at least annie was gone this morning, judging by her slippers in the foyer. whether her mother was still home behind the closed bedroom door i couldn't tell, and i didn't stick around to find out, leaving for belmont by late morning. my parents' neighbors had paved their driveway a few days ago and were now parking out on the street for fear of damaging the new asphalt. i had noodles for lunch.

first thing i did when i arrived in belmont was to check the fences. the southwestern corner was intact, but once again, some critter had dug through the southern entry point. the barriers i put up were effective, but the animal simply dug around it, chewing at the fence to make a wider hole. this called for drastic measures as my father and i cut 1x4ft length of wiring fencing and buried it beneath the wood fence. we also used some pieces of wood and rocks to block the holes in the fence so the critter couldn't see into our yard and be tempted to come in. it was only for an 8ft stretch though, as the woodchuck/skunk can just as easily dig a new hole under the fence elsewhere. we're hoping what we're doing will discourage it enough to go elsewhere.

i've been noticing some white fluff blowing in the garden for the past few days. at first i thought they were swallowwort seeds, but today i learned they're actually thistle seeds. we have a thistle plant growing by the pussy willow, in a shady neglected area of the yard. neglect allowed it to survive, the shade made it leggy and tall, the telltale pink flowers up high and hard to see. i didn't know this was how thistles dispersed their seeds. i always thought they were like burdocks, with prickly seed heads that catch on fur and clothing. it's actually kind of pretty but i could see it getting invasive, which was probably how a thistle plant originally ended up in our backyard. fortunately they flower late in the season, so the chance of them getting weeded is pretty high.

not sure about the potency of expired thuricide, i decided to remove squash leaves that seemed to be infected with vine borers. it's easy to spot, because those are the leaves that look wilted, and when you check the stems, usually there's a wound where the borer managed to get in. some stalks i removed had worms in the stems, while others were false alarms and had nothing inside. for now this is the best we can do. maybe next season i'll get some fresh thuricide and spray the squash plants constantly to prevent SVB's from taking hold.

i removed the chicken wire cage surrounding the lotus barrel so i could get a better look at them. i'm not sure if we'll ever get aerial leaves. i'd read stories online where people growing lotuses in warmer climates for 6 months and they still don't produce aerial leaves. if i had to guess, it's because the pots we used were too small for tubers to fully develop. thankfully watching the lotuses have taken a back seat to watching the buttercup squashes, so i'm not overly concerned about them. one strange thing i noticed was an emerging furled leaf deep underwater. i traced the stem to see where it was coming from and it was poking out from below one of the pots, so it managed to get through one of the taped holes after all.

elsewhere in the garden:

the dill in the long fiberglass raised bed has sprung back to life after being entirely consumed by the woodchuck. some people have great luck with dill to the point where it's a self-sowing weeds; i am not one of those people. every time i grow dill i can never make enough to eat, as it gets eaten by other critters way before then. hopefully having them in a the elevated raised bed will provide them some protection.

one of the salsa peppers had turned red, at least i think it's a salsa pepper. it looks more like a habanero but i didn't grow any this year. there's another salsa pepper growing on the western side of the amongst the buttercup squashes: that one is doing much better, with a several long green peppers waiting to turn color.

out of all our tomatoes, brandy man seems to be the worst in suffering from some kind of blight. it's one of the cheap tomatoes we got from OSJL. the leaves are very enough, nearly smooth and not so many teeth, unlike regular tomato leaves. but whatever variety this is, it's no match to diseases, which have turned most of the leaves crispy brown. maybe it's not blight but something else, because none of the other tomatoes suffer as much as this one. it did produce some large tomatoes, but hard to say if they will mature on the vine as there are hardly anymore leaves. the other tomato variety we got from OSJL were early doll, which seems to be faring better. not quite sure about the early part, but i think the tomato i have in my own garden plot is this variety, and they produce fruits about the size of baseballs.