Garden Update

Despite the mild neglect our garden has suffered recently, we’ve been having a fairly fruitful growing season.

Harvest

LB with her harvest for the day

Here’s a rundown on what’s thriving and what’s struggling in our backyard. Naturally, I’ll list our crops in alphabetical order. 🙂

Garden July 2014Asparagus: Nicely ferned, getting some berries. I just recently added fence posts and wire around the patch to support the ferns and this has made a big difference, both in the neatness of the bed and in drastically reducing the amount of breakage.

Basil: Our basil is out of control. We had planned on making a couple of big batches of pesto yesterday but got rained out. I may try to whip some up myself this week to use up the basil before it goes to flower and seed. This year, we’re going to try making it with walnuts instead of pine nuts because, with the amount of basil we have to use up, I’m not spending $39/pound on pine nuts. I also want to try my hand at drying basil for long-term storage.

Blackberries: Unfortunately, a bit of a dry spell hit when there were a ton of berries getting ready to ripen on the bushes. We didn’t realize that we would have to water the plants or the berries would dry up on the plant (even if the rest of the plant looked like it was tolerating the lack of water just fine), which is exactly what happened. We had gotten a ton of berries before losing the second half of the harvest, so I’m not as angry over losing those berries as I am about what happened to our blueberries.

Blueberries: The DreadBrewer and I were so excited – the bushes were full (if not technically laden) with berries and they were thisclose to being ripe enough to eat. And then he and LB went out to check on them one afternoon and found this:
???????????????????????????????The damn birds got them. Pretty much every. single. berry. I was so mad. Based on the recommendation of a friend, I bought this holographic tape from Amazon in the hopes that it will scare the little bastards off and we can maybe have a blueberry or two of our own at some point. If this tape works, I’m buying another 10 rolls and it’s going all over the garden. I love birds, but I love my homegrown veg even more.

Cucumbers: Our cucumbers are reaching the end of their productivity, done in by the semi-excessive rain and high temperatures of late. This year we grew Suyo Long and Diva cultivars; the Suyos were the hands down winners and will definitely be coming back next year. With the abundant crop of cucumbers, I tried my hand at making pickles for the first time with reasonable success. (Not the yucky sweet refrigerator pickles my mom made, though. I made a pretty good garlic dill pickle.)

Leeks: After the initial battle with the voles, our leeks did really well this year, even though we didn’t blanch them as well as we should have. Most of the bed has been harvested and I’m planning on making and freezing a huge batch of Potato-Leek soup this afternoon to use them up before they spoil in the fridge.

Melons: Our melon plants are taking off and growing like crazy, though there aren’t any melons yet. Hopefully we’ll still have enough hot days this summer that I get at least one cantaloupe (technically a muskmelon) out of the patch.

Okra: If anyone with little to no gardening experience is wondering what to grow in order to feel like the most prolific gardener ever, grow okra. The amount of okra that we harvest on a daily basis from our one okra bed is insane. Sadly, I don’t know what to make with it other than breaded okra so we’ve given a lot of it away. And composted the rest. Note to self: research okra recipes…

Peppers: The peppers are just starting to hit their stride, though the jalapeños have been producing like mad for a few weeks now. I’ve started looking up ways to preserve peppers for the winter and I’m torn between freezing and canning. I’ve also been making huge (and frequent) batches of salsa to use up peppers and tomatoes before they go bad.

Potatoes: We had our first encounter with the Colorado Potato Beetle over the weekend. A veritable army of the little buggers had invaded the potato bed and gone to town on the foliage. Luckily, we’re getting ready to harvest the spuds anyway, so they didn’t do any lasting damage. And the Littlest Brewster and I spent an enjoyable half hour picking the bugs off the plant and putting them in a bucket of water to “swim.” The batch of soup I’m making today will use up the last of the potatoes from the grow bags and make room in our larder (and by “in our larder” I mean “on our kitchen counter”) for the next harvest.

Raspberries: I don’t remember if I already told you guys this or not, but our raspberries were terrible this year. And it’s all our fault. We were super lazy and didn’t prune the bushes last year like we should have, resulting in lots of canes with very few berries. The DreadBrewer actually mowed down most of the rogue canes (who knew raspberries were so aggressive about sending out new shoots?) and ruthlessly pruned a lot of the official patch, which has resulted in a late and very tiny amount of raspberries. Needless to say, we won’t be making the “Oh, it doesn’t really need to be pruned!” mistake again.

Squash (Zucchini and Winter): After nearly consuming my weight in zucchini, I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe. The first round of zucchini plants have mostly been pulled up and mowed, which gives me a bit of a break from zucchini before the second round of plants go in the ground. This year we planted our old zucchini standbys Scallopini and Dunja and tried a new cultivar – Desert. All three cultivars were excellent producers, so I’m sure we’ll stick with these varieties in the future. Our winter squash (I think it was an acorn cultivar called “Honey”?) didn’t do nearly as well – we only got one squash that is roughly the size of a softball. But we’ve never had good luck with acorn squash, so I’m not too disappointed.

Tomatoes: The tomatoes have been sort of hit or miss this year. We had a lot of really awesome tomatoes from some of the new ones we tried (I really liked the Arkansas cultivar) but we also had about 30% of our plants randomly succumb to disease. And we had this one awesome tomato plant that produced both roma tomatoes AND cherry tomatoes (or teeny tiny tomatoes, as LB calls them) on the same plant! It was so cool and I don’t know how it happened and doubt it will ever happen again. We have a second round of a few plants to put out in the garden soon, but there probably won’t be time to get tomatoes off of them before the frost.

And though it’s not a food crop (although technically it could be), we planted a wall of sunflowers near the deck again this year. And these are the tallest sunflowers I’ve ever seen!

019They’re very pretty and have been fabulous for attracting bees to the yard. I read a mom tip that suggested planting a “house” with sunflower walls with your kids and we are so totally doing that next year.

How is everyone else’s garden going?

3 thoughts on “Garden Update

  1. OK, so I will admit to being partial to the baby posts over the garden posts, but this was really interesting to read! And your funny little comments here there (larder=counter, bugs going to “swim”…) made me smile.

    A few things I thought about. First, on the cucumbers, I’m not a huge fan of pickles (esp dill), but I LOVE Wickles (like $5 at HT, but sooo good). I’m also a big fan of the Gundelsheim brand (German–I think–with a very pleasant sweet flavor). Didn’t know if you’d had either of these, but if you have and liked them, maybe it would be fun to try to replicate them. (You know, with all the extra time you have on your hands).

    On the leeks, here is a recipe that uses them that I LOVE. Super healthy, not too difficult except for some chopping of veggies. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/salmon-with-lentils-recipe.html I don’t follow her recipe for the salmon, and I cut the thyme and salt, which are too much in my opinion; otherwise this simple recipe is surprisingly tasty and very healthy.

    And finally, on the okra: not being a “true” southerner, I don’t know the first thing about it. But I do remember that after S was born a neighbor made us an awesome gumbo that had okra in it…so maybe you could try that!

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