Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden 2012
 I am not very adventurous when I plan my kitchen garden each year; I tend to stick with the 'tried and true'. This year was no exception. In my four raised beds I planted red beets, bush beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers. (Earlier, I planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, and snow peas. These cool-weather crops produced well and are long gone -- I gave the last, bolted lettuce to the horse last month.) I plant just enough vegetables for the two of us, I do a little canning, and there's usually spare to give to friends and neighbors.

I finally bought a decent cucumber frame and it's working well. But I learn something new every year and I'm now aware that I mustn't plant the zucchini too close to the cucumbers when I use the frame, because the cucumbers are shading one of the zucchini plants. It is still producing fine squash, but they are slower to mature.

New Cucumber Frame
Because of the frame, the cucumbers are growing straight and not the curly-Q's of previous years.

Add caption

Oops! Spoke too soon ...

 Again this year, beets are one of my best crops, but bush beans are my favorite vegetable.

Beets and Bush Beans Share a Bed

My friend Charlene gave me this adorable wind chime.
 My morning ritual in the garden begins with picking produce that is ready. Early morning is the best time to pick vegetables.

 The peppers are not quite ready yet.

 Every year there are some failures. Looks like it's tomatoes this year. I planted three and two of them have blossom end rot. Oh, dear! The ones with BER are both heirloom tomatoes. The plum seems to be OK.

Roma Plum Tomato (left) and Red Brandywine (right)

Red Brandywine with blossom end rot.
 Uneven watering is a common cause of blossom end rot and this may be what happened here. I didn't mulch, which would have helped the soil retain water during the June drought. I suspect I planted in too shallow a bed also, so the roots aren't deep and strong. Another cause could be lack of calcium. There are so many factors, and I need to focus on prevention next year. That's one wonderful thing about gardening -- there's always next year!

This year's onions are magnificent! I picked some today and put them on the outside potting bench to dry ...

 Although I'm generally not very adventurous with what I grow, every year I like to try something new. This year it is spaghetti squash. I counted 6 large ones on the plant this morning and I am excited that they are doing well. They must be yellow before they can be picked, usually at the end of August. When baked, the inside resembles spaghetti. I'll keep you posted.

 A big disappointment is the new root bed as few of the parsnips germinated. I think maybe I sowed the seeds when the temperature was too high. I'm thinking of sowing carrot seeds, for fall harvesting, in the spaces, but I'm not sure if that will work.

 I don't forget the pollinators when I plant my vegetables ...

Sunflowers, planted to shade the potting shed.
 ... sunflowers are bird and butterfly magnets in the fall. I have milkweed and Queen Anne's lace growing along the bottom fence and I planted tubs of zinnias and marigolds there.

The pink milkweed is my favorite ...

Dill re-seeds itself every year and serves as a host plant for American swallowtail butterflies.

 Also, in the kitchen garden is my grow-bed of chocolate mint. I keep it under control there by not letting it escape the raised bed. I must move the chamomile though because the mint is crowding it out.

Chamomile and Chocolate Mint
 My kitchen garden is situated a little way from the house and I decided I would like my herbs to be closer to the back door. So I created a herb garden using cinder blocks which I placed along the edge of the patio.

 I lined the holes in the cinder blocks with weed block to stop the soil from falling through, and planted each hole with a different herb.

Now when I'm cooking, I just have to take a few steps to snip off what I need.

 How are your vegetables and herbs doing this year?

Pamela x

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  1. Everything is beautiful in your garden.... so your "tried and true" must be really true..... But i love the gentle slopping trellis for cucumbers.

  2. Hello Pam...I'm slowly finding my way back to gardening. Just the basics this year and even those have had a hard time of it. The heat started here in May and rain was non-existent until a week ago. BER was a problem for the first flush of tomatoes, but things are looking up. The green peppers had the same problem, but the biggest disappointment are the jack-o-lanterns...we have just one out of two hills and five plants.

    You're so right...there's always next year.

  3. I too love your wind chime, what a great colour. Great idea using the cinder blocks, I should really keep herbs close to the kitchen too as my patio is so hot they would do well there. That can be a new project for next year.

  4. Your veggies look great! And your kitchen garden looks so neat and tidy. Love the wind chime. And what a smart idea for blocks! I need to work more on my vegetable garden. It's very embarrassing. Yours is an inspiration!

  5. Your veg garden looks great, Pam! Bursting with life and yummy food. I envy your dedication to get up early into the garden everyday. I have wished that I could do that too, but not yet!

    My tiny brick container garden is giving us some cherry tomatoes while the larger ones are still growing. I have tried planting some brussel sprouts in front of the indeterminate tomatoes... not sure if they will work out but its a try! Lettuce is all done but the herbs are nice to have around. I had a tomato, basil and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch today - yum!
    Happy August~ Julie

  6. Those beets are my favourite! I'm coming over for dinner.

    Missing blogging, but I'm going to be back when the cold weather gets here. No reason I can't blog about what happened during the summer!

    All the best until then,


  7. What a great kitchen garden! And I love your little cinder block herb garden!

    I only have a small veggie garden, and the one cucumber plant I have has pretty much elbowed out all the beans (which is too bad since I like beans much better than cucumbers.) Our peppers and tomatoes are doing great, but I have yet to get a zucchini. The kids loved all the carrots we got - this fall I'm going to have to plant tons of them!

  8. I like your cinder block idea. If I cooked with herbs I'd like to grow some, but I'm somehow just not a cook. Food gets to the table somehow! I also remember my grandfathers allotment where I worked with him when I was a child. But here i don't think I can recreate that garden! California is not Liverpool! I would be like you, using the same trusted favorites over and over-there is comfort in that. We may try some raised beds on the deck upstairs - no gophers up there! But that's still a thought for the future... I enjoyed sharing your veggies - virtually!

  9. Now there's a fine use for cinder blocks! Do they hold moisture in well, or do you find you need to water frequently? I like the cucumber trellis, too, and it looks like the cucumbers are also happy with it! I had to start over with my cucumbers in early July, since something (I think a bug of some sort) ate the first batch to the ground. I'm optimistic that I'll see a cucumber before the end of August! My bush beans are doing very well, especially the planting that went in in late June. The rows I planted earlier that month came in sparsely. It happened this way last year too, so maybe up here in Wayne County, PA, I should just wait until the end of June! I have three cherry tomatoes ready to pick for dinner tonight, and the rest of the tomatoes are loaded with fruit. No sign of blossom end rot here.

    I'm glad you remember the pollinators! I have sunflowers and zinnias in amongst my vegetables.

    Glad that you're blogging again! I was missing you!

  10. Great idea with the cinder blocks.
    I think the U-shaped cucumber may be a lucky one.

  11. You really have a beautiful and productive kitchen garden. I like the designer touch of the colorful watering cans on the fence too. Our garden club did the cinder block herb garden too.

  12. Pam I am so smitten with your veg beds. So lush and doing well. My tomatoes have developed early blight. Trying to hole them off. I love your herb garden and will have to try it. I also keep dill for the swallowtails. I wish my peppers would grow. What is your secret?

  13. You have great kitchen garden, what an feast!

  14. That is a kitchen garden to be proud of Pam, tried and trusted is what we say in Scotland. I think I would be more adventurous with vegetables if our climate didn't make the growing of them so difficult.

  15. While I was brushing my teeth last night before bed, I had a sudden thought: "What if Pam grew lettuce in the shady spot under her cucumber trellis?" I guess I'd been unconciously cogitating on your post!

  16. I think it's always best to go with 'tried and true', you know what you're getting then and there can be no nasty surprises. Your kitchen garden is producing well for you, certainly better than my allotment, the least said about that this year the better. It's lovely to see you back blogging again, Pam, you've been missed. I enjoyed seeing your grandson baking his scones in your last post. How lovely that he's learning about his heritage.

  17. I can't believe your garden this year. You've got everything and it looks so pretty. Great job !!

  18. Despite the bad Summer the garden is not too bad. Soft fruit was better than ever. No Apples or Plums though. Lettuce kept on going to seed. Peppers very slow so I am envying yours.

  19. We had a vegetable garden for the first time this year. Let's say it was a learning experience. We had some tomatoes but not much else, although the herbs are doing beautifully. Still, we enjoyed it and are planning more for next year. Your garden is certainly an inspiration, I'll be sending my husband the link so he can take a look.

  20. Hello Pam,

    May I have permission to use some of your blog entries for the fall issue of The Nature Place Journal.
    "my miniature horse and pigmy goat; the rest is woods. We are located in USDA hardiness zone 6.
    Our readers would enjoy hearing about your life and your interesting pets.
    The Nature Place Journal on Facebook

  21. Pam, Such a lovely post. I am behind on my blog visits but did want to comment on your great looking cucumbers and square foot gardening beds.... Wonderful. Hope you are having a great summer