Thursday, August 4, 2011

Steamed & fried

We're just coming out of the hottest July on record, which means it was too hot and steamy to do much in the garden, except water. So I welcome August, look forward to the ripening of my 22 heirloom tomatoes, and the other bounty and blooms in my garden.

The beginning of August also means it's time for the monthly SeedGROW post!

Here's my little veggie bed in the sunniest area of my garden. I dug an edge for this bed and I'm testing three kinds of mulch for a veggie bed: pine straw, leaves, and straw.

Only 12 of my tomatoes are here (the rest are in containers out front), plus two tomatillos, two hot peppers, four basils, and a border of the SeedGROW marigolds 'Summer Splash.' They are all blooming now and the foliage is quite lush.

The basil 'Italian Cameo' is really rocking it out. The soil line is about two inches below the top of the pot, so there is even more foliage than visible in this shot. I really need to make pesto!

The lettuce 'Garden Babies' is a bit bigger than last month, but not yet ready for harvest. On either side are two varieties of Renee's "cut and come again" lettuce mixes, which 've been harvesting for about six weeks and which are still going gangbusters.

On the seed packet, the 'Summer Splash' marigolds all look like this one solid, lemon-yellow flower.

In my bed, though, only one flower looks lemon yellow like that. The rest are a more orange yellow with a darker orange hue. I don't know if they turn lighter as each flower ages, but I actually prefer this multicolored look. (I sowed them all at the same time into the same flat and am positive I didn't mix up seeds.)

As long as we're still here I want to show you my tall ironweed (Vernonia gigantea aka Vernonia altissima). It is super tall this year (over 7 feet) because of all the rain we had early in the growing season. They're native to my region and I give them no supplemental water.

It can grow in any moisture condition, from dry to wet, and can deal with full sun to part-shade. Mine is in dry clay with morning shade and harsh, west afternoon sun — and look at it! I love this plant.

I'm growing with the SeedGROW project. Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds.


  1. Your garden looks lush. It must have liked this heat wave of a summer.

  2. 22 tomatoes?? Girl, you're going to be canning and freezing juice and sauce until October! We've just started picking our first ripe tomatoes, including my first ever heirlooms--delicious. I used straw this year as a mulch in the veggie bed, the first time in years I've had it, and that's what I will be using from now on; I think it works the best.

    Love the ironweed--I want one!

  3. My marigolds look exactly like yours. I thought it was weird too, since the picture on the packet has them all yellow.

  4. Looking good considering the heatwave. My 3 tomato plants are doing great this year when we had little luck last year....

  5. Hallo Monica
    Bei uns war's gerade umgekehrt. Seeeehr heisser und trockener Frühling, dafür regnet es nun im Sommer und nicht etwas schön warm, wie man denken könnte. Einfach nur bäääh:o).
    Ein Basilikum ist ja der Hammer. Sooooo gross, davon können wir hier nur träumen. Vielleicht versuche ich es im nächsten Jahr auch mal mit aussäen. Dein Erfolg motiviert mich.
    Liebe Grüsse

  6. Monica,

    Lush and green is what comes to mind.
    Garden looks great.

    I have a tiny ironweed plant (grown from your seeds)....will not give up on it, if it will look like that next year perhaps?? I hope so....just loving it.

  7. Wow! can't believe that's post-July. You must have watered... at lot. Love the ironweed.

  8. Looks great Monica! I like the 2-color marigolds better than the plain yellow too. That worked out nicely! It's been a great year for lettuce considering the heat. I've had a few plants bolt in the last couple of weeks, but most have been surprisingly long-lasting.

    LOVE your ironweed - so pretty!

    I'm interested to know which mulch you've liked best. I have a thick layer of last fall's leaves that have been refreshed a couple of times, and I like it as mulch. I've heard great things about straw, but haven't ever tried it. Ruth Stout swore by straw for mulching her vegetables.

  9. Your garden looks great! Your lettuce seems to be forming heads better than mine did (although I didn't give it much time before I harvested the first round :)

  10. I am with you on that ironweed. My friend has it in her garden but I don't think I would have enough sun here-though I might try. I passed by some on the roadside and simply loved that dark bright purple bloom. It really shows up well. Let us know how your mulch experiment works please.

  11. Wunderschön Deine Monada liebe Monica. Eine ganz tolle Farbe. Bei uns heißt sie auch Indiandernessel.
    Von Eurer Hitzewelle haben wir hier gehört und gelesen. Da war ich schon froh, hier in Deutschland zu sein ;-).
    Viele liebe Grüße

  12. Wow, your basil looks great! Renee said you should probably thin your lettuce ASAP -- they won't mature & develop full heads until they're spaced 4-5 in apart. Mine are pretty humongous right now.

  13. Monica, It sure looks good...I am hoping to have a few Sweet 100s and you have dozens of real tomatoes! gail

  14. Your Ironweed looks great! I love that shade of purple. July was a beast for heat almost everywhere wasn't it?!

  15. EAB in Toronto...
    EAB has infested many states of the USA. Has been detected in the City of New York as well.
    In Canada EAB is moving further to the east and has reached the province of Quebec:(
    This year another beetle, the Japanese Beetle is causing a lot of problems in our garden and neighbourhood. Watch out!!
    Have a great week,

  16. Everything looks healthy and happy Monica despite the heat ~ you must have been busy watering! I like the look of the 'Italian Cameo' basil ~ don't think I have seen it over here but must investigate. 22 varieties of tomato ~ now that's impressive ~ any favourites or is it too early yet for a verdict?

  17. My marigolds in containers are not doing nearly as well as yours in the ground. I think perhaps the smaller containers I'm using dry out too fast. I have other marigolds in the ground in my garden that look similar to yours. Holy cow your basil is huge. I'm not sure why mine is growing so slow. I've never had a year where basil grew all puny like this. Your ironweed is very cool.

  18. Your garden look August 'yummy' awesome, dear Monica!