Monday, July 30, 2012


I have really been noticing the Sun coming up later each morning and dusk arriving sooner each evening. Our ancestors marked the day halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox as Teltane (also known as Lammas or Lughnassad). They celebrated a ritual marriage between Lugh, the Sun, and Eire, the Earth with hopes the mating would balance the male and female energies to strengthen and harmonize the Sun and Earth until harvest. This Wednesday, August 1st, marks Teltane and in honor of the Sun and the Earth, I thought I'd share some thoughts and some photos of my garden.
Herb and flower gardens at the end of June.

Despite a lengthy drought, which probably isn't over even though we have gotten a little rain of late, my garden has flourished. Fortunately I have been able to water the vegetable garden from our pond, but there for a while I was concerned for my dear garden and all the plants and wildlife living near us as the temperatures were in the 100's and everything looked scorched.

I am an organic gardener, and I have been building our soil with compost and green manure for many years. This year I have been planting my seeds and doing my transplanting diligently according to a biodynamic calendar. I used a calendar last summer, but I wasn't consistent. This year, as an experiment, I decided to follow the biodynamic recommendations as much as practicality allowed. I'll admit some scepticism but I'll have to say that my garden appears to be doing exceptionally well.

Veggie part of the garden at the end of June.

Of course my experiment hasn't been scientific and there are way too many variables to draw any conclusions, but it is enough evidence for me to continue using the calendar next year.

When I was taking the Master Gardener class a few years ago, other students teased me when I said I didn't see many insect pests in my garden. They couldn't believe I didn't have to spray with chemicals for bean beetles and potato beetles and the like. I decided to pay close attention this year to what pests I saw, especially after a mild winter when pests might be in larger number.

One cucumber plant which has produced
dozens of large burpless cukes.

I have seen one Colorado potato beetle on an eggplant, 9 Japanese Beetles on my okra, not one Mexican bean beetles in two succession plantings of bush beans, a couple of squash bugs, and 7 or 8 Blister Beetles in this whole growing season. I do struggle with Squash Vine Borers, though I've kept them at bay longer and longer each season with a couple of techniques, and my eggplant are bothered by flea beetles, though not enough to keep them from pumping out lots of lovely fruit. I do see a little pest damage on the veggies that I pick, but I don't treat the plants with organic insecticides like Pyganic or diatomaceous earth unless I am going to lose a good share of the crop, because if I kill the "bad bugs" I'd be killing the "good bugs", too, the predators which keep the pesty insects in check. I attribute the shortage of "bad bugs" in my garden to all the hungry birds, all the "good bugs" and to the health of my plants and soil.  

I've started turning under the Crimson Clover
which has been growing in this bed so it can
decompose as a green manure. It will be my winter
bed under a hoop house. I left the volunteer
zinnia and will plant around it. :)

I know it sounds like I'm bragging, and I guess I am, but I get frustrated with the common attitudes about organic gardening and I wish I could help people see the advantages of not using chemicals on their gardens.

For those of you who do fall and winter gardens, it is time to begin preparing the soil and begin some of the planting. It is time to think about planting carrots. I have been turning under the green manure on one of my winter beds and have some bedding plants started in the greenhouse. I usually go ahead and put up the hoop house and cover it with a light row cover because there are a lot of hungry insects who like those sweet young plants. Row covers are one of the best tools for pest control. 

My friend, Donna, took this photo of my hoop house
a couple seasons ago.

I hope you'll consider a fall and winter garden, because, in Kentucky, you can get a great deal of fresh food and the growing is easy with typically cooler temperatures and plenty of rain, and the pests are taking a break. For more information about
fall and winter gardening and
hoop houses, visit

The bees are loving my dwarf crepe myrtle 
which is blooming it's heart out this
year and has such a sweet scent.

These Juliet "Roma" shaped tomatoes are a cross
between a cherry and a Roma type tomato.
The plants are taller than me and have
not had one sign of disease.
If things go as they usually do, they will keep
bearing baskets of tomatoes until the frost kills them.

I wish you all a happy Teltane and, if you garden, best wishes for a prosperous garden during this unusual garden season.