Sunflowers, Poppies, and Tomatoes

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would generate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos” –Edward O. Wilson

 

 

I lived in Southeast Alaska for many years of my adult life. Tomatoes could not be grown easily, if at all, outside, and summers were cool and rainy. Bees were scarce.

 

In early spring the Oregon garden began as a cool, featureless plot of dirt. Now it’s transformed into an array of colorful blooms—great and small, and all of them provide pollen for bees and other insects. My bee feed garden feels like my greatest garden success so far this year. The platter sized sunflower blossoms are covered with honeybees, native bees, and other small insects. And bees fly leisurely from poppy to coreopsis to blue flax gathering pollen and nectar.

DSC_0622

 

A seasonal parade blooms in succession: wallflowers, bergamot, various tiny and large poppies, aster, coreopsis, blue fax, gilia, alyssum, hyssop, forget-me-not, and daisy. The blue star blossom of the herb borage proves irresistible for bees and bumblebees; although, the herb fades by mid-summer, so other enticing flowers must take its place.

Borage and Honeybee.
Borage and Honeybee.

 

Besides the bee-feed flowers I’m growing tomatoes for the second time. Last year herbicides destroyed my plants, so this is my first year to actually see fruit. I also have many questions.

 

Eleven plants and three different types of tomatoes—gold cherry tomatoes, big fat slicers and plum tomatoes—if they ripen at different times, will I have enough ripe tomatoes at one time to can up a batch of eight or more pints? Really I want twenty pints. I’m growing my own tomatoes to dehydrate and can a year’s worth. Should I have planted a few cherry tomato plants for fresh eating and planted all the rest in the same variety, so I would have one big batch? And, is this really worth all the energy to grow my own tomatoes when I can buy farm stand tomatoes and, lots of them, to preserve? Bruce says I will have so many tomatoes by September I won’t have time to can them all. Right now it ‘s July, and I can’t imagine this. Ripe July tomatoes are trickling in.

 

Author’s Note: August 14th canned 4 pints of tomatoes.

 

9 thoughts on “Sunflowers, Poppies, and Tomatoes

  1. I’m so envious of all your flowers. Living atop a sand dune I can only have native plants unless I want to water constantly. Water is precious on an island so I chose not to do that. But oh, your blooms are magnificent!

    1. I’m so envious of all your flowers. Living atop a sand dune I can only have native plants unless I want to water constantly. Water is precious on an island so I chose not to do that. But oh, your blooms are magnificent!
      Thanks Elisabeth– I seem to recall trumpet vine flowers with bees at your place, so you have some native flowers, which is wonderful too. 🙂 Sher

  2. Ha! I love this but I have to agree with Bruce. Get ready, you will have MANY more than 20 pints of tomatoes! Last summer Joan Nugent’s daughter lived with me to establish residency for school and we canned tomatoes and made both pizza sauce and salsa from 8 plants(enough for 3 families). This year I did my whole 1/4 acre garden from seeds I started in my small greenhouse and ended up putting in about 25 plants, just because I had so many. Now my garden looks like the tomato patch that ate Milwaukee, am thinking of offering a salsa class just to use them all!

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    >

    1. Ha! I love this but I have to agree with Bruce. Get ready, you will have MANY more than 20 pints of tomatoes! Last summer Joan Nugent’s daughter lived with me to establish residency for school and we canned tomatoes and made both pizza sauce and salsa from 8 plants(enough for 3 families). This year I did my whole 1/4 acre garden from seeds I started in my small greenhouse and ended up putting in about 25 plants, just because I had so many. Now my garden looks like the tomato patch that ate Milwaukee, am thinking of offering a salsa class just to use them all!

      Wow, what a great story you have. Well, let’s see what happens. You and Bruce may well know best. 25 tomato plants sounds amazing. Thanks for commenting–by the way we are considering getting out your way in October. Sher

  3. How wonderful that you have created such a beautiful flower garden, Sher. The quote at the beginning suggests that you are allowing a space for nature to re-establish its own equilibrium. I love that. I wish I knew how to do the same in our garden.

    1. How wonderful that you have created such a beautiful flower garden, Sher. The quote at the beginning suggests that you are allowing a space for nature to re-establish its own equilibrium. I love that. I wish I knew how to do the same in our garden. Hi Reggie– you should be able to find some seed catalogs in your region that sells flowers to re-establish pollinators. Have you tried looking for this? Sher

      1. I don’t think our garden centres are quite as advanced as that! They’d probably be completely dumbfounded if I asked something as complex as that. 🙂

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