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

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

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