The July edition of Morning Rounds should begin with a feature photo of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes piled high on a platter, the raison d’être of the Italian summer garden. But, there are no tomatoes this year. They have all been devoured by four-legged creatures with long tails. Instead of peaceful, meditative walkabouts in my vegetable gardens each morning, I begin my day with a quick check of catch and release traps. It’s like setting out baited hooks at dusk when we jugfish for catfish and checking them with bated breath the next morning. Only we eat the catfish.
That’s an opossum’s tail!
In past years, this photo of a squirrel eating a green tomato on the railing of the front garden was an anomaly; now it’s the norm. I considered it quaint; now it makes me growl.
This is a telltale sign that a squirrel is eating your garden produce.
The rabbits have a different modus operandi. They eat the leaves and leave the stems. Currently, they are loving on my peanut plants.
On a much happier note, I do welcome this type of wildlife in my garden. It equals POLLINATION which equals fruits and vegetables in the garden.
I’m very thankful for the bees. If it weren’t for their hind legs collecting and depositing yellow pollen grains as they fly from flower to flower looking for nectar, we would not have zucchini, or Patty Pan squashes, or pumpkins, all gourds in the cucurbit family. Vegetables in the cucurbit family have distinct male and female flowers growing on the same plant. The flower on the right is the male and the one on the left is the female. The bees unwittingly connect them.
Beneath the female flower of this Patty Pan squash is an immature fruit. If pollinated, the fruit will grow to maturity. If not, it will wither and die. I call that failure to launch. Blessed be the pollinators, for they will have honey in heaven.
One morning I shot this short video after I saw a bumblebee fly into a pumpkin flower poking through the fence surrounding the compost pile. Wait for it. Oh, the things you can observe in the garden.
The Front Garden: The Italian Vegetable Garden
Moving onto other vegetables growing in the front garden, there are the swoon-worthy Tri-Color string beans and Fairy Tale eggplants,.
and the sweet peppers.
In the photos below, you’ll see buds, flowers, and small fruit growing on the single stems of eggplants, string beans, and sweet peppers. While bees visit these plants, their male and female reproduction parts are within the same flower and gravity and wind often does the job of spreading the pollen.
I harvested the soft-neck garlic bulbs at the end of June. The bulb heads are small because they had a short growing season. I planted them in the spring. If they are planted in the fall and allowed to winter over, they should grow much larger bulbs.
Sadly, by mid-July, my raised bed of squash and cucumbers plants became so unruly, due to overcrowding, that I pulled all the plants. Plants need air circulation. They need room to grow. My problem is I have a hard time thinning plants. Lesson learned. I felt so relieved when I finally pulled them. I knew from the beginning I should have thinned the seedlings.
In other good news, the Brown Turkey fig tree is loaded with almost-ripe figs.
The fig tree is at at least twenty feet tall. I planted it in front of a southern-facing brick wall, and it has survived in this spot for over ten years. Every few years, I have to cut it back after we have a super cold winter. While I don’t have an irrigation system, the tree is watered by the steady drip of condensate from our air-conditioner. It remains lush all summer long.
The Muscadine grapes are looking great. I gave them lots of room to grow along a fence.
The Back Garden: Commercial Crops and their Flowers
I am growing a variety of commercial crops for the sheer joy of seeing how they grow.
Tobacco (hasn’t flowered, yet)
Indigo (hasn’t flowered, yet)
Soybeans (missed a flowering photo)
Rice (this crop failed)
A morning haul of food. I look at this assortment of vegetables and wait for them to tell me what I should cook for dinner. I love the entire process of growing and cooking vegetables.
I’ll close with a video of my backyard composters eating their favorite food.
Morning Rounds in the Garden, June
Morning Rounds in the Garden, May
Morning Rounds in the Garden, April
Tomatoes: The Crown Jewels of the Summer Kitchen Garden
Fall Planting Guide for Your Kitchen Garden
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