Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lots of Green Tomatoes and No Rain

I harvested more leeks, hot peppers, and carrots but I'm waiting for at least a dozen tomatoes to ripen yet. We've had warm weather and lots of sunshine but no rain since Labor Day. So I've been trying to water consistently to avoid cracks in the developing tomatoes. The garden looks surprisingly lush regardless of the weather. 

There are still 15 or so leeks, maybe a dozen carrots, sporadic hot peppers, kale here and there, and basil along with lots and lots of green tomatoes. 

Hurry up and ripen!

Lots of fruit on the vines. 

A praying mantis stands guard at the end of the season. I wish it would eat whatever is munching on the hot pepper leaves. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Summer's End

The flowers and butterflies are taking advantage of these past few hot and sunny days. 

I managed to tease one Sleeping Beauty melon out of my squash bug ravaged vines. Tasty but a little too small for a melon enthusiast. 

The tomatoes are just starting to ripen now and I've been enjoying a steady supply of carrots all season long. 

This was my last bean harvest before pulling the remaining vines. The back of the plot is now nice and open and perfect for late season tomatoes. 

I also pulled the cucumber vines as they were yellowing and no longer flowering. The leeks however are still very happy. 

I lifted the three largest leeks for potato leek soup. I'm really happy with their size and feel that starting the seeds in winter is the only way to go. 

Trimmed leaves. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Eat a bean!

This was one of two big harvests from last week. The Kentucky Wonder is aptly named. It has been the big winner this season. 

I've also been harvesting about a cucumber a week and a tomato a week (in addition to bottleneck and cherries here and there). I also pull 3-4 carrots and chop it all up (minus the cucumber) and sauté it for some dinner veg. It's great with a little home grown garlic and basil. 

The hot peppers are coming in now too. They love the hot weather. 

The kale is still producing too and a friend offered some mint last week that went into a very refreshing iced tea.  

The communal peach tree is ready for picking. I've brought home about a dozen little peaches for smoothies and salads. It's a nice change from all the vegetables. 

One big disappointment earlier this week was finding one of the two big Brandywine Purple tomatoes off the vine and on the ground in my plot. I'm not sure how it happened. Luckily it had just started to blush and was unmarred so I brought it home to ripen on the counter. I'll know next week how it tastes. 

The largest change in the garden this week was the removal of most of the bean plants. We're getting tired of all the beans and they're shading out the Celebrity tomato plant in the center of the plot. So here's a before and after photo so you can see the big cull in the back. 

It's a little hard to distinguish between all the greenery. The back left is now opened up. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August Bounty

It's bean season in the garden. We've been sautéing, salading, and snacking on beans, beans, beans. It turns out Kentucky Wonder really is wonderful. It's a sweet, snappy, and highly productive pole bean. I'll be planting them next year, but far fewer plants than I did this season. 

Muncher Cucumbers have also been on the menu. I get about one a week off the three plants (that are somewhat crowded by those beans) and they're crisp with tiny seeds and thin skin. Another winner that will go in the garden next year too. 

Many nights we've sautéed up the beans with sliced carrots, a few of the bottleneck tomatoes, and a chiffonade of fresh kale and basil. Yum yum. Gotta love the summer bounty fresh from the garden. 

The jungle in back are beans. Those healthy silver green spikes in front? Lots of happy leeks. In the middle are carrots and crowded tomatoes. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What's Growing?

It's a jungle in there so I've switched my plot photo standpoint to the other side. Now the strawberries, leeks, carrots, and basil are in the front and the squash, monster bean plants, and tomatoes are in the rear. Everything is doing great except the squash- I had a huge squash bug infestation last week that may wind up killing the plants. Sigh. I can never seem to grow squash. It's always something. I can only hope that the baby praying mantis I keep spotting on the carrots goes two doors down and feasts on the bugs. 

If he does, I just might get to eat this butternut. 

Otherwise, I'll just have to be content with lots of yellow pear tomatoes- I've got three volunteer plants from last year. 

This was the final lettuce harvest. I pulled the plants and put in more seeds in their place. I'm trying for a fall crop. 

Carrots, the kale that won't quit, and my first muncher cucumber made a delicious chopped salad. Lettuce? Who needs it!  

More carrots, more kale, and a mint plant that snuck into my plot came home last week. 

And more!  Just waiting for the tomatoes and more cucumbers to come now. 

Here's a view of the jungle this week. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Garden Update

I was able to harvest 2 radicchio heads and we ate them sautéed over pasta with some sautéed onions and goat cheese - one of our go to easy dinners. Now all the radicchio has bolted and some is even flowering. Who knew they had such pretty blue flowers? 

The entire community garden is in full flower these days and every time I'm in there I snap some photos of the blooms. 

I'm really into the bold colors - colors that you just can't believe Mother Nature has on her palette. 

More on the jungle a little later!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making Do With A Small Garden

As usual, I've got my plot packed with plants and things are a little crowded. Ever read those plant spacing recommendations on the back of seed packets? I don't. There just isn't enough square footage in my bed to allow each plant their ideal real estate. So, my plants get very cozy with their neighbors. 

Radicchio and kale share an end of the bed. I chopped the kale way down the other day to give the radicchio a fighting chance. If it doesn't work, it might be time to pull the kale altogether. I've harvested a ton already and I can tell Josh isn't so impressed by all my creative techniques for incorporating it into almost every meal (yes, green smoothies are a regular occurrence here).

Six little cucumber plants are next to the kale and radicchio. My plan is to train them up some cages and get them out of the way. It's a small, burpless variety, similar to the kind that come packed 5 in a tray at the grocery store. My theory is that smaller cucumbers come from smaller plants. 

A few bush bean plants share a corner with a miniature musk Mellon. I'll train the melon up a trellis and the beans will work the floor. When the beans stop producing as well, I'll snip the plants off at the soil and let the roots fix nitrogen into the soil, hopefully assisting the melon to mature. 

So there is a some rationale to the crowding and the rest is just my way of dealing with a garden that is a bit smaller than I'd like. 

What does the rest of the garden look like?  
This is the view from our new picnic deck, overlooking a plot that's been planted with zucchini, eggplant, and a fairy garden. 

Beyond that are plots filled with dreams, aspirations, and weeds. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Salad Season

Our long and lovely spring has given us ideal conditions for growing salad greens... and strawberries!  This is the first year that I've had bountiful yields of both. 

One thing I changed this year was purchasing individual varieties of lettuce seeds instead of a mix. I alternated rows of colorful red and green leaf lettuces instead of planting a field of mixed greens.  Not only does this make for a pretty neat looking striped area in the garden bed, but it also makes it a little easier to see what's working and what isn't. And this year, everything is working!  I haven't bought salad greens in over a month and I've had greens to share too. 

This is also the first year that I've gotten a decent strawberry crop from my 6 plants. I know it takes a couple years for strawberries to get going, and the wait has finally paid off. On several occasions I've picked a big handful of red, juicy, sweet berry "candy" from Mother Nature. Last year I never got more than a berry a visit, so this is a triumph in my book. 

The garden is now off and running after a late start. Here's what it's looked like over the past month:

At the start of May, the lettuce in the foreground was just beginning, the strawberries in the top right were covered in white blooms, and that unstoppable kale in the upper left was already going strong. 

By mid May, the lettuce was ready for some thinning, I picked our first handful of berries, and the overwintered kale was flowering. 

Now I have loads of lettuce, the berries are slowing, and I seriously trimmed the runaway kale to make room for radicchio heads underneath. 

What else is growing? Carrots, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, dill, melon, and winter squash. Yes, I garden in a very small space. Yes, I make the most of it.