Tag Archives: squash

After Vacation

Stephi Gardens

After a wonderful beach vacation and some college tours, we’re finally back home. As expected, the weather has been crazy while we were gone. The temperatures were just about average, but rainfall was almost double the normal amount. Included in this total was a single storm that dumped almost 2 inches of rain in under 2 hours and knocked out our power for almost 15 hours. Nothing like being on vacation and getting the call that the basement is flooded. Thank goodness for friends who went above and beyond to help.

So how did the garden fare? Quite well actually. With the fairly constant rain and average temperatures (and in some cases even a bit below average), I came home to a bit of a jungle. The last few years, by July we’ve been struggling with hot/dry conditions and the plants begin struggling. Not this year! I think I’ve had the sprinklers on once and that was just to test the system. Here’s some after vacation shots…

Many of the flowers are in full bloom and flourishing with the moderate temperatures and plenty of rain.  Although, I did miss most of the asiatic lily’s blooms.  They are mostly finished for the season.


Notice how beautiful the creeping thyme looks (Problems with Creeping Thyme).  Still waiting for the hummingbirds to find my flowers and feeder.

Stephi Gardens

The Purple Rooster Bee Balm is still blooming and attracting bees.   But now the accompanying Jackmanii Clematis and Pardon Me daylilies are also blooming.

Stephi Gardens


Stephi Gardens


daylilies and Russian sage

With all the rain , this garden is doing well despite the change from full shade to full sun.

annabelle hydrangea

The sunflowers have become gigantic!  Before we left they were probably only about 4 ft tall (see Before Vacation), now they are easily 7 ft-8 ft and attracting lots of bees.


The vegetable gardens are flourishing, but need some attention to prune back some of the wildness.

Stephi Gardens


Stephi Gardens

I have a nice bunch of bush beans to harvest.

bush beans

The lettuce is still hanging in there. My idea to plant them in the partly shady corner of the garden has paid off.


First time for cabbage and they’re looking great.


Cucumbers were slow to get going, but I’ll have plenty soon enough.


Zucchini and summer squash are plentiful.  Hoping to get some small tender ones harvested before they turn into baseball bats (see Giant Zucchini).  Somehow I’ve lost the garden markers labelling the squash varieties, so it’s a bit of a mystery what all the different squashes are.


So, overall, I’d say everything fared pretty well this year (definitely better than the basement).   Looking forward to the continued blooms and vegetable harvests!

Me and my giant sunflowers!


Before Vacation

It’s always tough to go leave the garden and go on vacation.  It seems like something (or everything) is ready to just burst out in color or ripen just in time to go away. Or the weather can you throw you a curve ball and get crazy hot/cold or dry/wet. Very unpredictable. I assumed this year was no different, so right before we left I had my daughter Emily take some pictures to do a little before and after.

Some of the flowers were already in full bloom and likely will be past peak before we get back…

asian lily




Bee balm



Some were ready to bloom and I can only hope I don’t miss the show…

Stephi Gardens


Stephi Gardens




Jackmanii clematus

The vegetables were flourishing.  The cooler weather vegetables were starting to show signs of stress and looking ready to bolt, but still fine to harvest for a little while longer.  Peppers, squash and beans were almost ready, so my friend who is helping with dog sitting and plant watering should get some treats.  I’d hate for them to go to waste and there’ll be plenty more.  Tomatoes are growing like gang-busters, but not expecting any ripe ones quite yet.

Stephi Gardens




summer squash


Stephi Gardens

Vacations are always a little tricky to be sure everything stays healthy in the garden.  Right before we left for almost 2 weeks, I gave everything a watering with Miracle-Gro fertilizer and dead-headed everything that would benefit from it.  I set the sprinkler to try and optimize waterings, and had a friend also check on things and keep the pots watered.  I also tried to be sure the plants that needed staking were supported so things wouldn’t be too out of hand when I got back.

How do your gardens fare when you go on vacation?

May Vegetable Garden

I’ve been so busy in the garden, I haven’t had much time to write about it.  Hopefully I can catch up in the next few days.  Everything is in that wonderful, lush spring phase.  Well, almost everything, but more on that another day.

garden vegetables

My raised vegetable beds are looking great.  I got my first harvest yesterday and we enjoyed a fresh vegetable side dish and a few small treats.   Most of the early seeds I planted in the side raised bed didn’t come up, but the spinach and a few stragglers survived the harsh spring.

garden spinach

garden spinach

In that bed, while the few early things are finishing up, I’ve planted tomatoes, onion starts, sugar snap peas, lots of squash, zucchini and cucumbers.  All the “messy” garden characters are nicely hidden on the side of the house with plenty of space to grow. All seem to be getting started nicely.

Raised bed garden

The new beds are also flourishing with vegetables, herbs and even some flowers.

Raised bed garden

The “left” garden has swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, bush beans, cabbage, green peppers, sunflowers and nasturtiums in it.  I expect it’ll get a little more shade as the summer goes on, so maybe the cool weather plants will have a bit of an extended life.

Raised bed garden

The “right” garden is chock full of more lettuce, radishes, cabbage, green peppers, bush beans, basil, sunflowers and zinnias.  In front are marigolds, potted herbs and snapdragons to give the beds some color.   I like my herbs in pots to keep them tidy and in place.  On the side of the house I have more herbs, including mint.  Mint should always be in some type of corralled container to prevent it from taking over.

Raised bed garden


Leafy greens

So far, no complaints on the appearance of the gardens.  I’m really trying hard to not let it get unruly.  Hopefully the flowers add a burst of color.  To further help that, in the background of the gardens I’ve added cosmos and daylilys.  This project may turn out to be even nicer than we expected.

garden strawberry

Even the strawberry pot is looking great. Nothing like fresh from the vine fruit to remind you of what fruit is supposed to taste like.

Seeds are in the House

After spending quite a bit of time pouring over seed catalogs, I finally sent in my seed orders. I had lots of new seed catalogs come to the house, and some more companies I just visited on-line, making the choices this year really tough.

Seed catalogs

Ultimately, I went with some Burpee stand by’s and the rest from Botanical Interests.  I ordered an assortment of vegetables and flowers.  Some of the vegetables I’ve grown before (summer squash, zucchini, lettuce) and others are new to my garden (pattypan squash, beets and cabbage).


I’ve outgrown the raised bed on the side of the house, plus we’ll have new construction next door so I’m not sure what the sun situation for that bed will even be come next year.  So we spent a great deal of time watching the sun pattern in the yard last year (full sun is a problem in my yard) and mulling over where we could tolerate more vegetable beds.  We finally settled on a new location off the back of the patio for 2 new raised beds.  I’ve promised to keep them under control and somehow “pretty” them up.  You can imagine them out there under the snow.


I bought new raised bed frames last fall from Plow and Hearth, so I am ready to go after a trip to the lumber store.  I’ll let you know how I like the brackets.

raised beds

Are you ready to start planting?


Cucumbers-Mid summer

My cucumbers, which looked so wimpy when I planted  the seedlings, have grown great.  I grew Burpee Sweet Burpless Hybrid for no other reason than the description sounded good in the catalogue.  I do seem to have a lot more squash plants than cucumber, and unfortunately, I like cukes better than squash.   Oh well, I guess I’ll be needing some creative squash recipes.

In any case, the cucumber and squash plants are co-existing nicely on my large cucumber trellises from Gardeners Supply Company.


Cucumber plants naturally are climbers and use tendrils to attach themselves to anything it can–the trellis, the brick wall, the tomato plant next to it.



The nice thing about using a trellis is that the cucumbers hang off the back, are easy to find, and don’t lay in the dirt where they can potentially get rotten spots.


When they are ready to harvest, it’s a good idea to hold onto the spot the cucumber attaches to the plant while pulling it off.  It’ll be pretty stuck on the vine and I’ve pulled whole sections of the plant (with other immature cucumbers) with the ripe vegetable when I’ve tried to pick them.  Also, if this is your first time growing cucumbers, don’t be surprised that the cucumber is covered in little spines.  When I get them in the house, I just use the kitchen scrubber sponge and rub them off and you then have the normal smooth cucumber you’ll find in the store.  Enjoy them in your favorite cucumber salad recipe!