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.

First Plantings

Goebbert’s opened on last Friday, April 12th. Natalie and I stopped in and I was able to get all of my spring greens; 9 Romaine, 6 Bok Choy. and 6 Chinese cabbage. I also picked up a Purple Sage, a flat of Pansies, a couple packets of Italian Parsley seed, and two packets of Genovese Basil seeds. We had a nice conversation with Lee Goebbert.

I planted the spring greens on Monday, in 75° weather. RT showed up around 10:30 and I was able to get him to rototill the bed for the greens. as well as the two beds next to the firepit. In addition to the spring greens I planted peas from some old seeds. I planted them quite densely in case the germination rate is low and will then them, once they germinate. I weeded that bed and it is ready for 8 Broccoli plants. I am hoping I can get them in the morning before the rain starts, assuming they are available at Goebbert’s. I also seeded the herb garden with Italian Parsley.

We have many rabbits in the yard, so I hope my greens survive. Natalie picked up some Irish Spring soap which we can shave into the garden. It is supposed to repel rabbits.

Natalie and I cleaned up the deck yesterday, and I filled the pots with pansies. We were able to have dinner on the deck after I finished planting. The yard is looking good since RT picked up and mowed the lawn.

Spring greens – planted!

Spring Is On The Way

We have had an unusually warm winter. There has been no snow in over a month. I picked my first chives a week ago, they were at 6 inches already. The thyme stayed green all winter, and I have picked that several times.

I’ve been busy on home projects, getting my studio and workshops back in order, so I haven’t thought much about the garden. It is almost time to plant peas and parsley, so I decided I had better order the rest of the seeds for the year so that they are here when I need them.

Here is my 2004 order:

3 – Slow Bolting Cilantro
1 – Lazy Housewife Pole beans
2 – Cocozelle Zucchini
1 – True Lemon Cucumber
1 – Crystal Apple Cucumber
1 – Cucamelon/Mouse

I Plan on planting the Cilantro in succession pots on the lower deck where it will be out of the hot sun. Hoping that will work. I will add more cucumber trellises along the south side of the yard in front of the mock orange.

I didn’t do any fall clean-up or prep, so I have my work cut out for me.

Year End Notes

The key to a good garden is good preparation in the fall. Spring weather can be erratic and if the ground isn’t prepared ahead of planting, the plantings will be late or not happen.

Maybe hit thistle and other hard to kill weeds with RoundUp in the fall, that way the residual amount will be negligible in the Spring. The beds need to be tilled and then top-dressed with mulch in the fall to keep the spring weeds down.

The Early Girl II tomatoes have been producing since mid-June, and the Champion II plants are producing as well. These are both winners for early tomatoes, and kept producing well into October until the daytime temperatures dropped into the 50s.

The okra is not growing well, and that needs to get in earlier.

The basil in pots is doing well, and I probably need at least 3 pots and should seed every three weeks.

There is no reason to plant mustard greens.

8 romaine plants are enough. It bolts too fast to plant any more than that. Parsley should be seeded early, like before May 1.

It looks like the Malabar spinach is doing very well in the pot. I’ll definitely do it that way next year.

My eggplant did very well, all though most of it went to waste as we didn’t use it. We’ll need to prepare better for it’s usage. With the kids here we didn’t make as much pasta with vegetables as we used to and they were no completely content eating mostly vegetables.

There were a few pole beans in October, but not enough to use. I planted them July 15th, which is way too late. Also, some critter chewed through the stems after the plants were a couple feet high. It might not work as a follow up to peas.

I think I want to get the cucumbers closer to the house so that I can water them more. I think that they would have produced longer with more water.

Garden – Done

We had a couple of hard freezes the past couple of nights and a heavy layer of snow last night which is now mostly gone, but the garden is pretty much over, other than kale, a few beets and some herbs.

I picked what was left before the frost and got an eggplant, zucchini, and a bunch of peppers.

The garden itself did quite well this summer, my use of it didn’t. I mostly gave up after Labor Day. I jammed my little toe on Labor Day and somehow messed up my back and that took the wind out of my sails. All is better now, so I am hoping to get the cleanup done and be prepared for next spring.

Summer Sunrise

Summer Sunrise

I was up early and saw this sunrise through the window and had to go out and capture it. RT mowed yesterday so the lawn was looking nice, too. I also had my first heirloom tomatoes on my toast this morning. What a treat.

Summer Bounty

The Heirlooms all decided to ripen today. Above is a sampling. Everything else is coming in except the cucumber which have slowed down. I need to weed the two back beds. It has been hard to keep up with everything going on.

Garden in Full Swing

We are nearing the peak of garden production. I picked the first Cocozelle zucchini today.

Container Garden looking good.

The Container Garden is in full production with Jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, Basil, various cherry tomatoes, and a pot of Malabar Spinach off to the side.

Peppers are doing well. I think the extra spacing made a big difference.
Shishito peppers are going crazy. Just a hint of heat this year.
A large zucchini that slipped under the radar.

Broccoli & Eggplant

I picked the first couple of crowns of broccoli today. I was a couple of days late on one of them. I set the plants out on April 13th. That’s 3-1/2 months to maturity. Some of the plants don’t even have small crowns on them yet. Very strange.

The eggplants are really starting to go now. I stuck with a single variety of large purple ones this year and ensured they got plenty of water and fertilizer. Unfortunately, I didn’t record the variety or source. They are well protected from rabbits. We picked the first one about a week ago, and Edith baked the slices. She used balsamic and something else. It was very good.

It looks like we’ll have a very good harvest his year, unlike the past several.

Here’s an eggplant, almost ready to harvest, in its anti-rabbit cage.

Finishing Up the Blackberries

It’s been over a month since Jared cleaned the blackberry patch out, and I finally got to putting in the posts and stringing the rope across to keep the blackberry plants somewhat in line. I did a considerable bit of trimming, also. Now I have a clear path on each side of the patch and one in the middle. We’ve been picking berries for several weeks and the yields are getting better.

Northeast corner of Blackberry Patch.
Center path into the Blackberry Patch.
Jared and Annabelle picking blackberries.

A Nice Rain

It stormed last night and finally didn’t pass us by. Looks like we got about 1-3/4 inches of rain. We had about a half inch earlier this week on Wednesday. I shouldn’t need to water for a few days. The garden really needed the rain.

The tomatoes are liking the rain.

Tomatoes are doing well, I got a couple of Lemon Boys and a Black Krim, along with the Early Girl IIs producing prolifically, as well as the Champion IIs, which are producing larger tomatoes than the Early Girls.