The weather here has been hot, hot and humid. We’ve had 6 months of summer this year, no spring. Rain comes in spurts of 3 or 4 inches in hours which don’t stay around to soak in and takes off with the mulch cover.
Since I’ve been digging, dividing and moving plants around I’ve ignored my other flower beds and the grass and weeds have taken over to the point I’m embarrassed for anyone to see my garden.
On the flip side our sunrises and sunsets and full moons have been spectacular. Thursday night one of my co-workers left me a message on Facebook that I needed to take a picture of the beautiful moon we had that night. I came out my front door and tried to walk down the sidewalk to the driveway. Between the weeds and the volunteer Profusion zinnias which seem to be hugging the edge of the walk instead of in the flower bed, I needed a machete to hack my way through. It was that bad. As I propped my camera up on top of the compost bin, I heard a low growl coming from under a Japanese maple at the corner of the house. Levi of all hooligans was growling at me, but he was too lazy to get up and check out the intruder. Bravery at a safe distance is his forte.
Saturday the mess to the front door had to be tackled. I parked the tractor near by and worked all day on the beds taking several breaks to get water and cool off. As I would haul a load down to the compost pile, I would take the long way around to and from the pile and my bagged pine bark and mow grass along the way. After about five trips I had the lower forty mowed. I put newspaper down around a new red Pygmy dogwood on the other side of the steps and mulched until I ran out of bags. Saturday I’ll pick up a truck load and finish. A couple of days later while watering my dogwood, I noticed some of newspapers were pulled out from under the mulch. I wondered …… the hooligans had struck again (at this point I was going to show the mess they had made, but I decided to put in another hummingbird picture at the end). They've been so busy chasing field mice in the garden around the greenhouse, I'm having trouble getting them to come and eat. I need to go and find out how many daylilies I have left or if I still have the siding on the greenhouse.
Sunday I took Mom on a small river boat luncheon trip for her birthday. Normally the Pickwick Belle is at Florence Harbor, but this month is in Decatur. Mom didn’t enjoy this trip as much as leaving from Florence as Decatur has the boat going by a lot of the industrial parts of the Tennessee River instead of undeveloped.
The next Tuesday I took a vacation day, slept late and missed WAAY televisions station showing my hummingbird video from my last Grit post on the early morning news program. Breakfast caught me sitting under the pergola watching hummingbirds while I ate.
Since I’m allergic to dew covered Bermuda grass, I headed to the barn after it burned off. When I purchased my John Deere 3032E tractor I purchased a quick hitch with it. After struggling trying to get the tiller on my old Yanmar I thought it would be a good idea. One thing I’ve found out is that the connection system for equipment is not standardized, everything has a different setup. The 5 foot Big Bee mower has a floppy connection on the part that attaches to the adjustable bar on the back of the tractor and would slip off the hook on the quick hitch. I have a short chain tying it down to a side bar on the mower. If you change from the mower to the tiller, you have to lower the hook thingy on the hitch from the highest setting down to the lowest setting. If I could find manual for my tractor, I could give you the name of the parts. I really like my tractor, but have two issues with it. As much as you pay for a tractor, you’d think John Deere could give you a manual on CD or let you down load it from their website w/o charging you. The second is that PTO thingy on the back of the tractor that the PTO shaft from equipment attaches to (note to JD, my tiller manufacture e-mailed me a copy of my manual) cannot be turned while trying to attach the shaft. My old tractor had a hole that I could insert a screwdriver in and turn the PTO thingy so you could easily attach the shaft.
I finally got everything hooked up by turning the tiller blades and checking the PTO shaft. Except one little problem, I couldn’t get the 3 point hitch pins to go down so the quick hitch would lock, so I started bouncing it lightly and it didn’t drop down. I bounced it down harder a couple of more times and the tiller completely bounced off of the hitch and landed front side down on the ground. Now what? I thought. Then I thought times like this I needed Dad and then it hit me that it’s been 15 years on this date he passed due to his smoking and I started crying. Finally I told myself that crying is not going to solve my problem, so I turned the tractor around and placed the loader under one of the pins and up righted it. No problem mondo and without a scratch on the tiller. After lowering the hook down to the lowest position I got everything hooked up and locked down and started digging my overgrown garden.
Black and yellow argiope
After I finished digging I picked a few Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes and. The Yellow Brandywine tomato seeds turned out to be some sort of a large cherry tomato. I e-mailed customer service at the seed company and so far they are ignoring me. I’m going to send them a picture next and have them define what a Yellow Brandywine tomato looks like. You spend weeks growing the seeds and taking care of the plants only to get marbles instead of something big enough to cover a slice of bread. How can you make a good mater sandwiches out of marbles? BTW, I use honey mustard salad dressing instead of mayo and a little garlic salt on my sandwiches.
I decided to check on my watermelon patch. A month ago I had softball size melons and today I couldn’t find a trace of the vines or melons. The area is grassless and only contained this tall weed that looked like a sticker weed without the stickers. I found a huge Black and Yellow Argiope spider with a locust and a grasshopper in these tall weeds. The next day I again looked for my watermelon patch, nothing, my patch had been stolen, no melons, no vines. After all I have a picture of one of my little melons to prove it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. It was in a low area and several inches of rain in a few days must have washed it away.
Since the ground is as hard as a brick, I decided to water some of my daylilies that are the wrong color for my Auburn University orange & blue section by the mail box so I could dig and move them. Much to my surprise there was one of my missing watermelons and it had doubled in size. Imagine that. Now I have to worry about the mail lady or late night parkers getting it.
The garden area has gotten so overgrown since my knee injury and the over bearing hot weather. The hooligans have been so busy chasing field mice and rats that they were too tired to eat one day, even Levi. He is always ready to eat. The hummingbirds are really hitting the feeders since the flowers aren’t as plentiful, and my photography interests have changed to the flying flowers.
Get away from my feeder and no one will get hurt
Male ruby-throated starting to form his gorget (red throat)
Check out more hummingbirds and some of my late blooming flowers on my gardening blog: Hummingbirds and a Few Late Blooms.