Saturday, June 23, 2012

Garden Update: Six Weeks Later

When I decided to post about my vegetable garden on my food blog, I had no idea that it would rapidly become one of my most popular posts of all time. Clearly I've hit on something good here. So, since everyone seems to be interested, I thought I'd update you on what's going on six weeks later (ok, really seven weeks, since it took me so long to complete the post, but the pictures are a week old, so let's call it six).

The garden really looks lovely. I am absolutely thrilled with it. Even though the raised bed doesn't get as much light as it should, my tiny seedlings have sprouted into real plants. We've been harvesting kale and chard with growing frequency. I picked all the large chard leaves right after I took this picture last week, and another half pound had grown for me to harvest yesterday. Since we've been getting so many CSA greens, lately the garden greens have been going straight into the freezer, which is fine by me. There will be no purchasing of imported California greens this winter!

If you've been following along, you might remember that I had planted a row of spinach. That didn't do so well. We had some gorgeous baby spinach leaves, but one day the entire row of tiny plants decided to bolt and go to seed. We ended up pulling that row, eating what was left in salad, and replanting it with six yellow bell peppers and four banana peppers (two of which are in the next row, replacing a summer squash plant that kicked the bucket for no apparent reason). All the pepper plants are pretty small, owing to their late start, but have begun blossoming anyway.

The Brandywine tomato plants look awesome. We already have a dozen or so tomatoes developing on the vines, and the vigor of the plants suggests more will follow. The neighboring kohlrabi are similarly vigorous, with beautiful thick leaves. The stems have been thickening for a week or two and some have just begun forming their round above-ground bulbs. And the summer squash, a bit stunted by a late frost, I think, have finally gotten going. The first tiny squash is visible, so I hope to begin harvesting in a few days!


Our ground-level side bed has been hijacked by winter squash. All my talk about thinning the winter squash plants eventually was a bunch of hot air. I just let them grow. Now they're everywhere, covering my trellis, curling around my tomato stakes, trying to suffocate my bell peppers (which are doing a great job leaning out from under the squash leaves - I think they'll end up ok). I had been joking with Jeff that it would serve me right if every one of these plants turned out to produce inedible gourds - I know I'd thrown the remains of my fall centerpiece into the compost. As it happens, the most vigorous plant (the one that's five feet tall in this picture) has developed its first squash . . . and it's totally a gourd. I have hopes that the tiny squash forming on another plant is an acorn, but we'll see. Hopefully we'll get some edible squash out of this monstrosity!

The radishes in this bed have been a disappointment. I had staggered my plantings, seeding half a row every week or so. The radishes which had been next to the tomatoes were lovely, if on the small side. All were harvested and both roots and greens were enjoyed. Since then I replaced the row with some basil - regular and lemon. But the radishes in the lower bed never did very well. Only a single radish ever developed a real root, and that was tough and very sharp tasting. In the above picture, the row is at the extreme left of the bed. The front half had already been picked, but you can see some thriving radish greens toward the back. I left that bunch in the ground for a long time, hoping they would develop roots eventually. They did not. Yesterday, after one started to flower, I just pulled the row out. At least we got nice greens out of them. Maybe I'll have better luck with a fall crop.

Chloe wants to know what I find so interesting about this spot. And why I put up a fence and won't let her lay in the mud.

The herb garden has seen the most work since my initial post. I had been eying the irises that lined it with annoyance for some time - they hang all over the garden path, getting in my way, and they seemed to be shading the parsley and extra tomato plant I threw in with the herbs. Jeff attacked the bed for me last weekend, taking out all the irises and other plants and leaving the herbs on their own. To fill some of the newly empty space, I moved my pineapple sage to a roomier spot and added another rosemary, a purple basil and a French tarragon. So far, I think this was a great move. That tomato plant, which had been questionable, has a ton of new growth, and the herbs are starting to expand and spread out as well. And I can walk down the path without getting assaulted by wet iris leaves, which makes me happy.

The potted chard is doing beautifully. I never thinned it out, like I did with the row in the raised bed, but it seems to be fine with that. I plan on tapping into this supply of tender baby chard leaves very soon. The spinach did not fare so well, with very few sprouting at all, and those that did bolting quickly (yes, the spinach in this picture has bolted - pathetic, I know). The summer squash seems to be doing very nicely. It had its first blossom today.

Despite being in a poorly-draining pots, these tomatoes and bell peppers are doing very well. The bell peppers have flowered and begun producing fruit (you can see the first few pepper nubs in the picture at the top of the page). I also took some stray lemon balm I pulled up while weeding and potted it. It seems to be doing quite well in its new home on the deck.

The other side of the deck has become a tomato jungle. The yellow stuffer tomatoes have begun producing nice looking fruit. I can't wait until they're ready and I get to finally taste them!

Planting beans along the side of the house has proved to be a fantastic idea. They caught on quickly, winding themselves up the small starter trellises and over onto the honeysuckle and clematis. They've begun producing pretty bi-colored flowers, as you can see in the picture below. As of today there are tons of flowers on these vines, but no sign of beans as yet. I have high hopes, though.

So far, we've picked more than three quarters of a pound of chard, a pound of kale, 56 radishes (only half had nice roots, but we got greens from all of them), 2 raspberries (sad, but I only planted the bush last year - it's growing better this year, so I have hope for the future), 105 strawberries, 7-8 cups of sad spinach, and 14 cherry tomatoes. Not bad so far, but I hope the next six weeks will prove far more productive!

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