Thursday, October 30, 2014

Summer 2014 Surprises

Aubrey stopping to smell the flowers while at the
Pumpkin Patch in Denver
I could start every season of every year with this little ditty:  “This has been an unusual season in the garden.”  It’s called living in the Midwest; every year is unusual to us.  It’s living in an area with four seasons at the mercy of changing weather patterns.

Most of us in the Midwest enjoy the changing seasons and the unpredictability of our weather.  It pits humans against the quirks of Mother Nature, it’s us against them; it’s survival of the fit; it’s intelligence against the unknown and we love the challenge (if not always the damage.)

The good surprises of summer 2014:

I had canna bulbs long buried come up in places I didn’t even remember planting. 

I had gladiola bulbs come up where I had been lazy and not dug up in the fall a couple of years ago.  They had multiplied and were lovely next to my Julia Child rose.  Careful planning could not have made their location more beautiful.

I planted a row of annual seeds willy-nilly in the front of my raised vegetable bed.  My granddaughter, Grace, and I pretty much mixed them and planted at any depth she might wish.  They came up with wild abandon.

Grace inspecting the garden
Last early winter I threw all my sad decomposing pumpkins and gourds into a flowerbed near the house and promptly forgot them.  The entire bed was full of vines this summer producing an abundance of beautiful orbs to supply any and all family this fall.  Bees loved the blossoms and the granddaughters loved painting the pumpkins.  Thank you to Nature’s Creations for all the original beauties who so generously seeded over winter.

Field crops have produced stellar this year in spite of some early hail and wind damage.   Watching pickin’ and combining is one of my favorite scenes of fall.  So glad it’s been good for our farmer neighbors.

Japanese Beetles really did take a big kill because of the cold winter.  I had some but nothing like the horrible swarms of years’ past.

I’ve had a large variety of butterflies this year, including Monarchs.   Included is the down side:  they were few in numbers. 

I had the most quantity and variety of bees I’ve ever seen here.  I feared they would be frozen out but it seems they survived and thrived.

Because daylily plants thought fall had arrived in August, I had several rebloom (something that seldom happens this far north.)

True northern zone hardy perennial bushes and flowers actually thrived from our cold winter last year.

My cherry and apple trees took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. 

Self-seeders such as aster, cleome, dame’s rocket and phlox all did well

Grace and Kaydence busy helping Grandma.
Some not so good surprises of summer 2014:

 My pepper and cucumber plants pretty much look the same today as they did the day I planted them in May.  Complete failure.

My tomato plants produced but not with the usual early abundance and not enough to preserve quantities to take us through winter.

Local small vegetable farms have suffered along with other gardeners with less than ideal growing conditions. Remember to support our own Sarah and Nathan Hahn’s operation this fall – we want to make sure they can stay in business for many more years.

All the egg sacks of my Praying Mantis were destroyed due to the cold winter.  I didn’t have one Mantis survive.  

I’ve seen fewer wasps this year.  I know some people consider them a pest but they are one of our beneficial pollinators.

My peach trees didn’t produce this year.

Mildew was more prevalent than usual.  My Indiana farmer cousins said it was so bad, they had to spray their fields.

Lazy Crazy Days of Summer
What conditions surprised you this year?  Or, have you stopped being surprised and roll with the Midwest punches?



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