September 2019, Week 2

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
September 8, 2019

So, the summer heat drags on. Every year this seems to be more and more a hallmark of September weather, and I get so tired of it. Is anyone else ready for real autumn weather? Our very first year here, 1999, was a very hot, dry year and gardening, especially in only marginally-improved new beds, was rough, but the heat broke with an almost-surprise frost/freeze on the morning of the 30th. I saved most of the garden with a hastily-constructed plastic tunnel put up over it after I saw the forecast for near-freezing temperatures about 2 days in advance. I then put a row of hay bales around the bottom of the plastic tunnel for further insulation. About 90% of the plants survived. I'm not saying I want a frost or freeze at the end of September.....but there are days that it would be nice to think maybe we could just start having highs in the 80s, perhaps, instead of the upper 90s, before the end of this month. About a week prior to that early frost/freeze, we'd had a similar cool night hit Burneyville, where our mesonet station was located, but our area had stayed warmer that time. I wasn't expecting either of those cold nights so early in autumn and they still would be an anomaly if they occurred today, but I'd be lying if I said that they don't sound good right now. (grin) We haven't had good cool weather in September in ages, though.

For what it is worth, the September outlook shows our weather remaining hotter than average too, and I even went and looked at the Experimental 3-4 week outlook to see if it was finding more recent signs of a cooling trend, and there's no good news to be found there either. Brace yourselves for that and keep young seedlings for the fall garden well-watered. Shading might be needed if we linger in the upper 90s too long.

I then went and looked at the longer term outlooks, and they show that the odds are we will remain warmer than average for all of autumn.....the trick, of course, is that we don't know what 'warmer than average' means---it could mean we'll be outright hot like we are right now, or it could mean we'll be only marginally warmer than average. I guess time will tell.

Garden chores remain the same as in the previous few weeks, and of course, a careful gardener watching their own weather carefully may choose to sow seeds of winter cover crops or cool-season edibles like spinach as local conditions allow. If you're the type of lawn person who likes to put out a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the germination of cool-season weeds, you still can do that this week, but the window of opportunity for that task is slamming shut, so I wouldn't delay too long.

Right now, our garden is full of flowers, bees, butterflies and insects of all kinds, particularly spiders, and I'm happy to see that. Everything is buzzing right along in there. I don't think there's as many grasshoppers as we had a month ago, but their population has stayed pretty high in late summer and not dropped as much as usual in August and September. I'm so tired of them eating everything in sight. I hope to deadhead and weed more this week, as we are (in theory) going to have a gradual cooling trend all week long. At least, that is what my 7-day forecast has been showing the last few days. I hope it doesn't change.

Tim mowed this weekend so all's right in his world. We do have the best stand of grass out in the pastures that I've ever seen in September, and I'm still hoping for great fall wildflowers, though they seem slow to show up so far.

Have a beautiful day everyone and a terrific week and don't forget to hydrate!


Comments (41)

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Following through from what I wrote on the other thread, here's a pic of the Emperor turmeric (variegated).

    And this is White Turmeric (we'll see what this is like, most turmeric roots are orange)

    And this is the front planter

  • Rebecca (7a)

    How do I know when my butternut squash is ready to pick?

    Do I plant scallions in the fall for next year?

    I’m still impressed with how most of my tomatoes are trying to come back for fall.

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  • Megan Huntley

    This hot weather has been a pain in the butt for starting fall seedlings and you may have seen on a The Collected Seed Facebook post that I managed to roast all of mine. It's been one of those years when things don't run as smoothly on their own as I hope they might. I've also been in a real funk since the Midland/Odessa shooting. I typically tune those things out but a co-worker had complained that I didn't pause the company's scheduled social media posts when the Daytona shooting happened. When I heard about Texas that complaint meant I had to text my supervisors and get an opinion on whether or not to post a thinking of you message and/or halt scheduled posts - we did neither so the exercise was simply a means of pacifying a whiner - and it's had me depressed ever since because I actually let myself think about it. As a result, my garden has been neglected the last couple weeks and my seedlings paid the price. Anywho - I need to not go down that road this early in the morning.

    I too have been reflecting on my 2019 gardens and beefsteak/slicer tomatoes have been my biggest success. I had given up growing them a few years ago because in the containers I have, I couldn't regulate the moisture which meant i could never beat the blossom end rot. I started experimenting with which containers for which tomatoes and this year put all my beefsteak/slicers in my largest container (6'x3'x3') and they did remarkably. The cherries I grew in mineral tubs did shut down in August which they never did in the large container so not having cherry toms for salads through the summer was an adjustment. Also, I decided that for fall I would try a single Cherokee Purple in some of the containers where I had BER in the past - thinking that maybe I didn't have drip lines set up then - and so far they're doing extremely well.

    It seems like I never get my soilless mix right the first year and it takes a year or two for it to be good. Many of the garden woes this year are being chalked up to that fact because I've added so many mineral tubs. Also, Potterville - the area with about 20 tubs - gets direct, blazing sun from 11 a.m. or noon until sunset - so even things that like it hot have either slowed WAY down or shut down production. I'm reconsidering my long-term plans for Potterville as a result. Jen the one warning I would give you about the tubs is to situate them where they'll get some shelter from the sun so that the soil doesn't get so hot.

    Bugs have been especially bad this year. I don't know that I've ever seen a leaf-footed bug in my yard before and they've been gangbusters along with stink bugs which I started seeing so early in the spring I couldn't believe it. Just as things were greening up I was already seeing them - full grown! Because we're not spraying for bugs this year, we had paper wasps set up nests in a few places around the yard. One was in a hanging metal yard decoration thing in a tree near where I have kale growing and the wasps weren't causing any problems so we left them alone. I noticed that the cabbage lopers numbers were far reduced despite seeing many cabbage whites landing on the kale so I was happy to leave the wasps alone assuming that was the cause/effect. Well, one day a few weeks ago the wasps got defensive and Ben got stuck multiple times just for walking too close and the nest was nuked. Since then I've seen much more damage to my kale by the lopers so the wasps were definitely keeping their population down. I also noticed that the lopers seem to prefer the Red Russian Kale to the other varieties I'm growing, so I'll plan on growing it as a sacrificial plant in the future.

    We replaced the heat and air in our house 3 years ago and hated to do it but at the same time I'm glad we did. For a couple years prior, every time the weather changed from hot to cold or cold to hot we were spending $500-$1000 on repairs because something would go out. A fan, a motor, a something. Of course code had changed in the 20-ish years since the house was built and we needed a higher tonage unit so all that money you're supposed to save on your energy bill because you have a more efficient, newer system never happened. It's not running round-the-clock like the old one had to in August but it's enough bigger that it burns just as much electricity as did running the old one 24/7. Something it can do that the old one couldn't - make things colder! If for some reason we decide to turn the temp down a degree or two, the new system does it lickety-split. The old one couldn't have no matter how much it struggled, and we would have feared burning it up by adjusting the temps.

    On the A/C topic... I to replace the A/C in my car at the beginning of summer and I was pretty ticked - heck, still am! The car won't be 5 years old until next month and barely has 75,000 miles, but the A/C went out. With Ben's employee discount at the dealership, which is parts at cost and reduced labor fee, it still cost just shy of $1,000. The model year for my car was a redesign and they screwed up a few things and redesigned them for the following year model but of course they didn't foot the bill for people stuck in the middle with the burns-out-after-4-years A/C. Grrr.

    Wow! Speaking of rambling. Back to garden related - if we're having a warmer than average fall that means I might get some fall crops after all and it will be a good thing for my sweet potatoes. I had a four letter problem getting those going this year... Jill - the dog we rescued earlier this year thinking she would be 20 lbs-ish not 50 lbs-ish. I didn't know Jill had gotten big enough to snatch sweets that I had on the patio setting slips - I thought maybe someone's squirrels were visiting me - until one day I caught Jill in the act. Then once I buried the slips, she kept digging them up! Thankfully, I was able to save a few from the plants I've been saving and regrowing for 4-5 years now but not enough to get the number of potatoes I wanted. I quickly ordered a few from Sand Hill in mid-July. Lucky for me their crops were delayed due to cool/wet spring. Then their shipment was slower than the 3 days the post office said it would take so the slips arrived while I was on vacation and my mom wasn't checking the mail. I realized they were sitting in my mailbox on the second or third day and sent my MIL to fetch them but they were nearly cooked. It took 3-weeks to get them strong enough to plant... so if a first freeze could hold off until an extra week or two, it might make a big difference for my potatoes. Even with our long growing season, it will be cutting it close for them this year.

    I remember a few years ago, one of the first after moving back to OK we didn't have our first freeze until close to Thanksgiving and even that was just a light frost. That same winter was so mild that in late Dec/early Jan I had lettuce sprouting and growing from dropped seeds. I wonder if it will be like that this year? I hope not, even though the mild weather was nice it did nothing for killing bugs! As for this warmer than average noise... Maybe they should switch their average ratings to the last 20 or 30 years vs going all the way back to 1980? I'm sure that from a climatological perspective, there is good reason for the figures they use but for forecasting to the masses it seems like the average person would have a better sense of what to expect based on a more modern window because things have changed regardless of what someone thinks is the cause. I know it would muddy the climate debate even further, but it's not like people will ever see eye-to-eye.

    Jen, before I go, I wanted to mention that I've seen canning classes offered as part of the continuing ed curriculum at some of the tech centers around OKC so you might look into those. I taught myself waterbath canning just as Dawn describes and its the prep that's the work but it's easy to pick up. Ball also has their own canning channel on Youtube. Here's a link.

    Alright. Houzz has enabled my procrastinating long enough. Oh, last thing - speaking of enabling. I ordered seeds this weekend. I blame y'all.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Amy, Your plants look great! One of these years, I'm going to grow both ginger and turmeric in containers, but I haven't managed to find time to add them to the garden yet. They've been on my To Do/To Grow list forever though.

    Rebecca, Your butternut squash is ready to harvest whenever the rind gets tough enough that you cannot make a dent in it when your press your thumbnail into the rind. For the best flavor, you then need to cure your butternut squash for a couple of weeks before you eat it. To cure winter squash varieties like butternut, just let them sit at air temperature indoors for a couple of weeks out of direct sunlight. During the curing process, the fruit dries out a bit internally, which is a good thing, and the starches start converting to sugar, giving them better flavor. Often, when people harvest and immediately use butternut squash without taking the time to cure them, they find the flavor bland and disappointing.

    I just plant scallions at the regular onion-planting time, in February or March.

    I always am impressed with the way tomatoes rebound when the weather improves too. Sometimes when you look at the plants in late September or October it is hard to believe they are the same plants that looked so stressed and unhappy in late July or in August.

    I ventured into the garden early today, weeded a little bit and harvested a lot more jalapenos. Their flavor is mixed---some are hot and some are not, but at least some of them are bringing the heat, finally. Then I watered the container plants, which were terribly dry, and checked the milkweed for the dreaded milkweed tussock caterpillars. I've never had them here, but several other people in the state have found then on their plants lately, so I figured I needed to look for them and kill them if they were on my plants. They were not, but I did spot some monarch cats on the milkweed. It was so early (barely sunrise) that there weren't many butterflies nectaring in the garden yet, but I did see some gulf frits.

    I could have spent the whole day in the garden just weeding and deadheading, but both the house and I need a recovery day now that the grandkids are back home. I just put a big mound of wet beach towels and bathing suits in the washing machine---the kids were in the pool for at least six hours yesterday, getting out occasionally for meals and snacks. Tim and I cannot believe how much those two girls can wear us out. I wish I had their energy. After I get the laundry and cooking done and the house tidied up today, I might spend all of tomorrow out in the garden if the weather cooperates.

    The NWS has lowered our forecast highs for this week (yay!) and increased our rain chances from as low as 10% to as high as 50%, so I feel a bit better about this week's weather, even if the rain misses us.

    There are lots of hummingbirds here still but we'll only have them a few more weeks. I try to watch them, enjoy them and appreciate them every single day because soon they'll be headed south, and we really miss them when they aren't here.

    Have a good day everyone.


  • slowpoke_gardener

    Megan, keep rambling. I am able to see that many of your problems are the same as mine. My garden has smelled like rotten tomatoes and stink bugs all summers. I have seen a lot of leaf footed bugs this year also.

    I have started digging out the Johnson grass in my north garden. I want to plant Cole crops or cover crops, at any rate I feel this is the best time to get rid of as much as I can. You can see that just letting it go for one summer is a mistake.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Scallions from seed, Dawn?

    My containers need need water at least every other day right now.

    Now that I have AC, my garbage disposal is leaking. Like, pouring.

    Megan, I’m struggling to get fall seeds started too. Going to just give up and buy seedlings this year. When I can find them.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Rebecca, I have started scallions from seed before in the fall and early spring. For me it was easier in the early spring because of less work. It was also easier to start them inside, or at least in a flat. When they come up they look like a very small bobby pin and hard for me to see. I like to keep my plants clear from weeds and it is not a lot of fun for me to get down on my hands and knees in the cold weather and weed around my onions. I would guess that if you grow them in a container it would be easier.. I have also lost small onion plants in very cold weather, but maybe if you planted now they might make it through a mild winter. I had the best luck with " Evergreen bunching onions ".

    I have some Egyptian walking onions on the deck that I need to plant when I get the bermuda and johnson grass cleaned out of the north garden. I saw a lady at the post office that I gave egyptian walking onion to last year and she told me that the onions dies, I hope Jacob is on here, I would like to know if his walking onions lived.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    In my mind the scallion seeds would be planted in fall, but everything I read on line says early spring. Maybe winter sow. We often put store bought scallion roots in the ground and I have some growing now, despite neglect and a questionable watering schedule. I ordered seeds, so I'll have to decide how to deal with them.

    I have some green chicory growing and have ordered some red, because it was so pretty. Maybe the green will taste better in cool weather. I'm guessing Ron will like it because he doesn't mind bitter greens. I ordered from Wild Garden Seeds, and after submitting realized I forgot the lettuce (Chadwick's Rodan) that was the whole point of ordering from them. So I did a separate order with a note I had forgotten it. They shipped it all together and refunded me the shipping I paid for on the 2nd order. So, 5 stars for Wild Garden Seed!

    If it would just cool down a little. As Dawn says, maybe tomorrow. The littles did me in, too, Dawn, and I wondered how I dealt with 4 of them! I didn't really feel good when they left, and went to bed way early for me. Had nothing left yesterday either.

    Have a good week.

  • hazelinok

    Oh, y'all, when I hear about how your grandchildren are exhausting you, it makes me worry. Because of course when I heard Mason should be getting a ring soon...I thought "grandchildren". (Seriously, have a baby soon, Mason, so I don't do something stupid and have another one myself. LOL. ) I miss my babies. ANYWAY...I worry that they will exhaust me now that y'all are talking about it. Maybe I'm still in shape for it, though, because I work with little kids almost everyday.

    I am tired--not from children, but from house and yard work. We mowed and finished the tree trimming tonight. I like to use the push mower in the "yard" areas because I want it bagged. Someone on the chicken forum has a great idea. Dump the grass clipping into the chicken pen. Why didn't I think of that?! They like scratching around in it and it will hopefully make the pen less muddy during rainy times.

    My jalapenos are crazy hot. The plants and fruit are small, though. I pickled a couple of jars today.

    My okra is weird...maybe because the season is winding down. It is still producing everyday...but the plants look different. I made a big batch of fried okra this afternoon for us to eat for dinner when we finished the yard work (and walking the dogs).

    This morning, I harvested everything that I have been neglecting. All the Juliets and Sungolds and Sungold offspring. Some of them are cracked...probably from the rain we had a couple of weeks ago. The chickens enjoyed the cracked ones.

    I'm amazed at the pole beans. They were dead...or so I thought...but now are making new green and I've even seen a couple of beans.

    Everything is such an entwined mess in the garden and I am okay with that.

    So far the brussels, cauliflower and broccoli are alive. The brussels are struggling, though.

  • hazelinok

    Looking back on last night's post...why did I even post all of that? haha! I was so tired.

    Now, I'm hungry. Although that has nothing to do with anything. And sore from our yard work last night.

    Asplundh was working in our neighborhood yesterday. I asked them to dump the wood chips in my old pile. They said they wouldn't have a full load. I said, "I don't care. I'll take what you have." At the end of their work day, they came to the door and said they would come back when they have a full load! What can I do, but say okay? I mentioned that how I have been on Chipdrop for a year and haven't received anything. LISTEN UP HERE if you've been waiting on Chipdrop. He said they've been working "out in the country" and are moving in towards the city. So, what I take that to mean is that all of us who live closer to town--and have been waiting for months--might get some woodchips finally. Good news, right? I still wish I had gotten my half load of chips, though. I considered begging for them, but didn't want to show my weirdness and/or scare them away forever.

    Megan, I am sorry about your little seedlings. It doesn't take much for things to go wrong real quick with such little seedlings. I lost most of my small fall tomato seedlings back in June. Two made it and are doing great now--even have small fruit. Also, I had started "greens" seeds of all varieties a couple of weeks ago and killed them. I can't seem to start seeds outdoors. So...I cleared off the light shelf and started more. They are doing fine. I also have a lot of volunteers in the salad garden. Tonight is the night to build the hoop. Waiting for it to cool off just a bit more.

    Speaking of killing plants, it's possible I allowed my brassicas to be killed by the hot sun today. I have not been working on Tuesdays, so was out-of-sorts this morning. I am subbing on Tuesdays (starting today) for another school. I forgot to bring in the dogs and cover the brassicas with the shade cloth. As soon as I came home at 3:15, I covered them and turned on their soaker hose. Luckily, Ethan was home today and was able to bring in the dogs. It's against the law in Norman to leave dogs tethered unattended. Honestly, I haven't been leaving them out on their cords when I'm at work after Kane was injured last summer. I will leave them for an hour or two if I go to the store. Ethan only has a night class on Tuesdays and Thursdays--so happy he was able to bring them in.

    Back to the plants, I'll check them in a while and see if they look okay. If not, I'll buy some more, I guess.

    I'm thrilled to have a fall garden this year, but need to plan better next year.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    I have been trying to clean the north garden for fall planting. with the heat and lack of rain I am dragging my feet on some of the veggies I want to plant. I may just skip most of everything except cover crops.

    I have 2 # of wildflower mix waiting for me at the Mena farmers co-op. I will add about 100# of some kind of grain to that and start getting the wildlife garden ready. I also gathered up 2 or 3 pickup loads of mulch and compost, I already had about that much on hand. One surprise for me this year is that I already have some type of cole crop growing in the wildlife garden. It must have been in a deer plot mix I planted year before last. I ate greens off of it last year and it was very good, it looks like collards, but I am not sure what it is, but I will eat it again this fall.

    The weather has cooled a little, but no rain in sight.

    My peppers and okra are slowing down. I picked three tomatoes, but they were damaged.

    Disease and insects have been giving me fits all summer long.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Those turmeric plants are beautiful, Amy! Did you grow them from seed? And, Amy--finally the ginger is going to bloom. Well, that is, the tallest one is going to bloom at some point. I see the beginning of the bloom.

    Ahh--Larry, Amy has Egyptian walking onions. I'm thinking hers come back, right, Amy? I now have them, too, thanks to Amy, but this is their first year here. Loved your description of the scallion seedlings. And yep.

    I am fried, but will catch up with posts now. I was laughing today, kind of. That gravel drive area is the killer. Just added app. 5000 square feet to the mowing area. It took me six separate tries to get the entire lawn mowed. The deal I made with myself was that I had to get the entire lawn mowed today, but could take as many long breaks as I wanted. And I wanted many of them! Garry, meanwhile, labored in the veggie area, adding soil to the one empty bed. It looks amazing! Hard work, that--and he also used the weed eater. It WAS a bit cooler today.

    HJ, but it's a good kind of exhaustion (the little ones), right, Dawn and Amy? LOL. I was exhausted yesterday with a room full of kids and one that was 24/7. It was only for five hours, but I was plumb tired out. And our garden is the same as yours, too, an entwined mess. I love it, actually.

    I was excited to find Native American Seeds, but wow are they expensive! That's okay. They had a few things I really really wanted. But now that I'm broke, . . . . . .

    Rebecca! OH no! Speaking of broke, huh? And, yep, me too, have to water the container plants at least every other day.

    Some of you on FB may have seen my excitement at finding one clump of milkweeds just lousy with Monarch cats. SO cool. I had given up on them, since that largish clump didn't have any flowers. I was afraid the Monarch butterflies wouldn't find them without the flowers, so am glad to know now that they can. I'm sure the reason that clump didn't flower was because I had snipped off the tips so many times. But it all worked out! Yay! I have a lot more milkweed to plant this fall.

    Dawn, we've had a hummingbird explosion. It was a slower-than-normal summer for them--most likely because of all the flooding and rain. But they're here in spades now. GDW is having to refill the feeders every day.

    I think the biggest thing for me in this year's garden was seeing the enormous numbers of predatory insects. I loved it, even though the butterfly cats probably provided many a meal for those wasps. Lots and lots of various kinds of wasps. While I saw many ladybugs early on, I suspect they also got eaten. The ammi and hollyhock zebrina that did so well last year, this year not so much.

    I am just now seeing another wave of butterflies. We've had lots of the gulf frits here, Dawn (with the miraculous arrival of the passiflora in back), lots of Painted Ladies, American ladies, swallowtails, and a few of several others. Not many Monarchs.

    Here's Garry's bed, with my grass added in. And our driveway/gravel area is filling in even more. One of the side benefits of this is that the gravel no longer washes down the property with heavy rains, leaving nasty ruts behind.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Megan, All my containers have something west of them to shade them from late afternoon sun. The ones in the garden have the pecan tree and mimosa tree that sit to the west of the garden fence and begin shading them around 1 pm, though they are in dappled shade first and then deep shade later, and it works out perfectly for those plants. The tool shed in the garden sits in that same shade, and for plants that like a little more sun (the two jasmine plants, a large shrimp plant in its own container, one large container of Cora periwinkles and a large container with Pride of Barbados underplanted with creeping jenny all sit in front of the shed so they are a bit further out from the shade and get sunlight until 2 or 3 pm, which works for them. For Pottersville, is there anyway to built a small wooden structure from which you could suspend shade cloth above them during the worst of the heat? Before we had enough shade from the pecan tree (it obviously is a lot taller and larger now than it was 20 years ago), I grew tall plants like lion's tail, grain type amaranths, and sunflowers to the west of the containers so those taller plants would provide some measure of shade for the plants in containers. My most successful (almost too successful) shading plants were broom corn in mixed colors that got about 12' tall by late July or early August interplanted with purple hyacinth beans. It was a rainy year and the beans grew like crazy, eventually burying the broom corn plants beneath their heavy foliage and causing the broom corn plants to lean towards the east. I had to start pruning back the bean vines some in order to keep the broom corn plants from bending all the way to the ground, but that also allowed me to control how much shade there was or wasn't just by pruning, which was sort of nice.

    The tomato plants in large containers near the house are sited between the house and the detached garage, which sits about 20' west of the house. They get shade from the garage beginning around 1-2 pm, depending on how late it is in the season and are insanely happy there. I may put a whole container garden there next year, not just tomato plants.

    Stink bugs were here the earliest I've ever seen them, and I want to say it was in mid-April, and then they were heavy and thick. I could kill them all day and more just kept coming. Had I not been killing them aggressively every day, we never would have gotten a single undamaged tomato. It was all out war all summer to kill enough of them in order to get good tomatoes that weren't badly damaged by them. The leaf-footed bugs were not as bad as usual here, for which I was grateful. I killed every single one I saw from Day 1 and perhaps stopped them from reproducing and we never had nearly as many of them as we did stink bugs. For many years here---probably at least our first 12 or 13 years, the LFB were a rare visitor and only pretty late in the summer. Then one year they showed up early and often and have been a consistent problem ever since, so having fewer of them this year was a bit of a surprise. If things go as they usually do, the stink bugs will be back to normal next year and the LFB's will be horrible.

    They do compute the weather averages on a 30-year sliding scale but only update at the end of each decade, so the ones we see now are for 1980-2010. I suppose we won't see another change until they slide the averages to 1990-2020, and it seems like when they did it after 2010 ended, it still took them a year or two to compute and start using the new averages. I remember waiting forever to see the new averages, and sometimes they are hard to find---I've given up on OCS rolling in the new averages into their data in a timely manner---some of their data seems so old that I don't use it for averages. What I do know from living here since 1999 is that our colder weather in autumn is setting in later and later every year, and it has been a slow, steady progression since we moved here. I remember one year we didn't get cold early and, in fact, didn't have our first killing freeze until mid-December, which was just crazy, but usually we have it in late November. I guess the occasional late first freeze in December makes up for and averages out the occasional early first freeze in September.

    Amy, We survived motherhood then because we were younger and had more energy! I remember being able to stay up until midnight or 1 am when Chris was small and still being able to get up and be at work by 7 a.m. If I stay up until 1 a.m. now, there's no way I'm even out of bed by 7 a.m., much less, up, showered, dressed and at work by 7 a.m. Ha! I wouldn't even attempt it. When he was about 4 or 5, I'd get up and be at the gym by 5 a.m. and at work by 7 am. and I don't even remember feeling tired. Those days are long ago and far away now.

    We were a bit cooler today---the lower 90s versus the mid- to upper-90s and I don't think our heat index even broke 100, so we're definitely cooling down. The temperatures still remain above average though, and next week is supposed to be above average as well. I do not believe the weather down here will get as cool and rainy as it is forecast to do further north in OK later this week, so any relief we see here is likely to be that our temperatures will drop down to average for a day or so at the end of the week before heating up again. Rain is not likely in any amount worth measuring either.

    I haven't ordered any seeds for next year, but I'm working on lists of what I want and need.

    Rebecca, To grow scallions from seed you can sow the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before your targeted plant-out date, or you can direct sow the seeds once your soil temperatures reach 50 degrees but your scallions will be pretty late. Because onions started indoors will get long/tall pretty quickly, they are easily maintained if you just keep cutting them back as they get long. It won't hurt them and will keep them from becoming a tangled mess. Or, you can use onions plants (I like scallions from sweet onion varieties better than the ones from hotter, more pungent varieties)---I do this a lot, using the tiny to small onion plants in each bundle and planting them an inch apart while using the larger onion plants at a 4" spacing for regular onions. Many people grow bunching onions varieties (Japanese Bunching, Tokyo, Beltsville, Evergreen, Warrior, etc.) for scallions, starting the seed indoors and transplanting out at onion-planting time. Johnny's Selected Seeds has a nice variety of bunching onion seeds if that is the route you want to take.

    Larry, You've had such a frustrating summer there. I'm hoping autumn will be better, but it doesn't seem like it is starting out better, does it? The weather just won't cooperate this year.

    Jennifer, The grandkids are exhausting. The older they get, the more they have the ability to go, go, go all weekend long while we're racing behind, energy-wise, trying to stay caught up with them. There's a reason God has the younger folks giving birth and having babies---because they are younger and have more energy! lol. Grandkids are fun---you can love them and spoil them and play with them, and then they go home to their parents and you have a few days to rest and recover before you see them again. It is a perfect system. Our little one turns 5 next week and she has pretty much given up afternoon naps and she still has endless energy. I wish I had the energy she has.

    I think if all I had to do was play with them, it wouldn't be so tiring, but everything else doesn't stop needing attention when they are here, so I'm up early to feed the animals and quickly tend the garden while they are still sleeping, and then start making breakfast around the time I expect them to wake up....if I am lucky, I can throw a load of laundry in the washing machine and have it washing while making breakfast because otherwise we get so busy once they are awake that I forget to do the laundry. After a busy day of activity with them, after they go to bed, I stay up a couple more hours folding laundry and putting it away, unloading the dishwasher and putting the dishes away, sweeping the floors, tidying up the house, etc. and fall into bed hoping to sleep a few hours before it is time to get up and do it all over again. I'm not complaining---I love having them here, but it makes for very active/busy and, yes, tiring days. And....they are eating machines! They have breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and then an evening snack before bedtime. I'm always in the kitchen preparing a meal or a snack, which is part of the being so worn out, I think. (grin) We won't even mention wet beach towels and bathing suits and a trail of little wet footprints when they come inside to get something in the midst of pool time. All too soon, though, the heat will be gone and they won't be spending half a day in the pool, and then we'll just be creating some other sort of mess, right? I love every minute that they are here, but by the time they leave, I am exhausted and need to rest---there is just no denying that. I don't remember being tired like that when Chris was little, and we always had a crowd of kids at the house in nice weather because we had a big backyard pool. Our niece and nephew lived nearby and spent so much time with us that at times it was almost as if we had 3 kids, not 1. Usually when I picked up Chris at school, I picked up both of the as well, and if we were going shopping for school clothes or holiday outfits or whatever, I just took them along with us and bought stuff for them too because my sister was a struggling single parent.....and I do not remember the 3 of them wearing me out like the 2 grandkids do. I do think I am pickier now about keeping the house neat, clean and tidy and also about not letting the laundry pile up, so maybe back then I let a lot of that stuff slide and maybe that is part of why I don't remember being so tired back then.

    The explosion of hummingbird activity is crazy, but it always is this way from mid-August through the end of the season as they feed up/fatten up to prepare to migrate. There is a gang of 5 that's always together here, all day long, though there's other birds that come to the feeders in 2s and 3s. The gang of 5 dominates and prefers one feeder to all the others, even though there is an identical feeder just a few feet away. I enjoy watching those 5 together---sometimes they are almost synchronized in their feeding and in the way they trade spaces at the feeder---like it is choreographed perfectly. I could watch them all day long, but then I'd never get anything done. Today, while I was refilling their favorite feeder in the kitchen, they just sat on a nearby shrub and waited for me to bring it back when they could have been feeding at 2 other feeders very close by. I am not sure why they've chosen this one as their own special territory, but they have. They fly back and forth from the garden plants to the feeders all day long, visiting trumpet creeper vines and the chaste tree in between the two. It amazes me how much time and energy they expend going from one place to another but I assume it has to do with eating a varied, balanced diet since they also feed on insects.

    We have a huge variety of butterflies all summer long, including everything you mentioned plus a lot more....several kinds of sulphurs and Hackberry Emperors and various crescents and lots of checkerspots and blues, and then a ton of different kinds of moths too. I'd say we have many more different kinds of moths than butterflies when all is said and done, but I don't find all the little brown moths as fascinating and haven't learned to tell all of them apart. We have monarchs sporadically from about May until they migrate in October, and have had several rounds of their cats on our milkweed over the last 2 or 3 months. We do not necessarily see monarchs every day or even every week, but we see the on and off all summer long. They are not as reliant on the milkweed in our garden this year as they usually are because the August rain really revived the milkweeds in the pastures and those plants have made tons of new growth which is great for the monarchs. Yes, when a garden is full of predator insects, they are going to get some of the caterpillars, but I just accept that it is part of the food web and the circle of life and do not interfere in the process. I'd still rather have all the predatory, generally beneficial, insects than not have them.

    Right now we have tons of mosquitoes. I'm not enjoying them at all. A huge one flew into the house this evening when Tim or I went in and out and Tim killed it after we looked at it and decided it was the biggest mosquito we've ever seen. As I sit and type this, I'm thinking that maybe I didn't close the garden gate. Oh well, it is too dark and too warm (snakes!) to venture out into the dark to check, so if it is open, I hope the deer don't notice.

    The locusts, grasshoppers, crickets and katydids that remain are not making nearly as much of a racket now as they were in mid-summer, and I am enjoying the peaceful evenings and nights a bit more with the lower level of noise.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    The coyotes returned last night and in a big way, making a lot of noise around 1 a.m. just outside our house, which caused the indoor dogs to howl back at them. I am pretty sure Tim never heard a bit of it---he sleeps like the dead---but they woke me up. I'm guessing our bunny population will disappear now. This morning, the deer didn't show up to peruse the compost pile for edibles until well after 9 a.m., and they often are out there when I first go out around 7 a.m. so I'm guessing they heard the coyotes as well.

    The garden looks so good this morning---a lot of tired plants that were flowering less and less in the August heat have rebounded nicely and are blooming well now that the temperatures are a little cooler and also because the plants received 8" of rain last month, mostly in the last half of the month. All the hibiscus plants have pushed out a lot of new blooms and, of course, the zinnias, celosias, tithonias and cosmos keep blooming their heads off. I think the only two things that haven't bloomed yet are the roselles, an edible form of hibiscus that is day-length sensitive and usually doesn't bloom until at least October, and the candletrees (Senna alata, previously Cassia alata), which I didn't even plant until late June or early July because they were succession crops for the final row of tomato plants that I removed fairly early this summer just to make room for flowers (and because I'd preserved all the tomatoes I intended to preserve). Candletrees always bloom pretty late for me, and might be even later this year due to being planted so late, but the plants themselves are healthy and around 5' tall and will be spectacular when they finally bloom. On the one hand, it is somewhat tiresome to have to wait and wait for the roselles and candletrees to bloom late in the season, but then on the other hand, just when the summer flowering plants are getting tired and slowing down, these two will take over and dominate the October-November garden. Both have been surrounded by other tall plants, including dill, cleome, tall forms of cosmos, celosia plumosa and some zinnias that are about as tall as they are, so they've had to fight a little for sunlight all summer until they got as tall as the taller plants around them, which they now are outgrowing.

    I noticed this morning that the lawn already needs to be mowed again, even though there's been no rain yet in September. I guess it is still growing vigorously from the August rainfall.

    I also noticed that the coral honeysuckle growing on the garden fence is sticking out wildly into the adjacent driveway, so I'm going to go out there to the garden with the stepladder in a second, and stand on it and weave the errant branches of the honeysuckle through the woven wire fence, so it will grow sideways and cover more of the fence instead of reaching out and slapping our vehicles as we drive down the driveway. I have been contemplating planting honeysuckle all along the garden's southern fenceline (it covers an area of the fence about 10-15' wide right now) and its eastern fenceline as well. Since coral honeysuckle is pretty much evergreen here (really low temperatures of the kind rarely seen down here will freeze it back, but it rebounds quickly with new growth, even in winter), a good healthy stand of coral honeysuckle covering the fence might protect the garden plants from herbicide drift in springtime when all the neighbors are using those products, and I don't believe the flowers in the border by the fence would object to having some shade to their south or east either.

    Our chickens began molting about a week ago, so their appearance is going to go downhill for a while.

    Well, there's a cat fight outdoors. Guess I'll go out and break it up.


  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Nancy, I got the turmeric and a regular ginger at Companion Plants. I've never seen seeds for turmeric, not sure it can be grown from seed. I was enamored with the idea of a variegated plant, and one with white roots. They are attractive plants for being edible! I will have to go out and check my peach ginger. I wonder if it gets enough sun to flower.

    The walking onions will regrow from bulbs left in the ground or the baby bulbs on the tops. Mine have been invaded by grass. Last year the stridolo shaded out the grass, this year the grass is winning.

    I cleared the cosmos from one bed yesterday. I decided I needed to water. The bed was quite dry. One of the broccoli I put in the asparagus bed is stripped down to stems. Grrr. A huge grasshopper jumped ahead of me as I walked away.

    Megan, what we've been doing is putting shade cloth over cattle panel arches. It kept the kids cool Saturday in the pool, and we moved it yesterday so I would have shade. An arch with a vine on it might work, too.

    I have seen some orange butterflies in my garden, but they've gone too fast for me to ID. I know I have the vining milkweed weed on the fence, so they have options.

    The scallions I bought are perennials. I've never had bunching onions survive. I have had store bought onions regrow in a cup of water in the windowsill. That is what the catalog description said, cut them off and leave the "rootplate" in the ground to regrow. The store bought ones I have on the tub table have survived neglect and drought. Would they survive winter? Never have before, but I'm not sure I tried to keep them. What I bought is supposed to be hardy down to 0. I may put them in a container, just to save them from weeds. Speaking of, is anyone having an invasion of purslane? I expect to see the domestic I planted pop up everywhere, but I have the wild variety in nearly every pot this year. Must have been seeds in the potting soil.

    I am not concerned about any messes the little ones make, but I am always on "high alert" when they're here, trying to be aware of where they are and what they're doing. I probably was not as hyper vigilant with my own. Mine, being boys (no, I'm not sexist, my daughter thought she was a boy, but boys and girls ARE different) want to play rough and do sword fights and wrestle until SOMEONE (littlest) gets hurt. We also have some sibling rivalry going on with the oldest who feels he's not getting the attention he wants. The youngest is good at entertaining himself, and he adores Poppop. The older one does not like to play by himself. He likes to watch TV, but his parents have started putting limits on that, soooo.....Oh, and Dawn, I was NEVER energetic enough to be at the gym at 5 am, kids or not, ROFL. But I'm pretty sure you are just made to be more energetic than me. I had 4 kids, my best friend's 2 girls were often here and the boy who lived behind us. I would load all 7 in the minivan and run errands, go to the library. Those were the days before computers, though there were video games. My friend's girls still consider my kids siblings and introduce them as their brother or sister (and vice versa). The older 2 had friends come here, the younger 2 were more likely to be at their friends house. My youngest is still best friends with his partner in crime from those days.

    H/J, planning fall gardens. You plan, but then it's HOT. It's always hot. It always messes with your plans. The one year I started brassica from seed, the cabbage worms got on them before I covered them and and were then protected by tulle from the birds (not pretty). I have killed them by not watering. Meh, if I live long enough I will figure it out.

    I'm going to go pull some tomatoes out to make room for root crops.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Haha, well I guess the deer didn't get into the garden last night, Dawn. You probably owe a thank you to the coyotes.

    I'm wondering if there is a southern flower you HAVEN'T grown! The candletrees are very cool--but I am not wanting tall plants here, with the not-enough-sun situation. Coral honeysuckle is in its second year but shows no sign of flowering. So maybe third year. And I planted red cypress vine this year. Although the vines are healthy and profuse, just yesterday spotted a couple little flowers. Is this normal, do they always bloom late?

    I think food preparation is too dangerous for me today. I was slicing cucumbers with the mandolin--know you all can guess what I did to the end of my right thumb. Five minutes later with a paper towel on my thumb, I was trying to wrestle some plastic wrap off the roll to cover the cuke/onion medley and sliced my left ring finger. Can't even put bandaids on the ends of the digits. Told GDW guessed I'd just have to spend the day reading or playing on the computer.

    I think of you all while I'm working outside. It's so fun to have my gardening community out there with me. I had so many questions for you all and now can't remember them!

    Oh--here's one. How many of you freeze cucumbers? I'm going for it today.

    Here's another. So in hoping that my jalapenos will turn hot. Should I pick off all the unhot ones, or leave them so maybe they can turn hot?

    BTW, Dawn--one of my jalapeno plants DID have hot ones. Yay.

    I love the hackberry Emperors. They're the "friendliest" ones.

    I better get outside for a while and pretend to do something.

    Oh--seeing your post, Amy, made me think of another question. Didn't you tell me your Vitex doesn't get full sun? Do any of the rest of you have yours in less than full sun? My ginger plant, Amy gets sun until 1:30, then full shade the rest of the day.l

  • hazelinok

    Dawn, we had coyotes last night too. Probably not as close as yours though. I decided to walk Josi alone (Tom was at a neighbor's discussing a lawn mower issue). So, I took off. Got stopped by one neighbor. We talked for a couple of minutes. Kept walking. Got stopped by another neighbor. We talked a bit longer than a couple of minutes. It was dark by then. I was at the crossroads to my street at that point and could just head home, but decided that --even though it was dark--to keep going. BECAUSE Tom was at the end of the last street at the neighbors. I love to walk in the dark. ANYWAY, it was so dark and the coyotes were so loud and it was cool....just very pleasant. Then I got to the neighbor's house and the neighbor had gone indoors and Tom's truck was gone. So, I had to walk an area where there are no houses--just woods and fields in the dark. I did love it, but it was a little scary.

    Then, Finbar killed a bunny and left it in the yard in front of the shop. I know this bunny. It has been hanging out in my garden. I've seen its nibbles on some of the cucumbers and such. I'm fine with it because I have too many cucumbers. I am SO mad at Finbar. There was no reason to kill that bunny. I made him come indoors and when I went out this morning, the bunny was gone. Something came up to the yard and took it.

    Dawn, our chickens haven't started molting yet, but it's about time for that to start. They are laying GREAT right now. Enjoying it while it lasts. Oh, and my coral honeysuckle isn't growing fast at all. I sure hope next year is the year for it to take off!

    Nancy, I do that too! Think of things I want to ask/talk about while in the garden and then come in and can't remember any of them!

    I hope your finger heals quickly. That stinks!

    I've never put cucumbers in the freezer.

    Amy, I'm with you. I've never been energetic enough to be at the gym at 5am! My daughter goes to the gym at that time every day. When I was her age, I went to the gym after work.

    The frame is built for the hinged hoop, so we are making progress. Tom got poison ivy so I'm trying not to push it with him. I suppose the area I talked about beautifying most have had some poison ivy mixed in with all the shruby wild stuff.

    Chickens are doing well. The babies are big. No one has crowed yet. They are 9 weeks.

    Okay...I need to eat and sleep.


  • Rebecca (7a)

    Nancy, frozen cucumbers turn into a mushy mess. Gross.

    I’m optimistic for a good fall tomato harvest. Lots of greenies, even more flowers. I gave everyone a shot of bloom booster last week, last fertilization of the year, so they’d set fruit as soon as it got cooler. Our mornings and evenings really have a hint of fall now. Paired with everyone getting a good shake every day, I might have tomatoes in October, if we don’t freeze. Even brought in a pocketful of salad size tomatoes today to finish ripening.

    The broccoli and cabbage get a mist of BT every couple days. The cabbage look bored but the broccoli seem very happy. Cucumbers just figured out how to bloom, butternut squash is going gangbusters, and yellow squash needs some female flowers to go with all the guys. I’m starting to process all the basil into pesto for the freezer. I have PEPH to cook. Ready to start getting the salad tubs ready to plant, and toying with maybe getting another tub and trying dwarf sugar snaps. Oh, and I need to dig out the carrot and beet seeds. Determined to figure those out.

    Could really use a couple inches of rain, though.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    My post showed up below Dawn's, but I didn't see it yesterday.

    Roselle leaves have a lemony flavor. They are too tough for me raw, I wonder if you could cook them. For you all who haven't grown it the calyx makes a wonderful tea. It is truly beautiful in fall with red and yellow leaves and the deep burgundy/purple calyxs. They are worth growing for ornamental purposes alone!

    Nancy, I don't have a vitex. I think I want one, but I'll have to go look it up. Oh, yeah, vitex/chaste tree.

    Senna alata. Interesting. Poisonous to goats. Imagine!

    You can dehydrate extra cucumbers to make cucumber chips which are quite good.

    One of my children got me some kevlar gloves for use with the mandolin. CSI's would definitely find blood on mine. I have a spiralizer with a setting that makes thin ribbons which might be safer than a mandolin.

    I told Ron there was a cucumber on the plant in the asparagus. He went to get it and came in saying "what's better than finding a cucumber? Finding 2!" These are our first cucumbers of the season. The county fair didn't make it past seedling stage. I can't figure out what variety it is, I guess I'll have to go find the label. A couple of more plants have baby cukes, we'll see if they develope. Ron brought me a "cuke" the other day. It was a Korean hybrid melon, which tasted like a cuke at the young stage (he thought it was a lemon cuke), but it was meant to grow much longer. We now have 3 melons on the volunteer in the pepper bed.

    I pulled more cosmos yesterday, from the other side of the bed. There were some bean plants growing up in them, so I tried to leave those. I pulled out a tomato plant and tied up the Early Girl. I know it will keep going. I didn't get to the Mortgage lifter on the other end. I don't think I got to taste any of those, or they weren't marked. I don't remember any large red tomatoes though. I think I'll pull it. I was going to pull the heidis, but they have so much new growth. I will anyway, I don't want more paste tomatoes. I can't find my burlap. That is today's project. Sigh.

    I keep getting interrupted, must post before I lose this.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Amy, it’s interesting that neither of us had success with County Fair, while it’s Dawn’s favorite.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Maybe it is where we get our seeds, or maybe it's not hot enough here.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Amy, The only real mess I worry about is if the girls leave some of their slime out and it sticks to stuff---you can peel it right up off a hard surface, but it sticks to fabric like crazy and can ruin it, so when 'we' are playing with slime, I have a blanket covering the sofa to protect it. Well, there's the endless tracking of wet feet in and out to the bathroom and such when swimming, and I try to mop those up before the floor can start looking too bad.

    I can vaguely remember a time or two a year or two back when the older one got annoyed because the younger one always wants to hold her hand and cling to her in public, but that has passed now. Being girls, I'm sure things will get worse when they hit their teen years---the little one wants to do everything the older one does, and there's almost a 5.5 year age gap, so there's going to come a time when the age gap matters more than it does now, and there undoubtedly will be some trouble then. Ironically, after wanting to be a big girl and go to school just like her big sister, the little one now is attending pre-K and declared after the first week that she was bored and done with it. I think she was fairly horrified to learn she'll be attending school until she is at least 18. I think she thought she'd tell her mama that she was done with school and that would be the end of it. We've all had a good laugh over her proclaiming school to be too boring. How can pre-K be that boring? She comes home full of new things they've done and new stuff that she's learned, so I don't think she is as bored at school as she pretends to be.

    Things have changed so much since Chris and his cousins were kids. I remember having a back seat full of bored kids back then, even when we weren't driving that far. Now, we just pop a DVD in the DVD player in the SUV and they're entertained and quiet. It is amazing what a difference a little technology makes. They're too entertained to even ask that dreaded question "Are we there yet?"

    Nancy, As it turned out, I had closed the garden gate even though I did not remember closing it at all. The deer are back today and I haven't put anything new on the compost pile, so they are not pleased. I'm going to pull out a bunch of big, tall, branching celosia plumosa plants tomorrow. Well, actually I'll probably have to dig them out as their main stems are like tree trunks, but then I'll put them on the compost pile and the deer might like that. These plants are topping 7' and falling over onto the candle trees, zinnias, cosmos and salvias, so I'm just going to take them out before they crush everything around them.

    I like to grow the candletrees for the sulphur butterflies because the native cassias/sennas that are their host plants usually burn up in drought and are pretty much non-existent by now. Of course, this year we got all that August rain which revived the native plants, so the sulphurs have those back growing and in bloom again and don't even need the candletrees but we have them anyway. The grasshoppers are enjoying eating their leaves, but the big grasshoppers seem to be dying off now though there's plenty of 1" long ones coming along that must have hatched in late July or early August. Today I saw no stink bugs or leaf-footed bugs in the garden, so maybe they're about done.

    We haven't had any rain since August 29th or 30th (when we had a lot) and things are really getting dry again here. Yesterday afternoon the zinnias were looking pathetic with the foliage fading whitish and twisting and curling, so I gave the garden a good watering since any rain that might fall here is expected to be minimal---less than 1/10th of an inch. We were paged out to a grass fire a couple of days ago, which is another indication of how dry it is, but it blew my mind because the grass still looks green. Of course, green grass can be dry and will burn. I feel like we now look greener than we feel, in terms of having moisture in the ground for the plants. We're sure hoping for rain, but not expecting much. Even our projected cool-down isn't as nice as what some of you are expecting and likely to get, but the weather certainly is better than it was in August. We'll take whatever improvement we can get.

    There are some southern flowers I haven't grown. I mostly stay away from the ones that need well-drained soil, because my dense clay, even though well-amended, still doesn't drain well enough for some of them and I'll lose the perennial ones in winter, not because of cold temperatures but because of soil that stays too wet too long in winter...unless I plant them in one of the tall hardware cloth lined raised beds that has superb drainage. I haven't planted some southern plants that need moist soil in summer because that's not gonna happen no matter how much I water and the lack of moisture will kill them, and I don't grow much that needs a lot of shade in summer because there's not enough shade for all those types in the garden. I mean, when even the full-sun plants need part shade in our climate's heat and intense sunlight, what chance do the plants have that really, really need moist soil and part to full shade? Most of what I grow is the really tough stuff that can take relentless heat up to about 115 degrees in summer and very low rainfall in drought years, and that is a fairly limited list overall. Even in years when the high temperatures stay more in the 105-108 degree range, the heat lovers don't love that sort of heat, especially if we're dry. Dry clay, even well-amended clay, turns into what I call clay concrete or claycrete. In 2011, even the native cacti here died due to lack of moisture....and I watered them when I saw them shriveling up, but I think it was too late to save them at that point. So, if even the native cacti can't hack it here some years, how in the world are some less tough plants going to survive? That makes me really picky about what I'll plant, especially when it comes to plants that will demand a lot of moisture in July and August, when our high water bill makes Tim twitch and practically break out in hives. Plants that veer towards being more tropical, like cannas, candletrees, some hibiscus plants and castor bean plants do thrive in the ridiculous heat as long as I can keep them watered. The roselle plants are happy because the August rainfall gave them a lot more water than I would have if I were having to irrigate them, so maybe they'll produce well. In order for this to happen, we need for October to stay a bit on the warm side so they'll have time to form flowers and bloom. I usually make roselle jam out of the flower calyces and some years there's so many that I'll dry tray after tray of them to use later on to make tea---if you like Red Zinger tea, it is roselles that put the Zing in it. Some years I grow them at the shady west end of the garden where they'll get taller because they're stretching for sun, but they produce fewer flowers there, so I have them in full sun this year, and I hammered in a 6' or 8' tall metal t-post next to each plant when I planted it so I could stake them when they get so heavy that they are starting to fall over. They are pretty tall and pretty bushy already but not tall enough or heavy enough that I've had to tie them to the stakes yet. I think I'll need to do that soon though.

    The cosmos are going crazy with blooms now after spending most of the summer just getting taller and taller. The monarch cats are devouring the milkweed, but the plants are a pretty decent size so I don't think they'll eat all of it and run out, and if they do, I can move them to native milkweeds in the pastures, although they really do not like to be moved. There's been fewer hummingbirds up around the feeders today, but it is likely they're just feasting on the flowers. I certainly don't think they are heading south yet. There's tons of trumpet creeper blooms all over the place, so I imagine that's where they are.

    I pulled out tons of cypress vines and morning glory vines sprouting everywhere, including in the pathways, today and there's still more to yank out tomorrow. This time of the year, they seem to sprout daily and can quickly go into bloom. There's a few mina lobata vines growing on the fence that look pathetic. Apparently their foliage didn't appreciate all the August rainfall and got fungal diseases and dropped, but the vines still are producing flowers anyway and the flowers are nice.

    Jennifer, I do not like coyotes at all, and I've had too many encounters with them where they've come with 10-20' feet of us, usually when I'm out walking a dog, but sometimes they've come almost right up to us in the yard, and I find that nerve-wracking. I gave up walking our dogs because I was having too many encounters with both wildlife and with undisciplined dogs whose owners let them run wild. I miss walking Jersey and I'm sure she misses walking, but we had one too many close encounters and I decided I was done with that.

    Our chickens not only are molting, but also are hiding, spending most of their time in one very shady spot or another. I feel like they're just really tired of the heat, and also that they are spending a lot of time hiding from the hawks. Of course, being smart enough to hide from the hawks is a good thing.

    The heat is relentless but so far today at least the heat index hasn't broken 100, so I can tell we are moving a little more deeply into fall. It is close to 100 though, so I'm not saying it won't happen. The nights are slightly cooler, but only a few degrees. It still isn't the sort of coolness that whispers to you that the autumn cool down is on the way. I feel sorry for all the high school and college football players having to play football in this heat. When I think back to my high school days and the football season, I remember wearing long sleeves and drinking hot chocolate, and the wind blowing falling leaves every which way. Whatever happened to our lovely autumn weather? Nowadays we seem to stay hot forever until, suddenly, we're cold, with a very slim transition period from hot to cold. I don't like it, and I don't think the plants care much for it either.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I forgot to mention that I DID plant some roselle, finally, this year. Except they're not in a flower bed--they're in one of the raised veggie beds near the okra. So this year's just to see how they look. Didn't you all tell me they could probably get by with part sun?

    Rebecca, I looked up freezing cukes and gave it a try. I soaked them for about 3 hours with just onions and salt. What a puddle of water leached out! Then one rinses them well to get rid of the salt and then adds a mixture of 3 parts sugar to one part white vinegar (I used 3 cups sugar and 1 cup vinegar). So I gave it a try. They're in plastic baggies in the freezer. Supposed to leave them at least a week before using. I'll report back. We're getting half a dozen about every other day now, which is more than I can use. I took some to a neighbor down the road today.

    I got a good chuckle out of the little one being bored in pre-K. That reminded me. . . one of the little ones at school--she started kindergarten this year. She is so cute! Her Grandma (with whom she lives) said she came home from her first day of school. Put her hands on her hips and proclaimed, "I ain't NEVER going back to THAT school!!!!" (Why, same thing--"It's so BORING.")

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    It is a beautiful day because it is so much cooler today! We're only up to 82 degrees by noon and that leaves me feeling positive about the afternoon temperatures for once. I believe the cold front moved through here already and is making its way towards Dallas, where they won't feel much impact except for just barely cooler temperatures---think mid-90s instead of upper 90s. Any improvement is good though, even if it is only for one day. We're supposed to be right back in the mid-90s this weekend, with heat indices around 99-100.

    Many of you have received rain, are receiving rain, or will receive rainfall today. Here's the OK Mesonet Map for Rainfall Received over the last 2 days, since the rain began yesterday for western OK:

    Mesonet Map: 2-Day Rainfall Accumulation

    Nancy, I have grown roselles in morning sun, afternoon shade (beginning around noon) and they tolerated it and produced flowers fairly well, all things considered, but did not produce as many flowers as the plants do when grown in full sun. They did get taller as they basically stretched for the light---maybe 7-8' tall instead of 5-6' tall, and I had to stake them to keep the tall, lanky plants from falling over. The ones out in full sun get a lot bushier and I have to stake those for a different reason--because the limbs become so heavy with blooms that the plants start tilting sideways and eventually fall over, but whether in sun or shade they all bloomed and produced flowers (which aren't much to look at) that I could harvest in order to use the calyces in various concoctions.

    Frozen cucumbers? I suppose it will work as long as you will be using them in cooking or in smoothies or something. I cannot imagine eating one after it has been frozen because I think it will tend towards extreme mushiness. I do freeze melon balls some years, and they will be mushy when thawed, but we eat them when they are about half-thawed and they aren't too mushy when eaten that way. I'd rather dehydrate them though. Cucumbers are about 96% water in their natural state and nothing much that has that high of a water content gives you an appealing product after being frozen and thawed. When you thaw veggies like that with a high water content, the water separates and goes to the bottom of the container as they thaw, so I'm not sure what you'll be left with in the end, but you will have lots of cucumber water to drink, if you like cucumber-flavored water. You could make and can pickles if your cukes are pickling cukes. Pickled cukes are the easiest thing on earth. Speaking of pickles, we introduced the girls to the wonderful appetizer known as Fried Pickles last weekend, and they were so delighted with them. We generally do our best to avoid eating too much fried food, but those fried pickles are awfully good.

    I'm laughing over the bored kindergarten student. I am not sure what their attention span is at that age, but I do think it still is pretty short and I don't doubt that they get bored pretty quickly. Despite being bored, Aurora is learning a lot of stuff---I suspect the teachers have to move from one topic to another pretty quickly to keep the kids from getting too bored. It must be very challenging to deal with kids at that age who have such a short attention span. I've noticed when we're working on crafts (last weekend the girls made new slime, which excited them a lot more than it excited me, but it did keep their attention for a long time), Lillie can work on the same craft project for hours, but Aurora is bored and moving on after about a half-hour. She'll wander off from us to go pet the dogs or to see what Tim is doing in his office or she'll abandon the craft table to go play with her baby dolls.

    I plan to work in the garden this afternoon, and am watching the rain to our west and southwest as it slowly creeps closer to us. I doubt we'll get enough rain to matter if we get any at all, but I know I have to come indoors if I hear thunder because if you can hear thunder you're close enough to get struck by lightning. It is a royal PITA to have to come indoors on an otherwise nice gardening day, but I haven't survived gardening in thunderstorm country by being careless and staying outside when lightning is within 40 or 50 miles. So, the cats and I will garden until we can't. Or until a snake finds us. Whichever comes first. Who says gardening isn't challenging? Seed ticks are out there too and I found one on my leg the other day after weeding, so I guess I'll go outdoors wearing insect repellent.


  • slowpoke_gardener

    Madge ask me to take a pic

    ture of cookies and send it to her. I am so dumb, this is the only place I know how to post. Maybe she will know how see it here.

    SorrySorrySorry it is not gardening, but they are peach cobbler cookies, and I ate one for each of you.

  • farmgardener

    Slowpoke gardener, I’m sorry- I think you are Larry? Anyway, don’t apologize for the picture of cookies. They look wonderful and sound delicious! The stories of grandchildren aren’t gardening either but we all connect. When my youngest grandson started kindergarten he came home and announced he wasn’t going to go anymore- that just takes too long! Lol

    he was used to going 1/2 day and Papa picked him up and he spent rest of day with us till his parents got off work. He graduated from 2 years of college and automotive school last year so needless to say he survived. But what memories we all have.

    We got 1” of needed rain last night and the temps today have been wonderful.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    farmgardener, yes, I am Larry, and the cookies are great.

    Our children, grand children and great grandchildren are our fondest memories.

    Glad you got some rain, we need some but it may be slow coming.

    I am going to Mena Ar. tomorrow to pick up some seed I had forgotten that I ordered. That is a long way to drive to get seed ( about 62 Miles one way) , but I like to visit with the folk there at Co-op anyway. It will also be a chance for my wife to visit with her sister, both are having health issues.

    I think I will dig my sweet potatoes soon, I am not expecting much from them, and I want to get started cleaning the garden and planting a cover crop.

  • dbarron

    Larry, I seem to recall that typically my grandparents would let sweet potatoes go absolutely as long as they could, till temps were starting to get cool (not cold). It seems early to dig sweet potatoes to me?

    Dawn, you really state my thoughts about lingering heat. I started snapdragon seeds about two weeks ago, but can't put them out as it's too hot, and having had a grasshopper plunk into the seed container in the past and just chow down (all gone), yeah, not yet...

  • Nancy Waggoner

    Larry--I think I must try to weasel out Madge's peach cobbler cookie recipe. Never in my many decades of life have I even heard of them.

    Here I am at 4:15 a.m. I have a terrible dilemma. Yes, it is about why I am up at 4:15. It's the $%^&*()_#$%^&*() cats. I was exhausted yesterday and so while usually don't go to bed until 11:30-1 am, kissed GDW goodnight at 10. 15 minutes later or so, Tom was in there very worried about me and meowing gently like crazy. Got him calmed down and he curled up next to me and slept. At maybe 12:22 (that's ringing a bell from my digital clock), Tiny was walking all over my body and chirping mews. I decided in my half awake state that he probably just wanted company, so reached out my right arm/hand and petted him. . . that seemed to work, and I noticed Tom wasn't near any longer. Well, at 2:30, Tiny was back and being pretty bratty, and when I didn't get any results from just half-awake petting him, he jumped onto the floor and began scratching on the mattress and bedding (they know that'll get results right away.) So I got up, reached down and grabbed him and took him to the door to let (toss? throw?) him out. Fortunately for him, he went willingly.

    Here's my question for you all. Do you have cats that act like this? I can't imagine shutting our bedroom door on them--they'd have it in splinters within hours, tearing it down. They can't even stand me shutting the bathroom door on them for 1 minute!

    Do we just have to get rid of the cats to stop this? Or do I just keep on my present way of having stiff drinks before going to bed. While that works like a charm, may not be wise; whose life is more important--the cats, or mine? So tonight's sleep--- pretty much shot. And I'm TIRED.

    Sweet potatoes! I went into the school to talk with my friends about which plants needed to be moved out of their big center bed into nearby raised beds. We'll do remedial work on the center bed and raise the soil level by about a foot. I think we need to discuss a French drain or two, also, before we plow ahead. I hadn't been in there for 2 weeks, and I was flabbergasted by how great everything looked. And more than a little jealous. And that's kinda funny, since technically, that's pretty much "my" garden in terms of planting. Wow what nearly full sun can do for some plants. And yet just two days ago, I was thanking God for my very much shadier yard--it is so serene and peaceful.

    I digress, back to the sweet potatoes. My friend John was so excited about how beautiful the sweet potato plants are (I agree). I asked if he'd checked any of them yet, he hadn't. So I lifted up some of the vines, and we laughed so hard, because there were half a dozen sweet potatoes near the root that were coming above the soil level. They were enormous. Can I ask, is that okay, will those ones be okay? I said to John, "Hmm. Maybe these beds aren't deep enough. . . ???

    And oh. Back to the center bed at the school. . . The two lantanas I'd planted were both like 5x5 in diameter. The milkweed was crazy good and there was quite a lot of it, really. Lots of aphid problems, but John's been trying to keep up and doing good. AND there were many tiny cats on the milkweed! I was impressed by his keying into them. BUT. I think some of them were tussock moths, so sent them a link to show them what tussock moths are.

    So there were so many great plants in that bed--ammi, milkweed, lantana, four o'clocks, rosemary, many salvia, marigolds, cosmos, ornamental peppers, . . frankly, I decided we had to move ALL of them except the basil, spearmints (and other mints). We agreed we'd embark oh the moving of them all in about a month or so. Groan. LOL

    Larry, I love thinking about you and Madge. Love your adventures, your stories. I'm thankful you've crossed through my life.

    Well for that matter, ALL of you. You OK garden web "friends." One of my major lifelines. Blessings.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    dbarron and Nancy, one reason I an wanting to dig my potatoes, IS because they have so few potatoes sticking out of the ground. This time of the year I should have many potatoes 2 or 3 inches sticking above the soil. Sometimes they have a little green on them but will be ok.

    I planted covington sweet potatoes last year, and really liked them, but they keep to well. I need to find a way to get then to sprot sooner. I very few slips this spring, so I planted small potatoes instead. I had read that this is a NO, NO, but I did anyway. I just looked in the pantry and we have two sweet potatoes that are just now getting small sprouts on, a full year after harvest. I like food that keeps well, but these sweet potatoes are almost as bad as the Seminole pumpkins.

    If I get enough sweet potatoes to save for slips, I think I will try a heat mat next year to see if I can get some making slips by planting time

  • jlhart76

    Nancy, I can relate about the animals keeping you awake. Our little girl insisted on getting up every night at 2 am for over a year. And since Cliff sleeps through everything, I had to get up & let her out. Now all the guests seem to want out once in the middle of the night. Last night we had one that kept jumping on me while trying to get in bed, the puppy kept chewing things and getting into mischief, and the other pup in the kennel wouldn't settle down. And the kennel has a hard plastic bottom so every ime she moved I heard it. I'm debating the possibility of taking a nap. I really need to get up and do some stuff, but getting up means disturbing puppies and they're all calm at the moment.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    My husband saw ornamental sweet potatoes at Home depot yesterday and wondered if we could grow them as a house plant. That was my mother's house plant. Sweet potato with 4 toothpicks stuck in it to suspend it over a vase of water so the bottom was in the water.

    HD had Brussels sprouts yesterday. I got a 6 pack and another 6 pack of collards and some red romaine lettuce and 2 ornamental cabbages to play with, oh and burlap, which is what I went there for, LOL.

    My cat usually only disturbs us when she thinks we should be up. Occasionally she comes in and walks on me. I just push her off the bed. She sleeps at the foot of my bed and often gets kicked if I don't know she's there. The clawing thing will get her shoved away, too. Put duct tape on the spot they go after. Apparently they don't like the feel of it. Maybe give them catnip before bed?

    Larry those cookies look great!

    We have the boys again today. We're going to go look at refrigerators at the box stores and if we're brave enough, the Lion King at the movies. Pray for me, LOL.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Hey guys, Burpee's having a special, 10 packs for $30. That is half price or more than half price in some cases.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Damn you, Amy. Lol. But I do need a few things.

    Nancy, Audrey loves waking me up whenever she feels like it, and often its way earlier than I’d planned on. It’s a cat thing. When she was a baby, she’d either climb all over me and attack my head, drop toys on my face, or stick her tongue up my nose until I got up. Now, she will stick a paw in my mouth or tap one claw in between my shoulder blades (you know THAT spot) until I acknowledge her. Sometimes it’s just that she’s bored or wants attention (was when she was a baby), but now it’s most likely that she needs something important (empty food bowl, barf cleaned up, dead mouse, toy inaccessibl).

    I was up too early to handle a work thing, go to cherry street, Trader Joes, Wal Mart, Petco, and Mom’s house. Still need to hit up Lowe’s tomorrow. Think a nap before the football game sounds good.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    I feel like I am so far behind I'll never catch up, but I'll try.

    Larry, Those cookies look awesome. I'm glad you ate one for each of us.

    Farmgardener, One of the things I love about this group is that we weave discussions about real life together the way it really happens---because none of us garden in a vacuum, so of course we must discuss grandchildren, great recipes, pets, wildlife, etc. At some points in the year if we could discuss only gardening, I think we might run out of things to talk about.

    Your story about your grandson is so cute! It reminds me of when Chris graduated from kindergarten at the age of 5. They had little caps and gowns and a ceremony and everything. On our way home, I looked over at him and he was holding back tears. I asked what was wrong and he said "I don't want to move out and get a job and get an apartment." I could hardly control my mirth as I explained to him that he didn't have to grow up, move out, get an apartment and get a job until he'd graduated from college when he would be in his 20s. He was so relieved! How a 5 year old ever got the idea that graduating from kindergarten meant it was time to go out into the world and support himself is just beyond me.

    I'm glad you got some rain! Our mesonet station got an inch of rain, most of it yesterday afternoon, but all of that missed us. I had expected the rain would miss us and had watered the garden and containers thoroughly the day before rain was expected so I didn't have to sit and worry about whether it was coming or not. Had it rained, I just would have considered that rain to be a bonus.

    Larry, I usually don't dig sweet potatoes until October, assuming the September nights stay warm, which they have so far, but of course you can dig them at any size you want. Maybe you'll find bigger taters underground than you're expecting?

    dbarron, I seriously hate this heat. It has cooled down a little bit, but not a lot, and I am so sick and tired of it. I'm ready for all the good things that come with cooler weather....I'd love a really chilly evening or morning, but that could be weeks away still. Because it is so warm, zinnia seeds from the current flowers have sprouted in the pathways and the little plants are 2-3" tall. I bet they get big enough to flower since the weather is staying so warm.

    Nancy, Cats are not allowed to sleep in our room with us because they are too disruptive. Of course, you have to train them to learn to handle the night without you. They have cat beds, blankets, toys, food and water. All they're lacking is human company at night, and they've learned they have to live without that human company until somebody gets up in the morning. We close our door at night and they've never destroyed it yet. If they are scratching at the door, I've been known to put them in the spare bedroom (with a litter box and food/water, and a cat bed and blanket that are in that room all the time) and close the door. Staying in the spare room hasn't killed a cat yet and they've gotten used to not being in our room with us. You know, you're the grown-ups and they are the fur kids, so you can train them to be the way you want them to be.

    Your sweet potatoes will be fine. The vines are protecting them from the sun and often sweet potatoes will enlarge enough to pop up out of the ground that way.

    Amy, I've grown ornamental sweet potatoes indoors over the winter before---I kept them near an east-facing window so they had morning sun and was careful to avoid overwatering them and they did just fine. I like to do this some years so that I don't have to buy new plants in the spring. I just dig up the current year's taters, prune the vines back sharply, replant them in pots I can bring indoors, etc. I usually leave them outdoors on the porch for as long as possible---until the nights start dropping into the 50s, and then I bring them in to stay. They really love warm weather and lots of sunshine, so don't grow as rampantly indoors as they do outdoors, but that is a good thing.

    If you went to see The Lion King, I hope the boys liked it. Lillie and Aurora adored it, though I think they liked Aladdin a bit more. I was a little worried that the death of Mustafa or the hyenas might be too upsetting for Aurora, who was 4 when she saw the movie, but neither one seemed to bother her at all. Actually, my sister and I felt like all my mom's great-grandchildren really benefitted from seeing The Lion King so close to our mother's death because we were able to discuss mom's life/death using the circle of life analogy from the movie in a way that even the youngest great-grandchild could understand. Sometimes in the garden we have that same circle of life discussion about both plants and insects in the garden, and I hope that lesson sticks with the kids.

    I'm doing to ignore the Burpee's sale if I can, but I'll say this...as expensive as their catalog seeds are, if they cut the price down to half-off, they're as affordable as seeds from most other companies. I only buy Burpee Exclusives from them, and not that often either, because everyone else beats them, pricewise on the things that are not exclusive to Burpee.

    Rebecca, I hope you found time for a nap. Afternoon naps are just the best!

    I didn't do any gardening today at all. It was CostCo/Sam's Club, grocery store and feed store day instead. I wanted to go to some of the big box stores and look at plants, but then there's the question why? What plants could I possibly want to plant in this hot weather? I'm still waiting for the autumn cool-down, and not waiting very patiently either. It also was NCAA football game day, but the only game I've been interested in watching is OU's game tonight. I just cannot get into football when it is 90-whatever outdoors and the heat index is near 100. If it doesn't feel like football weather (if anyone here remembers what it is like to sit on the bleachers at a football game and feel COLD, lol, then that is the football weather I remember from my younger years), I cannot really get into a football mood.

    We need to mow tomorrow. I am tired of mowing. It is crazy how fast the grass continues to grow even though we haven't had any rain in a couple of weeks now. Tim, of course, adores mowing so he'll be out that riding in circles on the riding mower, happy as a pig in mud.


  • hazelinok

    I'm behind on this thread too, Dawn. I just read everything. I am super sleepy, though, so won't comment much.

    Nancy, I'm sorry your kitties are being brats. Juno stays in our room almost 24/7. She mostly sits on the window sill that faces East. So strange. She does come into the bathroom while I'm taking a bath and getting around for the night. And she visits the bed a couple of times during the night. I'll pet her for a bit and then she usually goes back to the window sill. However, in the early morning, she can get bratty too. She will start to scratch on the curtains at times because she knows there will be a reaction, like you said. Mostly, it's all good, though. I have to get up early anyway. Other critters are brats too. I can hear the dogs moving around in their crates. The chickens start making noises--everyone is hungry and want me to get up.

    We got less than an inch of rain, but it was nice.

    Come on Fall, you can do it! You're so close.

  • dbarron

    I see that they're dangling 70s at us again, starting Friday. I expect that by Friday, they will have adjusted it up to 80s or 90s (as several times now). Evil weathermen yanking my hopes.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    dbarron, I live south of Ft. Smith AR.. It is 84 now, 10 AM and we are told to expect 96 Sept 17 20.. Also we are promised 50% scattered showers by Mon. I wont be holding my breath for the 70 degrees or the showers.

  • dbarron

    Yes, I question forecasts..and yours sounds more likely (lol)...sadly.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    The only thing that's worse than having to go to town two days in a row is having to go to town twice two days in a row! lol Sunday and yesterday. GDW mentioned having to go to town today and he didn't even begin to suggest I go with him. Good job, GDW. I was at Brighter Futures yesterday for 4.5 hours--they're working on getting new floors in their building, so for now BF is in a nearby church. It doesn't work very well, but certainly is better than not having it at all. Then I came home and we both went back to the school later for pictures and to work a bit. The sweet potatoes are CRAZY. All shapes and sizes. We have okra, peppers and tomatoes there, too. We're going to have to move most of the plants out of the large center bed there into raised beds for a year, since we're going to build up the center bed by about a foot or so, but I hope he's planning to put in a French drain first; that had been the plan earlier.

    Here at the house, I'm about to have Chinese long beans--I showed one of the first ones to Garry--it was probably 14" long. Thank you, Amy!

    I admit it, Dawn. Tiny is spoiled. Most of the time he's terribly funny. But then there are those times when he's not. What works well is if they're all out in the evening until about 9; then they tend to sleep better at night. The other two really don't bother us during the night. Rebecca, I had to laugh about Audrey. My Kitty who was with me 22 years pulled stunts like that. She'd dive bomb me from the top bookcase shelf, or lick my hose with her rough tongue or any number of other torture methods (she was also a tuxedo).

    The oleander aphids are finally winning the war with the milkweed. I had so many caterpillars on them the past couple weeks that I quit messing with the aphids. Now the cats are gone and the aphids are living it up. I look forward to having a lot more milkweed here and there next year. Those aphids are such a pain! The milkweed at the school fared much better this year (the garden's first year.) I guess the pests hadn't zeroed in on it yet. In fact, I was jealous of the milkweed success there (and that's funny since I'm the one who planted it all!) I think we need a house in town so I can have two yards. One sunny like the school's and mine here. All the real schools in town have pitiful gardens because there's no one to work on them in the summer.

    I've been dragging my feet on weeding here, and have a church meeting here in a week and a half, so that will give me a reason to get going on it. And so am hoping we really will have cooler temps.

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