Thursday, September 15, 2011


Zebra Swallowtail dining on goldenrod nectar.
Autumn has stuck her foot in the door and Summer is packing her bags.
I doubt that Summer has had her final word, yet. Kansas Septembers and Octobers often bring quite toasty temperatures in the midst of sometimes unseasonable cold.
However, for the last three weeks or so, the high temperatures have largely been below 95 degrees F and are now generally in the 80s and upper 70s. This morning, I awoke to a chilly 43 degrees.
The pole beans don't quite look like they
did when this was taken in June, but they
are reviving.
With the cooler weather and a little bit of rain, lots of things are expressing a renewed interest in life.
The green beans have revived and are setting on beans again. After a few weeks of 100-degree highs, they had looked like toast (literally). Only the fact that other things were higher priority on my list of things to do saved them from being cleared out of the garden. Now I am harvesting beans again. They are not coming on by the bushel, but they are justifying their existance. The bush beans did not fare so well and have been cleared out in favor of fall crops of cauliflower, lettuce and radishes.
The peppers and tomatoes look happier and are blooming and setting fruit again, although if the temperatures stay too low, they will stop that silliness.
What the compost heap looked like in the spring.
The plants are not the only things taking a more energetic interest in life. My enthusiasm has also revived in the cooler weather and I have undertaken some of the more strenuous garden tasks.
The first major project was rolling over the compost heap.
I am not going to make any pretense -- I am a lazy composter. I pile stuff in a heap and twice a year rebuild it. So last week I pulled out the pitchfork and rolled the compost heap.
Instead of just rebuilding it where it was, I rolled the heap forward. Instead of dividing it into several sections, I made one big heap, with old wooden pallets set upright as a wall to disguise it from the garden side, then added two sides for containment.
The new compost heap.
A side view. I am always so proud of my newly rebuilt
compost heaps.
I left one end empty so that I can roll the compost heap back and forth. Maybe I will actually turn it more than twice a year now.
As a result of moving the heap forward, I now have a nice, grass- and weed-free area where I will plant flowers to cut for bouquets.
I love to have fresh flowers placed about the house, especially when we have guests. Sometimes it is difficult to find enough things suitable for bouquets in the gardens around the house, so building a garden for cutting flowers is a dream come true.
After the compost: A brand new flower bed.
That has sent me into a whole new frenzy, making a list of flowers suitable for cutting.
Zinnia, oh zinnia...
The list includes both perennials and annuals and quickly became so long that I know I can't possibly put them all in the new area. The space looked so huge at first and, after compiling the list, now looks quite small. However, piles of mulch, finished compost and horse manure near the compost heap are killing out grass and weeds. When those piles are used, I will have new bare areas to play in.
The most difficult task of planting the cut flower garden won't be finding suitable flowers, but deciding which ones not to plant (yet). I want to have blooms all through the growing season, so when they bloom and how long they bloom will be important factors in my selection. We will certainly have zinnias -- so reliable, so varied in color and size, blooming mid-summer through fall. Garden phlox, gladiolus, sunflowers, carnations, celosia, asters, salvias, cosmos, rudbeckia, gaillardia and on and on the list goes. I feel my heart racing at just the thought of the many varieties of each of these flowers that I have to choose from. This week I started the process by planting daffodil bulbs for early April bouquets.
Gardening provides endless opportunities for thrills and excitement. And the changing of the season revives my energy and enthusiasm for this pursuit.


The Barefoot Crofter said...

Gorgeous, Sandra. I have had thoughts of flowers in the garden today, and bought a fuschia and some violas for Winter colour. If you ever get a chance, look up Sarah Raven online. She has the most incredible cutting garden in the South of England. I love your wish list - but many of them would be too tender for our climate. Enjoy some slightly cooler weather xxx

Sandra M. Siebert said...

Thanks. I will check out Sarah Raven's garden. Are the fuschia and viola's for indoors? Neither would withstand winter outdoors here.