Monday, June 13, 2011

June Explosion

"June is a bustin' out all over..."
A line from a show tune that comes to mind today, as we approach the middle of June. The flower beds are full of blossoms, the berries are ripening and the vegetables grow a foot a day. During June here in northeast Kansas, everything grabs onto life with such gusto that it sometimes takes my breath away.

Flowers are not the only color exploding in June.
Butterflies are everywhere.
Periodical cicadas now add an unusual layer to the daily sounds around us (which at the moment include the patter of rain on our roof, yay!). Periodical cicadas spend either 13 years or 17 years as underground larvae, emerge as adults with only one thing in mind and are gone by July. Northeast Kansas, according to entomologists, has only Brood IV of the 17-year periodicals. Since they last emerged in 1998, they are not scheduled to arrive until 2015.

Echinacea paradoxa.
But Missouri, just 50 miles or less away, is now in the throes of an outbreak of 13-year cicadas (mistakenly referred to as "locusts"), which also last emerged in 1998. Ours could be a bleed over from Missouri, or some "stragglers" (early arrivals) of the 17-year brood. Even the entomologists aren't sure which. I have seen only four specimens -- and haven't been able to get a photo -- and the mating calls are not deafening, so I suspect these are just a few stragglers. I remember the 1998 emergence. They were everywhere.

An E. paradoxa specimen in an unusual, but gorgeous color.
They are called periodicals because they do not arrive every year. As a rule, the entire brood emerges in the same year. And since we supposedly have only a 17-year species, we should hear them rarely. "Annual" cicadas are present every year and are the dominant nature sound here in August. They live as underground larvae for two to eight years, but are around every single year.

I won't go into more detail as Cicada Mania, K-State Entomology newsletter and Frances Farmer have said it all, so follow the links to them. They have pics, too.

Echinacea pallida. Native to the Kansas prairie.
I finally got the tomato cages up and things are looking nice. The plastic came off the corner of the flower beds where I was trying to kill out the showy primrose and my husband laid down a layer of wood chip mulch. It looks quite nice now and is ready for planting.
An Aromatnaya quince tree and an Ashmead's Kernel Apple were planted last week and I have two grapes, a Liberty apple and a Chinese hawthorn to plant. One section of my compost heap has been moved, expanding the flower growing capacity, where we will have a cutting flower garden. Fresh bouquets are a great bonus of this month.

Lovely lilies. We also have them in pink and yellow.
The Asiatic lilies are blooming in a big way and my beloved tiger lilies are budding. The kale and collards and broccoli and snap peas and snow peas keep me busy picking, blanching and freezing. It is a good year when I get more snap peas than I can eat fresh. They are my favorite garden vegetable and are at their sweetest when just off the vine. So I often eat my fill of snap peas standing in the garden.
Life is good.

Lovely Merlot lettuce. The color is even richer in person.
LETTUCE UPDATE: I've realized I need to adjust my lettuce planting schedule. Very small amounts planted a week or less apart would do the trick, I think. We have not finished eating the first spring planting yet and some of the second spring planting is bolting or at least looking past its prime. The third planting is really going to overwhelm us. Shade cloth now covers the first planting of romaine and the celery, to protect it a bit from the summer sun. Stay tuned.

Shade cloth protects romaine lettuce and celery from
the intensity of summer sun. Does it need a second layer
for more protection?

1 comment:

The Barefoot Crofter said...

Oh you are well into Summer now! Those pictures are just a feast for the eyes. I have never worked out successional sowing either. It always seems such a missed opportunity to only sow half a dozen seeds.