Frost Nipped Peas

Two days of a hard freeze were unkind to the garden peas.

frost damaged peas

Frost Damaged Peas

I gathered a handful this afternoon. There’s nothing to be gained at this point by leaving them on the vine. The vines are drooping as well.

The frost damaged the outer skin leaving it mottled.  The inner ‘pearls’ look surprisingly good though.

peas

Peas, unmasked

garden peas

The in and out of garden peas

It’s supposed to ‘warm up’ to a low of 38º F (3ºC) by Friday, but will drop back ten degrees  the following day.  With over two weeks to go before the winter solstice is upon us, I wonder what this means for the season ahead?

Organized at Heart

I’m posting a series of articles featuring organizing around the holidays this week on my blog Organized at Heart. If the subject interests you, please go take a peak.  Today’s blog offers some tips for creating new giving traditions for the holidays.

Pumpkin Harvest and a Squash Named Frank

You don’t have to hit me over the head: dying vines and abundant squash bugs spell harvest day. I plucked my ‘prize’ pumpkin a week ago, fearing the worst, then made the worst come true.  My garden lovely rolled out of my arms and with an unmistakable thud, landed hard and cracked down the middle.  It was a sad pumpkin day. Since the squash bugs continue to nibble unabated, I figured it was a matter of time before they moved on to the rest of the patch.  Three once-viable pumpkins have since turned to mush. Generally speaking, I would have left them to grow a bit oranger, but I didn’t want to take the risk. So…here they are.

pumpkins

Pumpkins

I have two late-season arrivals, all shiny and yellow that I’ll leave in place for now. It’s still August, so they may be viable. One of the two is sitting out in the open, practically inviting trouble but the second one is hiding under the vine. Shhhhh.

small yellow pumpkin

You can’t see me!

yellow pumpkin

Little yellow pumpkin, hiding under the vine

Oh and before I forget, I’d like you to meet Frank. He’s quite the character, but the way he’s been ‘running on’ I don’t expect him to hang around for very long.

frankenstein pumpkin

Frank

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to meet Frank’s cousin Shelley.

Pumpkin Pests (Uninvited Guests)

The pumpkin vines are looking a bit tired and who can blame them?  They’ve been producing lemony-yellow flowers, luxurious vines and fruit since April.

Pumpkin vines

Pumpkin vines, going strong since April

Pumpkins are usually a 90 day crop, so clearly they’re past their prime.  Guess what?  I found two, beautifully formed yellow fruits, basking in the late-season heat.

Pumpkin Newby

Pumpkin Newbie

I also found pumpkin pests.  Are you sensing a theme here?

Pumpkin Pests

Pumpkin pests come in all colors and sizes

pumpkin bugs

Harvest now, before it is too late!!!

I’ve seen these little grey creepers before, but they came late in the season and didn’t seem to hurt the pumpkins. I’ve not been so lucky this year. Since two of the smaller pumpkins were already collapsing, I decided to leave them there, thinking the pests would leave the hardier pumpkins alone.

Well!

Within a few days I found them on my biggest pumpkin, so I decided then and there to harvest the one large fruit. I twisted the pumpkin from the vine, and set it out-of-the-way on the path. When I went back to get it and bring it in the house, I failed to give it the respect it deserved. Ms. Overachiever here tucked the pumpkin under one arm, the kitchen scrap bin under the other and,  if you were reading last Friday, you know what happened.

Thud!!!

Splat!!!

Sad, sad gardener.

cracked pumpkin

Split clean through

Anyhoo…I’ll be sure to include this one in my 31 days of pumpkins in October.

Now, about those pests…

Andrea Meyers identifies these as Squash Bugs (aka Stink Bugs).  You can read more on her beautiful site.

Hardenbergia Violacea

Hardenbergia

Hardenbergia

Through the wonder of encoded DNA, the Hardenbergia always knows it’s time to bloom. Don’t you just love nature?

It’s a lush vine most of the year, with glossy green leaves. The vines twist like rope, braiding themselves around the trellis. It’s easy to forget it’s there. Then year after year, when February rolls around, tiny purple clusters begin to form. It’s subtle at first, with just the hint of lavender. Within a week, it’s like time-lapse photography. Brilliant purple flowers cluster at the tips of the vines, putting on a show that last two weeks.

Then, as quickly as they appear, it’s over. I find myself searching for the last few clusters here and there, until they really are gone.

The vine, pictured below, grows against the fence outside my laundry room.  If you’re going to do laundry, I can’t think of better company.

Hardenbergia Vine

Hardenbergia Vine

Hardenbergia, Member of the Pea Family

Hardenbergia, Member of the Pea Family

Birdhouse Gourd: Free Fall Averted

I took a field trip with my husband to the side yard on Monday. He hadn’t seen our birdhouse gourd in a week so I was happy to show it off. The added girth was indeed impressive, but he was also concerned that the weight would snap the vine. His concerns were well founded. We lost a pumpkin this summer in the same way. One day it was hanging from the trellis; the next day the weight snapped the vine and dropped the pumpkin to the ground.

birdhouse gourd with tape measure

birdhouse gourd perspective with orange tree

Above: A bit of perspective. The raspberries and oranges look tiny next to the gourd.
Left: measuring up.

As if on cue, when I checked on Birdhouse Gorgeous today it hung nearly six inches lower on the trellis. Further, the vine was putting weight on the phone wires under the eaves. I had to leave for a meeting, but couldn’t face returning home to a smashed gourd. I needed a way to support it without hindering its growth.  Did they sell gourd hammocks, and if so, where would I find one on short notice?

My quick fix?  A few pieces of garden twine and a color-coordinating mesh shopping bag. It took less than five minutes to rig and it solved both problems.  The bag supports the weight of the gourd while at the same time allowing air to circulate.  The twine lifts the vine up and away from the phone lines.  I can’t write my blog without an internet connection!  Crisis averted.  The vine is now free to grow about its business.

Mesh Grocery Bag and twine

Mesh grocery bag

Gourd support

It’s in the bag

Halloween Countdown

vampire pumpkin

Vampire Pumpkin

I raided my son’s dress-up box for this week’s Halloween countdown. In the meantime, snails continue to “carve” the Snail Hotel.

 

Gifts from the Garden: Late Season Surprises

I love receiving gifts from the garden, little treasures and discoveries I didn’t expect. Here is what she offered up this week.

Turning Orange After All

Acorn shaped pumpkin turns orangeThis acorn-shaped pumpkin was doing well, when a scar on the skin opened into a small wound. With the fruit exposed to air, I assumed that was the end of it. How disappointing.

To my delight, it continued to turn orange.You can see right through to the inside of the pumpkin, so I’m surprised at this development.  It’s a gift!

Raspberry Redux

RaspberriesWe devoured raspberries for several weeks this summer, eating them straight off the vine. Eventually they stopped blooming and  I cut back the vine. This week, they are at it again. Fresh berries in August. Yum, yum, yum. Thank you berry vine for your generous gift. How sweet of you!

It’s a Whopper!

Large, still yellow, pumpkinOne of our pumpkin vines produced three large gourds in late July. They’ve put on weight daily, though the pumpkins to follow mostly shriveled and died on the vine. In what seemed like an overnight sensation, we now have a fourth still-yellow but equally large pumpkin on the vine. I hope it stays warm enough for the fruit to turn orange.  Occasionally the size of the gift is important.

Unexpected Sunflower

Sunflower with small centerI planted Evening Sun and Mammoth Russian Botanical Interests® sunflowers, so imagine my surprise when a third variety appeared this week. I love the shiny yellow flowers and their perfect little centers.  Who doesn’t love a gift out of the blue?

What’s up in your garden this week?

Pumpkin Vine Sprawl

Well will you look at that?!  Our granddaddy of all pumpkin vines has meandered across the planting box, over the trellis, through the tomato cage and around the berries.  Yesterday Big Max grew at least a foot!

I have two smaller vines growing as well, transplants from indoors.  One of them set fruit last week, but they can’t keep up with the big guy.  We’ve counted at least a dozen pumpkins so far, currently a pale yellow.  Two of them are the size of basketballs and so far unharmed.  The rats, squirrels and other mysterious visitors are helping themselves to the smaller fruit, but fortunately we have enough to go around.  Fingers crossed.

A few of the fruits have rotted on the vine but the plant itself looks okay.  I hope this is just part of the natural selection process and that the others continue to grow.  I wish you could all stop by for an in-person tour.  I guess photos will have to do.

Upward Mobility

My Pride and Joy

Leafy Green

Pumpkin Vines: The Long View

Up and Comers