A Peak at my Garden: Late July Bolting and Bees

SunflowerIt’s late July and my garden is in full swing! My sunflowers are just about to pop. It’s my first year growing them and they’ve been SO fun to grow. I highly recommend growing them in your 2014 garden.

Here’s another reason I recommend growing flowers in or around your veggie garden in general:

Bee in Cosmos

Bees! That little cutie is in one of my daughter’s cosmos blooms. I must say though – cosmos grow HUGE. I had no idea the plant was going to grow so large! I’ll plan better next year. In the meantime, the surrounding tomato and pepper plants have no shortage of lil’ pollinators.

DSCN1176 (800x574)I’m also a huge fan of just letting a few things go to flower (“bolt”) in the garden. This morning I noticed a ton of bees in my bolted oregano plants. I’ve also noticed these guys in my bolted sage plants…

DSCN1158 (800x732)Yup, hummingbirds! I’ve been so excited to see them in my garden this year! I’m pretty sure this is the first year I’ve had this beautiful little visitors in my garden, and I credit two things: 1) planting hummingbird friendly flowers throughout the garden and 2) installing a hummingbird feeder in the backyard.

I took the above picture last night from my deck, and it’s a goal of mine to get a photo of them in action in my garden. I found one in my nasturtium an hour ago but couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture. Wish me luck!

DSCN1201 (600x800)Here’s the nasturtium, by the way. I have it trellised in the garden and also in the front flower bed. Let’s say this stuff is insane! It grows quite lustily and easily. It has also attracted bees and hummingbirds to my garden. Unfortunately, the nasturtium plants in my garden have succumbed to a multitude of little black bugs, so I may need to remove it within the week, before they spread to other plants.

DSCN1190 (800x600)Want another reason to not feel bad when your plants have gone to flower? They might turn into seeds! Pictured above is one of my cilantro plants. See those little seed pods? Coriander! I’ll wait till the plant is dried and remove and store them for later.

DSCN1191 (600x800)My corn is super high right now! But more exciting than the height…

DSCN1172 (600x800)Are the newly-formed ears! This is our first attempt at growing popcorn. I’ll continue to keep you update on how this goes, but so far, it’s not been any more difficult than growing regular old corn.

DSCN1170 (800x600)Unfortunately, I have lost a fair amount of baby pumpkins to slugs. (Time for another round of Sluggo!) This one is hanging on though – I adore the stripes!

DSCN1192 (800x600)We ate the first Roma tomato last week (on our homemade sliders), and I think we should have a bunch more ripening up here soon. My first project: make a homemade version of tomato soup. My daughter LOVES canned tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, so I’m determined to make a healthier alternative. Got a recipe? Feel free to share.

Growing Kiwi in the NWI thought I’d provide a quick update on my kiwi plants! As a reminder, we picked these up from Raintree Nursery a few months ago. The variety I’m growing is a hardy kiwi, which is different than the fuzzy kiwi you’d find at your stores. The hardy kiwi were actually cultivated in Russia and can grow quite well in our climate! You do need a male and female vine for pollination and you need to give these puppies a strong, solid structure to grow up – they can get huge!

The first few weeks, I’d say the kiwi vines were just chilling – they didn’t appear stressed, but they weren’t growing, either. However, in the last couple of weeks they’ve started to take off. My goal has been to get them to reach the top of the arbor they’re growing under by season’s end. Next year, I’ll focus my attention on getting the female vine to grow a few cordons to cover the top of the arbor (the one that will eventually be my fruiting vine). I have no idea when we’ll start seeing fruit. It could be 2015, or even a couple years beyond that.

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My garlic has been curing a couple weeks like so! I just made use of some twine and clothespins I already had. I have started to enjoy it and it’s just awesome. There’s nothing like homegrown garlic and I hope I’ve convinced a few of you to make room for it in your fall garden.

This week I have some general clean up to do… my summer raspberries are spent, so I need to finish removing the canes and staking up the canes that will provide a lighter, second harvest this fall. My initial planting of rutabagas doesn’t appear to have fared well, so I may attempt a second planting. I probably should take out the garden nasturtium as well.

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What’s growing in your garden right now? What have you been eating?

DSCN1187 (800x600)PS Remember to visit my Frugal Gardening page for past garden updates and money-saving tips!


  1. says

    Looks great! Your garden last year inspired me to make a HUGE change to our side yard. We ripped out an ugly carport and what seemed like miles of gravel and put in a pergola, beds, a retaining wall that also serves as a raised row, a shed, a path using granite scraps and more. I’m so proud of what I’ve grown over there and love the fresh bounty we’re starting to enjoy. It’s a pleasure feeding my family from the organic, home grown, fruits and vegetables in our yard. Thanks for the inspiration! (I snuck a link in under the “website” box in this comment so I think if you want to see it, you just have to click on my name or something)

    • Angela Russell says

      I’d love to feature your garden in an upcoming post! Do you have before/after pictures you could send me? :)

  2. Nicole says

    Oh that’s so impressive! I have a brown thumb and am always so amazed at what others can grow. It’s always fun to receive gifts from others who have too much to use themselves; I love finding new recipes to try and then sharing the results with those who provided the produce. And of course I always remind them to donate to the local food bank if there’s simply too much to handle!

  3. Kari says

    My understanding is that nasturtiums attract aphids, which keeps them away from your other plants/vegetables. I would almost suggest leaving it for this purpose.

    • Angela Russell says

      Maybe so??? I did leave a bunch in my front yard but did remove the ones in the back. They were black aphids – I’d never seen them before anywhere else in my garden. I hope I wasn’t premature on that, but the plant was looking really stressed.

  4. randi says

    I recently had an aphid infestation on my kale plants. Google research uncovered a great -natural- bug eliminator.
    Steep 2 cups tomato leaves (i cut mine from the bottom of two of my plants) in 2 cups hot water -think tomato tea. Cool. Add to a spray bottle with a few drops of dish soap. Spray on plants. Next day rinse off with the hose. It worked!!
    Apparently tomatoes are in the Nightshade family and the ‘tea’ is deadly to these little buggers. We’ve harvested, washed WELL and eaten much of that kale now and no problems.

  5. Angela B says

    Where did you get the starts for garlic? I am having a hard time finding seeds or starts for a winter garden.

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