Balls!

Not an expletive, but rather an observation. The garden is teeming with ball-shaped fruits.

 tomatoes

tomatoes

 blackberries

blackberries

 apples

apples

 cantaloupes

cantaloupes

 pumpkins

pumpkins

 sweet peppers

sweet peppers

 watermelons

watermelons

 gourds

gourds

The pumpkins and gourds are especially fun to watch, because there is rarely a blossom without some kind of bee in it. These are growing right outside our dining room door, which is always open to the fresh air in the morning, and I can sit and eat breakfast and watch the activity.

I've had to remove several leaves from the winter squashes and spray all the rest with a powdery mildew preventative. I wish I had started the preventative earlier, as it really seems to help. I mix several cups of milk with several cups of water, add a few teaspoons of baking soda, and a drop of dishwashing liquid, then spray it on the leaves (usually in the morning before it heats up). It's supposed to change the PH of the leaves so that mildew cannot grow; and like I said, as long as I do it BEFORE mildew shows up, it works. 

The garden is just humming this time of year. I haven't noticed many butterflies yet, but then I don't have a lot of butterfly flowers blooming - just the monarda, and it's usually covered with native bumblebees. When the tithonia and cosmos finally blooms, then we should begin to see a lot of butterflies. Hummingbirds are everywhere, as usual, as well as numerous other birds. I love to have all this wildlife in our yard.

Everything is growing like crazy - August will be our primary harvest month, but we're getting lots of tomatoes, green beans, peppers, basil, blackberries, and apples now. I just harvested the last of our first planting of romaine; it'll be a while until we get the next batch. Last night I made a BLT pasta salad for dinner - using bacon that Tom had cured and smoked, and tomatoes and lettuce from the garden. (You can find the recipe at Grit.com.) The night before, our Thai basil was the star in an Asian dish. Berries for breakfast is a usual thing for me, as well as an apple in the afternoon. I bought some pluots from a farmer and made a clafouti, the easiest fruit dessert ever, and the America's Test Kitchen recipe doesn't even call for flour, if you're gluten intolerant. I've always got tomatoes ripening on the piano, and soon we'll have cucumbers, which is important because pickles are a big thing here in this house.

Everything looks full and lush, green and pretty. The bees are bringing in pollen, which lets me know the queen is still laying a lot of eggs, and the chickens are doing well, though they are too hot to lay many eggs at the moment. They are enjoying all the scraps from the garden - tomato juice and seeds, lettuce cores, basil stems. I've been working a bit at a summer camp for special needs kids, and so my time in the garden is even more precious. Luckily right now it's more about maintenance then anything else. Soon it will be all about preserving.

 pollen coming in

pollen coming in

 Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee'

Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee'

 Russian sage

Russian sage

 sunflower

sunflower

 Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany'

Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany'

 potatoes

potatoes

 Cuphea 'starfire'

Cuphea 'starfire'

 Bishop's Lace, going to seed

Bishop's Lace, going to seed

 corn

corn

 sweet pepper bed with basil and sunflowers

sweet pepper bed with basil and sunflowers

Today I'm home, so some maintenance is required and can actually be fulfilled. I'll have to get my work done early before it reaches the high 90's as it has been doing each day this week. Luckily, unlike other parts of the country, it cools down at night and the house can be opened for the night and the morning. We can close up the house at about 10 am and it will stay cool for hours. These are the days I'm thankful for our big shade trees!