Memorial Day Weekend Garden Update

It’s been busy in the garden the past few weeks, but I officially have the last of the summer crops planted. The sweet potato slips I planted last weekend seem to be doing really well. A few of them lost a leaf earlier in the week when it was blazing hot, but all of them have new growth in the past week, and I feel confident that they’ll take off brilliantly now.

On Tuesday, I planted two varieties of cowpeas, Mississippi Silver and Pinkeye Purple Hull, as well as some calabaza. I also took time to lay out drip lines and a bucket, following this tutorial for gravity fed drip irrigation. I’m hopeful that this will allow me to reduce my water consumption for the garden, and will also allow me to use captured rainwater. (Guess what’s on this girl’s birthday wish list this year? If you said “rain barrel,” you’re correct!)

For the moment I am still running the sprinkler on this bed, to ensure water reaches the seeds while they germinate and until the roots have grown a bit. But I hope to switch to the drip irrigation completely in just a couple of weeks. This morning, we spotted our first baby in this bed – one of the Pinkeye Purple Hull peas. Hello, friend. I look forward to the many Southern dinners you’ll provide me!

Seriously, gardening makes Southern food way more appealing to me than it ever was before. In the past week we’ve eaten home-grown lima beans (with bacon and onions) alongside home made corn bread, and also barbeque chicken with home-grown blackeye peas followed by banana pudding. Fresh ingredients elevate that humble sort of fare to a fabulous experience (where frozen beans send me back to childhood dinnertime trauma).

As for the summer crops, I also planted peanuts. No special area for them, I just stuck them throughout the yard in places where there’s a bit of overspray from the sprinklers but nothing else growing. Maybe a dozen or so of them? I’m told they can largely be ignored until harvest time. Here’s hoping!

In other news, the loquat that I pruned so very heavily at the start of the month is showing lots of new growth. I expect it will produce many new low branches and will hopefully be easier to harvest in future years.

The squash plants that I cut back so heavily earlier in the week are doing great as well. The zucchini plants look especially happy, and there are several young zukes growing. The spaghetti squash vines, despite being nearly completed denuded, are looking good too – the leaves I left behind have all grown larger and so far I haven’t spotted any more rust or powdery mildew (I am checking daily and plan to remove any damaged leaves immediately if I find more).

I planted seeds for lots of herbs a couple weeks ago, and most of them have sprouted now. Thai basil, Mexican mint marigold (a heat tolerant substitute for tarragon), oregano, rosemary (which has not sprouted, and likely won’t, as it turns out it prefers to be started in cool weather). Also, cayenne peppers, two of which have sprouted.

And maybe a month ago I planted seeds from a jacaranda tree we passed in the woods. Only one of them came up (but really, I wouldn’t need more than one of them in my yard as they grow really big in the end). Here’s my little baby jacaranda.

And – my tomatoes are starting to get some color at last! I am hopeful that we’ll be able to harvest these later this week. I started my seeds so much later than is ideal, but it does look like we’ll get to enjoy at least some ‘maters before the heat overtakes them. And in the meantime, the marigolds are doing their job – no worms or other bugs. Just happy tomatoes and the bushiest healthiest marigolds I’ve ever seen!

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend everyone! Take a moment to remember and honor our fallen servicemen, and to thank any military families you know. Then fire up the grill, grab a cold beer, and enjoy the time with your family. 🙂


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