Saturday, July 2, 2011


I feel guilty for resting on the garden's laurels -- only because I know I should be making the next season happen already. Maybe I'll get some done this evening. It's been warm, after an unseasonable rain storm. The garden has reacted with raging growth:

Except for the pitiful peppers, of course. Every year, it seems that there is one plant which does much better than expected. Last year it was bell peppers. Next year, I'm going to plan them much more carefully -- I loved those peppers. Oh well. Guess I'll haunt half-off sales this summer so we have enough to grill, because I'm not going to harvest enough. But some thought-dead Padrons have greened up, so there will at least be a few of those. Yum.

This year, the unexpected performer was leeks:

I planted them partly as a lark. I love leeks, and hate to buy them. But these puppies really did well. Lisa had some issues with hers this year, so I was afraid that mine must have been bolting. This morning, before the heat hit (how the Victorians dealt with this I do not understand), I was nipping through the garden, eyeing the about-to-bolt-or-get-too-big stuff.

Apparently they weren't bolting. Now I have to sell the family on Vichyssoise as a viable dinner, I think.

The strawberries continue to just crank out berries -- we harvested a pound today with no end in sight. I did nip off runners conscientiously. How do you with strawberry patches deal? Do you transfer the plants via runners and rogueing out the originals? How often? Do you do a Lord of the Flies let 'em rip kind of system? Pull them all and replant new plants? So far, no disease or slug issues, and the birds haven't been bad. In fact, Mikey's been the worst pest so far, and we just watch him now.

The grapes are growing crazily. Some day I'm going to learn how to prune them properly. I hope we get enough for jam again this year. We're running low, and the grape was terrific last time. Reminded me of my pb&j childhood!

In addition to "junglelike growth," this year's theme seems to be "volunteering." My produce isn't bagging itself to give to neighbors and the soup kitchen, but extra bits of plants keep popping up. There's the kale on the brick patio, the squash in the compost and near the chicken coop, and tomatoes everywhere. Tomato alley:

Johnny Jump-ups make me smile. After finally getting some from seed last year, I had hopes of babies this year. They did not disappoint. How many years do you think it will be before I finally preserve some in sugar to put on cupcakes?

This is about how high an elephant's eye is, right? Ellie may actually get some ears of corn this year. Wish we'd planted more!

The Italian soup beans are rampaging. I still feel slightly guilty over not liking green beans enough to grow, pick, and prepare them. Dry beans are more my style. But really, they seem like a crazy use of home gardening space. These earned it by being flown across the Atlantic:

One of the kinds (either Fagioli Stregoni or Pavoni) has luscious apricot flowers.

Other flowers include the ubiquitous (though fortunately less-numerous than last year!) sunflowers, just opening up:

And a few sweet peas. Those fence beds are going to have to be dedicated lettuce beds, I believe. The things there are so far behind for lack of sunlight that it's perfect for a slow-bolt planting of lettuce. Remembering that is key, of course.

Speaking of bolting, I indentured two kids today to prepare and freeze about ten pounds of kale. It's got to get done or the chickens will get it all:

Finally, I assume that either from the planted plants or those multiple volunteers, there will be tomatoes. . . some day.

Sorry about the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach. I'm not blogging regularly and oh how I miss the good camera, but when I do get things photographed, might as well cover as much as possible. Busy times, as you all know.


Annie*s Granny said...

Your garden is looking so lush and productive! I have puny peppers this year too, after past years of big, beautiful plants. I'm heading for the nursery tomorrow to see if they happen to have a few nice plants left. I'm not going to count on mine producing anything.

Unknown said...

There is a LOT of growth happening in your garden right now. Wow! Those leeks are enormous. My CA bell peppers are not doing so well, the rest seem to be flourishing.

Mr. H. said...

Loved hearing how your garden was doing, sounds like pretty darn well other than those peppers.

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Looking good out there! With my unusually cold spring, things are just starting to take off.

Have you ever heard of Steve Solomon? He's sort of a celebrity gardener in the NW. He's also written a few other books, some of which are online. Of particular relevance to this post would be his "water-wise vegetables" which has a very different discussion on saving water in the garden. Rather than focus on mulch, he contends that plants lose far more water through the stoma in their leaves, and increasing plant spacing could be far more beneficial.

Anyway, your post made me think of that. Just thought you might like it too.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Your garden is doing great! LOVE LOVE LOVE those leeks. Can never have too many leeks in my opinion. What, no tomatillos this year? ;) We're actually growing them for the first time this year and I have a feeling we're about to be inundated. We may drown in salsa soon...but at least the bees are loving the blooms. It has been a fabulous strawberry year, how it is for tomatoes and peppers though will remain to be seen. Let's hope some of this warm weather persists for a while!

kitsapFG said...

Lovely update! Your garden is looking splendid - even the peppers that are languishing. On the strawberries. I let the runners go the first year and just redirect them to fill in the gaps in the bed. The second year of the patch I just remove them. The third year of the patch, I cut them and root them out in a larger "nursery" planting container (closely spaced together). These are grown out and overwintered and then the following spring, I start a new strawberry patch in a different location using these young seedlings. The old patch is dug up and removed at that time. I find this three year rotation works best for production. Unfortunately the first year of the rotation is usually a light harvest as a result. This year is my year one of a newly planted bed. I will get some production out of it but not very much. It would have been better but a rabbit found the patch earlier this spring and mowed most of it to the ground, so it was set back quite a bit by that.

Kristin said...

Such abundance and what a green thumb you have!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wowie! We sort of missed the boat on the summer garden. I've got some tiny baby kale, and I'm missing having that as a dinner staple.

Your garden is such an inspiration.

I wonder if Robb and I could come over some time (this week, perhaps?) and talk chickens with you. We're pretty sure that we're getting some next spring.

Stefaneener said...

AG -- I hadn't thought of buying more. Maybe I should look. It's certainly warm enough to get some going.

GrafixMuse, it's always something. Leek quiche for dinner!

Mr. H., I tend to focus on the positive : )

Vegetable Garden Cook, welcome! I actually have some Steve Solomon books. I was just thinking of him as the latest heat wave hit, wondering what he'd say about the plants showing water stress after a rainstorm, with damp soil. I've planted more spacily (ha!) since reading his book.

CVS, I STILL have tomatillo puree in the freezer, plus jars of enchilada sauce. Thought I might take a break. If I need some, I bet you'll have them! Thanks for stopping by.

kitsapFG, that makes good sense. I think I got all the runners this year partly because the beds were full up with plants. We're getting what I consider a fair amount of strawberries for one year. I'll have to think about rotation. Guess it's time to haul out plans.

Kristin, starting with good ingredients like amended soil and all those bees sure helps.

Lisa, yes, yes, yes. Give me a shout.

Daphne Gould said...

Your garden is looking fabulous. I do strawberries differently than Laura. I try to keep my plants between 8" and 12" apart. The first year I plant up half the space in strawberries on one side of the bed. Or in a couple rows if you have a 4' bed. Then I direct the runners I need to fill in the bed and snip any extras. The next year after they produce I rip up the original plants and toss them. Renew the soil where they were. The plants left are the ones that were from runners the year before. I let them run to fill in the gaps, pinching off runners I don't need. Repeat each year. This way the strawberry plants are never old. Sometimes I skip a year though and pinch off all the runners. But I never skip two years since the plants will decline in health. Of course doing it this way you can't move the bed around. And I don't. My strawberry beds tend to be permanent.

littlekarstar said...

love this post. your garden looks just wonderful.