 teaspoon of baking soda per quart of water. This is more than an “old wives tale”! The protein in the milk and the alkaline pH of the baking soda work to knock back mildew. Copper fungicides also work and are considered acceptable organics as long as they are not over used (copper can build up in your soil.)
Cucumber beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs all spread fungal and bacterial disease so it is essential to get them under control as well. My choice is Sevin (Carbaryl), Pyrethrin or Serenade, the latter 2 being organic and OMRI listed. Spray in the evening just before dark to minimize contact with beneficial insects.
If your plants are struggling, check your soil pH. I filled my new flower bed in April with 3 yards of top soil mix, only to find that my seedlings were slowly dying. The NCSU soil test showed a pH of 4.6! Even acid-loving blueberries would have hated it! Fast-acting “Sol-u-lime” and several pounds of fireplace ashes helped me get it up closer to the ideal 6.5. They raised the pH much faster than the 3-6 months required for conventional pelletized lime to break down. It is 2 months later and my flower bed is growing beautifully.
If you want a healthier garden – whether you are growing vegetables, flowers, shrubs or grass- there is no substitute for making your own compost and giving up chemical fertilizers. I have fewer bugs and disease, and in fact the healthiest garden ever since using my compost as fertilizer. Nine cucumber seeds have produced over 100 pounds of cucumbers, and the vines are still strong and producing abundantly! My tomatoes are the best ever.
There is no point bragging about summer squash because I’m sure you all have loads of it! It may be a good time to share Jim’s favorite way to eat squash – disguised in a yummy casserole that tastes similar to corn pudding. First, here is a great step-by-step guide for how to prepare zucchini or yellow squash to freeze or to use for fritters or breads – or my baked squash! http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/07/how-i-freeze-zucchini/ (You will find other handy cooking and gardening ideas here too!)
Baked Summer Squash
Combine all ingredients. Pour into a shallow greased baking dish (a 9”x13” or 10” round works well). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. This is equally good reheated the next day.
Happy gardening & Happy dining!