Mid-Summer Check-In

Time to do a garden check-in. Overall the garden is fantastic. Everything seems to be growing well, though we have had a few hiccups. So let’s do a quick rundown of where everything is.

Our flowers are all doing great. The planters in the front yard have grown abundant, with some of the vines hitting set backs due to some of the extreme heat we have been having. The good news is that although fried, there are new shoots coming up from the soil and new leaves on some of the vines. There is hope yet!

Our strawberries are doing great. They are regularly producing fruit for a harvest every couple of days. We can definitely tell the difference between our new strawberry plants versus our old plants. The fruit was a little delayed in starting on the new plants, but now they are going, they are producing nice, large berries. Our older plants started producing earlier but have smaller fruit than our new plants. This is likely due to the age of them. The fruit is still a good size, and abundant so we may get another year out of them yet.

Our potatoes were late to go in and don’t seem as active as past years. We are trying a new type this year as my co-worker was kind enough to share her leftover seedling potatoes. They went in almost a month later than we usually would put them in, and the center tower is definitely not producing anything but mushrooms. We will see what the final harvest looks like. I’m sure we will get some, but I think we will be lower than our normal harvests. Time will tell.

Our tomatoes are doing fantastic. Despite the romas almost dying after we first transplanted them, they have bounced back and are growing fast. A few of them are over 5′ tall now and lots of tomatoes are being produced. We’ve even managed to harvest a few already. The cherry and pear tomato plants are growing like weeds, with extra supports needed. They are all over 5′ tall with plenty of tomatoes. We have had a number of harvests already and are enjoying our bounty. Kurt has been pruning well, ensuring lots of tomatoes.

We have figured out peppers! Our sweet bell peppers are amazing this year. They are big, thick skinned and sooooo tasty. I am so happy that they are doing so well. The plants themselves continue to grow, which we have never had happen before. Our cayenne peppers have been fast and furious, with lots of peppers coming off. I will be dehydrating them this week to make our own cayenne powder. The banana peppers are full of vegetables, we are just waiting for a little more yellow colour change. We finally have some Anaheim’s. Now that they are producing, the peppers themselves seem to be growing fast. It won’t be long now until we have stuffed, grilled Anaheim’s on the BBQ.

Our impatience with the corn seems to have paid off. From what we have heard in garden chats, our plants are a little ahead of the curve. We have lots of ears growing and the bees have been having a blast playing in the pollen. It is looking promising for a very good year for our corn. The stalks are well over 6′ and happy.

The sunflowers are towers as usual. I guess that is what happens when you plant the “Mammoth” variety. They are probably about 8′ tall and are just starting to form the heads. Their stalks are like small tree trunks. I am looking forward to seeing the large, yellow heads, as well as some delicious roasted sunflower seeds in the fall.

The butternut squash is happily climbing the bed, weaving between the corn stalks. There are a number of flowers now producing, but so far no squash. I am going to keep an eye on it and may do a little cross pollination soon if I continue to notice flowers but no vegetables started.

Two of our cabbage are just about ready to be harvested. Their heads are looking to be a nice side and are tightly packed and solid. The front two may need a bit more time, but part of their issue could be the competition for space with the back two. Either way, all 4 are looking great, and we are fine with 2 smaller heads of cabbage if those front 2 don’t get much bigger.

The onions are delicious. The green tops have flopped a bit in the hot smokey conditions, but everything continues to grow. We harvest an onion here and there when needed for dinner. The greens have also been used in salads and other recipes as needed.

Our cucumbers are extremely happy. In all the years that I have tried to get them to grow up a lattice or ladder and been unsuccessful, this year is making up for it. Our plants are bushy and quite the climbers. Throughout the entire thing there are cucumbers growing and we have already enjoyed quite a few. The lemon cucumbers are producing at a very fast rate, ensuring that we will not be without cucumbers at any point this summer. The long english are also doing great and are providing beautiful cucumbers regularly.

As Zucchini does, ours is out of control. I swear they are growing to large behemoths overnight. We walk our garden every day and yet I have still managed to pull some zucchinis that are over 1 kg. We prefer them when they are the smaller size for grilling, but the larger ones are great grated up and used for fritters or baked goods. I also found a recipe for zucchini relish that I plan to test out this year. If it works out, I will share it here.

Both our tango celery and peppermint celery are doing great. We have been harvesting from the tango celery plants a few times already, trimming the larger stalks for use in lunches and dinners. The Tango was scheduled to be ready earlier, so we are anticipating being able to start harvesting from our peppermint celery in the next couple days to week.

The carrots and beets continue to grow. We have harvested some of the smaller carrots because we just couldn’t wait, but they were so tasty and well worth pulling a little early. Majority are still being given time to grow, and our carrot hound hasn’t tried picking her own yet this year which is great! The beets have been added to a number of dinners already. After watching some Masterchef the other night, I now have a plan to re-make a beet salad from one of the master chefs restaurants. I will also share that recipe if it turns out. Its a whole roasted beet topped with arugula, goat cheese, pickled shallots and candied pecans with a sherry dressing. Sounds yum! His is done with a red beet, but since I only have golden beets, we will give it a go.

We managed to get 1 head of cauliflower from our 6 plants. Considering I made a mistake in learning about growing cauliflower, I feel that getting 1 head is a win. Next year, I will know better and will not blanch the coloured cauliflower. The one head that we did harvest is so tasty, with so much more flavour than I expected. Perhaps because I so desperately wanted to get at least 1 head harvested, it has made it’s taste so much better.

Our Brussels sprouts continue to do well. It is a daily battle however with bugs. First it was the green worms, which now have disappeared thank goodness. In their wake I now have aphids. We have so many ladybugs in our garden, all over our sunflowers and in the top beds, but none in our lower beds. I tried moving a few, and although they were patient with me in moving them to the bottom, as soon as I got them situated, they flew off. Darn. Oh well. I have been ridding the brussels on my own, not letting them get a good foothold. So far they have only been found on the leaves and not on the stalk or sprouts themselves. Fingers crossed that it works out!

Last update is a quick note to say that we are also stealing our neighbours apricots. To be fair, half the tree seems to be hanging over our yard this year, so we are harvesting what we can and enjoying the bounty.

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