zinnias

zinnias

It has been a long, hot and humid week here with not much time spent outdoors until yesterday. There were early morning garden waterings and that’s about it. But the humidity broke Friday night and this morning we had a cool, soaking rain. We haven’t even had to turn on the air conditioning today. What relief!

When I was able to get out in the garden yesterday morning I was horrified by the weeds, they love this weather. But no time to weed. I was out to harvest. Beans. Lots of them. You thought I had a lot of beans last week! This week I picked even more than before. So much more that Bookman pickled a quart of them and we still have lots of leftovers steamed and tucked into the freezer for later. We’ve never had pickled beans before but when we were grocery shopping at our food co-op Friday night we saw pickled beans on the shelf and Bookman thought he’d like to give them a try. I’ll let you know.

Last Sunday Bookman steamed the yellow and purple beans to make a delicious spicy bean dish that had red pepper flakes and a tiny bit of almond butter in it. Oh, it was so good and we enjoyed a few days of leftovers. Well, I was even more excited about it because it was going to be so pretty with yellow and purple beans. Guess what happened when Bookman steamed the beans? The purple ones turned green! The yellow ones stayed yellow so it still ended up looking pretty but not as dramatically pretty as if it had been purple and yellow. We’ve been laughing about it all week.

Also picked from the garden were two zucchini. One is normal size, the other, left unnoticed in the heat of the week grew

hoary vervain

hoary vervain

to giant proportions. I should have taken a photo of it but I didn’t think of it until too late. This squash is so big and heavy I am sure if I wrote murder mysteries I would use it as a weapon for the unsuspecting and then clean it up and cook it and no one would be the wiser. Murder weapon? I dare you to find it. The small zucchini will get cooked up in a stir fry or something. The giant one is too big for something like that, they lose a little oomph when they get that large. So Bookman, kitchen wizard extraordinaire, shredded it and cooked it up in a double batch of zucchini bread. He made zucchini bread with walnuts and raisins that we can have with breakfast this week. Then he made decadent zucchini muffins with walnuts and chocolate chips. When you cook vegetables into sweet treats they count as healthy, right? A muffin and coffee made a marvelous afternoon snack, let me just say.

Bookman was busy in the kitchen today because he also made bread and butter pickles from the gherkin-sized cucumbers I picked. Bookman loves pickles. Cucumbers and I don’t get along in pretty much any form except sweet pickle relish. Bookman promised that he will attempt to make some with the next batch of cucumbers.

We’ve begun work on widening our garden path before proceeding in extending it further. It is hot and sweaty work and we only got it partly done before the sun sent us scurrying indoors for something cold to drink. We will continue this evening after the sun is out of the backyard.

rattlesnake master

rattlesnake master

The garden is a pollinator paradise right now and it makes me so very happy. There are several different kinds of bees including the first of my favorite kind: bumblebees. I love these fat fuzzy bees. There are also several kinds of pollinating flies. The bachelor buttons and calendula which are still blooming strong are star attractions. The anise hyssop is a frequent destination too. And the mustard greens have bolted and are flowering pretty yellow flowers that the pollinators are also loving. I wasn’t going to plant mustard again next year because it didn’t produce much, but because the pollinators love the flowers it will make it back next year.

I was hoping for a big patch of zinnias but not many of the seeds germinated. Still, there are enough that they look pretty. Bookman and I love zinnias. He calls them “fruit loop” flowers, and really the colors do harken to that sugar-filled childhood breakfast cereal.

Making a comeback this year in my front yard prairie plantings is hoary vervain. Except it decided to relocate. It is

wild bergamot

wild bergamot

growing in a different bed than I planted it in a few years ago and not at all in the original bed. I am glad it has found a place it likes because I really like it. I also really like rattlesnake master. It is such an unusual flower. And wild bergamot. Oh, it has such a lovely scent, not sharp and flowery but deep and earthy and sort of herb-y. It is planted next to the sidewalk and I love walking by it in the afternoon when the air is warm. Someone described it once as a “Mediterranean” kind of scent. It is in the monarda family, just like bee balm except I can’t get bee balm to grow but the wild bergamot goes crazy.

yellow and purple coneflowers

yellow and purple coneflowers

The yellow coneflowers are now starting to bloom. These are called yellow coneflowers but they aren’t echinacea like the purple ones. These are ratibida pinnata, a member of the aster family but they look like coneflowers. They have grown rather tall this year, taller than they ever have, and are technically too tall for the city’s boulevard garden height regulation. But the city doesn’t enforce it unless someone complains and why would someone complain about them?

The liatris is about to start blooming so I’ll have photos of those next week. I love them so much I really have to plant more. And in the veggie garden there will be more beans to pick. The pumpkins are vining like crazy and one of them grew about 4 feet (1.2m) just this week. They are flowering like crazy too. I hope that means lots of pumpkins this fall! And the cantaloupes that I had almost given up on, the week’s heat and humidity have been good to them and they have begun vining and flowering too. The stunted bell pepper plants are also starting to grow and have tight little flower buds on them. The tomato plants have gotten taller and are trying to recover. One of them has a golf ball-sized green tomato on it. I didn’t think the other two were even going to flower but I noticed this morning that they each have a few flowers on them. Not a banner year for tomatoes so if we get one we’ll count ourselves lucky. Except we will have to be lucky since it is so late in the season. We will need a long autumn in order to get either tomatoes or bell peppers. Fingers crossed!

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