Six on Saturday: July 17

Leek flower…10 days cut.

Welcome to this “Six on Saturday” post (amazingly halfway through July already!!!) from north central Indiana. Let’s begin with a promised report on using leek blossoms as a cut flower. As you may recall, I was skeptical about them mainly because of their membership in the smelly onion family. Would they emit an offensive odor that ruined the pleasure of a bouquet? The answer is “No, they are not smelly in a bouquet.” And, they are extremely long-lasting, although the lavender color did fade a bit. The interesting thing to me was that they turned the water purple…yes, purple! It looks black in the photo, but it’s definitely purple. The next day when it was replaced with fresh water, that water immediately turned purple as well. And I’ll warn you, when the purple water is poured out, it does have a sulphuric odor. I washed the vase each day before replacing the leek bloom, too. Ten days cut, the flower still looks pretty good and it’s still turning the water purple!

The first tomatoes of the season!

2) “Unicorn” cherry tomatoes were the first harvested in the 2021 season, just two days later than last year’s winner (which were “Sun Sugar”.) I don’t know when I’ve had such a beautiful, more abundant crop of green tomatoes, and they are all bigger than usual. Looks like I’d better find some more canning jars this summer!

3) Strawflowers “Apricot Shades”

Loving these colors!

I haven’t grown strawflowers for a number of years, but in expanding the varieties in the Cutting Garden this year they were included. You may recall that over half the plants were eaten by rabbits before the bunny fence was installed, but those that are left are doing wonderfully. I’ve harvested and wired 30 flowers so far. Not sure what I’ll do with them, the nigella pods, poppy pods and feverfew bundles that are hanging in the Lady Cottage, but I’m enjoying growing them and seeing the range of colors from nearly cream through soft apricot shades to a brighter orange. Seeds were from “Swallowtail.”

4) Celosia spicata “Orange”

It really IS a spicata!!!

I have to admit I really had doubts when I saw Celosia spicata “Orange” listed in the Swallowtail catalog. I’d only seen spicata in pale pink and purplish shades. I really expected it to turn out to be a plumosa, but I decided to give it a try. Happily, my doubts were unfounded and they really ARE spicata! They are just beginning to form blooms, so I’m interested to see how they turn out, but they are indeed orange as well, so they are welcome. Celosias are terrific cut flowers, and dry extremely well, holding their color and shape for years if kept dry and out of direct, strong light.

5)

This is the first purple cauliflower I’ve ever grown, and I can’t wait to taste it! I must admit that not all of the eight plants in the potager are going to produce a lovely head like this one. Two have already bolted before really forming a head, and there’s no sign of anything forming in two more plants but I’ll be patient. The white “Majestic” cauliflower were beautiful, but finished a few weeks ago, so this purple variety is more than welcome.

Ugh!!!

6) The squash borers have arrived, and despite efforts to repel them, they’ve ruined two plants. I know it is very distasteful to have to deal with them, but if a gardener just throws the plants on the compost pile, or tosses them into the woods, the borers will likely complete their life cycle and return in greater numbers next year. So, whenever a plant is a lost cause, do take the time to dissect the stems and destroy the borers. Some will be large and easy to spot and squash. Some may be quite small and take some searching, but if you look for that black head and white body you’ll see them eventually. There were 7 of various sizes in this “Jaune de Vert” plant, and 9 in the neighboring “Ronde de Nice” squash. I’ll be keeping a closer watch on the “Fordhook,” “Sunburst,” and “Bossa Nova” varieties that at this point still seem okay. Happily, there is still enough time to tuck a couple more seeds in another potager bed for a late crop of summer squash.

So that’s the SOS for this week. I hope your gardens are thriving and that you are enjoying a great growing season! For more SOS posts, visit The Propagator who thought up this meme!.

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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15 Responses to Six on Saturday: July 17

  1. Eden says:

    I have had success with the borers using Hubbard squash as a “sacrificial” planting. Then they leave my butternuts and pumpkins alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      I never have them in butternuts, and actually use some of the summer squash as a sacrificial plant, since D doesn’t even like it! I always grow way more than I can eat, so enjoy it when it is there and look forward to the second crop that will be coming on later.

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  2. bcparkison says:

    The purple water is interesting. There seems to always be some kind of bug in the garden.

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  3. The purple water from the leek flower is rather fascinating. Sorry to hear about the squashes. Those borers sound nasty.

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  4. Jo Shafer says:

    Three weeks under the “heat dome” have all but roasted my small-leaf herbs such as the thyme plants. Sage seems to withstand almost anything from year to year, but the Italian parsley keeps bolting. I keep cutting it down. Even with very little to harvest, I’ll still have plenty of little jars in my pantry, all from last year’s bounty.

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  5. I often have strange self-seeded leek-crosses in my garden with huge flower heads like that, but I’d never thought to use them as a cut flower. I’ll have to give it a go and see if mine turn the water purple too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved your leek story … I’ve been staring at my leek flowers wondering the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am trying to save more seeds for myself – I buy from Real Seeds whose plants are chosen for that purpose – and leeks are one of the ones I want to leave to seed next year. Cutting any surplus for flowers will be a bonus so thank you for the idea and for doing the testing. I love how productive your garden is!

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  8. robinwinter says:

    You mention canning jars for your tomato futures, but have you ever tried drying them? I love the acute flavor in sauces and on sandwiches. I worry about botulism if the dried fruit are stored in oil, so I dry them lightly salted in my dehydrator, and then pack them in freezer-worthy zip locs which take less space in the freezer. This way I can do several grades of dryness also, and still have good keeping quality. With my finest meaty tomatoes I’ll only dry them until they are about one third dehydrated, then freeze, and these are my finest epicurean products for all kinds of use.

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    • carolee says:

      Yes, I do dry tomatoes as well but I can juice, salsa, and diced tomatoes for quick meals. The dried ones just don’t get used as quickly, and take up freezer space since, like you, I worry about packing them in oil even if they are refrigerated. And, it seems if they are just packed dry in bags or tins they either get “rancid” or buggy! I do have a couple of recipes that use the dried tomatoes, and fresh or diced canned ones just don’t have the impact that the dried ones do! Hope you have a great crop as well!

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