Monday, July 22, 2013

Harvest Monday 7/22/13

This week in the garden has been interesting to say the least.. and not really in a good way.  I came home from TN last Tuesday to find some tomatoes on the kitchen counter that J had picked.  There was a not so good story about how these tomatoes came to be picked.  

He had been mowing the grass paths in the garden and I had left a drip hose that went down the corn and squash bed and then across the path and down the next bed of tomatoes.  Well, he had driven over this hose before, but this time it somehow got wrapped around the blade.  This cut the hose into many, many pieces.  The hose also managed to take out five of the tomato plants!  If you remember last week, my tomato plants were not doing too well, except for a few at the end of the row.  Well, guess which tomato plants got destroyed?  Yep, the only decent looking ones.. sigh.  So J went through and picked the tomatoes on the now cut down plants.  I think I need to accept the lack of tomatoes this year and actually buy some at the farmer’s market.

Anyway, on to happier harvesting news… I picked the first of the green beans of the year.  I also harvested two good sized zucchinis (only one made it into a photo).   

I pulled some carrots, but they are still a bit small.  They had a good, sweet taste, so hopefully I can leave them in the ground a bit longer to grow a bit larger.  I also picked a pepper.

I also harvested some beets.

Over the weekend we went to paint the porch at the old house and check on the garden.  We have had a lot of rain around here this spring and summer.  So much rain that it washed out the back wall of the old garden!   

We got to spend a hot and humid afternoon rebuilding the wall.  I am very ready for the old house and garden to sell!

On a happy note, the cucumbers are doing well in the old garden.  Some of them were very large, but other than having big seeds they tasted fine.  I'm very happy to have some veggie in abundance!

The tomato plants look much better at the old garden.  I planted them later, so there was only one ripe one so far.  This year I will be happy with every little tomato I can get!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Harvest Monday 7/15/13

I have been visiting family in Tennessee all this week, so just a few harvests to report that I picked before I left.  The biggest excitement this week was the first squash and zucchini of the year.

I also got two pretty good sized peppers, although I need to stop being impatient and let their colors develop before picking them.

The first two yellow squash are a bit small, but I had to pick them before I left or they would be monstrous by the time I got back!  I also harvested the first round zucchini and some tomatoes.  What tomatoes I have are cracking from all the rain.

Usually I have squash vine borer problems, but so far this year I haven't seen any signs of them.  It may be that they are late this year because it has been cooler than normal or it may be that they haven't found the new garden yet.  Either way, I'm happy and hoping the vine borers stay away!

I'm heading home tomorrow and I'm excited to see what I have waiting for me in the garden!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Harvest Monday 7/8/13

It has been raining all week.  The ground is soggy and the low spots have now become ponds.  It is also the coolest summer I recall.  I got a late start planting this spring and the weather is not encouraging growth.

Not a lot of harvests this week.  Some big Swiss chard leaves, some yellow pear tomatoes, and some very long cucumbers. 

The blackberry foraging has continued.  I neglected to take pictures this week, but the blackberry harvests went into making muffins along with some fresh blackberries to top ice cream for 4th of July.  I would have had my first big, ripe tomato this week, but all the rain resulted in it cracking and getting engulfed with ants.

At the new garden, I got ambitious and planted a whole 50 foot row of tomatoes.  I was dreaming of drowning in tomatoes.. oh the sauce and salsa I would can!  I usually only have enough space for about six tomato plants and never seem to have enough left over to can.  I thought it was going to be different this year.

Of course I planted all of these tomatoes in a garden that I visited maybe once a week and had no access to water.  (Well, there was the pond, but the haul from the garden to the pond was not fun.)  The good news was that we had a very wet spring.   A bit too wet.  There were times when we had such a downpour that the tomatoes sat in what looked like a rice patty.  The soil here has high clay content, so it holds water a bit too much.

Then the day came that they were going to drill the well.  I was very excited to finally have a well!  I didn’t realize that just because they drilled the well didn’t mean I would get to use it yet.  I had to wait for the permanent electricity to get turned on and that took a very long time.  The well was located uphill from the garden and as close to the garden as I could get without accruing any extra cost. 

I didn’t realize the mess well drilling would cause.  It had rain the day before, so the garden was already saturated.  I guess when they reached the water underground it gushed out.  Along with the water was all the ground up stone that they drilled through.   This created what looked like cement, which then covered the garden.  Since the soil was already saturated, the garden stood in this stuff for at least two days before it dried up.

The row of tomatoes was unfortunately in the path of this cement stuff.   A couple of tomatoes on the end were spared and look somewhat healthy.  

The rest of the tomatoes do not look happy.  They are puny, but are still trying to flower and produce fruit.  I don’t know if it was because of getting saturated or whether they got an overdose of some mineral from the ground up stone.

I dug up and removed the dried cement layer and gave them some fish fertilizer.  I don’t know if I should pluck off the flowers and fruit and try to encourage them to produce more leaves, or whether I should just leave them alone.   I’m thinking this year is not going to be the year of the tomato!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Harvest Monday 7/1/13

After a little over a week we are all moved in and unpacked!  There are still decorations to hang, curtains to sew, and countless other things to do to make the new house feel like home.  But at least the giant stack of boxes in the garage is gone. 

We added two new plants to the household.  For some reason I can grow a garden, flowers, shrubs, trees.. as long as they are outside.  For some reason, when I bring a plant in the house it seems to have a death sentence.  I think they die from too much love.  It seems that both J and I water the plants until they are drowning and give up living.  To attempt to remedy this problem, the plant on the left is J’s and the one on the right is mine.  However, this is feeling like too much pressure.  What if my plant dies?

Anyway, on to this week’s harvests:  the big day of the season has arrived, the first tomato harvest!  The first tomatoes, which were from the new garden, were two yellow pears. 

Later on in the week I also harvested the first paste tomatoes. 

I also plucked some little bell peppers because I was cooking chili and need them.

From the old garden I harvested some giant Swiss chard leaves, which went into an omelet.

I also pulled some carrots.  They weren’t the most photogenic carrots (they declined to have their photo taken), but they tasted fine.  Not as sweet as fall carrots, but still good.  I also harvested the first cucumbers.  One was a big one! 

Finally, the blackberry foraging has continued.  We had enough blackberries on our new property to make a blackberry pie to celebrate one week at the new place!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Harvest Monday 6/24/13

Our house is finally finished and we moved most of our stuff this weekend!  It is very exciting to actually be living here and have some time to take care of the new garden.  It has been neglected, but I'm still glad I took the time to get some things planted this spring.  I just couldn't imagine not growing veggies this summer.

Today I spent unpacking box after box.  I always think I don't have that much stuff.. until I move!  I took a break to check out the garden and take the pup for a walk.  This is my first harvest Monday from the new garden: turnips.  With all the chaos of moving and trying to maintain two gardens, the weighing and keeping track of harvests has fallen to wayside and that would require knowing which box my scale is hiding in!

Roasted turnips will be the first thing I cook in my new kitchen!  Hopefully this new kitchen will cook lots and lots of veggies from the garden over the years.

The only other harvest I have, I did not grow.  During our walk through the woods and down the road I came across some ripe blackberries. Yum!!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The New Garden

I couldn't handle the thought of not having a garden this summer, so the plan was to put in a low maintenance garden.  Silly me, how many gardens are really low maintenance?  The plan was to till up some beds and leave the grass in between and wide enough to mow.

Unfortunately grass doesn't like to stay where you want it.  I didn't have a lot of time for weeding since the new place was 40 minutes from the old place.  My main goal was to get things planted.  I am very excited to have a garden that actually gets sun!  I'm hoping that will result in more harvests and quicker harvests.

The other problem was the lack of water access.  I had to haul water back and forth from the pond, which was not fun.  Luckily we had a really wet spring, so I got away with minimal watering.

Despite the challenges, I do have plants growing.  I'm not counting on a fabulous harvest this year, so far I've had the potatoes decimated by potato beetles, the deer did some bean and pepper browsing, and then half the garden was immersed in what looked like cement for several days after the well was drilled.   I also did absolutely nothing to improve the soil except trying to remove lots and lots of rocks.  

We've even have had our first harvest:

Hopefully there will be many more veggies to come.  (However, this was the only pea harvest because I went to try to remove a rock that was in the soil near the peas.  The rock turned out to be a boulder that required the tractor to get out.  Unfortunately the pea plants didn't survive the boulder extraction!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Farewell to a Loved Garden

Tomorrow is the big day.. we finally close on our new house!  I love our new place and the land.  It is such a quiet and peaceful place, plus the potential for growing things seems unlimited on 12 acres.

But there is the bittersweet goodbye to my garden.  I've always been the type to get attached and I am horrible at goodbyes.  I suppose only a gardener would understand the labor and love that went into growing and nurturing plants, to stroll through the garden and have a history and story to tell about every plant.  The ones I grew from seeds, the ones I got from the clearance (aka. verge of death) section at the nursery and now have to battle to keep them from taking over the yard, the ones I hand picked pests off, and all the ones that make me smile.

Of course there will be more plants and stories.  I do love the idea of leaving a trail of gardens and flowers behind whenever I leave.  The gardener's legacy.. making the world a more beautiful place one yard at a time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Growing up my great grandmother had a big pecan tree in her backyard.  In the fall when the pecans would fall to the ground she would send me out with a gallon milk jug with the top cut off and I would spend way too much time picking pecans off the ground.  I'd inspect them for the little holes that weevils or worms would make and only fill the jug with the biggest and most perfect pecans.  She would send us home with this jug of pecans and we would crack and eat them until we were stuffed and content.  Although you had to be careful where you walked because a stray pecan shell shard would always end up underfoot! 

I hope that old pecan tree is still standing and littering the ground with pecans, but that property is no longer in the family.   I've always wanted my own pecan tree.  The problem is that they get very large (100 ft +) and you should plant two to ensure pollination.  I never had the space to plant two pecan trees, until now!  With 12 acres, the first thing we planted was two pecan trees.

I ordered the trees from Stark Bro's: the Surecrop and the Hardy Giant.  When we got them planted they were pathetic little sticks barely a foot tall. 

However, they have finally put out leaves!  Now just stay tuned for 8 - 10 years for when I get my first harvest! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/22/13

Happy Earth Day!!  I hope everyone gets to spend some time digging in the dirt and appreciating nature.  It has been a busy gardening week here.  I've been trying to plant the old and new garden.  I keep forgetting to take pictures of the new garden because by the time I remember to load all the tools, seedlings, seeds, watering can, and anything else I might need into my car, the camera has been long forgotten.  I did get all the tomato seedlings planted, half of the peppers planted, lettuce seeds sowed, and a 50 ft row of sunflowers planted!  I think I went a bit overboard with the size of the new garden since I have room for that many sunflowers.  The birds and rodents are going to love me!

Anyway, back to harvest Monday.  This week I harvested most of the leeks (2.1 lbs).  These have been in the garden forever!  Well, at least it seems like forever.  I planted them last spring, so a year later I finally harvested and ate them.  I made them into little Leek and Potato Pies and the leek tops I will use to make some vegetable stock.  I doubt I will ever grow many leeks because they take up space in the garden for so long, but they seem easy to grow and you can ignore them for a very, very long time.

Also this week I harvested the first of the spring planted crops: spinach leaves!  I pulled a couple of little carrots and picked some more broccoli side shoots.  The broccoli is completely covered in aphids right now.  I soaked the broccoli in water to try and get all the aphids off, followed by a high pressure spray in every direction.  I still had to inspect every bite before eating!

This week's tally:

Broccoli: 1.3 oz
Spinach :1.6 oz
Carrots: 2.1 oz
Leeks: 2.1 lbs

Weekly total: 2 lbs, 5 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shade Leads to Big Changes

If you missed the announcement, I'm leaving my lovely garden and moving to a much bigger plot of land.  This was not really something we planned to do.  It all just kind of happened.  When I questioned J about how we suddenly bought 12 acres and started having a house built, he claims it was all my doing because I was complaining about shade in my garden.

So how did a little shade lead to such big changes?

Last summer, I noticed my corn on one side of the garden were tall and the other side were really short.  I knew that there is more shade in the back of my garden, but I didn't realize it was having such an impact on growth.

One sunny afternoon I took pictures of the garden to track the sun and shade.  I discovered that the back half of my garden is shaded until almost 2 pm!  The problem is the neighbor is to the south and they have let trees grow next to the fence.  These trees are just going to get bigger and bigger, which means my garden is going to have less and less sun.  

So what's a gardener to do?  Ask the neighbors to cut down their trees?  Move the garden?  Our lot is about an acre, but it is mostly wooded.  The only sunny spot is in the middle of the front yard.  I contemplated having trees cut in the back to allow more morning sun, but that would probably be expensive (and sad to cut down trees) and I would still have shade from the neighbor's trees to the south.

So I started looking online at houses and land for sale.  I wasn't really too serious about it, but it was fun to dream.  I promise that the shade in my garden wasn't the only reason.  My current commute is 100 miles a day and I hate it.  More sun and a shorter drive was my goal.  We drove around and checked out some lots and some houses, but nothing seemed worth the cost or the hassle of moving.  Most of the lots for sale were forested without much level ground.

Then we found it. 

It was the perfect location.  My commute would only be 30 miles per day.  It was private, there was a pond, and it was 12 acres with plenty of sunny spots for a garden.

Then began the roller coaster of realtors, builders, county permits, and banks.  I did not know how difficult banks are about construction loans.  I lost count of how many times we went from excitement to disappointment back to excitement.  It took almost three months from when we made an offer on the land until we finally closed on both the land and a soon-to-be built house.

So that's how shade in my lovely garden led to a very big change!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/15/13

I have been leading a double gardener life and it is exhausting!  I have my lovely terraced garden at my current home, but we are moving at the end of May/ beginning of June.  It is very sad to leave my pretty garden that was so much work to build:

J says we will move my potting shed although I'm not sure how because it was built behind a tall fence!

But the good news is that our new home has 12 acres and much more sunny spots for growing veggies and fruits!  A normal person would probably just wait until next year or at least fall before starting a garden at a new property where we don't even have a well yet.  Luckily there is a pond, but hauling water back and forth is not fun.

There is so much work to be done preparing a new garden while maintaining my current garden!

Anyway, more about the new garden later.  Now it is back to the purpose of this post: Harvest Monday.  Not a lot to harvest this week.  I had enough to make a small salad of lettuce, broccoli side shoots, and carrots.

I also harvested Swiss chard, but neglected to take a photo.

This week's tally:

Carrots 2.5 oz
Broccoli 1.4 oz
Lettuce  1.4 oz
Swiss chard  1.5 oz

Weekly total:  6.8 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/8/13

This week was my biggest harvest so far for the year.  I harvested veggies that had overwintered in the garden to make room for spring planting.

First up is 2 lbs of turnips:

Unfortunately I think I left the turnips in the ground too long- they were a bit tough and fibrous.

Much tastier were the carrots:

Fall planted carrots are always so much sweeter than the ones I plant in the spring.

Next up are collared greens.  These are a first for me to plant because I hate collared greens.  Growing up in the South, collared greens make a regular appearance and as a kid I hated them.  I decided I would give them a second chance after seeing a recipe that didn't seem to turn them into the green mush I recalled as a child.

I only planted two collared green plants, just to be safe.  I sauteed it with garlic and olive oil and cooked it in a quiche.  I can say I don't hate collared greens any more, but I wouldn't say I love them.  I think I'll stick with kale and swiss chard.

Lastly this week was a handful of broccoli side shoots:


This week's tally:

Turnip 2 lbs
Carrot 9.7 oz
Collar greens 9 oz
Broccoli 0.9 oz

Weekly total: 3 lbs 3.6 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Babies Waiting for Spring

Seedlings have been growing in the potting shed for the last month and I don't know if it is just me transferring my feelings, but they seem to be impatiently waiting for spring.  The tomatoes, eggplant, and pepper have to wait until mid April for their garden debut. 

I fell for a new tomato hybrid this year.  I usually stick with heirloom varieties such as Cherokee Purple, Amish Paste, San Marzano, Brandywine, and Yellow Pear.  This year my tomato goal is to harvest enough paste tomatoes to make sauce to can.  When I saw Burpee's new Super Sauce Tomato, I couldn't resist trying.  I've never paid $6.50 for 25 seeds before, so these tomatoes better be amazing!  

Also growing in the potting shed are some broccoli seedlings.  I will be hardening them off this week!

I can't wait for a growing garden and yummy harvests.  I was a bit (ok, a lot) neglectful of my winter garden, so not much survived to provide fresh produce in the early spring.  However, the bees seem to appreciate my neglect.  I planted pac choi in the fall and never got around to harvesting it.  It is now flowering and the bees are flocking to it.

I'm glad someone can benefit from my gardening neglect!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/1/13

Today was a beautiful, warm day.  March brought temperatures well below normal and it seemed that spring was never going to arrive, but today changed that outlook.  Spring seems to have finally arrived and to celebrate I harvested my first spring salad.  (Well, more accurately this was a fall planted salad that survived the winter and was harvested in the spring.)

My first spring salad consisted of freckles lettuce, radish, some broccoli side shoots, and some mini carrots.

All chopped up and ready to be savored on the back porch on a glorious spring day:

This weeks tally:

Lettuce: 2.4 oz
Radish: 2.2 oz
Carrot 1 oz
Broccoli 0.5 oz

Weekly total: 6.1 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Harvest Monday 3/18/13

I have a mini harvest to report this week.  I pulled a carrot that looked large from the top, but turns out is was really short and stout.  Oh well, it was still sweet and tasty.  I also harvested some mini side shoots from the broccoli.

Then there is the ole standby, Swiss chard.  It seems no matter the season, Swiss chard keeps on growing.

Carrot 1.9 oz
Broccoli 0.5 oz
Swiss chard 2.3 oz

Weekly total: 4.7 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Harvest Monday 3/11/13

After falling off the gardening blog bandwagon, I'm trying to get back into the habit.  I've missed Harvest Mondays. They are a great motivator for harvesting and using what I have in the garden.  This winter has brought actual winter weather.  Last winter was the first time I attempted to grow veggies and it was so mild I had plenty to harvest.  This winter has been much colder and I was not very diligent about covering my crops, so I don't have much to report. 

This is a mix of turnips and kohlrabi ready to be roasted:

My other harvest this week is swiss chard:

Turnip 6.7 oz
Kohlrabi 7.4 oz
Swiss chard 1.7 oz

Weekly total:  15.8 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.