I’m ready for cantaloupe — is it ready for me?

With a high of 99 degrees yesterday, summer’s sting is lingering.  But that’s good news in my vegetable garden, where I am eagerly awaiting my first cantaloupe.  Its smooth, green, immature surface has been steadily changing, forming a lacy, beige skin that tells me it’s almost time to eat.


This one still has a long way to go.

As it begins to evolve, you’ll know it’s getting closer.


If you have a sunny spot and some room for vines to meander, you can grow cantaloupe.  They like well-drained soil; my veggies grow in raised beds, so that makes it easier.

Their growing season is about 12 weeks.  In Central Texas, we can plant them in late March-April and harvest them from mid summer to fall.  Cantaloupes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, and are low in calories.


There are several ways to tell if your cantaloupe is ready.  First, make sure it’s covered with that raised, lacy netting-like skin.  Then, it should come off of the vine easily with a gentle twist.  If you have to work at it, you’ve jumped the gun!  And finally, sniff the end where you removed it from the vine — it should yield that sweet, heavenly, cantaloupe scent.  The one above still isn’t ready, the skin between the lacy part needs to turn a beige-ish color, too.  Don’t worry, if you do get too excited an pick one too soon, you can let it ripen a few more days in the refrigerator before you dig into it.

I’m hoping for a big bowl of cantaloupe with my breakfast this weekend!

A taste of this and a taste of that which is to come …

This Golden picture of lusciousness is the first harvest of my zucchini and straight-neck squash.
I sauteed several small squashed in a pan with onions and olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, pepper, and a few twists from my dried porcini mushroom mill.
Then sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on the top to finish it. It was delicious.

There are several other things in the vegetable garden that aren’t quite ready yet, but promise goodness yet to come.
The recent rains have the lime tree bursting with blooms and itty-bitty limes.
The canteloupe given to me by Meredith, of Great Stems, is going like gangbusters and nestled down among the dozens of pretty yellow blooms, one happy little canteloupe.

And of all my tomato plants, this one is the furthest along. It’s a Via Italia, a roma tomato that I bought at the Natural Gardener, planted with the canteloupe, squash and celeriac on August 10th. There are a few other tiny tomatoes on the other plants, but they look like little buttons for now, so we’ll wait to profile them!

Oh, Happy GBB Day!

It’s Bloom Day here in Central Texas, where the ground is still damp, the morning skies are a little gray and the gardeners are on Cloud 9.

Carol, of May Dreams Gardens, invites us to share our garden blooms on the 15th of every month.

Enjoy a little trip through some interesting things in my garden today.

This isn’t everything that’s blooming here today, just things that have burst back into life after our 7 inches of glorious rain last weekend.

It’s amazing what a good dose of real rain water will do for our gardens. And it was even down to 69 degrees last night.

Fall is just around the corner.
This is a Hyacinth Bean that was turning yellow and not flowering before the rains.
Sadly, the rains washed my BT off this Butterfly weed. Can you see the hundreds of baby caterpillars eating at the buffet there? Ewwww. They have almost destroyed the plants, so I think I will have to spray them again.
The Abutilon is very happy, and has managed to bloom all summer in spite of the drought.
I’m ever so proud of this beautiful clump of Oxblood lilies, passed along to me by MSS of Zanthan Gardens.
The Sweet Alyssum are bursting with blooms thanks to the cooler weather.
My favorite purple ‘Homestead’ Verbena.
Straight neck squash blossoms promise wonderful produce to come.
That pesky Cypress Vine is out of control again. I like it right now, but thank goodness for winter!
This is a canteloupe bloom. It’s taking over my whole garden — it’s bed, the pathways on either side of its bed and part of the other two beds! It better make me some fruit.
There’s another view of the squash with its blooms peeking out. And, there, see the canteloupe tendrils sneaking over in front of it?
Morning glories saluting the day again.
My Cosmos in the cutting garden are have gotten their second wind now.

The Esperanza are stunning — they were happy in the drought and now they are happy with the rain. Can’t complain about that, now can you?
The Hibiscus in pots have multiple blooms for the first time in months.
Autumn Joy Sedum is blooming its little head off.
Another little Oxblood lily.
One of the few Agapanthus that the darn hound dog didn’t dig up. What is it with her and bulbs at this time of year? Is there something going on here that I am missing?
These poor little Salvias have been stunted all summer long – and bloomless. Yeah for rain.
The Turks Cap is full of little red hats of happiness, and the Mangave ‘macho mocha,’ given to me by Pam, of Digging, is pretty happy here, too.
The flickering flame-like blooms of the candlestick tree, Cassia alata, are lighting up my garden.
And, of course, what would a lot of rain be without a pretty mushroom?
A few little Lobelias, planted with no success several years ago, have made a bit of an appearance now. I don’t think they will really make it where they are though — I might have to think about moving them.
The wedelia is so slow to grow here, but I did get several blooms out of this one this week.
And the Buddleia is finally blooming again. The other one is borderline dead, but it’s showing signs of a few green leaves this week. I hope it survives.

All in all, it’s a great bloom day here at Nature’s Garden.

A fresh start …

This collection was waiting for me on Saturday morning. Can you hear them? They were saying: “Plant us, plant us!”
So, I put on my garden gloves and grabbed my shovel and my tub trug and dug in.
My DH brought around 8 bags of compost so I could amend the beds. After being bug-infested and fried for 50 days over 100 this summer, I figured that they needed a little a little perking up.
Here’s what went in:

  • Tomatoes — Sunmaster, Viva Italia, Bush Celebrity, Big Beef, Sweet 100 cherry, Purple Cherokee
  • Canteloupe — from my garden blogging friend, Meredith, at Great Stems
  • Jalapeno peppers and sweet red bell peppers
  • Straight-neck and zucchini squash
  • And some marigolds around the tomatoes (in the hopes of keeping away BUGS! Ha!)

And then I crafted this fancy-schmancy shade cover for the tomatoes because it is just so darn hot that new transplants will get too stressed without it. I covered a trellis with shade cloth and then tied strings around it all, and voila!

Today we hit 51 days over 100 degrees, surpassing last year’s shocking record. With 6 weeks of Austin summer left to go, we are likely to have the hottest summer ever … ever. Sigh. But I am going to try for that Fall garden in spite of it.

(I am having visions of cool season crops…but I can’t even think about them yet.)

Are you thinking about a Fall garden? Or are you eating yummy summer tomatoes? Think you can fed ex me some to replace all the ones I had to rip out?!

Okay, guess I will have to go to the farmer’s market next Saturday.