First Watermelon!

The corner of the South Garden where melons are growing has become an inaccessible place for humans. Watermelon vines have taken over everything, including some basil, a good chunk of the pollinator garden, and part of the cantaloupe bed. I need to get back there and weed, but it's nearly impossible. We noticed over the weekend that we had several ripening watermelons on the vine, and this morning I picked one up that weighed easily 25 pounds. It had a nice yellow spot on the bottom, which is a sign of ripeness, but the vine hadn't quite died back where it attaches to the fruit. Still, I removed it and brought it inside to see how things were going. We cut in to it, and it wasn't quite ripe. Almost! Maybe another week on the vine would have turned it a darker pink and made it sweeter.

So the chickens got this one. (A side note: I've always composted, and never felt like I was 'wasting' food if I did something like this, because it would go back in to my beds as compost at some point. However, it feels even less wasteful to give it to the chickens, who are much faster 'composters' than I am, and will eat less expensive grain, the more they are given garden scraps.)  In a week, I'm expecting more watermelon, some we can actually eat. Hooray! Last year I had melons in a part of the South Garden that didn't get as much afternoon sun, and we never did get a fully ripe melon. So it's exciting to have a bumper crop this year.

The potato vines are dying back, so I think it might be almost time to harvest potatoes, as well. We really need a root cellar.

For the past year, I've been sowing Tithonia, and they've finally bloomed. First I noticed a huge sunflower-like plant coming up, but with very very soft fig-like leaves, and I wondered, hm, what is that I planted? (I sow so many flower seeds, I forget what I've sowed; plus I sow so many new things that I may not recognize them until they bloom.) When they reached six feet, I despaired of them ever blooming and telling me what they were. But they were blooming when we came home last weekend, and they are simply delightful. Tithonia is a member of the sunflower family and is often called Mexican Sunflower. They like it hot and dry (perfect for here!) and the deer don't like to eat them. I was told they were a beacon for butterflies, and guess what I saw yesterday?

Look at that beautiful Monarch  Gulf Frittilary! She stayed around the garden for quite a while. I don't get a lot of butterflies here, other than those annoying Cabbage Whites, whose innocent flutterings distract humans from the fact that they are laying very hungry caterpillars on everything from my nasturtiums to my tomatoes. So when a Monarch/Gulf Fritillary shows up and hangs out, it's special. I'm hoping a Swallowtail might be next.

I haven't noticed bees on the Tithonia, though they are known to like it. I notice bees all over the cosmos. So far the bees seem to be continuing to bring in plenty of nectar and pollen. As we move in to an even drier, hotter August, I'll think about feeding them sugar syrup, but as long as I have a lot of stuff blooming, I can avoid that. However, it was 105 here yesterday and supposed to be even hotter today. Who knows how long we can keep up with all the flowers, veg and fruit, with our limited water ration? Better enjoy everything while we can!