Fresh Food

I love this point of time in a garden. The plants have grown, and they are now all producing delicious food. Sure, certain plants have been producing for a while now, but at this point all of the plants are finally sharing their bounty.

The strawberries are always the first plant to start producing. This year we have been consistently getting bowls of berries every two days. Although each harvest isn’t huge, we have packed away 4 freezer bags of berries so far, as well as enjoyed some fresh with breakfast or as a dessert.

The straw that we laid down in the spring has helped stop the plant from vining and spreading which has allowed it to focus on flowering and growing large, flavourful berries.

By fall we will be busy in the kitchen making many, many jars of strawberry jam so that we can enjoy our harvest through the cold winter. I found a “Christmas Jam” recipe last year that was amazing. It is a mix of strawberries, cranberries and some fragrant spices. I am looking forward to having more of it in our pantry.

Potatoes are always an interesting plant to grow because you’re never sure what kind of harvest you will get. Or at least, we are never sure. Still being fairly new to growing potatoes there is still a lot of experimentation happening to find the best growth. Our first year was disappointing with almost no potatoes. Our second year we did well and got a variety of sizes and a fairly good overall harvest from the three plants.

This year we are interested to see how our ratio of straw to soil goes and if it has increased the amount of potatoes that we will yield. The plants have been very happy and healthy looking on the tops, including some flowers for the first time. Another couple weeks and we will see how we did. We know we could cheat and take the bottom board off and be harvesting already, but we find it more fun to do it all at once. Maybe once we are more confident in growing potatoes we will harvest as it continues to produce.

It is an odd year for our tomatoes. We usually end up with 6′ plants, but this year most of them have stayed smaller. I think part of it is due to the cooler summer we have had and the amount of precipitation. We haven’t had the consistent hot days that makes them grow like jungle vines.

That being said, we still have lots of tomatoes. They just aren’t as spread out as they usually would be. The cherry tomatoes have been ripening and are being eaten regularly. We tried Sunrise cherry tomatoes this year, which ripen to an orange colour. The orange zingers we had last year was our favourite, but I couldn’t find them again this year. If I do find them again, I will be keeping some seeds.

Our larger tomatoes are big and plentiful but have not ripened yet. Not enough sun, but we are finally getting into the summer heat, so we expect to see those change pretty quickly.

The herb box was a great addition. The plants have been doing great in there so far. The basil has recently gotten a little toasty on some of the leaves, but they are so big that I can still find plenty to use in my cooking. The rosemary is getting very long, so I may have to trim some down and use the stems for skewers on the BBQ one night. It will infuse the flavour while cooking. Deliciouso!

The raised beds are bursting at the seems. This one has our peppers, cucumber, peas and Peter Pan squash.

The cucumber is the only plant not actually producing anything yet, but it has flowers so I am hopeful to get at least a few. It was a tough year with them, even with new seeds I was only able to get one plant going and it was late into the growing season.

I was sure I had an even mix of sweet peppers and banana peppers, but it looks like I only actually ended up with one sweet pepper plant and about 9 banana pepper plants. That’s ok though, I will pickle most of them to use throughout the winter or to give to family and friends.

The peas had a good harvest in this bed. It is time to pull the plants and start another set with a fall harvest.

The Peter Pan squash was new this year. I love Patty Pans from the farmers market, but couldn’t find seed to grow my own. But I did find Peter Pans which are similar, they just don’t turn yellow. Well, they grow like most squash; big, fast and with a crazy amount to harvest. I can barely keep up! I swear they quadruple in size overnight. They are so tasty though that I don’t mind the amount we are getting.

Our other raised bed has carrots, onions and peas.

We grew regular orange carrots but also decided to try some colourful carrots. I’m not sure if I would do that again. The colourful carrots are a bit of a disappointment. They are not growing as well as the standard carrot. They are tasty, and add a bit of colour to our meals, but I would rather get large orange carrots rather than small, colourful ones.

The snap peas had a large harvest and are now finished. We will replant for a fall harvest. I managed to freeze a few small bags to use in stir-fry’s in the winter.

The onions as usual are large and happy. I will start picking a few here and there as needed. So far we have just been enjoying the green tops on salads and mixed in to recipes.

Our flower pots have really enjoyed the weather, growing thick and abundant. I have grown Canna Lillie’s in the past that flower sporadically, but these ones are constantly flowering. Currently they have shot out a few set of flowers with more coming up. The seed pods that are left behind are also beautiful.

The new planters by the air conditioner will need a large top up of soil. It must have been very airy when we put it in because it has sunk down about halfway. Luckily the flowers are very tall, so it worked out.

A few years ago we grew wildflowers in our pots and everyone told us that their seeds would spread everywhere, which we were ok with. The next year we did not get any random wildflowers growing anywhere. Well, the seeds were just waiting. We have had all sorts of wildflowers growing around the pots that still have dirt and mulch around them. We enjoy them so much, that we can’t weed between the pots, giving that garden bed a bit of a wild and untamed look.

We have also had pansies popping up all over our yard and recently found petunias mixed in with our peas. We love all the added colour.

That’s the update so far. We are keeping track of our harvests this year, weighing everything we pick, so that we can start comparing from year to year. We have also tracked the dates of the harvests. I’m looking forward to being able to compare year to year.

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