Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heat, ma'am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir



The silver spotted skipper spends hot summer days on the Blue Fortune blooms.







Cool blue sea holly makes a nice contrast to the hotter colors of the summer garden.



While web surfing for cage ideas to hold up my new baptisia, I found a really cute photo on a GardenWeb forum. The poster used old chairs with seats removed for peony cages. I know it sounds strange, but check out her pictures to see how well it works. Do a quick scroll down the page for the photos.

Another idea I've been researching is trellising for gourds. Found a page of photos on GardenWeb with lots of cattle panel tresses. My gourds are taking up way too much room. Next year they will be grown vertically to save space.



Below is the largest gourd on my birdhouse vine. There are lots of small gourds on this vine and there should be--the thing is 15' x 15', thats 225 square feet. It's climbing the viburnums and lilacs and threatening to cut off the driveway:) This weekend I will definitely have to muscle this bully back under control.



If you are trying to garden organically, you know that this little wasp is your friend because he kills caterpillars that eat your crops. But if you're trying to attract butterflies and growing plants that host butterfly caterpillars, take precautions. The wasp is public enemy number one for butterfly caterpillars. I noticed yesterday evening that my bronze fennel blooms have attracted hundreds of wasps. This would be great if I had problems with tomato hornworms or sawfly larva eating my roses. At the same time I noticed that I have no caterpillars on my butterfly weed. One or the other should go and I will be removing the blooms from the fennel tonight.

I would recommend growing fennel and letting it bloom if you have caterpillar problems. Fennel is perennial even in my zone 5a/4b garden so one plant near your tomato garden should take care of the hornworms. Butterfly host plants should be far away from the fennel or the fennel blooms should be cut off.




Finally, the long awaited tomatoes are turning red. Last year was a disaster for tomatoes all over my area but this year my plants look better than ever. For the first time in ten years I didn't plant a single heirloom tomato because they have less resistance to disease than the newer hybrids. This tomato is Celebrity, not the best tasting tomato but one of the most disease tolerant and a heavy producer. So far the leaves are perfect, no sign of spots or wilting. I have a few cut up paper leaf bags covering the ground under the tomatoes to prevent the soil from splashing onto the leaves when it rains. It's debatable if this technique helps prevent disease but it doesn't hurt and serves as a barrier against water evaporation on hot, sunny days.

Speaking of hot, sunny days.


My father is suffering from dehydration. A very serious condition that creeps up on you and makes you very, very sick. Our bodies need a lot of fluid to keep us going through this heat. Don't take chances, please drink large amounts of fluid and stay well.

30 comments:

Rose said...

I do hope your father is better soon, Marnie; this heat can really get to anyone if they're not careful.

So much helpful information here today, Marnie--I didn't know that the fennel keeps hornworms off the tomatoes. Just by luck, I have some planted next to my tomatoes:) Last year, though, the fennel was covered with swallowtail catts. And I'm going to check out the site on trellises--I don't have gourds, but the cucumbers have a stranglehold on my garden.

Wow! A ripe tomato already! I'm still waiting for one...

tina said...

Marnie, I hope your father gets well soon. I know he has had health problems and adding dehydration certainly is not good.

I like the cattle trellises on the garden web. I tried to go to the seat peony cage but could not find it. Can you maybe send it to me?

Love your sea holly! It is awesome and sure is a nice plant.

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

I'm checking out vertical supports too. Gourds really do need space or support. The birdhouse gourd looks good. I grew some a few years ago. I still have the dried gourds just haven't made them into birdhouses yet.

Dawn said...

Hi Marnie, I hope your father gets better before long.
I checked out those trellis they are awesome, your right...putting a plant thru a chair seat sounds awful but it's amazing.
We have a gardener that grows a large (like 10x12) bed of fennel and now I know why. It's a very pretty herb, from a distance it looks like green clouds!
Enjoy your tomato!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Love all your blooms and the ideas for repurposing old things in the garden. Thanks also for mentioning fennel--it's one of those things I mean to grow every year and somehow don't. It's officially on my reminder list now, though, thanks to you! :)

Louise said...

I certainly do hope that your Father is better soon. You are so right about drinking lots of water. I saw on tv that, in hot, humid weather, your body can lose about a quart of water an hour.

Louise makes a note about sea holly for next year. Honestly, I feel like I'm stealing all of your ideas. You just have no idea how helpful your posts are to a beginning gardener like me.

Phillip said...

Love the sea holly! You might visit Our Engineered Garden blog for ideas on trellising vegetables. He uses panty hose to make a sling to hold watermelons, etc. I hope your father gets well soon. This heat is dangerous.

joey said...

Lots of good stuff here, Marnie, and your photos, always a joy. Healing thoughts for your father, dear friend. (I hate this heat!) Enjoy your lush tomatoes ...

sunnycalgirl said...

Always nice to see what you have to share..beautiful photos and lots of information...We have only a very small area for tomatoes but the plants are doing well and enough to share.. (:

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Marnie, I will have to look at my Blue Fortune in the alley garden to see who visits it. I also grow Celebrity because it is a determinate and allows me to fit some larger tomatoes in my small garden. I am growing two heirlooms this year Pineapple and Brandy Boy and one Beefmaster.

That's interesting about the paper bags. Maybe that why all the lower leaves look yellow and tattered.

My husband had dehydration about ten days ago, an emergency situation. He's only drinking Smart water now, regular water does very little good when you are loosing electrolytes. Hope your Dad is better!

Eileen

Southern Lady said...

I hope your sweet father gets better soon! Carla

Darla said...

Love your header photo. Great ideas here, I love bottomless chairs in the garden...yes it's hot and I hope your Dad get properly hydrated soon.

BeadedTail said...

I hope your father gets better soon!

Your tomato looks great! We planted tomatoes in containers this year since we don't have a spot for them in the yard. So far we only have flowers and no little green tomatoes. Bummer.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Marnie, I hope your father is better soon. You are right...In THIS weather, we have to keep our bodies hydrated.

Love that quote by Sydney Smith... Made me laugh outloud!!!!

Guess what???? We got some rain today.... Not alot but some... Anything is better than nothing.... YEAH...

Your flowers are all so pretty, and thanks for the info about the wasps.

Love your 'maters'.....
Hugs,
Betsy

Sherri said...

Marnie-hope your Dad is feeling better soon! Dehydration is nothing to fool around with. Glad your tomatoes are a success this year-enjoy the first one (and all that follow!). I love the blue sea holly-I had that on our farm in NJ and it was absolutely wonderful! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Gail said...

Marnie, I am so sorry to hear about your dad~This heat is really hard on all of us~I hope he recovers soon.

Thanks for the info about the wasps~I've noticed I haven't seen caterpillars on the butterflyweed or the fennel~but there are plenty of wasps!

Your header is stil making me smile~

gail

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie....I hope your father recovers soon....dehydration can catch people out.

I found the information about the wasp very interesting. I get a lot of wasps here....earlier in the year they were taking wood from the garden furniture for their nest. I love watching them work and the finished article is very beautiful. We have an abandoned nest in the loft.....

It has been warm today, temperatures have dropped slightly and we have had the odd shower.
Apparently the heat will be back at the weekend......

Kay said...

"Take off my flesh and sit in my bones"....now that's funny.

Kay said...
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Kay said...
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Kay said...

Some how my last post got stuck in a loop and kept repeating itself. I had to delete it several times.
?????????

Kay

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Have you had any rain recently? It seems to be skipping around my garden. Makes me want to shout, Enough! I hope your dad is doing better.
I like the Liatris with the Eryngium. Nice contrast of shapes.

garden girl said...

Hope your dad is feeling much better Marnie. This heat is so taxing.

I'm glad your tomatoes are doing so well this year. Ours are running amok - had to prune them extensively yesterday, as they were sprawling all over everything. They seem to be liking the heat - glad something is.

troutbirder said...

Someday maybe you will reveal where or how you get all these neat quotes. I love em and the rest of your helpful garden hint posts too... :)

Q said...

Staying hydrated is so important. You are right it can happen so easily. I am extra aware having been hospitalized years ago for dehydration.
Always enjoy your posts. I grow gourds every 4-5 years. They do take lots of space. Vertical gardening is so nice! I have a friend who grows her gourds on an old iron headboard.
Fennel has self sowed all over my yard....the wasps do seem to love it. My Black Swallowtails have been busy in the Queen Ann's Lace this year.
Stay cool. We have a heat advisory again for today and tonight! I am waiting for Autumn to resume gardening. I just cannot do the heat or the humidity...
Sherry

Kathleen said...

omg Marnie ~ you just solved one of my garden dilemmas. I wondered why I never saw any caterpillars on my Asclepias (planted just for them) ~ and here I had it planted underneath the bronze fennel (which, yes, has tons of wasps visiting). Very interesting and good to know. I just bought a new white Asclepias and I will now be planting it far, far away from the Fennel. Thank you for the great tidbit.
Hope your dad has rehydrated. It is serious and I tend to forget to drink too.
ps. hooray on the tomatoes! I hope to harvest my first one in a week (or two at the most).

Kathleen said...

pss forgot to say how much I like the coneflowers and sea holly together. A really nice texture and color combo.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I hope your dad is getting better. I'm glad I made it to this post. I dug out my Virginia mountain mint, that attracts lots of wasps, and just planted a small clump of it in a different bed where I have a lot of white flowers.

Still the wasps are landing on lots of my blooms. I had thought there was a reason to cut the fennel blooms, but couldn't remember why. My fennel across the street has been blooming for some time, but the times I've been there, I haven't noticed wasps. I'll cut them back unless they've already gone to seed.

I have been frustrated, because whenever I go to check on caterpillars I've seen earlier in the day or the day before, they are rarely still there.