My August Garden

I’m tempted to sum up this entire post with one picture:

But that would be lazy…

Yes, folks it’s turning to harvest time in the garden. Squash, tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, peppers… they all abound at this time of year. In my jungle-garden, it’s finding the fruits of my labor that’s the problem! Continue reading

Garden Update: The Monster Tomatoes & the First Tomatillos

I’ve been watching a couple of monster tomatoes on the biggest plant in my garden. It’s as tall as I am, and some of the tomatoes were starting to look intimidating…but they weren’t turning red. I was inspecting the plant and saw that some of the flowers up top weren’t looking so hot, and decided it was time to pick the monsters and give the rest of the plant a chance. When my cousin came over to pick up some fried green tomatoes she noticed a couple of my tomatillos were ready! The first of the season!

That epsom salt seems to have done a little too good of a job.

My July Garden

They grow up so fast.

Late June and early July is when the garden really comes to life. Tomatoes start to ripen, tiny little squash begin to grow, and the tomatillo “lanterns” are dangling delicately from their branches. Some of the greens and herbs are trying to go to seed, and now it’s time to think about replanting new crops for the fall. I pulled up some lettuce that was past its prime and put down some new cilantro. I dug up some packets of beans and peas to start growing a late crop of  those.

Meanwhile, one of my tomato plants is now towering over my head and the butternut squash is dutifully climbing the trellis I set out for it. One of my watermelon plants has flowers on it — as do the eggplant — and apparently some of my strawberries are ever-bearing because I’ve got more coming in.

Now that most of the work is done, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to make from all of this. I also spend a lot of time dipping cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes in hummus. 😉

There’s too much going on out there to tell you about it all, so here are some pictures. Continue reading

Signs of Progress: A Garden Update

The handsome fellow pictured here is Jerry, my cat. He’s prowling through the lemon grass, blueberries, and hollyhocks while I do some basic garden maintenance. Jerry is probably just as curious as I am about who has been nibbling the flowers off of my squash.

I hadn’t planned on doing a garden update so soon. I figured it would be a monthly thing, but then we had a lot of sun followed by a lot of rain and more sun. Those things led to major transformations. I’ve started to get some ripe cherry tomatoes, and I’ve got one tomato plant so huge it will be taller than I am before long. I can’t even imagine the size of the fruit that will come off of it later this summer.

I also got some trellises and tomato cages to try and contain the squash. A trip to my favorite nursery also yielded some sugar baby watermelon starter plants. Of course, there’s not much room in the beds so I put them in the strawberry patch and just outside the raised beds. I also took a couple of seeds from a spaghetti squash that I cooked and planted them. Now I’ve got a couple of sprouting plants. I think I may have to relocate one of them.

It’s really amazing to watch your food come to life. I keep thinking about being a little girl when McDonald’s used to hand out seed packets with Happy Meals (it’s almost too ironic to handle, I know). One year my mother and I planted pumpkins and watermelons. I don’t think the watermelons went anywhere, and the pumpkins got infested by bees. But here I am, probably 25 years later, with a veritable produce section in my backyard. Continue reading

My June Garden

The raised beds, in the very beginning…

I have this slightly obsessive need to document my garden’s progress. It’s a rather strange manifestation of OCD, but whatevs… When you first put in your starter plants it’s hard to imagine what they’ll look like in a few months. But if you take pictures every week or so, you start to realize how quickly the little guys grow and how easy it is to overlook the change when you see your plants every day. Tomato plants make for especially good pictures, thanks to the rungs on the tomato cages which clearly mark your plants’ progress.

As long as I’ve got this picture taking compulsion, I may as well put the results to good use and blog about it.

Now that the raised beds and plants are in, I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out how to make the most of what I’ve got. I prowl Pinterest looking for homemade fertilizers, ideas to keep the vines in check, and sprays for powdery mildew and black spot on my roses. But it’s still fairly early in the summer, so here is a glimpse at where I started. Continue reading

Confessions of a Pinterest Junkie

I am developing a severe Pinterest addiction.

I blame my backyard.

My yard was, in general, kind of a wasteland when I moved in. Its was basically just sandy dirt with some weeds thrown in. But nature bounces back pretty quickly and my front yard is looking damn good. The lawn is green, if not exactly all “lawn” in the traditional sense of the word — by which I mean, weeds are just as green as grass when you can’t afford to be picky. My winterberry holly came back nice and green, and my flowers are starting to fill in. Another few months and it will be a paradise compared to what it used to look like. Continue reading

Getting Your Hands Dirty

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to most since I bought my house was putting in raised beds for my vegetable garden. I had a garden at my last place but the soil was more rock than dirt. Some things did OK but others did not, and I had a pesky woodchuck who liked to eat my butternut squash and watermelon every time they started growing. Luckily for my raised bed plans, I seem to know all the right people.

Over the past few months, a family friend who delivers lumber has been showing up with large beams and dropping them off. Then we all got together one day,  plotted out where the beds should go and got to work assembling them. For the past few weeks they’ve sat empty…waiting for the soil to fill them up.

That’s where my mother’s farmer friends come in. She works in a restaurant out in cow country, and one of the local farmers comes in every day. Later in the summer he’ll start showing up and leaving boxes filled with tomatoes and peaches in the waitresses cars. He claims he can’t sell them. About that time my mom starts showing up at my house and we start cooking up huge batches of sauce. One of his buddies–whose farm is much closer to my house–comes in once a week or so and he’s been telling my mom he’d drop off some compost for weeks. On Thursday, he finally did. It looked a little like a T-Rex left me a gift. Continue reading

To Do or Not to Cockadoodledoo: Backyard Chickens

For quite some time now I’ve dreamed of having chickens. (Blame Barbara Kingsolver.)

Before I’d even closed on my house my mom told me that chickens were illegal in my town. It didn’t matter much since my yard is quite small and I wasn’t about to give up a whole corner of it to chickens. But I hadn’t been in my neighborhood for long before I started hearing the distinct cockadoodledoo of a rooster.

I thought this was strange. Many owners of backyard chickens will tell you that, as long as your neighbors are OK with your chickens it doesn’t matter much what the law says. But the one sure fire way to tick off your neighbors is to get a rooster. As far as I can tell, the rooster owner doesn’t even have hens.

He’s not very loud, and too far away from me to be much of a bother. I only really hear him when I’m outside, but I do wonder what his neighbors think. But, if he can get away with having a rooster, something tells me my neighbors won’t mind a couple of hens.