Saturday, August 15, 2009

the Life of a Summer Garden

I'm afraid the summer has slipped past me without ever a blog post about my summer garden! I kept putting off writing about it until I had some good pictures to share. I shot a couple nice ones early in the season, but most of the garden's life cycle has gone undocumented, I'm afraid. So here is the mish mash of pictures that I do have.

(sorry for the hasty editing job)
Here you can see the garden in all its scruffy glory, quite early in the summer. The collards, cucumbers, squash and watermelon I planted as seeds. The pumpkins were volunteers left over from last year that sprouted. The arugula I planted as little seedlings. The tomatoes, eggplants and peppers I bought in pots and transplanted.

Already, my collards were starting to look like this:

and the arugula was just about eaten away. Not only have I gone totally organic this year, I've been very slack about pest & disease control. (and weeding!) So the arugula and collards ended up being a total loss. It's OK- I was skeptical of their chances anyway, since summers are too hot here for greens. I might try some in a month or so, to see if I have better luck with a fall garden.

The volunteer pumpkin vine was very vigorous, quickly taking over one half of the garden plot. My plan had been to send the squash varieties through the fence and off into the yard. This monster grew so fast however, that I was caught by surprise.

It was already too big to retrain, and it's huge leaves shaded the fledgling squash and watermelons. This was to prove too much for the seeds I planted, and so far none of them have borne fruit.

The pumpkin monster made one gorgeous big pumpkin for me, which I harvested last week only to find it had bugs eating it from the inside. Oh, well.

The other volunteers made these little cuties:

The eggplants were not what I expected. They flowered early:

and soon made clusters (!) of gorgeous little variegated fruits.

The variety is called "Fairy Tale Eggplant", and I had to look them up to learn that they are harvested at 2" - 4" long. Cute! Very tasty, too- more tender than other eggplants I've grown. I would grow these again.

I planted three kinds of tomato- a cherry (or is it grape?) tomato, some romas and a slicing tomato. Predictably, the cherry tomato has done wonderfully. It started fruiting early:

and soon I had lots of red tomatoey goodness!

While the plant continues to produce extremely well (WHAT am I going to do with ALL these tomatoes?!??) I am not overly thrilled with the flavor. They're OK, but not the juicy heaven that home-grown tomatoes should be. Next year, I'm looking at heirloom varieties. The roma is producing, though it's been prone to blossom end rot. And the slicing tomatoes tend to feed the bugs. My tomatoes would be much happier if I actually took care of them. :)

Not pictured are the very happy cucumber plants, which have climbed right out of the garden and are making tasty cucumbers like crazy. (WHAT am I going to do with ALL these cucumbers?!??) The red bell peppers are only just now making fruit. We'll see how they do.

I hope you've enjoyed this visit to my summer garden. Over all, I'd dub it a success, despite my neglect. In the past I've gotten a remarkable harvest out of this little patch, with a bit more care and attention. Maybe next year I will be more involved. :)


Magic and Mayhem said...

I loved the tour! We had some garden casualties this summer. Victoria accidentally harvested the broccoli leaves when I sent her out to cut lettuce for a salad one night, and those poor things never did recover! I think they bolted about the next day. LOL

Our tomatoes are being really poky this year. We've had some grape tomatoes and a few slicers but most are still green. Perhaps I should water occasionally? Divas. ;)

Mostly we have herbs, some vines (I'm waiting to see which ones!) and the trusty perennials like raspberries. Someday I'll have fewer small children and more produce, or at least I keep telling myself that.

I love the looks of your fairy eggplants! They're darling and I love variegated veggies anyway. I got Chinese eggplant at the farmers' market and it's better than regular too IMO.

I loved the tour, and the last pic is priceless. :)

Magic and Mayhem said...

Sorry, I forgot to sign my name, and I signed from the blog you probably don't recognize. :)
~Alicia (of Magical Childhood)

Robin Easton said...

Dear Kit, Your garden is as rich and abundant as you are. I LOVE LOVE LOVE gardening. And I can tell that you have not only a green thumb but a whole green soul. :)) I love those "Fairy Tale Eggplants" They are stunning, elegant. Wow! I've never seen them. They just look works of incomparable art. I cannot believe nature.

I chuckled over your volunteer pumpkin. I get all kinds of volunteers in my garden. I could not plant any see and just water and I would get lettuce, mustard greens, swiss chard, tomatoes, all kinds of squash/pumkin/gourd crosses and chives, parsley and more.

The hard part is that I didn't have as much time to garden this year. And we have so little water. Only can water 3 times a week. I live in the desert(NM)so I mulch a lot and add tons of organic matter.

I just planted a second crop of lettuce and spinach. It will do well as it will start to cool down.

Also, Kit, your photos are incredible, very artistic. AND gardening with the kids is something they will NEVER forget. My mom did that too and we all garden as adults now.

You give your children such a rich life. I am so proud of you dear Kit. Just sooooooooo proud.


Kit said...

@ Alicia: Thanks! Divas, LOL! And poor broccoli. ;) I have visions of a grandiose garden in my later years, too. At least I will have something to pour myself into when the kids don't need me as much anymore.

@ Robin: I'm not surprised you like to garden. :) Thank you. And, wow- I have been away from your pages for too long!! I need to go see what's up there. I miss reading your thoughts!