Shaker Gardens Thread: August Edition

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What's growing, Shakers? It's August, which means heat for much of the northern hemisphere, and cool temperatures in much of the southern. Here in Tennegeorgialina, it's been an unusually cool and rainy summer. I certainly don't mind it temperature-wise, and we need the rain. It's been a little hard on heat-loving Southern crops, however. So my tomatoes have withered from bacterial rot and my melons didn't fruit at all. But as you can see from the picture above, I can't complain about winter squashes, legumes, and the ever-tough zinnias.

banana trees in pots

In fact, for plants that can handle constant rain, it's been a good year. My banana plants, which live in pots so we can bring them in during the winter, are very happy. They're thriving along with the potted pineapples, pomegranate, and miniature citrus trees. My second planting of sunflowers (you can see one peeping over the top of the banana tree) are pretty happy too.

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The luffahs are doing well, too, although they're behind where they were last year, thanks to the cooler weather. Wilts and rots don't seem to faze them at all. In fact, I have volunteer vines springing up in the areas where I cleaned the gourds last year! The vines and flowers are pretty, although I don't think the volunteers will produce any gourds. This is my second year growing luffahs, and they're definitely on my keeper list. In addition to being disease-resistant, they shrug off the bugs that killed several of my plants this year, such as leaf-footed bugs, pickleworm, and squash bugs.


But although the above-mentioned pests and the rain finally did in my trumpet zucchini and cushaws, my cheese pumpkins and Seminole pumpkins have thrived. One of the cheese pumpkins (which look like a round of cheese, above) took a little pickleworm damage, but most of them managed to avoid it. My other successful pumpkins are the Seminoles, also a moschata variety, resistant to the squash vine borer. These are an old Southern winter squash, and they're amazing. The skin is unusually thick and tough, meaning that although lots of insects try to bite them, I've yet to find a hole where they actually got through, and I still have two on the vine. They're small -- a bit bigger than a large grapefruit-- but they're supposed to keep for up to a year, which is nothing short of miraculous in the Southern climate. They are also reputed to make tasty pies. I can't wait to find out!

yellow zinnia

Let me close with one of the "cactus" flowered zinnias I've tried for the first time this year. The flowers are certainly unusual and quite striking in the garden, and they make lovely cut flowers too! They're really nice in an arrangement with giant zinnias and "State Fair" variety as well. Once again I find zinnias are one of the most reliable annuals I can plant here, along with marigolds and chrysanthemums.

So, Shakers... how does your garden grow? Whether you have garden beds, pots on the windowsill or balcony, or are just planning a garden, feel free to share your projects in this thread! [Commenting Note: Please be respectful of the fact that other people's gardening priorities may differ from yours, whether that means prioritizing space, yields, conserving water, organic methods, or any other set of concerns.]

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