Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? Let's do some catching up.
Last week I went up to Washington state for my dad's wedding. It was a wonderful ceremony; he and my new mom/stepmom (either one is perfectly fine, I think) were married in her backyard at sunset in the rock garden that overlooks a cove off the Puget Sound on the Key Penninsula. There were about forty or fifty friends and family members, and we spent the day leading up to sunset having some wine and mingling and catching up with everyone. The ceremony lasted about ten or fifteen minutes; my sister Xoe and I walked our dad out, and then Molly's daughter Stephanie walked Molly out. Stephanie's two daughters carried the rings. It was lovely, of course, and everyone got all teary-eyed as you're supposed to do at a wedding. I think the whole family feels the way Len and I do: we're so happy to have Molly in the family, so everyone wish them a nice congratulations.
Apart from that, my time in July and August was spent in the garden, so let's talk a little bit about that. Summer is just about over and I think I can say that for my first full-scale garden, I've had a pretty successful first run. Here's a summary of each vegetable and how it's done.
The beans are among the most successful of the garden veggies this year. I grew three varieties: Jacob's Cattle dry beans, Brittle Wax beans, and Kentucky Wonder pole beans, an afterthought that I threw into the potato buckets slightly late in the season. Despite that, I've gotten at least a couple of bunches of them, and it was a good way to utilize the empty space in the potato buckets. The yellow wax beans have also done very well -- I've gotten at least a couple of pounds from those, and man, are they tasty! I gathered only about a cup of Jacob's Cattle beans, though; that should be enough for one good-sized batch of soup.
The only trouble with the bush beans is that they seem to take up a lot of space for their yield. I'd like to try and find a yellow wax pole bean and a dry pole bean as well -- I plan to do quite a few more potato buckets next year in the driveway (since we have a lot of space in the corner) and would like to do all my beans in the buckets to leave more space in the garden.
I haven't dug up the potatoes yet, but if the tops are any indication of how well they're doing then they seem to be great so far. I'm growing two kinds: Peruvian Purple potatoes, and some run-of-the-mill white potato that my friend Rick gave us. The tops of the white potato have died off, so that means they're ready to dig up. The tops on the purple potatoes are just about dead as well, so perhaps I'll dig up all the potatoes tomorrow.
Even though peppers are your standard garden vegetable that anyone can grow, they've done surprisingly poorly in my garden this year, but I believe that was my own fault and I think I know what I did wrong. I started them in tiny seed packs but never transferred them to anything larger; as a result, they were very small when I transplanted them and possibly nutritionally deprived. So unfortunately I got no purple or red bells like I'd planned. Bummer, especially since sweet peppers are one of my favorite veggies. The nursery transplants that I put in as a backup plan are doing fine, but while the peppers look beautiful they're still green. I'm hoping they'll turn red before it gets too cold. Finally, the chili peppers that I planted a bit late look beautiful, but they haven't turned red yet, either.
My turnips were so beautiful in the ground! They grew and grew and then poked their little purple shoulders up out of the ground. I dug them all up and they looked so nice and tasty. We put them in a pot for cleaning...and then let them sit too long because we didn't have proper storage for them. As a result they rotted away and we never got a chance to taste them. I'm sad about that.
I had some beets in a plot. But Len, good-intentioned though he was, mistook them for weeds and tilled them in. D'oh.
I planted three types of squash this year, and like a completely newbie I planted two varieties -- the Delicata and the Yellow Summer squash -- too close to each other. As a result I've got two different squashes growing on one plant. It's bizarre. And somehow the yellow squash plants died off and seemed to succumb to a bug or a disease, and so we only got one yellow squash off of them.
The zucchini, however, has been doing great (because you can't kill zucchini if you try) and we've had several of those over the season. The Delicata squashes look wonderful and I'll be picking those this weekend. We'll see if cross-pollination has ruined them when I open them up for cooking.
The radishes really seemed to take a long time to grow, and because of that they were really hot. I've planted a new variety not long ago, a Chinese radish, that looks interesting. Pictures will follow when they're big enough to pull out of the ground.
The spinach really did well this year, and unlike some spinach it didn't have any E. Coli in it. I got about a salad and a half out of it, which means I definitely need to plant more next year. A couple of weeks ago I planted another batch.
Another very successful veggie in the garden. I really liked this variety (Yugoslavian Red), although some of the stuff I picked at the height of the summer heat was a little bitter, which was to be expected. The early stuff was deliciously sweet. I'd like to plant two or maybe three varieties next year, if I can spare the room. This and spinach are two vegetables that I'm going to try growing in the cool sunroom in containers over winter.
These have to be put down as unsuccessful. Like the peppers, I started them a little late and kept them in small seed packs for too long; when I planted them their leaves were purple, which signified a lack of nutrition. Next year I plan to start them earlier and make sure I transplant them into larger pots before going into the garden so they get good and big before they're set out.
We did try and plant the small seedlings we had in tomato buckets in order to grow them upside down. We're going to try this next year, too. The one seedling that lived, though, seemed to do really well until it was plucked, I'm guessing, right out of the pot by a bird. I went out one day and it was gone.
The nursery Brandywine transplants that I put in are doing very well, though, and Len says they're very tasty tomatoes (I'm not a tomato fan myself).
I didn't get to plan that many of these this year and I wasn't really sure they'd grow at all because my soil wasn't the nice, light soil that carrots love. I didn't pick a few out of the ground, though, and while they were short and stubby they were also pretty tasty. Next year I'll be added sphagnum moss into the soil to help lighten it up and make it a little softer for the carrots. I got some Purple Haze carrot seeds to try for next year -- purple carrots!
These are a late veggie so they haven't produced any sprouts yet, but the plants themselves look nice and healthy. We've got twelve plants out there; that should give us a great yield.
I think the broccoli was my favorite vegetable from the garden this year next to the beans and spinach. I have never eaten broccoli so tasty and fresh before. It didn't need anything on it, just a bit of steaming and it was good to go. I thought that cutting off the shoots and then the subsequent side shoots would be the only harvest I'd get, but each plant kept producing quite a bit. I didn't plant that much, so we only got a tiny bit each meal, but if I plant just a few more next year we should have a great harvest.
Last year our watermelons did all right, but this year I've got only one growing out there. Not sure why that is.
We picked about two gallon-sized plastic bags of currants this year! They're sitting in the freezer just waiting to be turned into something. I'm mostly likely going to make some jam out of them, and maybe I'll try a pie.
Last year we got a ton of raspberries. This year, we didn't get to them fast enough and the birds took them. Better luck next year, I guess. That's another sad loss this year. I love raspberries.
We have chives growing at the side of the house, and they've done well since we've lived here. Tasty stuff!
I've learned a lot this year, and the gardening season isn't over yet -- I still have some of my cold-weather stuff to grow and harvest, and I'm planning on growing stuff in containers in the house as well. Next year, wish me luck on more successful tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies. I'll also take a picture of the front of the house to show how well all the flowers are doing.
I've got some other stuff to write about but I'll save it for later this weekend and let this post steep a little bit like a fine tea.