Sunday, August 19, 2012

August Garden Tour

August is the best time for gardening. Or rather, August is the best time for enjoying the fruits of your labor! Now is the time of year when you can't go out into the garden without returning with an arm-full of produce. Before I break this down, here's a big picture view of my August garden:

Now, get ready to be hit with a crazy amount of photos. I'm about to break this down. This year my garden - with almost no TLC from me, mind you, except for a lot of mulching and very strategic watering - really is happier than it's ever been. There is probably some lesson in there.

Garden Tour: August 2012

1) Beans

My beans were destroyed by the bunnies, but I love that one plant survived and climbed up my improvised string trellis. Even if I only get 10 beans this year, at least they will be ten purple beans.

2) Squash/Squash-like Things

The photo on the left is delicata squash with a buckwheat flower poking through. I had planted a cover crop of buckwheat that the bunnies found too tasty to resist. This is the only buckwheat that survived. As you can see from the pumpkins and butternut squash on the right, these plants take up a lot of space. Lots of pumpkin and butternut squash blossoms, but none have started to turn into squash yet...hopeful...waiting...we've got till Halloween...

3) Cabbage

I'm known amongst friends as having a over-the-top love of slaw, but I'm afraid even I don't have the capacity for slaw that this year's garden promises. Check out that huge cabbage! Need to harvest it.

4) Greens

Kale and chard, with marigolds and cosmos throughout. Having lots of fresh greens is one of my favorite parts of having a backyard garden.

5) Eggplant

I tried a few new things with eggplant this year per some reading I did. First, I got a different variety, the long, slender Chinese eggplant. Next, I attached them to trellis' at a very early age so they would have support and possibly be able to hold more eggplant. Not sure if it's the variety or the support system, but this year is a bumper crop of eggplant. I make eggplant "chips" a few times a week (cut into rounds, sprinkle with olive oil and salt, and bake - turning over once - until crispy).

6) Herbs

Nasturtium is not an herb exactly, but I put it here because not only do the flowers taste great on salads, but the plant itself is a nice compliment to squash and many other garden plants. My little herb garden, surrounded by petunias, is really happy. That's new this year with bricks I found throughout my yard. Sage, rosemary, oregano, and parsley.

7) Raised bed: onions, beets, carrots. 

My onions are really happy (and ready to be harvested and cured for later use), but for some reason my beets did not do well this year. You can see a few of them going to flower, which I don't understand at all. I will try to harvest a few soon and see what's up under the ground. The carrots are a rainbow variety - orange, yellow, purple - and I cannot wait until they are ready!

8) Peppers

This is my first year of success with bell peppers! These are actually an orange variety, so you can see this guy has a few more weeks until ready.

9) Flowers

I love the way this sunflower is growing: a lot of small flowers off one big, main stalk. That's not typical for the variety I have sprouting up throughout my yard. The zinnias were new this year: I normally don't bother with annuals, but this is one of my favorites and they are so cheery. I decided to put them in rather unsightly areas throughout my yard and, as I hoped, they've really brightened those areas up. I also watched the world's most boring youtube video about zinnias and learned that if I keep breaking off the dead flowers they will keep blooming. I have three clusters throughout the yard and they have been blooming wildly for over a month!

10) Melon

I have two varieties of watermelon this year (although only one is pictured here). One is the classic variety, with the deep red center, and the other is a dwarf-yellow. I harvested one of the classic variety a few weeks ago and as I was cutting it open and saying to my roommate "Moment of truth" I was presented with a totally under-ripe, white interior. Very sad moment of truth. It's also made me unsure of when to harvest them. I picked one of the small yellow ones this week, cut it open and it was a beautiful sight! It was perfectly ripe, juicy, flavorful. That's more the type of moment of truth I like.

11) Tomatoes

I planted three heirloom varieties this year, and two are pictured here. I am not sure what accounted for my success with tomatoes this year, but this has been my best year ever. The last few years have been perhaps too wet, thus producing the dreaded "blossom end rot." This year it was very dry, with a few well placed rain storms, and just a few waterings from me. (Again, I didn't water much, I tend to expect a lot of my plants - they'll survive if they want to sort of thinking.) I think the dry heat made them very happy because I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I'm looking out my window now and see about a dozen big ones I could pick, not to mention the dozens of tiny, yellow cherry tomatoes. One thing I'm sold on: heirloom all the way. These are some of the most flavorful tomatoes I've ever eaten.

Okay, so now that I've rattled on and on about my garden, I better get out there and enjoy the day. I leave you with two "from a distance" views of the garden.

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