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Bloom Day in my Kitchen Garden, September 2014

Violet flower

I brought some kind of violet home after leading an all-day social media marketing workshop for Garden Writers Association. It started as a small pot and has expanded in two years to cover nearly three square feet. It puts up pretty little flowers in early spring and continues to do so until cold shuts it down.

It’s still summer, but it has felt like autumn since late spring! We’ve had, perhaps, 10 unpleasantly hot days this season with many, many cool nights. I’ve joked occasionally that my tomato plants were shivering and I wish I’d started fall crops in July—they wouldn’t have minded the few hot days August brought.

It feels as though frost is only days away but my garden doesn’t seem to care. Nearly everything I grow is flowering as if to produce another surge of produce. I captured much of it for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and I included ornamental plants that only this year I started to think of as “my garden.” My wife and I have started to collaborate; I bring a lot of samples home from conferences and get all kinds of ideas from visiting show gardens. I also shop garden center clearance racks.

The only way I’ll ever eliminate my lawn is if we transform much of it to ornamental plantings. Photos provide some idea of what’s abloom in central Pennsylvania in mid September. Please enjoy our garden.

Bloom Day rose

I picked up more than 20 rose bushes three years ago at New England Grows, a conference in Boston. The roses were fresh from a greenhouse and I nursed them from February until April in my basement. Sadly, about half died, but the rest provide winter snacks for roving rodents or deer. Now, the roses are in bloom and we’ll need to fence them in to prevent the type of chomping that has happened two years in a row.

Second wave of gladiolus blossoms

Gladiolus bulbs were cheap this spring and I buried a dozen on the bank of my supposed rain garden. For a few weeks this summer they looked great, adding color where we’ve never had any. Just a few days ago, a second wave of blossoms appeared. I don’t know whether it’s the same plants sending up more flower stalks, or late-flowering bulbs that were mixed in with early-flowering bulbs.

Cosmos against the sky

I planted sweet corn in my kitchen garden, and cosmos with the corn because someone told me cosmos will prevent ear worms in the corn. The corn patch is more of a cosmos forest, but only one plant is in bloom so far. The corn has fared poorly; heavy rain killed my first planting, and the second struggled in moist soil. I need to add about 2 yards of soil to my garden to protect against wet summers.

Marjoram blossoms

Amazingly, my marjoram plants still have blossoms! The plants started blooming in July and have satisfied pollinators for more than two months. I first wrote about this marvel in a post titled Grow Marjoram! Seriously, Grow It!

Lavender in bloom

The lavender plant that died last winter is still in bloom. Died? Well… it didn’t come out of dormancy until about the first day of summer. All spring I thought it was dead but I hadn’t yet pulled it because there were plenty of more pressing gardening tasks (and I wasn’t home much this spring). I noticed new growth while I was weeding near the plant and was pleased to see the lavender come back fully during August.

Purple basil blossom

Still in the herb garden, I found a few basil blossoms holding on on a plant given to me by a farmer who let me shovel well-aged horse manure out of her pasture into my minivan. This variety of basil seeds aggressively and is likely to produce many offspring next season. Sadly, it isn’t as bright and basily as varieties I grew from seed… but it looks great in the garden.

Bean blossoms

My latest planting of beans included at least three varieties. All are bush beans and all are in full bloom. Climbing beans also are in bloom, but for their second wave of production, so blossoms are sparse. Still, unless frost hits early, I’ll add at least one more gallon of beans to the three gallons I’ve already frozen.

Winter squash blossom

Winter squash is going nuts in my garden. There must be a dozen fruits in my neck pumpkin patch, and three hybrid neck pumpkin & something monster squashes invading one of our ornamental beds. They’re all still flowering.

Cucumber blossom and baby

I planted cucumbers among the struggling corn plants in late July. There are many blossoms, but I’ve little hope of harvesting meaningful cucumbers before frost kills the vines. You can see a tiny cucumber baby behind the blossom. I hope it has time to grow up.

Purple jalapeno flower

The purple jalapeno seeds I collected last year turned out to have been cross-pollinated—I think with sweet Italian peppers. They produce white flowers with purple borders and the peppers emerge purple… but they’re giant compared to a typical jalapeno. I suspect this blossom will not produce fruit before frost kills it.

Black Russian tomato blossom

I haven’t counted, but there’s no question I’ve created even more than umpteen tomato blossom photos. This isn’t my best, but it shows the tenacity of a tomato plant. Blight has destroyed most of my tomato plants but still tomatoes hang on and ripen… and the plants continue to produce blossoms.


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