Family Garden Update

The Wordy Bit

It seems there is no escaping the chaos of the world, no matter how sheltered we are privileged to be. It definitely takes a toll, and that's okay. I've slowed down my posting to allow more time for calmer things. Even nothing, to be honest. No noise; no electronics; I've taken to just sitting in the backyard, sipping on a cup of coffee, and basking in the natural world. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere, I find that immersing myself in nature really centers me. Having a garden has been helping a great deal, too. We're having difficulty getting decent veggies from out local grocer (but that could simply be due to whomever is gathering the groceries, since we're still socially distancing as much as possible). So the idea of fresh, beautiful ,herbs, fruits, and veggies is making us excited. I cut some fresh herbs for a recipe not long ago, and man oh man, were they fantastic (except the oregano; I cut it to experiment with drying it).

Clockwise from the top right corner, we have: parsley, basil, dill, thyme, and oregano. These herbs were used (predominantly) in a garlic herb butter sauce for pasta. The dill was used on salmon steaks and in a creamy dill sauce. I use a lot of dill with my salmon dishes, but I grew lots this year in hopes of using it for making my own pickles. I'm about to have to harvest two whole dill plants, since they're in the process of budding out. 

Here are my two tallest dill plants, alongside my oregano and in front of some cucumbers and broccoli. I've been fairly pleased with how my planned companion beds have worked out, but I'm definitely going to revisit the structure for next season. Notice I didn't say "next year"? We've already started planning a cool weather garden that we'll be starting in August-September. 

For instance, my small bed that was a late-season add-on, has produced very well. The only exception being issues with some root aphids that were killing some seedlings. The cucumbers in that bed are growing much faster than the ones shown above. They're also getting massive in size, and they're overshadowing my jalapeno plants. The carrots in that bed are rowing great, too. 

Speaking of carrots, we harvested our first batch of carrots. I realized while pulling them that we were a bit early. That's okay, though. The one I was checking was bigger than all the rest, and it just works out that way sometimes. I learned two things: check more than one of size and growth progression and wait until at least the marked harvest date (if not a week or so after). Growing your own veggies means (for the most part) better tasting food, and these are no exception there. They taste amazing! And you can tell by the first picture of the foliage that my little helper was eager to pull and see them--even though she had absolutely no interest in eating them.

The next group of plants putting on are my summer squash. I have yellow squash and zucchini plants that are blooming like crazy. Right now, it's mostly male blooms, but I have seen a few female buds coming through that have the embryonic fruit on them. I squealed in excitement when I saw those...not even gonna keep that from you. I squealed and danced. 

Once that blossom fully develops and opens, it'll get pollinated (I'm almost 100% sure of that because we have about a dozen honey bees in our garden almost every morning, now) and then start growing that delectable summer squash. Here is an embryonic cucumber that I spotted, too. They're popping up everywhere!

Now, I've got a few tomato bushes, too. I didn't want to be completely inundated with tomatoes, though...until I foolishly remembered that I could just use them to make tomato sauce. Yeah, complete facepalm moment for me. Anyway, I do like to just slice tomatoes and eat them in sandwiches (there's nothing better on a hot summer day). And I have just decided that was all I'd use them for, so I only planted four bushes. I've got my very first tomato growing, with loads of buds on another bush. I also have a couple bushes that aren't as mature, since I was hoping to stagger my harvest. Okay, there's technically two tomatoes in this picture. See the second one? I need to check on that little guy this morning. 

I also have a baby bell pepper growing, as well as loads of blooms on them. And thankfully, my eggplant seem to have hit a growth spurt, too. I had read that some eggplants just stall at about 4 inches tall. And mine did for, about, 4 weeks. They just started putting new leaves on like crazy and seem to be getting very fuzzy. No signs of any buds on any of my hot pepper plants, but here's my bell pepper!

Last, but certainly not least, are my pride and joys: my potato plants. They grew so big and lush and beautiful. And while I know it's normal, healthy, and expected, it is breaking my heart to see the foliage die back. It looks so sad, and I want to help it. But...if I want potatoes (and I do) then there's nothing to do but watch it die. Unlike the carrots, potatoes aren't really a plant that you can check on to see progress, so this really is a gamble and guessing game. We've got loads of information of how to tell when to dump the bag, but we have no guarantees on what (if anything) we're going to get. It's scary and nerve-wracking...but fun and exciting, too.

I'm going to close out with some overall shots of the garden, so you can see what the whole spread looks like. I'm proud of it, and it's definitely been a learning experience. I'm really enjoying tending the plants and teaching my daughter about growing food. It's a lesson in patience, for sure, and this garden has helped make our home my sanctuary during this trying time in our world. It's satisfying to be able to provide for my family like this, and as my mom told me just a couple days ago: "Every harvest is a sign of success, no matter how large or small."


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