Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Garden

My garden has been keeping me busy these days.  Several of the tomato plants are going on 7 feet tall (really should learn how to curb that, not that they aren't also hugely bushy...) and the number of fruit must be over 100, though they are all still green.  The tomatillos are literally trying to take over the world.  I have staked them, tied them back with twine, over and over again, and they just snake over, towering over the other plants I sadly dared to plant in their vicinity.  They are climbing out of their planter reaching in to the planters several feet away trying to steal sunlight and space.  I think I planted 4-5 plants in the one spot I'm mostly talking about, and they are going to have a bumper crop.  Every day I can count 10-20 new tomatillos springing up on the plants.

The back of the tomatillos, spilling out of both sides of the planter
Some tomatoes, tomatillos and cucumbers
Pretty tomatillos!
A bunch of tomatoes.  That one on the bottom ended up being pushed off by the others and we made fried green tomatoes with it.  Yum!
More tomatoes!  Remember how tiny these plants were last time I posted a pic?!

We had a pumpkin growing on the fence which we finally had to harvest.  I was having a hard time supporting it and the bird netting I'd gone to after the frost cloth started giving away was cutting into the pumpkin and scarring it.  It came in at 24lbs.  Pretty good if I do say so myself!  The whole pumpkin plant has decided it's done.  I think it kind of pooped out on me while we were away in Oceanside, it was very hot and underwatered  and I think it decided that meant it was done.  We have one more pumpkin to harvest from the plant, but it continues to grow and mature every day.  I'm guessing the second pumpkin will weigh in around 30lbs.  Two pumpkins is all I need, just want them for the boys for Halloween.  I don't like eating pumpkin, so it'll work out well.

The pumpkin on the fence, before harvesting
Fence pumpkin, curing in the sun on our stump
Our second pumpkin

I've lost count how many zucchinis we have harvested.  I planted two plants, they are both huge but one is barely producing, while the other is in overdrive.  They were planted too close together, as I thought they would climb up the fence, but pulling the pumpkin in a couple weeks should give them more room.

Pretty zucchinis!  I should have taken this picture before this morning's harvest!

My cukes are also doing fantastically.  I've harvested loads of pickling cukes (most of which we've eaten straight off the vine) and two salad cukes.  There are about 10 salad cukes going and tons more pickling cukes.  I finally managed to stow away enough pickling cukes that I can try out this recipe on a quart this afternoon.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I've never had traditional pickles made this way, so I hope my love of the vinegar ones doesn't get in the way of me liking these.

I planted 3 types of beans, yellow wax beans, scarlet runner beans and royal burgundy beans.  The yellow wax beans were not my favorite.  They were pretty and tasted okay, but they paled in comparison to the royal burgundy beans.  The royal burgundy beans are a gorgeous, deep purple.  Raw, they have this sweet, fresh taste that is just so good.  They are bush beans and supposedly are only supposed to give one good harvest, but I have continued to harvest little piles of beans for the last couple months and there are still new ones appearing every day.  They rarely make it in the house.  I munch on them as I check out the rest of my garden and can easily plow through the whole pile.  The scarlet runner beans are a pole bean.  They have gorgeous bright red flowers and are good for attracting hummingbirds and bees.  Honestly, my yard is full of both all on it's own.  I've never lived in a home with so many hummingbirds. And the scarlet runner beans certainly seem to be well loved by the birds.  I planted those to dry the beans.  I only have 5 plants, from 5 beans I got off a friend, so most of the beans from these plants will go towards beans for seeds next year.  I have a good sized bunch hanging from a beam in my ceiling, drying, and hopefully will have another bunch ready to hang when those are done. 

Scarlet runner beans drying

I think I'm most excited about my eggplants.  I planted these gorgeous Rosa Bianca eggplants, the pretty purple and white streaked ones.  I can't wait to make a roasted veggie salad with them or my very well loved eggplant parm.  And they are just so pretty.  I don't think I've ever seen a blossom take so ridiculously long to open as I have with the initial blossoms on these plants.  Once they opened they were these huge, gorgeous and vibrant purple flowers.  After the initial flowers opened, each plant instantly popped up about 6 more.  Thankfully it looks as though all the initial flowers are now slowly growing fruit inside, along with some of the smaller blossoms that came later.  I think in 1-2 weeks I'll be ready to harvest my first couple eggplants.

Finally, I can see fruit!

I also have loads of herbs still going (my African blue basil is out of control), my strawberries are competing with the tomatillos on their quest to take over the world, I have loads of carrots and a pretty and quickly growing row of golden beets.  My onions have been a total failure, not only have they grown excruciatingly slowly, but most of them have just gone and disappeared.  I think I'll simply replant in the fall, with different seeds and hopefully more appropriate weather, and see what I get in the spring.

Our golden beets have grown so easily and quickly, definitely be planting some more soon!

I've learned a lot this summer, with my first real garden.  The first thing I learned is to start seeds earlier inside, and even more importantly, to start them in bigger containers.  Being a total newbie, I had no idea that keeping my plants in the seed starter containers would stunt their growth so dramatically.  It's definitely a lesson learned.  Additionally, I will do a combination of both heirloom and basic plants.  Right now almost every single thing in my garden is an heirloom variety.  While tasty and beautiful, I'm finding (obviously) that a lot of them tend to produce fruit more slowly and in smaller quantity.  Not all of them, like the purple tomatillos, are doing this, but a lot are.  So next year will be a mixture and we'll see how that goes.  I've also learned a lot about my yard, where the sun moves to, what areas get more sun, what starts off with lots of sun and becomes shady as trees get their leaves back, etc.  The sun has shifted on me once more and as the summer winds down it'll be interesting to see where I'll put my fall plants. 

These guys are why I cook and garden and live the way I do.  I want them to have the healthiest, freshest and best I can provide so they can grow up well and have healthy habits they will pass on to their own families. 

1 comment:

  1. That last picture, of the boys on the steps, is AWESOME! Needs a frame.