Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Garden on July 19, 2011 - Part I

It's time to take a look at what the garden is doing in July. I like to do a post or series of posts about the overall garden about once a month and then go back and look at the garden around the same time in previous years. Last year I did a July tour on the 21st and in 2009 the tour took place on the 22nd and that's as far back as it goes.

Let's take a look at the Curcurbit and Bean bed. The sprawling vines are my favorite winter squash Marina di Chioggia.

That little orange dot near the center of the photo above is the first flower of "Little Lion" zinnias that are growing in the large pot. I'm hoping that the flowers will be attractive to the good bugs, but even if the bugs don't like them I will love them for their colorful blossoms.

The veggies have a pretty nice view when it isn't foggy. I noticed that it was rather foggy when I photographed the garden for the two previous July tours.

Two zucchini plants will provide more than enough zucchini but not nearly enough blossoms. Under cover (rat protection, of course) in the background are two varieties of Tarbais beans. This is year three, or should I say, this is my third attempt to grow this heirloom bean from France. Can you say cassoulet? I hope, please, let them succeed this year. This bed was home to the fava bean forest this winter/spring, do you see the volunteer fava plant that sprang up from a fallen seed?

It's on the left popping up through the squash leaves, look, it even has blossoms! I'm going to leave it and see what happens.

The zucchini were already blooming by this time last year, this year I'm still waiting...

Hidden in the encroaching squash foliage is the last radicchio plant in this bed - nearly ready to harvest.

More beans, these ones are for fresh eating, Slenderette bush beans. I was hoping that they would mature more quickly and start producing before the pole beans. Climbing the black metal tower are 2 varieties of cucumbers, "Green Fingers" Persian cucumbers and "Tasty Green" Japanese cucumbers. I hope the rats don't develop a taste for them, these plants are more diffiult to shroud in row cover.

Back to beans, it looks like the Spanish Musica pole beans are going to win the production race, although these too are well behind the beans of 2010.

They are already growing over the top of their trellis, but so far it is all green and no bloom. Thank goodness I can get great green beans at the farmer's market, but there's still nothing like fresh from your own garden.

Down here, the Tarbais beans are looking better than ever. Even though I sowed them on the same day as the Spanish Musica they are just starting to send their vines up the trellises.  I'm afraid to get my hopes up. I'm sure that the rats will find a way to get at them.

I've let some Red Florence Fennel volunteer in the path at the far end of this bed, you can see a wall of it in the first photo. The blossoms are a magnet for all sorts of nectar and pollen loving insects.

I was rather taken with this next critter, a Trantula Hawk (Pepsis or Hemipepsis
it's difficult to tell them apart). 

They are wasps, however,
they won't ruin your outdoor dining experience in the way of yellow jackets.

The adults feed on nectar and are particularly fond of milkweed,
although fennel seems to do in a pinch.

Flowers are also where
they like to mate (who doesn't like breakfast in bed?).
NO, that's not a mating scene below...

After mating the female seeks out a tarantula in its burrow.
She paralyzes it and lays an egg on it.
The larval wasp burrows into the still live tarantula and 
feeds on it, avoiding vital organs to keep it alive as long as possible.
Too bad the larvae don't grow up feeding on rat innards.

Thank goodness these are not agressive wasps,
their sting reputedly tops the pain charts.
I hope to avoid the experience.

I think that they are simply beautiful.

I'm happy to leave them be so that they can fulfill their unique role in the local ecosystem.

What kind of interesting critters have you found in your garden?


  1. My late planted favas seem to be loving the heat, I'm really surprised by all of the favas we are getting lately. Love the garden tour!

  2. I love all the weird wasps that show up in my garden. This one doesn't have the variety yet as my old garden, but I hope it will one day. One of my townhouse mates was freaking out when I said certain flowers were to attract the wasps. I was trying to explain the difference between yellow jackets and most of the others. Most wasps are very peaceful.

  3. Your garden looks wonderful. What a beautiful backdrop to your garden as well. I like that orange flower too! Very pretty. I have all kinds of wasps in my garden. I try to leave them alone, but my kids are terrified of them! I have seen a few yellowjackets though...uhg. My garden sees more and more good and bad bugs every year! I am always finding new ones!

  4. Thanks for the tour, I have some wasps in my garden, but I couldn't name them except yellow jacket.

  5. Never seen a wasp like that in my garden before - very interesting! We get the usual run of the mill creatures in our garden each year - the most notable is our rainy pacific northwest mutant slugs. The big banana ones are monstrous and creepy looking.

    Your garden is looking good. Hopefully your tomatoes will get a move on soon for you.


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