Here’s a walk through of what I have growing in my garden right now.
I bought this plumeria last fall and kept it in the house through winter. It’s huge! This rivals the plumeria I saw in Hawaii. It loves our heat and the water retention my raised beds have. I planted it in with a bunch of iris that my mother brought me from an iris farm in Colorado. The iris burned back a bit in our heat but I’m expecting all kinds of colors of blooms this spring!
I have the plumeria blossoms in a floral frog. I got this one from Goodwill a long time ago. Perfect size for these short stemmed blossoms! And they smell incredible! Plumeria is so unique. The blossoms look fake, they are so perfect and exotic!
This is a dragon fruit. It’s a night blooming Cereus, which is something my mother grew for decades. We had a perfect spot for her plant in Colorado and it did bloom. The fragrance in the house was overwhelming. I had no idea it was a part of a large cactus family that includes dragon fruit. This is a live plant I got from rareseeds.com which is the Baker’s Creek site. This is a variety that a cute little old man (Edgar Valdivia) created, he has videos of his dragon fruit farm on YouTube. This variety has pink flesh that’s supposed to be very sweet compared to the white fleshed ones at the grocer. It burns in our heat so I have canna shading it. Hoping to get fruit when our nights cool off a bit. A tour of Edgar’s garden: https://youtu.be/Fuwe_LjDIOc
Corkscrew vine (caracalla bean) This plant is now several years old and I leave the pot it’s in out in the weather over our 8b winters. This was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and he grew it at Monticello. It is extremely fragrant and one of many legumes I absolutely love. https://www.monticello.org/house-gardens/in-bloom-at-monticello/caracalla-bean/
My giant pear tree. This is a Biscamp pear. It’s fresh fruit rivals bosc, in my opinion. I have quite a bit that needs to be cut out but I’m currently sick with covid so it’s going to be a little while before I have the energy to cut it back. If you look you can see that it is pruned to not hang over my fence. You wouldn’t believe how many people will harvest a tree that has a few branches hanging into a public space. And most of them won’t stop with what they can easily reach. I prune anything, that fruits, away from neighbors or the park behind our house.
My test banana. This is a two year old banana that I’ve done nothing with. No mulch, no extra water, no fertilizer, native soil and zero winter protection. You can see the huge difference it makes to install these in raised beds and to protect them over winter. He’ll limp along, but I doubt this one is going to make it long term. Still. It’s interesting that it has survived under these conditions.
Veinte Cohol: 9 month fruiting banana. This is this guy’s first year outside. I brought it inside last winter. Hopefully I will get bananas next year as the rootball grows large enough to support fruit.
These are my crazy bananas. Most of the raised bed is Gros Michel with a single 9 month fruiting banana that I’m really hoping does something soon as far as fruiting. You can see the huge difference in the ones that are two years old in native soil, surrounded by grass and weeds, versus my deep beds. My hugelkulter beds make a huge difference in growth as far as the bananas are concerned.
My bananas, end of season, in deep raised beds. The tallest one has come back for three years outside now. It grows larger every year. The first year it was outside was our winter with snow and a low of – 16°F. I think you could grow bananas this way a zone or two lower than mine (8b) because it lived through that super unusual temperature. BTW that’s a 6 foot privacy fence!
I love my bananas! These stay outside throughout our 8b winters and come back from the rootballs with gusto. I lay the stems down and cover everything with straw and a plastic tarp. I haven’t seen anyone else with bananas this healthy around here. My beds are also full of sweet potatoes. So in a few weeks I’ll be chopping all of the tomatoes and basil back to dig out my sweet potatoes. They are in all 4 beds and last year I had multiple buckets full, out of a single bed. I’m anticipating having to have both of my canners going this fall trying to process them all.
I also found out that I have 11 full sized watermelon out here. I was super sick for almost a month with covid and then the flu. My hoses kept everything watered and apparently my watermelons loved the moisture and neglect! I’ll be using my steam juicer with these and waterbath canning them with lemon juice and sugar. I also have three types of sweet pickles to make with the rind. Cinnamon pickles were something my grandmother was famous for. All I can say to describe them is Christmas in a jar!
Ripening Parfianka pomegranates from Raintree nursery. This bush survived our -18°F weird winter, a few years back, and is back in production. This year we’ve had almost zero rain which has kept the fungal disease pressure low. My pomegranates are ripening well and haven’t been attacked by mice and rats. It seems that the rodents have concentrated on my fig tree, which at this point I don’t care about because I have a bunch of figs frozen right now, ready to can.
A blue sky day to take a picture of my mulberry nigra. It’s kinda lost in here with other plants but it’s in the middle of the frame. There’s a yellow bells behind it and sad struggling banana in front. When I planted this banana it was to gauge how a Gros Michel banana would survive in my native soil with no fertilizer or extra water and no winter protection. I think it would limp along a couple of years but I’m happy with what I’m doing in the main banana bed instead. The black mulberry is two years old and I’m expecting next year to be the first fruiting year. Not sure how I’m going to beat the squirrels on this plant, but I may adopt some “working” cats from a shelter. If you want something to patrol your yard and keep rodents at bay I highly recommend calling your local animal shelter and asking about working cats. They will be feral, but you can reduce the pressure of rats and squirrels with them and they come neutered so you aren’t wasting money on an animal that may take off trying to mate with another cat. This is truly saving a life, as these cats are not socialized and unable to be adopted as house cats.
The bed of 9 watermelon. It crept out over the grass and basically bullied everything else!
Drying freshly cut butterfly pea flowers. I will never use raised bed space for these again. They are completely out of control with the conditions in my hugelkulter/Lasagna beds
Just three butterfly pea plants. I tell you what, these butterfly pea plants are powerhouses for blooms that you can dry and use for dye or antioxidants. Dry them and remove the sepals and grind them up in a food processor. Then you can add them to anything. It’s fun to add them to Chai, or even just milk, and have a blue milk tea. Fun to serve to your family or neighbors! Unlike regular peas these plants grow and flower heavily in the heat.
This is a first year muscadine grape. It likes a more acidic soil than I have so it’s in a raised bed. Underneath the sides (and some of the bottom of the soil) is a liner of plastic. There is no water to this, so retaining what I hand water it with is important. I also bought a big vinyl ring that you fill with water and it “slowly” drips out. Unfortunately it drips out within a day or two so it really isn’t doing what I wanted it to do, which was to take several days to a week to empty. When the plant gets a little bigger I may try a different water bag for it. In case you are looking at tree watering bags on Amazon, I don’t recommend the horseshoe shaped ones.
One of my beds is mostly sweet potatoes with a few large sunflowers, basil for the bees and okra. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my beds this year (even though my husband is working out of state still, and I don’t have a lot of time to be outside.)
I have a giant brown turkey fig out back. It is doing so well I planted a Celeste fig out back this spring. The great part about having a tree that consistently pumps out sweet fruit is that the rodents, raccoons and opossums climb up in that tree and eat figs. I have a ton of figs that I brought in over several weeks and froze them for later processing. That means that when the varmints in my backyard are focused on the fresh figs, I’m already done harvesting the tree and they don’t mess with my other plants like the persimmon and pomegranates. This is a win win situation because it is really hard to totally rid yourself of wild animals, especially when you have a large garden. They are happy eating figs and I get to focus on my other plants that I enjoy as much as, or more than, the figs. Although figs are spectacular!
These little guys are why I usually don’t put “-cides” around my yard. Only a few things warrant sprays or poison. I have a ton of fire ant mounds this year. They have been appreciating the drought we’re in, so they get amdro. I have rodents that I have bait stations for and if my vines get sick I have some organic remedies that I use. In spring I do hit the overgrown grass and weeds with round up, but I’m on a quarter acre and a lot of what is planted is near Bermuda grass, which is the bane of my existence. I also get bind weed (wild morning glory) everywhere and that is usually something I pull by hand, but some years it gets out of control and I’ll spray it. But for the most part I don’t use anything other than elbow grease to keep my garden in shape.
I hope your summer garden is doing well for you! This has been a great year for most of my fruit. There’s still a lot to harvest. Meet you out in the garden! Crazy Green Thumbs