09 December 2009

cold greens

In spite of the snow, the Lettuce is still alright- where the snow has fallen crusted on top and left pockets of air underneath the leaves didn't freeze, and they taste fine. The Lettuce in the raised bed fared a lot better and not a single plant there was frozen. Swiss Chard apparently loves the cold- it put out lots of new, bold dark leaves just before the snow and I picked a handful the day after snowfall for a pasta dish- it was delicious! I think that will be our winter staple of fresh leafy greens.

04 December 2009

garden ends

Yesterday we ate our very last garden Tomato from the windowsill- chopped on top of a pizza with some Basil from the indoor pots. A few days prior I cut heads off all the Broccoli plants- it didn't look like much in the hand but steamed lightly w/cheese on top and served fed all of us very well- and quite tasty! There is still (of course) tons of Lettuce, but supposed to snow this weekend so I don't know how much longer that will last. The swiss Chard must really like the cold- since frost has come it is sending up more new, crinkly dark leaves than ever.

20 November 2009

green peppers

The Bell Pepper plant inside is failing. It looked pretty for a while sitting in the living room but now sick, some spots on the leaves and wilting. Found lots of aphids, too, and worried they might spread to other plants. Cut off all the peppers, they were still small but very tasty! and composted the plant.

17 November 2009

dismal and tender

Pulled a few of the largest Beets the other day, but they weren't nearly large enough. Some had not even formed globes yet, just thick roots. Tucked all the rest in with dry grass and coffee grounds.

Dismayed to find there are still cucumber beetles in the garden- I thought they were all gone. But some Nasturtiums have wilted leaves and I thought the ground was infected, they'd caught it from the zucchinis. Pulled out all the plants today that had wilted parts, and when daughter brought inside the flowers, a small cucumber beetle fell out. I don't think I could check those plants every day for beetles like I did the zucchini and cantaloupe; they grow in long, too tangled vines. Plan to turn the gound over rough just before freezes; I've read that disrupts the laid eggs and cuts down on number of pests next year.

Ate a lunch salad today, just Bibb Lettuce with shredded carrot, raisins and croutons. Delicious! The Lettuce is so rampant outside that I pick an entire head, discard all the leaves with spots or holes, and only save the perfect ones for eating. I'll throw two-thirds of each head into the compost with no qualms, as there's tons left over and we probably won't eat it all before snow.

13 November 2009

grumpy pumpkin

We have been watching the cat-eyed pumpkin on the porch slowly collapse. Now he's very grumpy looking, probably because this week he's going to get buried into the compost pile!

11 November 2009

cold lovers

Rain today, after nearly a week of sun. The Basil plants indoors are putting out new leaves, the Pepper is perking up, and the Cilantro growing tall. I'm pleased. Outside, most of the garden is now empty except for the brilliant lush Lettuce and solid Broccoli plants. A few of the Beets are getting large enough, almost ready to eat! The Marigold is still blooming, although its leaves beginning to wither. The Nasturtiums have rejuvenated and bloomed in both patches, seem to prefer the fall weather to summer. The ones growing where zucchini came out, some of the leaves suddenly wilted. I thought it was from frost, but the other plants (side of driveway) unaffected. I wonder if they've picked up the disease from the soil- I can't find any bugs- so I think I'll pull those ones out. Nasturtiums have done so well, left on their own- and look so cheerful- my favorite flower- I think next year I'll quit hedging what to plant in the front flower beds- still a few Hostas and flowers struggle there that I planted this spring but got neglected when we were on vacation two weeks dry- and seed it all with Nasturtiums. Especially in the rings around the front trees where Crocus and Bluebells come up in spring, then nothing but weeds will flourish. I think I can get Nasturtium to grow there, and it will look so lovely.

06 November 2009

fall chores

Yesterday turned the compost and buried the two smaller pumpkins in it. Nice and hot, steaming! Rake the entire lawn twice a week now, top off the compost pile and what's left over gets bagged in the shed for use in winter. Took out the last of the Tomato plants and potted up the Bell Pepper and Cilantro to bring inside. Turned over those two plots and planted Clover; it might be too cold to grow but at least the turning over of soil should discourage weeds and pests. Planted row of Garlic at the back of the walled plot (where the sunflowers came out), marked it with sticks and piled with leaves for winter mulch. Although the leaves are eaten full of holes, the three Cauliflors I planted against side of the house (where Lettuces are right now) have grown large and the inner leaves are lush and undamaged. We might just get a few cauliflower heads!

01 November 2009

jack o' lanterns

Here's the last pumpkin I carved, lit with the other two on Halloween night!

30 October 2009


Picked two nice Broccoli heads from the garden today, and a handful of Chard for dinner. I'm mighty pleased with the broccoli, as I didn't expect it to do well. Next year going to plant even more!
Something has been eating holes in my Beet leaves; I put out beer last night and caught one slug this morning, a big fat one. Must do the same near the Broccoli under the kitchen window, it's all full of holes.

29 October 2009

pumpkin carving

We carved our two home-grown pumpkins. The flesh was so hard and tough it was cracking, not carving easy at all. One had ugly scaly growths on its skin. I think it's the one that sat on the grass; the other was on a piece of wood. I don't know what conditions made them so tough, but I'm going to find out so next year's will be easier to turn into jack-o-lanterns. Here's how they turned out!

28 October 2009


Haven't posted for a while although the garden has been busy. Raking fall leaves, and piling them into the compost. The bin is full but sinks a bit every day so I can add more. Two more Broccoli plants are getting nice heads, the one we cut earlier is growing several more small ones around the main stalk. The Nasturtiums are growing wild and taking over all the space left over from where zucchini came out, and putting out thick tendrils into the lush Lettuce patch. The Bell Pepper plant has a few new peppers on it but I don't know if they'll get big enough to ripen and wonder if I should bring it indoors in a pot. I did so with the Basil, two large pots in the mudroom and three smaller ones in the deep living room windowsill; they've just begun recovering and putting out new leaves. We still have a few green Tomatoes ripening in the window but only three plants left outside; when their tomatoes give a hint of rosiness and come into the house they'll come out of the ground too.

The Green Beans had thick heavy pods from the two weeks they were left untouched; we picked them all to dry and pulled apart the beans set aside earlier; sixty dry white beans for seed and all those others that are now hanging in a mesh bag. Come time to plant in spring I'll choose the fattest ones and hope for the best. I had left the plants in the ground thinking they might produce a bit more after that but they just withered so yesterday pulled out and chopped up for composting. The few Bean plants among the lettuces are giving beans, but they don't have very good flavor so I might yank them, too. Just last week I levered all the droopy old yucky-looking Sunflower stalks out of the ground and chopped them up for compost too. That was a tough job- the stalks thick, the root balls heavy. Daughter picked apart the browned heads for seeds and wants to save them for planting again like she sees me do with basil and green beans. I don't know if they'll grow (or if they were hybrid plants we'll get something wild and unlovely) but package them up like the rest into a jar in the fridge to see.

15 October 2009


I expected when we came back from ten days' vacation that most of the garden would be dead but not so. The Lettuce is all thick lush and dark green- growing more vigorously in the plot where old patio came up than in the walled area. The new Green Bean plants are flowering and a few had beans to pick. The older G Bean plants look tattered- and all hung with long, fat pods. Too far grown for eating- we like the beans young and tender- but great to dry for seed. The Beets and Chard are still there, Basil grown wild and thick, and yesterday we ate our first Broccoli head! It had so much flavor. Lots of Tomatoes on the vine (and the ground) even though they look withered. Even the Carrots I planted before we left have begun to sprout, and half a dozen Spinach plants came up, and a dozen Peas. It all looks well. The only thing that really died was the Oregano in a pot on the porch.

25 September 2009


Planted the last of the Peas yesterday. It looked like squirrels dug up a few seeds- or birds? but plenty are left.

Picked all of my Bell Peppers- there were three medium-sized ones left. Last year I got two pepper plants, and three peppers off them. This year one plant grew, and gave me five peppers. If I can get a half dozen plants to grow well next year, I'll be happy. Made a dish of stuffed peppers w/meat and rice and onions and garlic and herbs. The recipe used five things from the garden- Peppers, Garlic, Tomatoes, fresh Basil and Oregano.

One of the Broccoli plants is finally forming its head of florets. I can't wait for it to get big enough to cut! The Beets are nearly ready, too- we'll eat them before a week's out.

22 September 2009

tomatoes end

Took out the second plot of Tomatoes today- the cherry tomatoes and another volunteer plant were in that space. The small tomatoes no longer have good flavor but daughter insisted on picked all the green ones to put in the windowsill for ripening. After the vines were all chopped into the compost pile, I turned over the soil with a trowel, picked out all the stones I could find, crumbled the dirt fine and raked in half a bucket of cured compost. I think it's my best compost yet- smelled heavy and sweet. Smoothed and patted the soil down, then made a half dozen furrows with trowel and scattered in what's left of the Carrot seed. (Didn't make strips this time). Then watered with steaming hot. Also planted Spinach (bloomsdale longstanding) in the spot that had cantaloupes before.

Now all I have left for fall planting is peas, garlic and clover to cover crop the bare areas.

18 September 2009

seed strips

Picked a nice bunch of Green Beans today. Planted Carrot seed in the first cleared plot. Combined two tips that I learned from reading garden books. First was to make seed strips- cut paper towels into narrow strips, dab on a thin paste of water and flour every marked off three inches, stick the seeds on evenly spaced, let it dry. Then lay them down on the soil, sprinkle more dirt over top and pat down. Easy that way to make sure the tiny seeds are all evenly spaced. Then water with hot boiling water, that worked well for me in spring getting the seeds to germinate quickly. Two lengths of five paper towel squares cut into five or six strips each filled one plot quite nicely.

When it's too cool for the tomatoes to ripen on the vine quickly but they're still growing, I pick them and put inside on windowsill to finish ripening. The row of round, rosy shapes is such a cheerful feel of approaching autumn, for me. More so than falling leaves- we don't have many even changing color yet. But already the tomatoes line the windowsill, in their various hues creeping from green with a touch of rose to juicy bold red (as in this month's header image).

16 September 2009


Pulled up the last few carrots today- only four good enough to eat. Dug in a bit of compost and planted the rest of the Beets in their spot. Pulled up the withering Tomatoes from the first plot on the opposite side of the yard, where the volunteers were growing. Weeded and raked it over, thinking what to put there for fall. More carrots? spinach?

13 September 2009

fall bounty

Even though it's definitely fall now with cooler weather and more rain, the garden still gives bounty. Today I clipped the greens off a volunteer onion for chives, sliced a red Onion to substitute for shallots, picked a handful of cherry Tomatoes, two green Bell Peppers (not quite ripe but A will still eat them sliced with a dip) one fat Zucchini and a nice little bunch of Green Beans. The g bean plants are doing better now- far less signs of insect damage and I didn't see a single cucumber beetle. There were a few grasshoppers but then I spotted the preying mantis- a big one, as long as my hand, stalking under the bean plants. So I left well alone, hopeful that he's been eating my pests and will keep the plants defended.

12 September 2009


In all the places where I let Lettuce go to seed, there's new small seedlings coming up, from seed that dropped before (or while) I gathered. I'm going to let a few rains make them big enough for a baby greens salad, then turn over the plot and plant it new for fall.

10 September 2009


Yesterday made a salad using some of the last of summer's Tomatoes, and the first of fall Lettuce. It was so sweet, with all the baby greens. A bit of seedling Beet leaves, too, from the thinned plants.

08 September 2009


Did a bit of fall cleanup in the garden today. Cut out wilted and yellowed leaves from the heirloom plants, the rest look fine still. Cut down some of the large volunteer Tomato plants- they were all collapsed on the ground and getting bug-ridden. The unripe tomatoes that weren't blemished I brought inside to ripen in windowsill. Pulled up the wilted cantaloupe vines and the smallest Zucchini plant which I don't think will give me any more zucchinis. Those went in trash bag, as I don't want to spread any disease from the cucumber beetles. Weeded the now-bare cantaloupe plot, and found some of my Cilantro has sprouted! It just might grow enough to eat some fresh cilantro again before cold weather. In the other two bare plots at the end of the row, the Clover I seeded for green cover overwinter has come up sporadically. I might rake the bare spots over and seed again, especially before it rains this weekend. A small picking off the Green Beans again. On the plant I left alone for keeping seed the long, fat pods are starting to turn yellow. The one green bushy Marigold plant is still sporting flowers, and a few of the lesser Sunflowers put up small secondary flowers after I cut the first wilted heads off. I found among the blue bindweed growing on the fence a single tendril of Sweet Pea, grown tall and with folded buds, but it never made flowers. Makes me nostalgic and sad, my mom used to grow sweet peas in the garden, but here they didn't flourish for me (yet!) The Beets have all come up, and the young Lettuce is growing lush and healthy everywhere. Now I'm going to have to start slug patrol again.

07 September 2009

red and orange

The Tomatoes are going. The cherry ones don't taste good anymore, and the heirlooms are getting wilted, prone to bug holes. I just can't get out into the garden enough to keep it clear of pests, right now. I'm going to pull up the cherry Tomato plants, and coax the larger ones along a bit longer, their fruits are still tasty.

Ate the two smallest Cantaloupes, as the leaves are all beginning to brown and wither. I thought they wouldn't be good, as they were half the size of the two previous fruits, and their skins looked funny- thick web of lines over them. But the little melons were perfect inside- bright orange, sweet flesh. It's encourage me to try growing them again next year!

04 September 2009


Still lots of Tomatoes, the Green Beans have really slowed down. Some plants don't have any new beans at all, when I check them again. Picked a small amount today. The cucumber beetles have moved onto them- I picked off several, and a stink bug, and yanked out a few plants that were pretty heavily damaged. Cut off all the wilted leaves, and threw in trash. Hopefully it doesn't spread. Looks like the Cantaloupe is done, too- it's getting too cool. The two melons left aren't getting any larger and I want to eat them before the bugs do.

02 September 2009


Have I conquered the cucumber beetles? or is the cooler weather of fall doing them in? I don't find many on the plants anymore, and the smallest Zucchini plant is putting up new leaves. Yesterday we had some jumbo shrimp for dinner, so I crushed the shells and dug them into the dirt around the heirloom Tomato plants. Heard they like extra calcium while fruiting. Maybe a little late for that, though. Loads of the fall Beets are coming up!

31 August 2009

more stuff

I haven't been able to get into the garden for several days, laid up on my foot. Things looked a bit dismal. Lots of the Tomato leaves are yellowing, with spots, and many of the cherry Tomatoes split their skins and get eaten by bugs before I get to them. Still picked at least a pound of good ones today, and two heirlooms. Something is affecting the Green Beans- even though it's been at least five days since I last picked, the plants yielded far less than usual- and many of their leaves are mottled, browning and curling. Then I found the culprit- the nasty old cucumber beetles. I picked off all the ones found, then treated the plants with basil spray and smashed a few more as they tried to fly away. They were all big fat bugs, too. Found a few caterpillars on the large tomatoes that might be tomato hornworms? and tons of grey caterpillars with pale yellow bellies underside leaves of the Broccoli- I'm pretty sure they're from the cabbage moths that fly around, I haven't been dilligent enough at catching them.

But there's tons of Lettuce seedlings, and all the Beets I planted are coming up quickly. In that other G Bean plot I planted all that was left of my seed- at least twenty five or thirty seeds but only fourteen grew. Probably too cool, now, or wet from all the rain.

27 August 2009


Lettuce seedlings are coming up everywhere I added compost into the soil. I might let some grow a bit bigger and make a baby greens salad. Planted Beets, Broccoli and a few Cauliflower today. The cauliflower didn't grow in spring, but maybe fall weather is better condition for it.

26 August 2009


The Cantaloupe was good, but not great. It's the first thing I've had out of the garden that didn't taste better than produce form the grocery store. Weeded the garden this morning, and picked more Green Beans. Some of the second plot I planted are shoving their curled sprouts up through the soil, I was excited to see that. When I weeded out the plot under kitchen window found another dozen Lettuce seedlings. I need to turn that soil over w/compost and plant the fall lettuce, but my foot is still not healed enough to work a shovel.

25 August 2009

garden bounty

More garden bounty. That first Cantaloupe picked last week was a disappointment. It smelled wonderful, but the taste was very bland, faintly like a honeydew. I ate my portion, husb and child refused theirs. Kept a close eye on the rest of the melon patch; today picked the largest Canteloupe when I noticed it was beginning to turn yellow. It smells good; but I won't anticipate much until cut it for tomorrow's breakfast.

A nice fat Zucchini, today. Those plants are all lower leaves covered in powdery mildew, but it doesn't seem to hurt the plants much. They still produce. And I'd rather welcome the rain than worry about a little mildew. It rained heavy a few days ago, enough so that I haven't watered since, and the ground is still dark with dampness.

I can't keep up with the Tomatoes. Shared some with the neighbor to one side of us, gave more to upstairs tenant and told him he could pick as many as he likes. Pick about a pound of cherry Tomatoes every other day, and two or three beefsteak heirlooms on the other days. We eat them sliced on mozarrella with Basil, or diced into green salad, or sliced onto bison burgers, or chopped into husb's home-made guacamole. The volunteer tomatoes (which I will yank up ruthlessly next year instead of coax along) ripen more slowly and don't taste quite as good, but they're still fresher and flavorsome than store-bought ones.

A while ago pulled all the onions; recently ate the last of the white ones, in a chicken soup. They were very small, nesting kind of onions, but quite sweet. They looked so pretty and pearly after dirty outer skins rubbed off I had to take a photo.

Tonight we're eating garden-grown Potatoes and Carrots with a roast. And snacking on cherry Tomatoes all day; and a Zucchini bread for dessert.

20 August 2009


I have not been able to do much work in the garden because of my broken toe, but it is still producing! Today dug up most of the Carrots, left a few of the smaller ones to keep growing until I have time to reseed the bed for fall. Scrubbed them all, set aside the smallest and deformed ones (three legs, stubby w/many legs, etc) to chop up in a soup tonight, and the rest went into the fridge. Ripe Tomatoes every day, although the volunteer ones don't seem to ripen as fast as the heirloom varieties. I've read up a bit more on saving seed and realize I can't save tomato seed this year, because my different plants are too close together and will have crossed. Next year plant them clear across the garden and it might keep them pure. The largest Cantaloupe is almost ripe, and the next smaller one turned all yellow, so I picked it, pulling up some of the sickly vines too. Haven't quite been able to keep the cucumber beetles off enough. Since I picked the Zucchini to sautee, there haven't been any new ones- but some flowers, so hopefully we'll get more. Every day or so there's more G Beans ready, we've been eating some and blanching others to freeze for later. Planted another patch of G Beans next to the zucchini where the potatoes came out, used up all the rest of the seed. Marked the best plant of the first plot to leave the beans ripen all the way and save seed. The Sunflower seeds I picked out of birdseed mix and planted have grown nicely, made pretty flowers. They're only three or four feet tall, but nice and straight and cheerful, not drooping from too-heavy heads like the giant ones on the other side.

14 August 2009


I always feel so pleased when I can make a meal with more than one ingredient from the garden! Last night we ate garden items: a salad made of garden baby Lettuce, red Onions, grated Carrot and cherry Tomatoes; the accompanying sphaghetti dish had fresh grown Garlic in the sauce, and a bowl of sauteed Zucchini finished off the meal. Today for lunch I made a small meat pie which included Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, Green Beans and Oregano from the garden, and tonight I'm fixing sauteed Green Beans to go with a chicken dish and a salad of beefsteak Tomato and Basil (w/mozzarella cheese and a vinaigrette). It feels grand to cook so.

12 August 2009


Today was perfect weather for working outside- cool, slightly overcast, promising rain later. Did a lot of work- tilled (with a shovel) the ground where potatoes had been, and the row of weeds I thought were marigolds edging the patio, and dug in two buckets of nice black compost. Half of it was some I had bagged up to let cure in the shed for months. Turned the pile, topped it off with weeds from the front flowerbeds and edges of the main patio. Swept up dead leaves, leaf litter and fallen flower petals, dumped that all on too. The front flowerbeds are still pretty bare, but the Hostas are doing well- they even flowered!- and the low plant I got from someone's cuttings is still there and slowly spreading. (The tall one she gave me died). After I've turned over the rest of the veg beds and raked in compost for fall planting, if there's any left over I'll put it on the hostas.

The red Onions, though small, have excellent flavor. A loves them thinly sliced in salad, or his homemade dip. I've brushed the dirt off and hung them all up to cure in a mesh bag, next to the garlics.


The few Cauliflower plants that grew are getting big. I love their blue-green color, cool against all the other greens.

11 August 2009


I had thought the Bell Peppers a lost cause, but there are a few small fruits slowly getting bigger. But when I thought I was planting more peppers, the seedlings coming up look like Tomatoes. I don't need more tomatoes, we have so many, I wanted more peppers! How did I mix up the seed packets?

10 August 2009


The Canteloupes are nearly big enough to eat- with two smaller ones coming after.

turning orange

The Pumpkin is getting very orange, and the second one is starting to get speckles on its green coat.

09 August 2009

garden food

Picked and ate our first Zucchini yesterday- in choc chip cookies. A half dozen cherry Tomatoes a day, tons are green on the vine. There's enough G Beans ready every third or fourth day for a side dish. The Bell Pepper plant is dropping all its small unformed fruits after the flowers fade- I wonder if it's because there was only one plant, and it didn't pollinate properly?

Pulled up the last of the Lettuce, and Cilantro plants, gathered seed. Saved only the largest seeds off the biggest Cilantro plants. A few still hung up drying. Pulled up the Onions- all the leaves had died off and shriveled, the bulbs were small. Dug up the Potatoes, as those plants looked very sickly or dying. Surprised to find quite a few potatoes, most of them tiny. Both of those- onions and potatoes- I feel like didn't get any more out of the ground than what I put into it. Did I not water them enough? something- anyway, I don't know if I'll grow them again.

There are tiny baby Lettuces growing in all the spots were I had let plants bolt to seed. In a week I'll pull up all the plants for a baby greens salad, and reseed the bed for fall. The Chard is growing back new leaves, where I cut it all down. I was going to reseed that bed for fall, too, but maybe I'll just let it grow back.

I think I have made a discovery- cucumber beetles don't like Cilantro. When cutting up the plants after taking the seeds off, I put the chopped leaves and stems into the small bucket keep on the counter for kitchen scraps. At the bottom was a bunch of (I thought) dead beetles I had dumped out of the gather-jar last night. When I dropped the chopped Cilantro on top, all of a sudden a half-dozen beetles crawled out to the top and tried to fly away. Maybe if I plant Cilantro among the Cucumbers next year, it will deter them from making themselves at home.

08 August 2009


I've been cutting some of the smaller Sunflowers to bring inside the house. They look so cheerful.

07 August 2009

green beans

Picked the first mess of Green Beans today. A. really likes them- a more mild flavor than the variety I grew last year. I like the stronger flavor, but happy that he will eat these, and the kid doesn't notice the difference. So I'm going to grow these ones again. Planning to plant another plot of them soon, to get a second crop when these die out.

05 August 2009

garden stuff

Time to tell more about the garden! We ate our first heirloom Tomato yesterday, and a few cherry ones- delicious! I need to buy more tomato cages next year- all the extra plants got staked with sticks and the poles from my compost bin- now the bin is floppy, and so are the staked plants. The ones in cages are so much more neat and tidy.

I pulled up the second planting of Peas- it was too hot for them. Try again when fall comes. The Green Beans are almost ready. Zucchini plants are getting huge. The Pepper plant among the beans has tiny peppers where the flowers were- and the second lot I planted where the early peas came out are sprouting! I don't know if they'll grow fast enough to make fruit, though. Cut the last of the Chard for pasta dish tonight. I'm gathering the last of Lettuce seed today, and then will turn the bed over with compost for a fall planting.

The cutting of Sunflowers to make the plants spread more didn't really work. One that got chopped off by accident when young made a few tall stems with small flowers and looks nice- the ones I cut off on purpose at fence level branched thickly and with the flower heads on droop heavily. One fell over so hard it cracked and split itself- I cut it down and tossed on the compost pile. Next year I'll leave them alone to grow straight and tall- and plant a different variety, I think. It turns out no one wants to eat sunflower seeds, so I just want to grow them for the pretty flowers, and natural screen it makes. Nobody wanted to eat Radish, either, so I won't plant those again- although their flowers were pretty, too. And the Potatoes have all nearly died- I don't know what I did wrong there- but I don't mind as A is not crazy about potatoes.

I've gotten pretty good at picking cucumber beetles off- no more plants have sickened since I lost the Cucumbers. Every morning I go out with tweezers and check all the blossoms of Zucchini, Pumpkin and Cantaloupe where they like to hide. I don't get them all- a few fly up and away each time- but enough to keep their damage in check.

31 July 2009


I dug over and composted a few other bare patches of earth, where the peas came out, and where there's gaps in other rows. Planted some Bell Pepper, and more Cilantro. The current Cilantro plants have all gone to seed. I pulled out the smallest, stunted plants to throw away, and let the rest dry. One is dry enough the most mature seeds began to fall off the plant, so I brought it inside, stripped the leaves (I don't want little dry bits of leaves all over the floor) and hung it up next to the garlic to finish drying, so we can plant more again next spring! It smells lovely.

Gathering Lettuce seed, too, and cutting down the dying plants after. I let tons of Romaine plants bolt, so of those when only a third or half of the seedheads have made their poufs, I cut the whole top off, shake it into a bag, let it dry some and then brush the seeds off by hand- not minding to waste the rest of the unfinished seedheads. The Bibb and Simpson Lettuce (A's favorite) I only had a few- only two Bibb plants gone to seed, and only half a dozen Simpsons. On those I pick each individual seedhead once it is mature- leaving the rest to finish themselves- so I get the most seeds off each plant, but its a lot more tedious. Next year I'll let only a few Romaine bolt, and more of the Simpson.

30 July 2009


Every day I pick a few cucumber beetles off the Zucchini and Cantaloupe, and spray basil tea. I'm a good pollinator- stick my fingers down inside the huge blossoms of zucchini -and sometimes pumpkin- to get the bugs out. Do the same on the Cucumbers but there I've failed to be aggressive enough- the last two plants sickened and I pulled them out this morning. Three bare plots there now, at the end of the long garden. I turned over the soil, dug in a bit of compost and scattered some "green manure" seed of clover. Don't know if it will grow, I bought that seed last year- but feel like I ought to do something there (other than let it grow weeds!)

29 July 2009

yellow sun

Some of the cheery Tomatoes are beginning to blush. We can't wait to eat them- it's supposed to rain a lot again this week, but hopefully next week the first few will be ready. There are four open Sunflowers now. They look so pretty and cheerful.

27 July 2009

carrots and chard

Still picking a few cucumber beetles off the Cantaloupe and from the Zucchini and Pumpkin flowers every morning- but in check enough that the plants aren't getting sick again. Thinned the rest of the carrot patch- pulled up a bunch. A few nicely formed, the rest short, or forked. The Chard looks pathetic out there- only small leaves left, wide bare space between the plants. But when I pick one or two leaves off each plant, end up with a nice enough handful to make the pasta dish still.

Carrots fresh pulled

Carrots cleaned and trimmed

Washed chard

24 July 2009

basil tea

Made a Basil spray with crushed basil leaves steeped in water in the sun for several days, then a drop of dishsoap added. Sprayed the Zucchini, Cantaloupe, a bit of the Pumpkin (for good measure) and the Cucumbers. All the beetles are gone now- yay! but still lost another cuke plant to the bacterial wilt- so now there's only two- and spraying/watering them has yellowed the leaves a bit. Not finding any more on the other plants, either. Chopped the damaged leaves off Zucchini and they're doing fine. Have to remember next year to spray the plants before the cucumber beetles arrive. The Cantaloupe are all fine, count four little fruits coming on, and another two new Pumpkins!

Lots and lots of Tomatoes, but all still green. The Peas are done.

20 July 2009

swiss chard pasta

Made swiss Chard pasta with sausages.

Chard washed in bowl

Cut with chopped tomatoes and garlic (also from the garden!)

The final dish

19 July 2009

cucumber woes

I moved too late on the cucumber beetles. Two of the plants have sickened, so I pulled them up by the roots, cut the damaged leaves off other plants, squashed four more (large!) beetles. So far the Cantaloupe, Pumpkins and Zucchini are still largely untouched, though I squashed a few more beetles off them this morning, too. About a third of my Cucumber plants discarded in the trash, and I started making basil sun tea, to spray on the remainder. From a distance the cucumber plot still looks full and hearty, and if I can halt the damage we'll still have a good crop.

16 July 2009

cucumber beetles

Picking just a few cucumber beetles a day off the Cucumber plants, an occasional one in a Pumpkin flower. Haven't found any more (or signs of damage) on the Cantaloupe or Zucchini. I don't know why, but it always makes me happy to serve a meal with more than one garden ingredient! Tonight it was spaghetti with garden Garlic in the sauce, and home-grown Beets and Carrots on the side.

12 July 2009

cucumber salad

Ate a cucumber salad w/mozzarella squares, fresh basil and a vinaigrette. Delicious. Picked two cucumber beetles off the Cucumbers; one squashed and the other evaded me. I kept looking for it while watering, then it flew right onto my shoulder, smack. No more on the other plants, but when stripping browned leaves off the bottom of the Peas found a similar beetle that looks like ladybug, only longer wing cases. I squashed that one, too.

10 July 2009


The first little green Pumpkin is forming below a faded flower. Hugest flowers ever, those pumpkins make. Found the first beefsteak Tomato forming, too- and little rows of cherry Tomatoes on the other plants. Can't wait until they ripen!

I found one Marigold growing on the edge of the cantaloupe plot- I knew it instantly by its smell (like I recognized the volunteer tomatoes by theirs). So all those plants I moved around thinking they were marigolds, that grew tall and leggy by the sunflowers, and are thriving on their own above the zucchini? Some kinda weed. I yanked the ones in the veggie plot out, but left the ones lined up against the small patio alone- at least they're filling the space. I won't let them go to seed, though.

Part of my yard-improvement plan is working- the side of house by driveway where I was constantly battling weeds last year is now full and bushy with just one type of plant- Purslane. It looks very nice! And among the orange daylilies- now faded- and Nasturtiums at other end, I pull out a few weeds here and there, knowing it will be more filled in next year. All I did was encourage the Purslane to grow, by removing its competition and tossing in there any plants that I found growing elsewhere. The application of my first batch of homemade compost from last year probably helped, too.

Hadn't touched the compost pile in weeks, maybe more than a month, so when I turned it over yesterday to add the bucket of kitchen scraps and heaps of weeds, I thought for sure nothing would be happening there. It wasn't hot or steaming, but the bottom under a dried layer of cut grass, was dark, and starting to turn crumbly. It actually looked like dirt- not the rough stuff I leveled the lettuce patch with this spring. Real compost! Silly to get happy over a pile of dirt, but I did. Tossed it all back in with the new stuff, confident now that next year's garden will thrive even more.

Picked striped cucumber beetles off the cucumbers this morning- only four today. Squashed them all. I am still thinking of making a basil spray, but so far the hand picking seems to be working effectively.

08 July 2009

tomato and radish

Found the first few tiny Tomatoes today! Can't wait until they get big enough to eat. I think they're the cherry variety. Daughter poked under the broad Cucumber leaves counting how many little prickly cucumbers were growing- lots and lots. No sign of beetles, check again tomorrow.

We pulled up all the scraggly Radish plants and picked the seed pods off. Took inside to the kitchen table and split them open to find the seeds inside. Mostly just as an experiment and to keep little hands busy- none of us really like radishes, but I want to learn how to save seed. Only a few of the pods dry enough the seeds brown and hard- the rest bright green, fatter seeds. Daughter thinks the green seeds are better "because they look healthier" but we'll save and plant them all in spring to see.


I think my foray against the cucumber beetles yesterday was successful; today picking them in cold stupor off the plants found only six- squished five and the last one got away. I don't find them underside the leaves, but hiding in the larger blossoms (which there are lots of- Cucumbers to eat soon!).

Some of my volunteer plants are growing oddly- the ones I thought were marigolds have gotten enormous, and leggy, and no sign of flowers. Maybe they're not marigolds at all? I probably was mistaken, and encouraged a weed to spread. Maybe they are, but have undesired characteristics because I saved hybrid seed and it went atavistic? like happened to the sunflowers in Thalassa Cruso's book. Of the Tomato plants, only the ones from bought seed are flourishing well. The transplanted volunteers either haven't grown much, still small- and the two that got bigger are short and wide, not tall and branching. Perhaps the same problem- I did buy hybrid seed last year, so if the volunteers are from that they won't produce as well. A few more volunteer tomatoes are coming up around the canteloupe and potatoes, I'm just going to pull them up.

The Basil in little greenhouse in the window is big enough to transplant, but it's a hot dry week so I'm waiting until the weekend when it's supposed to be cooler and rain, then they won't suffer from so much shock.

07 July 2009


Haven't noted much here lately because other than weeding every other day, and dumping dishwater on it, the garden hasn't required much care. Everything's just growing. Eating peas every few days, chard in pasta dishes, a few thinned carrots. The first Cucumber a few days ago- went out yesterday to check for more- not quite yet- and found the dreaded cucumber beetle. Picked fourteen off the cukes this morning, two off the Zucchini, and one off the Canteloupe.

28 June 2009

carrots and more

We ate a few thinned carrots today- sweet. The smaller Broccoli plants were crowded between the large ones and obviously not thriving, so I transplanted them to another empty part of the garden. Transplanted the three volunteer Tomato plants left in pots into gaps in the garden- now the total count of Tomato plants is- eighteen! I was staggered when I actually counted them all. Well, some are very small still, so they'll give us late tomatoes perhaps, when the other plants are done producing, if the fall is long and mild. I found that one plant in the row of cucumbers was "not like the others"- it's actually a volunteer Canteloupe! So I moved it over to replace the canteloupe that got toppled by (I think) a cutworm. It's not happy, but with some dug-in compost and a douse of water, sprinkle of rain tonight, hope it will be okay.

The Pumpkins are flowering, and the largest Tomato plants. Every day I anxiously check on the new G Bean seedlings- the two that came up last got chewed up by something, but so far it hasn't touched the others, and I'm hoping they don't deteriorate like the failed plot did...

The Cilantro has grown tall, and is making little flowers. On a whim I picked fat sunflower seeds out of the wild birdseed mix, and planted a row of them across the back of the long garden plots. Everything else there failed- the herbs didn't grow (except for Cilantro), the sweet peas shriveled, the garlics I put there are growing so slowly. I wanted something to make a row across the back- marigolds next year, but none grew at all this time. I looked at how robust and healthy and strong and fast-growing the Sunflowers are, and put those birdseed ones in on the other side. Already the seedlings are coming up- and not getting eaten yet. I haven't seen any sign of slugs, only catching a few fat ones in the beer last night.

26 June 2009

ailling beans

Weeded yesterday, feel like I haven't done much of it in a while. Turned the compost pile- put a few shovelful of the blackest stuff around base of one Tomato plant and one Cucumber. See how they like it before I give to more plants. This morning the compost was scattered about the Tomato- but not far. A bird snatching up grubs?

The stunted little G Bean plants were putting out flower buds- and I thought that can't be good, so I pulled them all up. The roots were small, short, non-existent. Eaten? diseased? I think it may be nematodes, trying to read up on that. Recall now that that area of the garden last year grew little- the Zucchini did fine there, but the herbs and lettuces never grew.

23 June 2009


Well, I think I erred and harvested the Garlic too early. I thought since the tops had all fallen over, it was time. I read up a bit more and found out you're supposed to leave off watering for a week before harvest- and it's supposed to be a dry week, so I should have waited until the end of the week. Or maybe until the fallen-over tops had started to turn brown. Too hasty. Most of my garlics don't have a skin formed on them yet. Does that mean they won't store well? I have no idea. I'm going to clip the tops off some of the smaller ones to keep in the fridge for immediate use, and braid and hang the rest in mudroom (where it's cooler) hoping they keep well for a while.

Anyway, here's a photo: the Garlics with dirt lightly brushed off,

and braided and hung in the kitchen. My braids aren't very neat or pretty, but I feel satisfied looking at them!


All those Broccoli I started inside have died, eaten up by the slugs. O well. The five plants sown outdoors are getting nice and big.

The Cucumber plants are starting to flower. One at the end of the row looks like it's a different plant- it was a volunteer from another row I thought a cuke and moved it here. Now I'm not sure what it is- a relative, though.

Pulled a few Beets today- still not quite big enough- the largest here is almost tennis ball size.

Dug up all the Garlic, as the plants were falling over- got a few nice big fat ones w/well-formed cloves, and lots of small ones. We'll eat all the small ones and save the big ones for planting again in fall. I'm not sure why some grew big and others small- did only the largest planted cloves make big bulbs? or was the how deep I buried them, or the conditions of the soil?

Two of them grew a bulb under the soil and started forming cloves above the ground about a half inch up the stalk. It looks really weird.

We're eating a bowlful of fresh peas every other day.

The Lettuces left in ground are tall and pretty now, almost ready to put out flowers.

Nasturtiums look nice, too.

20 June 2009


Planted one more row of Basil outside today, and Green Beans in the plot that was meant for peppers. Trying again... snacking on fresh Peas.

17 June 2009


Steady light rain today but we did some gardening anyways. Weeded all the vegetable beds, picked some peas, moved some Purslane from garden over to side of the house- it's starting to really fill in there and looks better than the all the weeds I constantly battled last year. Four of my Tomato plants are growing fast and strong, the others not so much. The G Beans still look sad but are putting out new leaves, slowly. I'm thinking of planting some more, in a different location. Some of the Garlics under kitchen window are falling over- I pulled one up, it had formed a small bulb with the slightest hint of clove shapes. We cut it up and the flavor fantastic- the greens used as green onions. Is it because the soil's too rocky, and they loose purchase? I don't know... but probably next year I won't plant them there. They're still growing straight and fine in the walled plot.

We ate the last of our Lettuce from the fridge yesterday. There's still a few Romaine heads out there that haven't quite bolted yet; with all the rain it's stayed kind of cool. Picked a leaf- it's bitter, but I read that if chilled in clean water in fridge for a day or two, the bitter flavor will leach out... might try that.

15 June 2009

big seedlings

Planted the Cantaloupe and rest of Zucchini seedlings outside. One Zucchini has three seedling leaves instead of the usual two. We've begun picking Snap Peas. The orange daylilies are flowering- even those we moved to the corner by the driveway. The transplanted Basil under cloches are beginning to put out their first true leaves. Snapped the terminal ends off the Sunflowers that were higher than the fence, to make them spread out more bushy. About a week ago I started more seeds indoors- peppers and herbs. The basil in small plastic greenhouse already sprouting, nothing else yet. I'm most eager to get the peppers; Oregano is already large enough to pick, in the pot outside the door. What I thought was Mint isn't though, it's the Catnip. So I need to plant that again, too.

11 June 2009

plants, plants

Turned the pile today- very wet from the rain, covered again when done. Just under the latest layer of weeds it was all black stuff- but not crumbly, and quite slimy. I mixed in a bit of dry leaves and hope for the best. Turned dirt over in the plot where I'm going to put my Cantaloupe seedlings. It's nice, dark rich looking soil. Pleased with that. Moved a few more volunteer Tomatoes from pots to the soil- with sticks for stakes, as ran out of cages. Maybe too many tomato plants, but I'm not sure how well they'll grow. My G Beans that didn't die seem to be recovering- new leaves, and no new damage. I'm going to wait until they're grown well and bushy before try to fill in the gaps with a few new plants- which will stagger the harvest, too. Isabel insisted on pulling a Carrot today- they're only a few inches long and quarter inch thick but she was delighted. So I thinned five out, for her to snack on. And pulled the largest Beet- golf ball sized. I'm going to let the rest get bigger.

10 June 2009

setting out

Today weeded all the garden plots- one Potato plant is sick, some leaves yellowing, curled brown at the edges. A bug? A deficiency? More stuff to look up. Pea pods are forming. A few of the largest Beets almost ready. There's even one seedling coming up near the corn that has the large, broad leaves of a squash- could it be the Watermelon I gave up on?

I put tomato cages around the five heirloom Tomato plants. Planted outside some of the indoor-started seedlings: two rows of Chard, one row of Basil (all of the plants brought form the safeway are recovering and sprouting new leaves!) and ten Broccoli plants under the kitchen window.

09 June 2009

stuff growing

I planted Zucchini seeds in toilet-paper roll pots about a week ago, not really thinking they'd grow so fast (the ones I planted outside have not sprouted in all this time). Cut the tubes in half this time, didn't fold the bottoms under but just left sitting in the tray. Five seedlings pushing up through the dirt! The Broccoli seedlings inside all have a set of true leaves now, though they look fragile. I might put them out under cloches. The Canteloupe all have two true leaves, I'm going to turn over soil in their plot and put them out soon. The Chard seedlings don't seem to be growing very fast anymore, maybe they need to go outside as well?

Outside, there are pretty, though very leggy, white Radish flowers in both patches. One in each spot is pink- I wonder why. I still don't know what's damaged my G Bean plants- the leaves were all so coated with mud from heavy rains I squirted it off with a spray bottle, but afraid it was too much. A few plants recovered and are putting out new leaves, but most have wilted. I can't tell if there's any new holes in the leaves, but last night out w/flashlight found two flies- each on the edge of a leaf, the side that gets chewed on. I pinched them dead. Do flies eat leaves??

One of the Basil plants I planted outside by the Onions has recovered and is making new leaves. We had fresh Basil for the first time this week. My Nasturtiums in a pot are flowering and the Snap Peas are forming pea pods!

05 June 2009


Harvested the Lettuces. Read up on how to store in fridge, and then went out and cut all the plants that weren't bolting yet. Got about two thirds of the Romaine and three-fourths of the Simpson. The rest left to grow tall and make flowers.

Fresh picked bowls of Lettuce.

Romaines drying in the dish rack.

Separated leaves drying on paper towels before being chilled.

04 June 2009

failed seeds

Inside, I dumped out most of the seedling pots which haven't sprouted- breaking them apart out of curiosity- the Cantaloupe seeds were still there, just never germinated. The G Bean and Pea seeds rotted. Well, I got plenty of those, and three Cantaloupe plants, which is really all I need.The Beets are still coming up here and there, so I kept the remaining egg carton pieces of those to wait if any more show themselves.

03 June 2009

stuff going on

The Lettuce is beginning to bolt. Something is eating my young Tomato plants- chomped down to a bare stem in the morning, just like first happened to the sunflowers. I've put three of the volunteers in the empty spots, and covered them all. Cloches removed during day and finally for good from the G Beans and Cucumbers- the cukes remain untouched, the G Beans don't look well. I still don't know what's eating them, and the leaves are not a good color.

01 June 2009

driveway edge

The Purslane came back! I've been weeding the ground beside driveway because I planted Marigolds there, no sign of them. But after those few days of heavy rain, suddenly Purslane is coming up- two large bushy patches and small clusters of tiny plants everywhere else. I'm hoping now to encourage it to cover all the ground there. The orange day lilies are putting out buds to flower, even the small plants I dug up and moved- they look rather tattered and I thought wouldn't flower, after the stress of moving. Looks like there will be a few shoots of bloom there regardless.

A nice full salad of just S Lettuce today. Pulled a few Radishes, too- most have bolted into pretty flowers, one good to eat but quite small, about as big as a taw marble. I want to call the radishes a fail, but I enjoy looking at the flowers, so never mind. They're not a favorite vegetable of mine, anyway.

31 May 2009

tomato volunteers

In among the Lettuces under kitchen window I've found half a dozen young plants that look like Tomatoes. They've come up at the same time, and have very similar shaped leaves as the ones I planted in other bed. Just not sure how tomatoes would have gotten over there- did someone drop a cherry tomato last season? did a bird spread the seed? I've put them all in small pots amongst the herb pots. to watch them grow bigger and then fit them into my tomato beds.

Indoors, the Cantaloupe and Broccoli seedlings are beginning to show true leaves. The Chard, although it came up faster, still just has seedling leaves, shot tall. Out of all the Beets I planted inside, only four grew. Outside, almost all of them grew. I think next year I'll just direct sow them, making sure to soak first.

30 May 2009

new plants

I acquired a few plants from someone on craigslist who was dividing hers- some low-growing and tall phlox. I put the tall one in the back near compost pile, it's already recovering. The low one in the front flower bed, spread out just behind the remnants of bluebells.

The Peas are beginning to flower.

Two of the row of moved Marigolds edging the small back patio I found completely fallen over, eaten through at the base of the stem. It almost looked like someone had trampled on them- but no crushed leaves. I puzzled, and then in one of my gardening books found the answer- caterpillars called cutworms. As suggested, cultivated the soil w/fork tines (but found no curled worms) and wrapped them stems w/tin foil collar, above and below ground. The next morning, no more felled plants.

29 May 2009

garden events

Torrents of rain today, then bouts of sunshine. It's starting to get humid. Another Cantaloupe seedling sprouting indoors. Yesterday daughter found a tiny itty bitty preying mantis in the garden! We were thrilled. It was only as long as my pinkie fingernail is wide, and thin as a pencil lead. Very quick, too. Today I only manage to do a quick slug patrol- picking them out of their hiding spots. I haven't been able to put beer out for several days because the rain just washes it out, so the slugs have been getting a bit ahead of me again. I added young Chard leaves to our salad. It's got a buttery flavor, and so much nicer looking than the poor beaten S Lettuce. The light, frilly lettuce is my favorite, with its almost sweet flavor, but apparently the slugs like it best, too.

Salad leaves being washed- three kinds of Lettuce and Chard.

27 May 2009


I wasn't going to actually go out into the garden today, until I looked at the weather and realized this will be the clearest day all week- it's overcast, but not raining. Started by checking the young plants, picking off slugs, brushing splashed dirt off the cloches so they can get light again. All but one Sunflor and most of the G Beans and the Pumpkins big enough now to not need them- so I collected them all up.

Then got totally disgusted that my indoor seedling cardboard pots are growing white mold- and decided to impulsively plant the larger ones outside. The sprouted G Beans all went out- and Peas, in the spot that was meant for Spinach which never grew. I dug up and moved a few Marigold seedlings so they make a neat row, and dug up and moved some Broccoli plants so they're spaced out well. Did the same with the Cukes- in a few places two were growing close together- and surprised to find I actually have seven cucumber plants. So we might get a good lot of cucumbers after all. Then I covered all those vulnerable plants used up every last cloche- so waiting to put out the Chard and Broccoli seedlings- even thought the Broccoli has the worst mold case. Noticed that the Beet seeds I planted in gaps in the rows are sprouting! Hopefully they won't get eaten by bugs. It was only after all done as I was brushing the mud off my hands onto wet grass, and looking at all the green things growing with some satisfaction, that I realized not only had I put out those seedlings a bit young- some of the G Beans don't have their first true leaves yet- but I forgot to harden them off. Well, I know they'll keep damp enough first with all the rain, and they've been in the mudroom windowsills without heat, so that along with the protection of the cloches hopefully they'll be okay. I'm happy to have them out there, though.

indoor seedlings


The indoor planting is going well. Every section of the egg carton has several Chard seedlings, getting taller every day (though I try to keep the light source close to them). I'm pretty sure I only put one seed in each section- do they sprout multiples, like Radish? I only have a few Radish seedlings so far, and two Canteloupe. But almost all the Peas and G Beans have come up, and only lost two Broccoli. One seed didn't germinate,and another seedling keeled over. I'm carefully watering with the camomile tea infusion the gardening tip book suggested will keep damp spot at bay. The tiny plastic greenhouse also has many small Basil plants sprouting.



Green Bean and two Peas

Outside we just had two days of torrential rain, drizzle and showers since then. Supposed to rain steady all week. I haven't been able to put beer out- it just gets diluted and washed away by the rain- but went out last night to pick some slugs off the plants. Not as many still, but fatter ones! Mom said it might be small soil-hiding caterpillar/worms eating my G Bean seedlings, where I thought it was the ants. But when I went out last night w/flashlight, I found slugs again. So maybe it's them after all? The Peas outside have grown a lot over the past few days of rain, the Pumpkins are growing fast, and the Sunflower leaves (of the older plants) are getting enormous. I feel like those plants double in size every time I look at them! We're eating tons of Lettuce in salads every other day now, too.