Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wrapping up June: 2016

Hola amigos!

Yeah, I'm a couple days late with my monthly wrap-up. This summer, infinitely more than the past 3 summers, has been full of work. It seems like the longer we live in the house, the more work there is to do. I guess this makes sense. When we first moved in 3 years ago, we didn't even have grass. Now, we have landscaping times 100! The hubby and I were talking about how we had binged "Lost" back in the day, in 2009. I think one day we watched 15 episodes of the show. We got to talking about how in the world did we find that much time to watch the show, and we both came up with the fact that we lived in a rental whose yard consisted of an approximately 5 x 5 patch of grass. Not only were we not actively improving the property like people do with homes they own, but we had no yard. Of course we had oodles of time!

Not so much these days.  Granted, I'm pretty sure I had a migraine that day we watched "Lost" which would absolutely mean spending the day in a dark room. But there's no time to binge like we used to. And I'm ok with that. 

We did a ton of work in June! We (I say we, but really it's the hubby doing all the manual labor) finished the flower beds in back of the house and on the side. We fenced in the back yard. Bees flourished, tomato hornworms were assassinated, and the hummingbirds returned in full force. It was a great month!

The back flower bed. Some of the plants we bought got a little root-bound waiting for the beds to be finished, but I think by next month they'll be looking a lot better and more established.

The side flower bed. We planted 3 long, skinny green bushes, several Heuchera's for my hummingbirds, and then multiple ground covers. I'm in love with the ground cover we planted, which are little dark green and blueish leaves which grow purple flowers that the bees love. We got them in the ground 2 weeks ago, and they already look like they are spreading.

It's only July 3, but the garden already looks drastically different. I won't clue you in to what we've done, I'll wait for the big reveal of the upgrades we made to this part of the yard. But this is what the garden looked like on June 30.

Remember that chamomile that was getting ready to pop? Pop it did! The chamomile is taking over the garden. Seriously. It grows like mint, like a weed. It's smells fantastic too.

Not only do our honeybees love the chamomile but all these native, leaf-cutter bees love them too!

Look at the cannons (i.e. what the hubby calls pollen-coated bee legs) on this guy!

Leaf-cutter bees are extremely friendly and docile. Stings are extremely rare.

Isn't he cute??

I've already harvested some chamomile and have started to dry it out. I've got it hanging in the basement. I can't wait to make my own tea! 

Our bees are doing extremely well. The hubby has added 2nd boxes to each hive for the bees to build out. He's even thinking he might put the honey-super on next, which is practically unheard of in the 1st year bee-keeping. 

Happy bees!

They still love their "beaches".

When I was out taking pictures of the bees, the turtledoves got very impatient waiting for me to leave. I can always tell when they want me gone, because they line up on the power lines above me and I can almost feel them staring me down. They are not so much in to foraging when I'm out by the bees :-)

Someone didn't mind my presence though!

Try as I might, the bees do like to sneak nectar from the hummingbird feeders. 

The hummingbirds are less amused, ha ha. They still come to drink when the bees are there though. It's fun to watch them dance, the bees trying to find a flower, the hummingbirds buzzing around the bees to find room. 

What can I say? I heart hummingbirds.

June also saw Mariota's first bee sting. He chose to hide most of the day in my closet. My mother-in-law's dog kept him company the whole day.  He would not leave Mariota's side. It was too cute. I wish I could say that Mariota's moved past this, but unfortunately he's come to fear the back yard. We are working on it, but I doubt I'll see him out by the bees again.

Nothing says comfort like chewing on one's paws :-)

The garden is growing great! My strawberry patch (front) is growing like gangbusters.

Little berries starting to form.

One of the first berries! I ate this one, ha ha. The flavor of Alpine strawberries is beyond compare. I've been picking them daily, and freezing them. I'm hoping to get a large enough amount of berries to make some fresh strawberry ice cream while my family is staying here.

My raised tomato bed still looks a little straggly, but they are growing.

I placed a hummingbird feeder by the tomato bed, and they go crazy over this one. I catch them sitting on the tomato cages all the time.

June brought a handful of ripe grape tomatoes.

Admittedly, my potted tomatoes are looking a lot healthier than my tomatoes in the raised bed. The hubby and I are going to get our soil in the raised beds tested next year, as we are thinking there's something going on with the soil that's made those tomatoes, peppers, and basil look unhealthy.

My potted cherry tomatoes look the healthiest of everything I'm growing. They have nice, thick stalks and lushly green foliage. Plus, the fruit coming in looks amazing.

San Marzano's coming in.

And this, friends, is my compost pile. LOL. You know, the place where I threw all the starts that I didn't plant because they were stunted? Well, nothing seems to have died out there. That's a big pumpkin plant growing front and center! I've never had stuff grow in the compost pile, so this is new to me.

Tomatoes fruting in the compost pile. Insanity!

I also found this guy in the compost pile. I left him alone, since it was the compost pile after all. Much to his dismay, a braconid wasp found him. That's life.

Doesn't it look they have little eyes up and down their bodies? Kinda creepy :-)

The herb garden basil is growing like crazy. I've already made 2 batches of fresh pesto with the garden basil.

Sunflower getting ready to pop.

Marigold, lettuce, pumpkin, and zucchini bed.

Carrots about ready to harvest!

My potatoes did the same exact thing as last year. They sprouted up all beautiful and wonderful. Then, they proceeded to die about the middle of June. I planted many companion plants for the potatoes this year (which I didn't last year) so this is still a mystery to me. Ah well, I can't win em' all.

Cucumbers are another plant that I have trouble with. These 2 were out in the garden but were getting completely sunburned. I moved them to a partially shady spot and they've been greening up, but I doubt I'll get anything from them. 

I pulled this cucumber seedling from the compost pile, since it looked so healthy. Again, I doubt I'll get cucumbers this year. The hubby's father, on the other hand, is up to his ears in cucumbers so I've been getting garden cucumbers from him for a couple of weeks.

Jalapeños have been doing great.

My lettuce/kale/chard/greens bed. I've planted, harvested, and replanted this bed 3 times already this summer. 

On to flowers! A few from our wildflower mix-

The bees especially love this flower. I saw a honey bee rolling on one yesterday, it was so funny! She literally rolled her body all over the center of the flower. It was magical.

The leaf cutter bees are very fond of this flower too.

This was the best photo I got of this elusive little fellow. This is a Clearwing Sphinx Moth, better known as the Hummingbird Moth. This is the first year I've seen them in my yard. They really are as loud as hummingbirds! This one is really shy though. I've seen him 2-3 times in the yard and when I run for my camera, he's always long gone by the time I get back. This time, I saw him and I yelled for the hubby to get my camera so I could keep an eye on him. The hubby returned with my camera, and I'd only gotten 2 shots before he buzzed right out of the yard. One photo was blurry, and this was the other one. Sigh. It's my goal to get a better shot!

And finally, the fence was installed at the end of the month. I love, love, LOVE the fence! It's so freeing to go outside and not worry about what the dogs are doing. I suspect this will also make the neighbors happy as they've put up with 3 years of this girl yelling at the dogs when they are outside. No more!

My favorite recipes of the month were-

~Whew, did you guys get all that? What a crazy month! On to July, my friends :-) 


  1. WOW! What a busy month you two had. Your gardens are great and I am proud of you both for all of your hard work. You will love having the fence.

    One thing I thought of on looking at your three little bushes in the second photo. How big will these get? I've read gardeners who lamented planting certain things right close to the house, as they did not think of what size the shrub/bushes/trees would get. Maybe these won't get very big, but I thought I'd throw this thought out there anyway.

    Keep up the good work. You inspire me with your gardens and your recipes.

    Sorry to hear about Mariota's bee sting. Poor sweetie.

    Have a nice holiday ~ Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    P.S. I answered your email. :-)

    1. Thank you! We put a lot of work into the yard! Blood, sweat, AND tears :-)

      The bushes we planted on the side of the house are supposed to grow really well here in Kentucky, or at least that's what our local nursery told us. They been very honest so far, so hopefully they will live through our winters. That being said, the guy that owns the nursery told us that these plants get taller, but no wider. They are just tall, skinny plants. They are about 4 ft tall now, they are supposed to get to 8 ft. Now, if they do anything other than get taller, they might find themselves in another spot in our yard :-)

      Hope you are having a lovely week FlowerLady!

  2. You guys have been busy! My cucumbers are not doing well either. Last year they did nothing...didn't mater if I had them in pots or directly in the garden soil. I have seen one of those moths too...they are really cool!

    1. What is it with cucumbers? My third year trying to grow them with no luck. Grrr. One of these days!! :-)

  3. There is always something to do, isn't there? But it's for the better, I suppose. Though binge watching a show doesn't sound half bad some days! They garden is looking great and I love your photos!! Have a great 4th!

    1. That's how home ownership goes, doesn't it? Always something :-) There will be time for binge watching in the winter, ha ha.

      Hope you are having a great week Carlee!

  4. I love your compost pile plants! That's just awesome to get such surprises :)
    We struggle with potatoes, and I don't know why either. I just want to be done with them, but my husband gets so irritated by our failure that he continues to try!
    Still lovin' on your strawberries. I am curious if they spread a lot? I'd like to try them, but not sure how much room to give them!

    1. I know! Who would have thought plants would grow in a compost pile? Those potatoes, I swear. Mine completely died this week. No more green and yellow plants even. They just browned, and died. So disappointing!

      So, Alpine strawberries do not send out runners to spread. One plant will grow into a leafy mound about a foot wide. My little patch is a 4 x 4 raised bed that I planted 4 plants in last year. This year, the 4 little plants have indeed mounded and spread out. I did read that Alpine strawberries are well suited for growing in pots or containers, and they also will thrive in a partly shaded area. Lots of options for these little guys! I started mine from seed last year, which I bought the Alexandria Strawberry Seed from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I've had terrific luck with all the seeds I've bought from Johnny's.

      Whoa! That was a lot of strawberry information! :-)


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