Summer Garden Plan
One of the main goals of our summer garden plan is to see all of
our plants that we have planted in spring through to fruition in
the summer season. Whether it is the vegetable garden or
hanging baskets full of beautiful hummingbird flowers, this
season is full of expectation for the reward and the fruits of
our labor. Since gardening is not usually about instant
gratification, it takes patience and time to grow your own vegetables and
flowers, not to mention it is also a whole lot of fun !|
A beautiful magenta rose on one of our bushes ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
In this season's garden plan, I'd like to update all of you on our summer garden. Also this summer, you'll find tips and ideas on how to grow a successful garden, including an interesting and inexpensive way to compost organic matter to make your own fertile soil for your vegetable and flower gardens.
The Vegetable Garden
A couple of our Green Bean plants ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
The vegetable garden is growing well and looking beautiful ! Soon we will be harvesting our first crop of cabbage, cauliflower, beans and peas. These plants are the closest to being ready to produce vegetables. They are fast growing plants that enjoy the cooler, rainy weather that we have so often here in the Northwest.
One of our largest Cauliflower plants ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
One of the challenges of growing a vegetable garden in our area (as well as in even colder, more Northern climates) is our short growing season. Since all of us gardeners are eager to get our gardens started as soon as possible because the warm weather season is so short, sometimes we plant a little too soon and risk our plants being exposed to a late frost. But be encouraged, you can start afresh even if your garden has been hit with a late frost as ours was this year.
One of our crookneck squash plants ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Our last frost was in May, after I had already planted in the garden many of the vegetables we started indoors. The frost came following a small hail storm that also did some damage to our plants. I had to replant our pumpkins, squash, zucchini and tomatoes as well as the green beans. This time I just direct sowed all of the seeds outdoors instead of starting them again indoors. Thankfully, most of the cabbage, cauliflower and all of our peas survived. So far, our replacement squash, pumpkins, zucchini, beans and tomatoes have sprouted and are growing well.
One of our first pea flowers ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
I also sowed more cabbage and cauliflower in addition to the ones we already have growing so we have lots of new cabbage and cauliflower plants coming up as well. In the meantime, while we watch our garden grow, we are watering, weeding, maintaining and enjoying it to the full !
One of our Purple Cabbage ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
One very important thing to remember this season when there are so many tender green plants and eventually fruit in the garden is slug bait. Since slugs love to eat all kinds of new plants and vegetables, we keep the kid, pet, wildlife and environmentally friendly slug bait on hand and apply it regularly. I've also recently employed a interesting and inexpensive home remedy to get rid of Cabbage Worms off our Cabbage and Cauliflower ~ I used white flour ! Look for the full explanation of these odd but safe and easy pest control ideas and tips on successful gardening when you visit a new section coming soon to Wasell Gardens called FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
One of our tomato plants ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Another part our efforts to grow homegrown organic food is our lovely raspberry bushes. We are looking forward to a good crop this year as we already have many tiny green berries starting to form on the plants. The flowers on the raspberry bushes were in abundance this spring and it looks as though the little bees did a good job of pollinating because there are hundreds of newly formed berries that will soon grow into plump, juicy, red raspberries. Yum ~ raspberries are my favorite ! I'm looking forward to a delicious raspberry pie !
A new feature to look for on my blog page this summer are recipes and ideas for making your homegrown vegetables into delectable, scrumptious dishes for your family's table. I will be sharing some of our family's favorite recipes like raspberry pie (or raspberry rhubarb pie), sweet homemade zucchini bread, bologna stuffed cabbage and an easy and cheesy crookneck squash and zucchini casserole ! You won't want to miss these recipes so check the blog page regularly this summer !
The Flower Garden
There are so many beautiful flowers to enjoy this time of year. Some of our mainstays in the landscape each year are our beautiful rhodies, one early blooming red, followed by another spring blooming red rhodie and finishing with a splash of lavender color from our lovely light purple rhododendron that blooms in late spring and early summer. I always love taking pictures of the gorgeous flowers as they bloom. Here's a photo of our purple rhodie which is in full bloom right now.
I love the dark purple speckles inside the flowers of this rhodie !
Photo By, Jessi Wasell
The Flower Garden
Some of our most favorite flowers this time of year are the roses. We have a beautiful rose garden full of roses of various colors and sizes. The roses are just starting their cycle of blooms. Once they really start blooming prolifically the summer evening air will be filled with the fragrance of their blossoms. I love to sniff in their sweet floral and sometimes spicy aroma and make the most of every opportunity to "Stop and smell the roses" as the saying goes !
One of our white first roses of the season ! Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Another flower which grows wild in our neighborhood is the honeysuckle ~ the flowers are a major hummingbird favorite. The gorgeous smell of the honeysuckle blooming in the summer adds to the ambiance of the garden in the evening.
Speaking of hummingbird flowers, the gypsophila we planted this year are prolific bloomers and are spilling over the edge of our flower baskets. The cardinal climber vines are still growing, so the hummingbirds will be enjoying their red blooms later than we expected. I'm thankful we live in an area where we have hummingbirds year round because there will still be hummingbirds around to enjoy the flowers whenever they decide to bloom !
A mottled maroon, almost plum colored rose on one of our bushes ~
Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Our primroses are pretty much finished blooming now since they are more spring bloomers and the cyclamen are still putting forth nice flowers as long as I keep pulling the dead ones out by the stem. That's one tip I wanted to share with you ~ if you want to grow cyclamen, just remember to keep them watered and also to pull off any dead head flowers regularly to make room for new ones. This will keep your cyclamen looking good and blooming beautifully for the whole flowering season. Rhododendrons also benefit from this type of 'deadheading' ~ taking all of the dead flowers off when they are dry and past their prime.
Create Your Own Composting System
We have been composting and creating our own garden soil from the products on our goat dairy farm for years. By composting the used goat bedding and manure, as well as green material (weeds, grass clippings etc.), we've been turning these products into beautiful fertile soil for use in our vegetable and flower gardens.
This year we are trying a new system for composting these materials. Our neighbors told us about a system that they use for composting their horse manure, grass clippings and weeds using compost boxes made from wood pallets. It worked wonderfully for them so we thought we'd like to give it a try ourselves.
You may want to try this composting system in your own garden so I've included instructions below. So far, our compost box is working out great for us and I think it will for all of you too.
The first corner of our compost box ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
What You Need:
Wood Pallets (These are obtainable for free at some farm stores and construction supply stores ~ just be sure to ask first before helping yourself to the pallets. Most of the time these stores are more than happy to give them away for free. You'll also need to decide how big you want your boxes to be to determine how many pallets you need. You can make a small box with just four pallets or a large one like we needed out of about ten pallets ! Hardwood pallets are the best ~ they will stand up to years of wear.)
Screws (About an inch to inch and a half long depending on how thick your wood pallets are.)
Compost (Including livestock manure, weeds, grass clippings, etc.)
Dirt (You'll also need some dirt to cover your layers of bedding, weeds and manure.)
Our compost box when it was halfway done ! Photo By, Jessi Wasell
What You Do:
Once you've decided how many pallets you need and have the desired amount of pallets to make the compost box the right size, simply stand the pallets up (the tall way with the slats running horizontal) and screw the sides together to form a box. Try to get the screws into the chunkier frame of the pallets and not just the slats which tend to be made of thinner wood. This will make your compost box stronger. You will need at least three sides to your structure at first. If you want, you can leave the fourth side off until you have filled the box halfway for easy access to adding more compost to the box.
Next, fill the box with compost, being sure to layer the livestock manure, green material (like weeds and grass clippings) and dirt alternately as you fill up the box. Once you have filled it as much as you can without the fourth side, you can screw the fourth side in place and fill it the rest of the way.
Once full, simply let the compost rest. Your last layer in the box should be to cover all your compost with dirt. Remember to always keep a layer of dirt over the top of your compost to discourage weed growth and flies. The air gaps in between the pallet slats will allow air flow to circulate around your compost, causing it to break down more efficiently. If you start now, by next summer you should have nicely composted dirt ready for use in your vegetable and flower gardens !
Our finished compost box ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Today while I was out weeding the garden that holds our beautiful rhododendrons and some of our roses I noticed that I had a little friend ~ a Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. This butterfly was around for at least a half an hour or more, just enjoying the rhodie flowers, especially the purple blossoms. It was so kind of The Lord to send a little butterfly my way to enjoy while I worked. It stayed long enough for me to take some pictures to share with you. Here is one picture ~ you'll find many more on the photo gallery page.
A Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly ~ Photo By, Jessi Wasell
Gardening and planting for yourself and wildlife is very rewarding. These are just some of the benefits that you will experience when you make your garden a wonderful, inviting place to be.
I hope that your garden is doing well and that you are looking forward to a bountiful crop of vegetables, enjoying your beautiful flowers and maybe even some butterflies and bird visitors just as we are. Thanks for joining me for the summer garden plan here at Wasell Gardens ! I hope I've given you some ideas on enhancing your own gardens and inspired you to make a beautiful outdoor space for you, your family and wildlife. Be sure to check back for updates as we harvest the year's first crops ! I look forward to sharing another season with you this fall when we reveal the new Autumn Garden Plan. Until then, Happy Summer Gardening and God Bless You !
By, Jessi Wasell