Friday, August 23, 2013

Garden Update

I'm way overdue with a garden update. When we came back home from the Outer Banks in July, I found my herbs in rough condition. It was hotter up here than down south; and though the garden was watered in our absence, a friendly woodchuck was helping himself to our parsley and oregano. The rosemary and thyme fared even worse; not handling the heat at all. I harvested what I could, but the plants died off. I wish I could grow them in my house, but the sun comes up over the front of the house, which has a porch on it. The only window I could put plants in also happens to be the youngest cat Giggles' sleeping spot, and she eats every plant she can reach. The parsley and oregano bounced back and we've been enjoying them in our chicken dishes.

The Lil' Princess' cabbage grew and grew. I originally had it in a container, but moved it into her garden. We enjoyed some wonderful coleslaw and cabbage salad as a result.

The Lil' Diva's best crop this year by far has been pumpkins. She has seven little ones growing right now. It must be the place her garden sits, because she had several pumpkins last year, too, but the Lil' Princess struggles to grow one or two before powdery mildew kills off her plant. I've used fungicide, but it hasn't helped any.

My best crops have been tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. I've never grown potatoes and onions before, but I thought I would give it a whirl. The potatoes and onions from the garden have been delicious. I love the potatoes so much I simply bake them in the microwave and eat them plain. I've used the onions in almost every supper dish I've made since I harvested them. The tomato plants grew like gang busters this year and I had to put in extra supports to hold them up. My hubby isn't a tomato sauce fan, but I tweaked a recipe I found in my canning and preserving cookbook and he had pasta with sauce.

What didn't work for us this year? We've been unsuccessful in growing these plants from seed: broccoli, spinach, squash, cauliflower, and strawberry. I purchased a spinach plant from Home Depot, but it was close to dead when we came home from vacation. The heat simply did it in. We ended up buying a strawberry plant and put it in the Lil' Diva's garden, but her pumpkin plant swallowed it up. By the time I moved it to a different location, we didn't get any berries from it. I'm trying to find a way to expand the garden next year and get rid of the raised beds.

Our blueberry bushes didn't give us any fruit yet, but we had several delicious red grapes to snack on. If I expand the garden, I'm planning on moving all the fruit plants over to the other side of the yard and building a trellis for the grapevines. I have supports in their now, but I think they will grow like gangbusters if I give them some room. I had purchased two blackberry bushes, but only one survived the new roof being put in. Actually, many of the new bushes we added this year struggled thanks to being covered by tarps and having roof shingles tossed around them. I think they'll come back next year.

The flower garden I put in front offered mixed results. The Catmint (Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low) and the Yarrow (Achillea ‘Fireland) have grown in nicely. The Penstemon Navigator Mixture didn't like this year's heat. I'll have to be sure to water them more often next year.

I already have my next project figured out. I am going to take a shady portion of the yard where mostly moss grows and put in two or three sections of fence to hide the compost pile. We've tried to grow grass, but it's too wet there and the tree cover too dense. It's the far corner of the yard anyway. Inside the fencing, I'll pull up the moss, then add a couple of standing bird feeders and a bird bath, then mulch the rest of the area. That should keep the birds, chipmunks, and hopefully other critters farther away from the vegetables. I find if I feed them regularly they are better about leaving my vegetable alone.

The second season vegetables are in, but not much seems to be happening. I might have planted them too late. I put them in the last week of July, but August has been cool. I see some of the salad greens coming up, but not much else. We'll see what happens. I'm actually in the mood to plant the winter rye crop cover. I'm ready to be done and plan for fall.


Connie Arnold said...

You are very ambitious with your gardening, Cheryl. Nice! We've only grown tomatoes and rhubarbs, but none this year. That's great your tomatoes did so well!

Cheryl said...

Thanks Connie. I'm trying to buy as little at the grocery store as possible, but this is a work in progress. It might take me years to get there.