What is happening in my garden

Kathy Henderson

Garden Columnist

Because of infrequent rain showers in my garden, I am having to water the plants that were planted within the last year. They need supplemental water until their roots are established. I find that Hydrangeas want water beyond that - like the rest of their life. My hydrangeas are filled with gorgeous blooms, but when a drought comes, the blossoms shrivel up. I try to add water when I see the wilted blossoms in the evening. On a hot sunny day, the blossoms and leaves will often wilt just from the heat, even though the soil contains enough moisture. Then as evening cools, the leaves and flowers perk up. If they don’t recover with the evening, water each plant about 30 seconds with a good water breaker nozzle - don’t spray the plant, drench the ground with water. If it tends to run off quickly, then water, wait, water, wait and water again.

Suyu Long and Sweeter Yet cucumbers - from about 4 vines. Special photo

I hope you are using a mulch around your plants. Whether you choose bark, wood chips or pinestraw, apply it to the beds when the soil is moist. If you apply mulch over dry soil, you may keep the rain from getting to the soil in sufficient quantity to soak into the soil. Mulch helps keep the soil moist, smothers some weeds, allows easier extraction of weeds and makes the ground under plants look even-textured.

The blueberries are ripening. I hung a few gold balloons and silver decorations from the local dollar store on them, hoping to keep the birds away. I suppose the birds probably think I am having a party for them and the berries are the refreshments! It gives that part of the landscape a very festive appearance.

Cucumbers abound in the garden. Is there any other plant that can hide a 12 inch fruit better than a cucumber? I cannot believe how rapidly they mature. One day you have a tiny cucumber and the next day it is huge. Cucumbers and okra must be checked daily and you will still miss one or two.

My cucumbers this year are ‘Suyu Long,’ ‘Sweeter Yet’ and ‘Sweet Slice.’ All are tender even when large and are “burpless.” Yay! I enjoy them sliced with balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar) and salt or with zesty Italian dressing.

I planted ‘Jambalaya’ okra this year and it started producing pods on 12 inch plants. I had a few plants last year and I was so amazed at the production and the short size of the plants - about 3’ -4’. The taste is outstanding and the uniformity of the fruit is amazing. I love boiled okra and I like the pods to be about 3-4”. I have already had several meals of boiled okra. I usually eat it alone. This is the variety to grow if you are pickling okra - the pods are perfect for the jars. Sorry, about this ‘Clemson Spineless’ that I have always grown, but you have been outdone. This variety would look good in a flower border.

I had forgotten how good fresh beets tasted until I pulled mine last week. I just boiled them, slipped the skin off and cut them in half - they were a small variety. With a little olive oil, they were delicious. I washed the leaves, cut them in several slices, tossed them with oil and sautéed them much like spinach for just a few minutes. Then I placed the beets over them and we ate our fill. So easy to grow and to prepare and so good for you.