Saturday, August 6, 2011

Late Summer Garden Update.

I just wanted to share a late summer update on our garden.  We've learned a lot in the past year, and the garden is now completely different from what we did last year.

We no longer have a yard.  My boyfriend has dug up the yard and made it a walking garden--a series of beds with only stepping stones for us to use to access the HVAC unit, the fence, the compost and rain buckets, and the clotheslines.  We no longer have the yard to use as a work space.  Since our yard is tiny, we want to maximize our use of the space. 

I admit it currently looks a little wild and out of order, because things are growing at different paces, and he moves things around a lot, as we learn more about what likes growing where.  We are also allowing some plants to go to seed, so that we can continue growing our favorites.

Here is a photo tour of our garden as it looks right now. Some of the pictures are a little blurry, because I took them in low light.  I'm not a fan of using flash, so some of these are not my best.  Regardless of how it all looks, our little garden is one of my favorite places.  When I am stressed, I like to go and sit outside and just soak it all up!

 This nifty little plant is kohlrabi.  I tasted this for the first time just a couple of years ago, and it's yummy.  It looks like an alien or like someone took a tennis ball and stuck some leaves into it, but trust me:  It's good eating!  It tastes kind of like a cross between broccoli stems and radish, or like a very sweet radish with no bite.  The greens are also edible and taste a lot like broccoli greens.

I cut them up and eat them raw as a finger food most often, but we also steam them.  I have not tried any recipes with it yet, but I intend to.

Cherry tomatoes.  This plant and the (I think) one other cherry tomato we have have been producing really well for us this year.  The tomatoes--both the cherries and the larger varieties--have a healthy, thick skin and are sweet but very full-bodied in flavor.  I think they taste even better than they did last year!

 This is one of our Swiss chard plants.  We had a couple that bolted, so we are down to just a few chard plants, but they are producing well (without bolting.)  These are really hearty plants, and they are so pretty!

Collards.  This thing is like a palm plant!  the leaves are HUGE!  It only takes one or two of the (fronds) leaves to make a meal for the two of us.  I believe this plant is in its second year.  It lived right through the winter.  Lucky us!

 Peppers.  We have three pepper plants.  One of them is more than two years old and is still producing!  I don't remember which one.  I think it's the baby bell, pictured here in the background.  The chilies are HOT!

We have not used the baby bells in the background yet.  I remember them being very tasty last year, though.

Parsley.  The parsley is taking over and has just about become a "weed" in our yard, along with the sage. I'm not sure yet what we are going to do about it.  We use a lot of parsley in our cooking and in salads (I love the stuff,) but we definitely have more than we can use, and I don't want to get it out of control!  As always, I defer to the resident gardener.

Radish.  They have not done that well this year, and I don't think he was happy with them last year.  For my part, I think they are fine.  The greens have been good, and though not all of the roots have developed into good radishes, we have had some decent ones this year.  Last year, we had more than we knew what to do with.  He says he wants to try a different variety next year.

It's been very hot this year, and he thinks they may not be happy with the soil;  however, I read something today that makes me think it has to do with their neighbors, the kohlrabi.  I was reading about companion planting.  Apparently, radishes and kohlrabi don't grow well together.  I may suggest we simply distance their beds better next year.  I definitely want to keep growing them, because I love them, and so do my parents.

Tomatoes.  Sadly, these have been claimed by my boyfriend for  a dish he wants to make this week, so I will have to wait a bit longer to have my favorite tomato sandwiches!
Sage.  It's exploding, along with the parsley and wild carrot.  Like the parsley, we use a lot of it;  however, two shrubs are more than we can handle.  I have a dry bundle in the house that I'm using for bath salts, and he has another drying as I write this.

It is my intention to learn to make smudging wands, which will use a lot of it up, so I think for now, we will continue to let it grow.  Sage is a sacred herb, so having it around makes me feel positive.  Our only issue is space.

A view of the garden.  The white rock is Persephone.  It's a chunk of quartz an old friend found in a park in Virginia and then passed on to me.  Why?  Because I asked for it.  Aren't friends great?   Persephone has stories, but I will save them for another time.   For the most part, it acts as a focal piece.

 Another view of the garden.  The ghosting effect is from a streetlight. 

Another garden view.  Clockwise from the bottom left:  Dandelion, beets, stack of tires serving as our potato box, chard.  In the center is one of the stepping stones.

We are giving up on potatoes.  Whether because of the heat this year or the stack of tires being too narrow (or too toxic) for the potatoes, to say we have had a poor yield this year would be a severe understatement.  The stack of tires will instead house our mulch heap.

My boyfriend commented today that, rather than give up on the radishes, he wants to try a different variety next year, so we'll see.

Not pictured here is our mint.  We still have a good bit.  There are two large pots of it on our fence, and we have some drying in the house.  It's great as a tea or as a fresh sprig in a glass of iced tea.

That's a tour of our garden as it stands now.  I hope you've enjoyed it!  My next post, to be written over the next week or so, is going to be a lot less "pretty," so just soak up the loveliness!

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