A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the sunflowers that grew on the front edge of my permaculture bed number one. The seeds from last year must have over wintered in the ground and gave me a lovely beautiful surprise this past spring.

August 6th 2016 - 001

I enjoy many  mornings sitting on my iron chair watching these beautiful flowers and sipping my first coffee listening to all of the birds chirping their morning songs. All was good with my days for weeks and weeks, until this strange particular day …

I sat out there as usual with my clippers in my right hand as I was going to cut off the biggest flower head since all of the yellow was gone leaving just the seeds ripening on the stem. I examined the head carefully, and then something horrible happened…

I managed to become sidetracked by the other permaculture bed and the little gifts scattered in the yard from my pup. I cleaned up the yard and took a look at my first years asparagus growing nicely in its spot. Went inside to refill my coffee cup and remembered today was the day to make a quick trip to the bookstore as I had a coupon worth $10.00 to use on a few new books.

I replaced the clippers in their spot indoors, looking back at the sunflower head that needed to be taken inside for the winter months. Thinking I’d be back within thirty minutes to cut the flower head off and inspect the other two that were merely days away from the same outcome.

To my joy there were two books on the clearance bin in the book store, each for five dollars. I noticed a pair of ear plugs I needed as well. All in all it was a glorious morning so far and back home with me I drove…

I grabbed the clippers and a little wicker basket I use for collecting my beans and the like and went down the stairs on this bright sunny day. I placed the basket on the little green plastic table I have on the lower landing of my deck, sat and turned around to clip off the head.

But, there was a disastrous void where my beauties had grown. “What in the world!” I almost yelled out. Well, I did kind of yell that out… I must not lie to you my dear friends. All of my happy zen of the morning came crashing to an abrupt halt as if I’d been harmed in a strange sort of way.

I should have listened to my gut early this morning when I first had those clippers in my right hand and not become distracted by permaculture garden bed number four…I must admit I’m usually quite good at listening to what my gut is trying to tell me and the outcome is pretty good most times, but not today….

Within one hour something had made a 11 to 12 noon visit to my garden and chopped off the three heads of the biggest sunflowers. To add insult to injury they stayed there with my pup inside of the house and ate all three of the heads. The evidence was clear upon closer inspection of the ground just below the sunflowers. Tiny pieces of the back side of each head lay in the dirt. The only evidence that beautiful flowers were once there.

The culprit did however leave me with about 10 seeds that were still intact, which I brought inside of the house for next year. I cut the remaining stems back to about 3 inches from ground level because it was so disheartening to see this damage.

Early this morning before I went outside the weather channel said it was very chilly, I needed my jacket and socks on my feet for my morning stroll through the garden. Perhaps, that is why my gut was telling me to cut off the head of the sunflower. When the weather changes like that from hot and humid to really cold morning the critters get a jump start on preparing for winter.

I find myself watching their behavior each August as this tells me just how many more warm days we will have until the weather takes a dive into our beautiful Fall. The leaves are beginning to change for the past two weeks, slight at best but changing just the same. Yet, another clue my gut this morning was trying to tell me.

So, if you want to know just when the cooler temps will arrive to your place on this earth, just watch how the animals behave and believe me there are clues there.

I put the tall potato wire cage around my deck tomatoes as they are getting big, but not turning yellow to red yet. I may have to begin covering them at night in a few weeks with this weather beginning to change ever so slightly, or else risk loosing them all together. Did you know you can also pick the green tomatoes and place on a kitchen counter to ripen if your weather at night turns from just right to down right cold….

If, the sudden decapitation of my sunflowers was not enough to completely ruin my day I moved on to the 1st planting of my potatoes in containers. I have two planters with potatoes planted and the third planter with sweet potatoes not due until the end of August and the end of September. So, to distract my sadness about the flowers I might as well see if any potatoes grew from the two store bought tiny spuds that had sprouted in the bag. I really wasn’t too concerned with how many because it’s a medium size planter. Plus I was running another test on growing potatoes.

Last year I took one store bought potato and plopped it into the dirt with compost. Watered it when dry with Compost Tea. You take a big container, fill with water, and take a few handfuls of compost from your bin and mix together ~ wait a few days and water with this instead of plain water. So, last year one potato went into the dirt and a dozen came out..

This year I planted three different types of potatoes, spaced the time I planted them and didn’t use the compost tea this year ~ just the rain water from the barrels. The results tell me the compost tea worked like a charm..

September 22nd Potato Harvest

82 days from planting to harvest

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Since I wanted to empty the container while on the deck I needed a well used tarp… complete with deck stain that didn’t work very well on the deck boards… The very first rain the stain bubbled and began to peel..

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Once I removed the wire cage that worked wonders protecting the vines from the winds, and the critters wanting to take bites out of the potatoes. Also, not one slug in the container either… win….

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I cut off the vines before flipping over the planter. At this point I was going to be happy with just a few potatoes. Anything to lighten up my day after the sunflower episode….

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It’s time to get in there and see what I can find.. I just love this part no matter the results.. For me any good reason to get into the dirt is a good one.. But, just in case there are creepy crawlers in there I grabbed some gloves…

August 22 2016 - 006

Join me why don’t you …..

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I’m happy I let the soil dry out, before attempting this maneuver…

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Hum…I remember putting much more dirt and compost in here…..

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Aw…what a cute little mound of dirt complete with impressions of the drainage holes… do you think there are spuds in that there dirt…..?

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Are  you excited yet? I know I was….

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I sure hope these potatoes are bigger than the first one here…

August 22 2016 - 012

I hope that the others are at least bigger than this one.. But, a cute little potato just the same..

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Ready, set, go .. Let’s get serious with this mound of dirt.. Where are you baking potatoes?

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Alright then … now we are harvesting and making this gardener happy…..

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Another one, now I’m smiling….

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Pretty fine looking roots these spuds had….

August 22 2016 - 021 copy

I wonder how many potatoes went into this small box? Remember I didn’t use the compost tea this year, hint… I should have…

August 22 2016 - 019

The sad fact was they didn’t even cover the bottom of the small box. I could say big old Fat Fail, but I won’t… These potatoes were sprouting in the bag from the grocery store in early spring and I didn’t put them in a place where they could really get going. Next year I’ll be building a structure where you keep adding boards as the vines grow. I’ll just add another 4 boards and fill with more compost… and repeat… Since, I have lots of spare wood in the garage left over from woodworking projects.

I still have container number 2 to harvest soon and then container number 3 the end of September. Soon, it will be time to put the garden to rest for the changing seasons coming soon… But the beets, and carrots, Swiss Chard are still going strong and should be great as we move closer to Fall…. Oh and the tomatoes.. next year I’ll plant the cherry tomatoes again as they grow faster than the larger versions.. and yield all summer long.. I’m still waiting on the trial tomatoes to finish growing.. The rest of this week is suppose to be hot again, so that should help…

August 22nd 2016 - Tomatoes

If, you made it to the end of this post I hope you had a coffee, or tea near by and perhaps a sandwich and a piece of fruit.. This day for me has had its ups and downs, so I’m heading to bed now and close this day ~August 22nd 2016 with a book by Stephen King ~ Revival… I’m almost finished with this and will begin my new book that I got free with my 10 dollar coupon ~ Season of the Dragonflies by: Sarah Creech

Night, ya’ll

or Good Morning since this is posting at 7 a.m.

38368-Mountain-Bluebird

Until next time

~Laura~

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16 thoughts on “Decapitation in the Garden

  1. Laura, sorry to hear about your sunflowers. But I’m glad I kept reading to hear about your success with spuds! I’m making my first attempt at potatoes this year, and your story was an encouragement. Good luck with the rest of your harvest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miss Teri…Thanking you kindly for your comments about my decapitation in the garden. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of two of the spuds out of the 1st container.. I just know your potato harvest will be spectacular and you will enjoy your fresh grown spuds and the memories of hunting for them will last a gardeners lifetime.. That first attempt is the best ever…

      Take care, from a fellow gardener Laura 🙂

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  2. Love the potato harvest! Thanks for sharing!

    If it’s any consolation, you’ve done a lot better than my next door neighbour. She experimented with potatoes for the first time this year – in containers – and has said she won’t be doing it again. The cost far outweighed the benefits. Instead, she is going to try green beans because she has been impressed by the ability of my few plants to keep both households well supplied!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ros, tell your neighbor to watch out for sprouting spuds from the grocery store in those brown paper bags, I didn’t buy potato sets, I just grab those sprouting spuds from the store in late winter and save them in a dark cool place until the ground thaws out enough to plant them.. My compost bins freeze too, so I must wait until around the end of May and sometimes until June.. Regular white potatoes takes only 80 days to grow.. tell her to go cheap and she’ll be surprised…

      Take care hon, Laura 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Pete, yes indeed the harvest from the 1st container of potatoes sure did cheer me up, quite a bit. I was running on highs and lows all day yesterday. Almost to the extent that my head felt like it was swimming. But, I found out this morning that I needed to just chill out in the garden this morning, so I stayed out there for 5 hours, trimming back cedar trees, cutting the branches into small pieces for the caged area for branches. I even stripped a few of the larger branches from the cedar and the sweet smell of the underneath calmed me from within. The birds sang all morning to keep me company while I toiled away in my happy place…

      Thank you for your comment and your support of my little garden.. If I depended on growing enough food for the winter I’m afraid I’d starve.. LOL 🙂 but, I do it for the exercise and the joy playing in the dirt and dodging hornets and wasps.. I think they don’t like the smell of cedar because none were out there this morning while I stripped the bark off the branches.. hum.. perhaps, I can make a spray .. cedar bug repellent…

      Take care, from Laura 🙂

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  3. You win some, you lose some. The important thing is that you tried, and you did get a nice potato harvest out of it. Maybe the sunflowers will come back next year! Fingers and toes crossed. Lovely post – very nature inspired. If you make something tasty with the potatoes, do post here so I can see. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vanessa, thank you so much for your comments as well. I want to do something very special with these few homegrown potatoes, because usually I just steam,boil,mash,scallop,or rice them.. Do you have any outlandish ideas for my small harvest of potatoes? I’d love to try one of your recipes.. Take care dear lady and keep that music on high tapping those toes…

      Laura 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. tootlepedal, thank you for your comments on the potato experiment this year. Did you wait for the plant to turn yellow or you can also wait for the first frost as well and then harvest. I suppose it depends on how long they have been planted.. Mine said 80 days for that type of white potato, but I could have waited longer by a week or so. They were surrounded by a chicken wire cage which held the vines upright nicely. otherwise as you saw in the picture after removing the wire the plants fell to the side of the container, which told me they were ready. Maybe give it another try just for the fun of it.. stake up the plants if you don’t want to use chicken wire and remember to feed and water them…

      Take care, Laura

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  4. Picturing you drinking coffee, watching your sunflowers, made me get up, make a coffee and head out to my garden after reading! Ill be checking my sweet potatos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. matthenseleit, Thank you for your comments…I’m so pleased that my post on Decapitation in the Garden moved you in such a way to get on out there with a coffee and enjoy the garden. You must let me hear how your sweet potatoes turned out.. I’m also wondering about my sweet potatoes this year but I must wait until September to see what little treats are underneath the soil..

      Take care from Laura, and Happy gardening with a cuppa a coffee in your hand.. 🙂

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  5. Those spuds can be a tricky business. But you did get more than you put in so that’s a success in my book.
    Terrible news about those critters and the sunflowers. I guess they think they are pretty too… Pretty delicious! In a way you just contributed to the good Ole circle of life. So I’m sure Karma will give you some brownie points.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. misskrissyinthecity, I’m hoping the brownie points arrives during the wintertime when it’s so cold outside, that someone else shovels the white stuff for me.. LOL.. Just kidding I love firing up my trusty Snow Blower I like to call Big Red…

      Thanking you kindly for your comments…
      Take care, Laura 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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