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I’ve been a vegetable gardener since we bought our first house in 1972. Record keeping is important to me as I evaluate varieties of plants, planting times, and what works in this climate and terroir and what doesn’t. So, I initially built this site for myself, to record plant varieties, planting and harvest dates, and anything else that might be useful for future gardens. I find web entries easier than notebooks and it’s hard to put pictures in written notes. With my smartphone, I can access this information anywhere, which is not the case with written data.

Planting and working the garden is in itself therapeutic, and thus has a lot of value. But harvesting the crops provides healthy foods and a connection to friends and neighbors who also benefit from the abundance of my garden. Here in the midwest, having a way to create a longer growing season is important. Hopefully, good record keeping will help me to that end.

But of course, once the data is recorded, there other thoughts and reflections that come into my mind and I have recorded those here also, because, as it has been since the beginning, gardening is not only good for the body but also good for the soul. My original purpose was an online notebook for my own use, but if you find any of this useful or inspirational, welcome.

Malabar Spinach

I bought some seeds from Terroir this spring for a spinach that supposedly doesn’t bolt in hot weather. I planted it, and it came up looking like spinach. “Cool,” I thought. I ignored it for a while and then the vines took over the garden! It’s not really a spinach, but a tropical plant native to India and Southeast Asia.

According to Wikipedia, “Basella alba is an edible perennial vine in the family Basellaceae. It is found in tropical Asia and Africa where it is widely used as a leaf vegetable. It is native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and New Guinea.” 

The leaves are sweet and thick even into the middle of September. I’ve been picking the leaves and putting them on sandwiches. They taste something like spinach, but have a hint of sweetness like sweetcorn. I haven’t sauteed any yet, but they supposedly taste like spinach when cooked.

This would certainly be a way to have greens all year, and they will grow up a trellis. I need to try more uses before the weather gets colder. Could be the discovery of the year.

Tomato Harvest

It’s definitely been a good year for the Tomatoes, except all most all of them ripened at once. I dried two trays of Roma tomatoes and made sauce from the rest. I was late on the harvest and lost a dozen or more to rot.

Two trays of tomatoes ready to go into the oven.
Cooking the tomato sauce.
Pasta with freshly made tomato sauce and parmesan.

Mint Garden Attracts Many Pollinators

When I planted the mint garden last year, I didn’t even think of pollinators, but it has attracted a myriad of wasps and bees, many of which I’ve never seen. I have been able to identify some of them, but there is even a greater horde of them that are in the area of 1/4 inch in length that won’t sit still long enough to be identified. It is truly amazing! The mint is spreading everywhere!

Mint garden looking South.

Here is a little gallery of some of the visitors to the garden.

Critters

The groundhog has returned. I noticed that a couple of my heirloom tomatoes that were just about ripe had bites out of them. The next day I saw the perpetrator run away when I entered the garden. The groundhog is back, or it’s a new one (more likely).

I stationed Dedo in the garden with a sign but it didn’t do much good despite Dedo’s best effort.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, he entered Greg’s garden and was subsequently dispatched along with his brethren by means that only seasoned farmers know.

End of the groundhog story.

The Evidence!

But we also have rabbits. Lots of them. they trimmed some of the pepper plants. Totally wiped out the celery root and kept the okra plants well trimmed. They couldn’t care less about my new ultrasonic rabbit chasers.

The problem is that they are so darn cute!

I will likely need to do more fencing next year. En Garde!

July 4th Evaluation

I used the holiday today to finish up my planting, I weeded the mint garden last week and tilled behind the composter and along the path. Today I planted okra where the broccoli was that got decimated by the rabbits. Between the path and the pine tree, I planted 3 ground cherries, three more Okra plants, and six fennel plants. I managed to break up the hard soil enough behind the barn to get three tomatillo plants in. Rain is coming for the next few days so I’m glad I got it all done.

The potted Jalapeno has been yielding a large amount of peppers – more than I can use. The tomatoes continue and the basil is doing well, The Shishitos are starting to yield. They are mostly hot this year.

Today’s Harvest

The preparation and tilling I did last fall helped a lot, but there were a couple of beds not prepared. The wet spring hindered getting some of the planting done, and the following drought made me spend a lot of time watering, and I probably should have done more.

The peppers have turned around after a couple doses of fertilizer and more water. All of the plants look good.

The peas had an amazing yield and were good and tender and crunchy, even with full-sized peas in the pod.

I’ve had a tomato every day since the first one, so I am on to my usual summer breakfast of tomato toast.

Dedo watching over my breakfast.

Two crops of radishes were total failure as well as the ones I planted in a pot with potting soil and regularly fertilized and watered. I’m not sure what the secret is, but I certainly don’t have it.

I got one zucchini several weeks ago. Little ones keep sprouting, but they don’t grow and eventually turn yellow and rot.

I didn’t plant the potted cilantro thick enough, but the potted basil from seed grew quickly and is absolutely beautiful. I’ll need to start new pots of cilantro and basil in the next couple of days.

Production is starting.

I picked the first couple of tomatoes last weekend and made tomato toast for Katy, Kevin, and myself on Saturday. Evan and I picked an overflowing colander of peas later in the day. I should have picked them a few days earlier, but even though there were full sized peas in the pods, they were still crunchy and tender. This variety is a keeper.

Snow Peas from the garden

We used cherry tomatoes from the garden and dill, and oregano on Grouper that Natalie made last night. I picked my first small zucchini tonight for my dinner. There will be many more in a couple of days.

I’ll water tonight. The peppers look terrible, I will fertilize them tonight as well. I have some small green peppers growing and some Shishitos, but the plants are spindly and not vigorous.

The Garden at Night

Of course, I love being out in the garden in the brilliance of the day, but with the solar lighting, the garden takes on a magical appearance as the sun goes down.

Just as the Sun is beginning to set,
Through the Herb Garden and up to the deck.
Looking out from the deck.
The Mint Garden at NIght.