Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update

It's been a good year for my kitchen garden in spite of the extreme heat, humidity and almost daily thunder storms. I planted 'tried-and-true' vegetables - nothing new - and had a good harvest; some veggies still producing. I grew bush beans, pole beans, snow peas, peppers, egg plant, tomato, red beets, zucchinni, cucumbers and onions. Of course, I grew annual flowers from seed and placed them near the vegetables to encourage pollinators: zinnias, marigolds, sunflowers, borage, morning glory and gerbera daisies. There are various milkweeds at the bottom of the garden. In addition, over the years some perennial flowers (purple cone flower and phlox) sneaked in from the cottage garden border on the other side of the fence. Consequently, August is a very colorful month in my kitchen garden.

One of my most successful veggies this year is the snow pea. As a cold-season plant it is usually completely finished by July. This morning I picked yet another handful to steam and add to H.H.'s dinner plate. I froze several pints last month.

 'Mammoth Melting' Snow Peas -- Annie's Heirloom Seeds

I purchase only organic vegetable seeds and use organic methods of gardening.

'Mammoth Melting' Snow Pea

I'm experiencing a superabundance of cucumbers. Usually I press zucchini on all my friends, neighbors and family, but this year they are trying to escape my cukes. I should have counted the dozens I've picked. I've put them in salads, made cucumber-dill sandwiches and freezer pickles -- we'll be eating freezer pickles until next summer. Good thing we love them.

'Straight Eight' Cucumber -- Annie's Heirloom Seeds

I bought one tomato plant from a friend's farm stand. He didn't have it labelled so we took a chance. It is loaded with tomatoes but they are really slow to ripen, so we've only picked four or five so far. I sliced them and made our favorite Caprese salad with mozzarella and basil. I have the BEST basil this year.

Tomato (unknown) and Tagetes erecta Marigold "Moonsong'

We have an excellent feed store owned by our friend Mel who supplies us with hay and all we need for my miniature horse and goat. She even took care of them while we were away recently. Mel sold me a set of onions that are becoming fat and full of flavorsome promise. (How's that for alliteration?)

Yellow onions

The 16  squares of red beets I planted (I use the square-foot gardening method) produced many more than I expected as I was sure the sparrows had eaten most of the seeds. Grandson Jon and I already canned several pints including one labelled for entering at the West End Fair. Our pickled beets took a blue ribbon last year.

'Detroit Dark Red' beets in front of Zinnia 'Cut and Come Again.'
Shelf of pickled beets in the jelly cabinet.

 More flowers in the kitchen garden ...

Pink phlox and 'Giant Cactus' zinnia.
My first attempt at growing gerbera daisies from seed.

 Every morning I examine the milkweed for Monarch Butterfly larva. I've seen none this year. The dill plants, however, have hosted several Eastern swallowtail butterfly caterpillars and I saw one on the parsley.

Eastern swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on dill plant.

 The herb garden on the patio flourished all summer with parsley, basil, sage and lettuce. I also planted Swiss chard there. Around the patio I placed containers of canna which provide a sense of enclosure and privacy. Canna 'Striata' is especially lovely for its gold striped foliage which seems almost translucent when the setting sun shines through.

Patio herb garden and giant pots of Canna 'Striata'

 Another new plant this year is my dwarf Joe Pye Weed. I'm really pleased with this choice because I don't have room for the regular sized one. It is a bee magnet.

Eupatorium dubium Joe Pye Weed 'Baby Joe'
Volunteer morning glory, orange flower of the canna and hydrangea 'Pinky Winky'

Lobelia siphilitica 'Great Blue' Lobelia
Lycoris squamigera Surprise Lily

 Finally, a peep into Serenity, the shade garden that is no longer in full shade since we removed the silver maple. I hate the openness and strong sunlight, but have switched out some plants and it's looking better. The lawn, destroyed by sawdust, is slowly greening again with the addition of some nitrogen.

Less serene Serenity Garden

Hakenechloa macra Japanese Forest Grass 'All Gold' in front of Red Twig Dogwood 'Pucker Up!'

 We hosted another picnic and garden tour this weekend. Some of the young guests had great fun giving Dude a new 'do' by braiding his mane. He very patiently allows many indignities. When I took his picture this morning I saw that most of his braids had fallen out. He still looks cute.

I'm linking to Carol's blog, May Dreams Gardens, for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day -- a day late (sorry, Carol.) I'm picking red beets as my must-have plant for Diana's Dozen at Elephant's Eye on False Bay -- also late (sorry Diana.) Red beets are not pretty like Diana's Dombeya, but I have to have them. Do check out these two excellent blogs!

How is your kitchen garden this year? I hope it's doing as well as mine.

Happy Gardening!

Pamela x

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  1. It looks like you've had a great year in the Kitchen Garden this year, you'll be spoilt for choice with all those lovely veggies. It's been a different kind of year here with me giving up the allotment last year, there's much less growing but I've still got my lovely tomatoes as well as potatoes and cucumbers. I don't think I could go a whole year without home grown tomatoes.

    1. It's so much easier having the space at home to grow veggies, Jo. I can't imagine traveling to an allotment every day and don't blame you for giving it up.

  2. Your garden puts mine to shame Pam! Our veggie garden was very disappointing this year. I think we will have to make our raised beds deeper for next year, and put in some drip irrigation. that might help it.

    Also - to answer your comment on my blog: I have seen caterpillars for sale in the past but I did a search just now and didn't see any. To perhaps they sell them later or earlier in the season. The website I got my cage from has lots of articles about raising Monarchs, including one just recently about hunting for eggs.

    1. Thanks, for the compliment. Good information about the butterflies. Thanks. x

  3. Wow, you are one busy lady! All looks lovely. Has Sam done Dude's teeth yet? He saw my guys earlier in July.

    1. Thanks,Roxanne. Sam did Dude teeth last month. Dude has major denture problems caused by having a normal sized horse's teeth in a mini's mouth. He can't chew his hay. We have to supplement it with cubes soaked in water. x

  4. Love beetroot! We forgot to buy some this morning. And what fun to teach your grandson to grow his own. My mother used to boil beetroot, just for me, to eat, unpickled with mayonnaise - haven't eaten that for decades!!

    1. I am so thankful that at least one of my grandchildren enjoys gardening with me.

  5. Hello, Your garden looks amazing. So glad you are enjoying the fruits of your labor. I have 4 tomato plants and am getting way more than I can eat. I have frozen several pints to use in chili next winter. I also have zucchini. My cucumbers and green beans are done for the season. I might plant some spinach or lettuce as a cool weather crop. Regarding the monarchs, there was a cold snap in Mexico in March that killed a lot of them (see monarch watch(dot)org). So sad! We aren't seeing many either and that's why. I have a black swallowtail chrysalis that I am watching. It was fun to get to see it...I actually was weeding the garden when I saw the caterpillar coming toward me. He travelled fast, and far (about 40 feet from the dill). It took him a long time to find where he wanted to be. Then he attached himself to a hosta flower stem and that is where the chrysalis is. I so enjoy and appreciate God's gift of nature and my ability to observe it!

    1. What a lovely experience. You are so blessed to have seen that. x

  6. I find that "tried and true" is best when it comes to gardening, especially veggie gardening. All of yours is just beautiful, and so are the critters.

  7. Wow your gardens are just wonderful! So is your canned goodies.

  8. I cannot even imagine how busy this all keeps you. How on earth do you do it Pam?

  9. Looking great lady ! We love out Straight Eight cucumbers, boy they grow fast. Same here for the swallowtail, of course I have no dill now...that's alright, don't like dill. And the morning glories always come back, sometimes in the strangest places like our one hanging planter. Hope the temps in the 90's are over for us.

  10. Your kitchen garden looks like it had a banner year, despite the heat, and I like how the echinacea and phlox joined in from the other garden as well. We have had record heat and drought here on Long Island as well. It certainly has been an interesting summer.

  11. Your garden looks so fresh and well watered. I thought PA had the same high temperatures and little rain as our area? It has been a hard and trying summer. Even in the UK there is heat and sun. I was hoping for much cooler, but it was shorts wearing weather.

  12. Look at that garden! Things are all so green and lush and productive it hardly seems like late August. Nice to hear you are getting so much produce as well, we haven't been nearly as lucky here this year.
    All the best for this year's fair entries!

  13. You're so industrious in your Kitchen Garden, Pam. It all looks beautiful, and you'll have yummy things to eat all year from preserving. Thanks for sharing the scenes! Best, -Beth

  14. How lucky you are to have your vegetables flourishing! I get so frustrated every year when I eventually lose my cucumber and zucchini plants. I really am going to have to break down and use floating row covers next year.