Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our First Garden - Update #1

A little over a month ago, I shared with you the process of creating our first garden.  A LOT has changed since my last post and we are definitely enjoying seeing our hard work pay off.  Our stomachs are really happy too!

Here is a breakdown of how everything is doing:
  • Thomas Laxton (early) Peas [grown from seed] - I'm going to try to be happy about these peas, but they have provided a lot of angst over the past month.  Aside from the letter received from the environmental conservation board saying we weren't really supposed to plant our peas in the "no plant" zone - these just didn't do as well as we thought they would.  We got very excited when we saw the plants started to flower and expected to be able to harvest a ton of pods, but in the end - we only got 1 dinner's worth of peas.  I'm pretty sure they were cursed from our little brush with the "law" but for the amount of work it took to get them set up - we aren't sure if it is worth it to do it again.  Carl spent his entire birthday evening planting them this year and countless other hours getting the netting and posts set up. Knowing we will have to rip up, yet another portion of our lawn, to plant these again - makes it less likely that we will do these next year.  A real bummer since I'm not usually a pea fan and I thought they tasted absolutely delicious. We'll have to see...
  • Calypso cucumbers [grown from seed] - We originally planted numerous cucumber seeds in mounds in the middle of our peas.  Due to the letter, we knew we were going to have to rip them up since the peas would definitely harvest well before the cucumbers.  Crockett states that cucumber seedlings usually don't transport well so we are still a little worried about these guys.  We had to find a new place in our yard to house them and since then they have been doing alright (not great - just OK).  Now that they get plenty of sun, we wonder if we never had to move them - if they would have done well anyway.  I think the peas starting to climb may have been stealing some of the cucumbers sun.  Regardless, I am keeping my fingers crossed as I have been mapping out my plan for homemade pickles for months now.  Grow cucumbers, grow!
  • Organic Relay Lettuce [grown from seed] - We are in lettuce HEAVEN!  Currently - the lettuce has been the highest producer in both quality AND quantity.  The regeneration on some of these plants is really incredible and we have been eating steadily off of the same 5 or 6 plants for a month now.  A few days ago we ripped up the last bits of the old plants and re-planted some seedlings that we started a few weeks ago.  Crockett suggested this as it is a great way to ensure that you have lettuce throughout your growing season.  There is just something about this lettuce that I absolutely love.  I think that the type of soil that we used (organic loam) definitely has something to do with it.  The leaves are colorful and really crisp and definitely last much longer than if you purchased them in the grocery store.  Carl and I have enjoyed taking a fresh salad for lunch everyday and also eating Asian stir-fry turkey lettuce wraps - once a week!
  • Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce [grown from seed] - see above. We only planted half of the amount of this type of lettuce than we did the other variety and it's probably a good idea since we have had way more than we know what to do with.  This lettuce if definitely delicious but not as crisp.
  • Sardinia Spinach [grown from seed] - our spinach grew a little faster than we anticipated and as a result, we didn't harvest it as early as we should have.  While the plants grew out of control, by the time we did harvest - we quickly realized that it takes A LOT of spinach to make a decent portion for two adults for dinner.  We both really love spinach so it was great that we were able to get a handful of meals out of it before it started to die.  I don't think that spinach loves the warm weather as when it started to get REALLY hot last week - the main structure of the plant started to warp - causing the plants to fall over and the leaves to get limp.  We still ate the fallen over plant but knew that our spinach days for the season were pretty much over.  I think you can re-plant in the early fall again - but I'm not entirely sure.  We'll have to read Crockett and see what spinach wisdom he can provide us.  Aside from having it as an accompanyment to dinner - my favorite meal we had with this spinach was fresh farm egg omelets, spinach and homemade feta cheese from the Lancaster, NH farmer's market.  YUMMY!
  • Scallions/Bunching Onions [starter plant] - We only purchased one starter plant and it while it has been growing great, it has been hard to harvest since they really do "bunch."  I want to savor these babies and only use one at a time, but being so close together means that their roots also grow together so I have been trying to be extra careful when I pull one out.  Next year, I think we will definitely grow a couple more bunches as I find myself buying scallions EVERY week at the grocery store.
  • Black King Eggplant [grown from seed] - these are the one thing in the garden that I am not convinced will grow great.  They have not only been slow to grow, but some little insect has decided to make it's leaves it's grand feast.  Leaves aside, the plant is doing relatively well but for some odd reason I'm less convinced that these will be successful.  I am hoping I am wrong though because I definitely LOVEEEE me some eggplant parmesan!
  • French Breakfast Radishes [grown from seed] - Carl was convinced that these radishes grew in bunches.  After harvesting our first round a few weeks ago, we soon realized that there was no bunching going on.  As a result, we were left with 7 tiny radishes.  Needless to say we were both a little bummed so after harvesting the first batch, we planted a bunch more and expanded them to two rows.  In another week or so I'm pretty sure we will be eating radishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Detroit Dark Red Supreme Beets [grown from seed] - Carl also applied his "bunch" theory here. #FAIL.  15 beets later - we got one dinner out of them.  We harvested them last night for dinner and plan to eat the greens in a few days.  Next year - we will definitely be planting at least two rows as these are one of my favorites.
  • Italian Dark Green Parsley [grown from seed] - growing like crazy!  5 plants was a bit excessive and I hope it doesn't go to waste.  Next year, we might stick to a plant or two as that is more than plenty for what we need it for.
  • Sweet Basil [grown from seed] [replaced with starter plants] - We got a little carried away with the basil planting and accidentally planted the seeds a little deeper than we were supposed to.  After two weeks without one seedling, my impatience got the best of me and we purchased two large starter plants that I split into 6.  I was immediately able to harvest a bunch of leaves for homemade pesto and I've been able to do it two more times since then.  The plants are growing great and after the hot weather we have been having... coupled with some rain - it looks like I'll be making another batch of homemade pesto this weekend!  This is definitely one of Carl's favorite garden delicacies.
  • Cilantro [starter plant] - at first, this was doing excellent.  After a wave of very hot weather - the plant started to turn a lighter shade of green and dry out (even though the soil was wet).  Next year, I think we will try to plant in a section of the garden that gets less sunlight.  Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs so I was a little bummed I didn't get more than a few guacamole batches out of it.
  • Dill [starter plant] - growing well although it just started to flower recently.  I'm not sure what that means, but I don't think that's good for this herb.
  • Oregano [starter plant] - growing well.
  • Rosemary [starter plant] - growing well.
  • Thyme [starter plant] - growing well.
  • Trailing Tomatoes [starter plant] - starting to flower and growing well.
  • Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes [starter plant] - starting to flower and growing great.  Lots of little baby tomatoes are starting to pop up.
  • La Roma II Red Tomatoes [starter plant] - starting to flower and expand.  This is the second largest tomato plant and it is really growing well.  This was also the first tomato plant to bear baby fruit.
  • Early Girl Tomatoes [starter plant] - starting to flower and growing well.
  • San Marzano Tomatoes [starter plant] - starting to flower and expand.  I can't wait for these tomatoes as - in my opinion - they make the best tomato sauce and soup with.
  • Orange Blaze Peppers [grown from seed] - growing well.  We aren't expecting to see anything major start growing for another month or so.  I can't wait for them to start growing though.
  • Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers [grown from seed] - same as above.
  • Fat 'n Sassy Peppers [grown from seed] - same as above.
  • Horn of Plenty (early bush crookneck) Squash [grown from seed] - we accidentally forgot to write down or commit to memory which squash plant was planted in each mound.  Either way - one is growing out of control and the other is doing fine.  We made sure to plant these with plenty of room to expand as they often times start to take over.
  • Richgreen Summer Squash [grown from seed] - see above.
Here are some pictures of the progress over the past month:

baby cucumber plant

peppers in pots

peas, pahlease!

front to back - spinach, lettuce, radishes and beets

lettuce seedling replacements, ready for the garden!

summer squash x2 and tomatoes
beets, radishes and lettuce

basil deliciousness

sweet pea

lettuce galore


plum tomato baby

cherry tomato babies

lettuce harvesting

my favorite live-in scarecrow

custom flower boxes built by my handy husband
With some of the leftover wood from the garden, Carl made some custom flower boxes that sit in front of our garage.  All three boxes have the same flowers in them and really look great next to the garden.  Next month, Carl plans on using the rest of the wood to make one more small above ground garden to house rhubarb, chives and (maybe) strawberries next year.  I am REALLY looking forward to that.  

Speaking of berries, have a little look-see at what we found growing right next to our house:

blackberry surprise
I've secretly been chanting over these bushes - "grow, grow, grow."  For totally selfish reasons, of course...  The Pioneer Woman makes a delicious blackberry cobbler that I've had my eye on for many months now.

Needless to say, I think things have been quite successful for us so far. What is also surprising is that we have escaped (knock on wood) any sort of woodland creature eating our prized possessions. That, in itself, is a win in my book!  I am really looking forward to fresh peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and squash in the coming months.  Until next time...

Have you started a garden this spring/summer?  If so, what are you growing?

If you haven't started a garden this year, I'd love to know what your favorite garden veggie is!

Please feel free to leave responses in the comment section below.  I REALLY enjoy hearing from my readers!

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  1. Look at your garden grow! How exciting. xo

  2. My favorites are radishes, peas, cucumbers and corn. Unfortunately we don't have the space for corn. We'll just have to steal some of my parents!


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