My midsummer garden is no dream, July 15 2015

So far, my female butternut squash flowers have not been fertilized. They get a short window of time to be pollenated, and it takes an open male flower and and open female flower and a willing pollinator. So far that hasn’t happened and three female flowers have come and gone without being fertilized. My squash flowers are blooming out of sync.

This was a perfect female flowers, but alas and alack, it didn't get pollinated.

This was a perfect female flower, but alas and alack, it didn’t get pollinated.

Yesterday, I had four beautiful male butternut squash blossoms open. But no female flowers.

Male butternut blossoms were open yesterday.

Male butternut blossoms were open yesterday.

The female butternut flowers weren't open.

But the female butternut flowers weren’t open yet.

I was hoping that maybe a bee would pick up some pollen yesterday, but there wasn’t a honeybee in sight.

Today, two lovely female butternut blossoms opened. But the male flowers had closed already. We’re gonna starve this winter.

Our of desperation, I opened up two spent male blossoms and rubbed the anthers against the stamens of the open female squash blossoms. I figured old pollen might be better than no pollen. Time will tell.

Veggie bed # 2, the first one to get planted this year.

Veggie bed # 2, the first one to get planted this year. 

I have been dealing with a variety of health issues since June 1. An abscessed molar led to a gut infection. I was on three different antibiotics, and FINALLY had surgery to remove the offending tooth (after seeing three dentists–my primary dentist, the root canal guy who said it couldn’t be saved, and then the oral surgeon). Then I had to recover from surgery, which at my age (72) isn’t as easy as it used to be. I just don’t bounce back like a kid anymore. So I am just now getting around to planting my summer garden. I did the middle bed first, about 10 days ago.

The plants have recovered from being transplanted, and are growing nicely.

The plants have recovered from being transplanted, and are growing nicely. Bed #2 has tomatoes, a Japanese eggplant, basil, dill, a row of Blue Lake pole green beans, a couple of yellow squash plants, and a red cabbage left over from winter that still hasn’t headed up. I hope that there is enough summer left for these plants to produce food.I am hoping for an eggplant soon. One little eggplant. Is that too much to ask?

I am hoping for an eggplant soon. One little eggplant. Is that too much to ask?

Our of eight cabbage transplants, we have harvested zero heads. This puny head is about the size of a baseball. I keep hoping it will grow bigger.

Out of eight cabbage transplants, we have harvested zero heads. This puny head is about the size of a baseball. I keep hoping it will grow bigger.

The pole beans have sprouted, but it will be quite a while before we get any beans. That is assuming that the birds don't get to the plants first. I have netting over the garden beds this year and that is helping.

The pole beans have sprouted, but it will be quite a while before we get any beans. That is assuming that the birds don’t get to the plants first. I have netting over the garden beds this year and that is helping.

The trick of pulling leaves off the apple trees in the fall (because it was too warm here this winter for them to fall naturally) seems to have worked. We have about 30 Fuji apples.

The trick of pulling leaves off the apple trees in the fall (because it was too warm here this winter for them to fall naturally) seems to have worked. We have about 30 Fuji apples.

But in the crazy weather = crazy garden category, my Granny Smith apple tree is blooming again in mid July. Ditto one of my Asian pears.

But in the crazy weather = crazy garden category, my Granny Smith apple tree is blooming again in mid July. Ditto one of my Asian pear trees.

And in the "we're gonna starve" category, here is my grape crop. These are supposed to be Red Flame Seedless grapes, but they are tinier than currants. FAIL.

And in the “we’re gonna starve” category, here is my grape crop. These are supposed to be Red Flame Seedless grapes, but they are tinier than currants. FAIL.

Two of my remaining three hens are molting and not laying. This is Miss Hillary, who has never been a good layer anyway. Her comb isn't even red, so she is probably done laying for the year.

Two of my remaining three hens are molting and not laying. This is Miss Hillary, who has never been a good layer anyway. Her comb isn’t even red, so she is probably done laying for the year. Yep, we’re gonna starve.

Chicken Little at nine years of age is too old to lay much. She may also be done for the year.

Chicken Little at nine years of age is too old to lay much. She may also be done for the year.

Dino-peep is the nasty  hen that attacks me every chance she gets. She is our only producer right now, so egg production is way down. Here she is, hard at work.

Dino-peep is the nasty hen that attacks me every chance she gets. She is our only producer right now, so egg production is way down. Here she is, hard at work.

Our Asian pear trees are doing themselves proud this year, with a bumper crop of about 60-70 pears.

Our Asian pear trees are doing themselves proud this year, with a bumper crop of about 60-70 pears.

The avocado tree has set a record 60 avocados this year. Maybe we won't starve after all.

The avocado tree has set a record 60 avocados this year. Maybe we won’t starve after all.

I planted veggie bed #1 a few days ago. It has tomatoes, bell peppers, an old collard plant, and some cheerful marigolds.

I planted veggie bed #1 a few days ago. It has tomatoes, bell peppers, a ping tung long eggplant, an old collard plant, and some cheerful marigolds.

I have purchased the plants to go into bed #1, but so far I have lacked the energy to dig up the bed. One of these days I will get around to doing that.

I need to add up my 2015 harvest poundage. I record the harvests in my garden diary, but haven’t entered the numbers into Excel yet. However, I don’t see this as being a banner year for either vegetables or eggs. Fruits have been doing OK, even though the possums, birds, and rats got the nectarines and peaches, and the plum tree didn’t produce. I have my hopes pinned on my Asian pear, avocado, apple, and citrus trees. Gee, isn’t growing our own food fun?

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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2 Responses to My midsummer garden is no dream, July 15 2015

  1. Norma Chang says:

    Sorry to learn about your oral problems, know what you mean by not bouncing back as quickly. I find a year makes a big difference now.
    Hope your butternut squash pollination experiment works, keep us updated. Glad your fruit trees are doing well, now that you are feeling better I am sure your veggies will do well also.

    • Norma, I am way behind on answering comments. Wouldn’t you know it, I have come down with yet another infection, and yet another tooth seems to have gone bad. My health woes have not ended yet, it seems.

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