Saturday, September 24, 2005

Weekend Frog Blogging and Garden Wrap-Up

This is, the weather people tell us, the last truly summery day we can expect this year, so I have been busy in the yard -- pruning, mowing the lawn, attending to the somewhat melancholy task of emptying out pots of spent tomatoes. (More on that in a minute.) The wood frogs (rana sylvatica)are particularly abundant outside this afternoon, and I was able to catch one, just for a moment, just long enough to (more or less) take its picture -- as you can see, it wasn't too happy sitting on my hand, and I was able to get a shot of it only about a nanosecond before it sprang off again. Considering the dearth of frogs and toads in many areas -- a symptom of water pollution and, it's thought, an overabundance of ultraviolet light, thanks to what we're doing to our atmosphere -- and considering the strange birth defects the frogs we do have left seem to be manifesting, also as a result of the various environmental insults being inflicted upon them, finding a healthy frog with two eyes and four legs these days is good news. Live long and prosper, li'l buddy. the sunlight dwindles and the gardening season winds down here in the Upper Midwest, I give you a summary of my garden hits and misses:

Best Tomato: A tie between Green Zebra and Garden Peach.

Most Prolific Tomato: Italian Climbing. (These, by the way, for some reason, improved in taste as the summer went on; they got sweeter and more flavorful. I have no idea why this would be.) Runner-up: Yellow Pear. Interestingly, the Red Pear didn't produce nearly as much fruit.

Greatest Disappointment: My two purple tomato varieties, the Black Krim and Purple Cherokee, which were not only rather watery and tasteless, but were also subject to spoiling on the vine just at the point of ripeness. Runner-up: Matt's Wild Cherry, which was initially loaded with tasty little fruit, but pooped out in mid-August. Many years ago I tried currant tomatoes, the unimproved species tomato that's a parent of Matt's Wild Cherry, and I have to say I think I'd rather grow them again -- they yield and yield and yield right until frost.

Best Flowers: My miniature red flowering maple. It has flowered nonstop since I got it, and looked really nice in its pot with red wax begonias and chartreuse coleus. Runner-up: My lavender fuschia, which gets extra credit points for the amazing color, but had a rough time getting going this summer.

Most Disappointing Flowers: My purple-and-orange flower bed under the kitchen window. Early summer heat killed off my Jolly Joker violas, which were supposed to be the unifying flower in the bed, and I also had a hard time keeping the dark purple petunias and salvia happy. On the other hand, I had quite a beautiful lavender petunia, almost iridescent, and some purply-cerise strawflowers and annual verbena that thrived in all kinds of weather...and of course the workhorse marigolds were fine. Oh, well.

Not growing again: Pineapple sage. It smells nice when touched, but this year I couldn't get it to flower...and it's very weedy looking and invasive in a small herbal planting. And despite some diligent Googling, I couldn't find any good recipes for it.

So there you have it -- another garden season passes in Outer Podunk.

Say hello to my squirmy little friend. Posted by Picasa


Cathy said...

Hi Mr. Froggy,
Simple pleasures....

Charlotte said...


how sweet!

bls said...

Yes, indeed. Rana sylvatica. One of my summertime research subjects. In fact, I have a nice frog-and-toad-call CD, if you'd ever like to borrow it. Wood Frogs sounds sort of like a gaggle of quacking ducks. I saw one this year in my wanderings, too, and kind of just hung out watching him.

Nice flora and fauna roundup! I have about a hundred cayenne peppers hanging by thread and twine from the curtain rod over my big kitchen window. They were my best crop this year. Now I need to grind them into powder, and also take the seeds out of my Cherry Bomb peppers and use 'em on pizza. Got lots of cubanelles, too, and shared 'em with the kids next door.

My Carolina Golds were actually the best of the tomato crop. Tiny and sweet and wonderful.

Everything else kind of got burned up this year, though. My grass is totally brown.

LutheranChik said...

I love amphibia. (That would be a great bumper sticker...with the heart.) I just wish I'd gotten a better shot of this little fellow, so everyone could see his "bandit" eye stripe. They're really cute. (For city slickers reading this, that's techical field observation talk.;-)) One type of frog I didn't see this summer, though, were the tree frogs -- usually they startle my mother at least once a year by showing up on the screen door.

Those peppers sound great, B. Someone I know, who manages a senior center around here, was gifted with peppers from a senior diner's garden. She assumed they were sweet banana peppers...when she sliced one up and proceeded to pop a piece in her mouth, it turned out that it was fiery hot, like cayenne; and she also burned her hands, and wound up soaking them in rubber gloves filled with milk, per the advice of the other seniors, who were getting a big charge out of this overshadowed the real entertainment scheduled for that day.;-)

Cathy said...

After reading your tomato review, I promptly emailed two of my Master Gardener friends who would love the article.

I am so sorry I didn't plant any tomatoes this year. Where do you get your "mater" seeds/plants from?

Love those "mater" sandwiches.

LutheranChik said...

Well, in past years I've planted my 'maters indoors from seed, but we have so little room to keep seedlings here in Cold Comfort Cottage(aka "Das Boot") that that is really not a workable option. This year I got seedlings from my food cooperative, which just built a little greenhouse for doing such things; from another local greenhouse whose owner seems to share my taste for the unusual; from Meijer's (my shopping mecca...when I make my occasional excursions into civilization I go to Meijer's); and from Pamida -- think low-rent, substandard Kmart for very small towns in the Upper Midwest -- which this year was selling heirloom tomato plants. There's some outfit in California that specializes in shipping heirloom tomato seedlings, that I bought a couple from several years ago, but of course you pay an arm and a leg for the novelty value, plus an arm and a leg for shipping and handling, and by the time they get to you, the plants are pretty beaten up.

Nicodemia said...

I like froggy! Our frogs, (Rana temporaria) maybe are a bit bigger than yours. We haven't had so many this year in our pond. Last year we had 25 or more! They didn't eat enough slugs, though! Most of the tadpoles turned into froglets, but we haven't seen them since. We have a very friendly toad, as well.

I envy your vegetable growing. Our soil is very light, a bit sandy and acidic, so vegs don't do well. But I grew some lovely climbing french beans in tubs up and over two arches. We had masses, too much for us to eat, so I froze them.

I ought to be out tidying up the garden. But I'm not!!

Hope you don't mind me butting in to your Blog! Tell me to go, if you do!!

LutheranChik said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LutheranChik said...

Oh, Nicodemia, you come back anytime! As I've mentioned here before, I actually get depressed when it gets too quiet around here. You can be my codependent.;-)

French beans -- love 'em, but so do the deer around here, so I've given up on them. I did stick a couple of old runner bean seeds next to my clematis plant along my garage, and for about a week I had some nice red blooms in with the clematis...only about three beans, though.;-)