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Archive for the ‘garden 2015’ Category

This summer’s garden was pretty successful, I’d say!  All summer long, I had grand intentions of posting photos of my harvests and how the garden was growing… but that didn’t happen.  As autumn sets in and the gardening season ends, I thought I’d do a post “reminiscing” about the garden this year and all the lovely things we collected from our plants.

For a good portion of the summer, I actually kept up with my goal to prune the tomatoes and keep them tied up.

healthy garden!

Early in June, I went out and did all of my tending, but ran out of ties.  When I stepped back into the garden, I noticed this little beastie buried in the mulch!

As I was out taking care of the garden today, I discovered this little beastie buried in the mulch. Joel came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?

I’d almost stepped on it, which shook me up a bit.  I guess it was there the whole time I’d been working before!  Husband came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket…

As I was out taking care of the garden today, I discovered this little beastie buried in the mulch. Joel came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?

…and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?

tomatoes

I’d say we had a pretty good year with our tomatoes.  I did keep track of how much I harvested in my planner, but I didn’t make a spreadsheet like previous years!  I kept thinking that I would, and then I never did… oh well.

yum-- grape tomatoes (Tami G variety)

yum– grape tomatoes (Tami G variety)

We had the most success with our grape tomatoes and the Golden Jubilee tomatoes.  The grape tomatoes were everything I’d hoped– sweet, firm and prolific.  Yum.  I’m going to miss them!

I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take a single photo of my lovely Golden Jubilees!  They were the perfect shade of golden yellow, large and meaty, and really, really delicious.  I definitely could see myself having these in my garden again in the future.

First tomato harvest. I should have watered more consistently, as evidenced by the bad blossom-end rot on two of the three Beefsteak tomatoes I harvested.

Our first tomato harvest was the Beefsteak tomatoes.  I should have watered more consistently, as evidenced by the bad blossom-end rot on two of the three Beefsteak tomatoes I harvested.  I must admit, even though I knew it was a problem, I still didn’t make it a priority to get out and actually water my plants.  I would use the excuse of “oh, it’s going to rain tonight…” and then it wouldn’t!  While the other tomatoes didn’t seem to suffer at all (though perhaps they would have been even more successful if I’d watered them more), these Beefsteak plants just went downhill all summer long.

Patio tomato

Patio tomato

Vivian picked her first tomato!

Vivian picked her first tomato!

V enjoyed having her tomato plant on the deck again this year.  I hadn’t realized that it was more of a slicing-tomato-size variety, so I don’t think she enjoyed eating them nearly as much as the tiny cherry tomatoes from last year.  But she was always excited to pick the next red one!

cucumbers and zucchini

The big disappointment this year was the cucumbers!  They look lovely and healthy in this photo, from early in the summer, but this was as far as they went.  They died so quickly, I didn’t even have time to figure out what was going on!  Since cucumbers are basically my favorite thing from the garden, I was pretty sad.

But if the cucumbers were a disappointment, the zucchini made up for it in spades!  (I’m not sure if I should intend that pun or not ;-))

Our very first harvest (before any tomatoes) was these two lovely zucchini…

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…and they just didn’t stop after that!

Wow! Lots of zucchini!

I obviously am not going to show photos of them all (I didn’t even take that many harvest photos this year, in general), but I would get multiple fruits every time I went out to check.  And not infrequently, one would grow stealthily under one of those big leaves until it was a 4 or 5 lb whopper!

This monstrous zucchini (4 lbs, 5.5 oz) was hiding in our garden!

I made a LOT of zucchini bread.  These big ones aren’t very good for much else… and each one would make at least 4 batches of the recipe I have.  I honestly lost count of how much zucchini bread came out of my oven this summer…  I made it in loaves and in muffin tins… I substituted part or all of the oil with applesauce…  I shared it and gave it away, and I froze a bunch, too!  (I think we have at least 1 dozen muffins and four loaves in our freezer right now).  The muffins are great, because you can freeze them and take out individual servings to thaw in the microwave for occasional breakfasts…with cream cheese…yum…  I even froze some plain shredded zucchini so that I can make some more this winter, haha!  It’s a good thing Husband reminded me that our food processor has a fine grater attachment, because the first time I shredded one of these monstrous zucchinis, it took me about an hour!  haha.

Even with all of the zucchini bread, we still had zucchini to eat, and I tried to find some new recipes.  Along with our standby favorite of zucchini fritters, we made

  • Zucchini Parmesan
    2015_08_08_zucchiniparmesan04-Edit
  • Zucchini Bread Pancakes
    2015_08_17_zucchinipancakes03-Edit
  • Zucchini Boats (halve a zucchini lengthwise and remove seeds; fill with ground-beef-and-marinara-mixture; top with mozzarella and bake.  There are gazillions of variations on this idea; I dare you to search Pinterest.  We really liked this simple version, and we definitely made it again.)
    zucchini boats: halve a zucchini lengthwise and remove seeds; fill with ground-beef-and-marinara-mixture; top with mozzarella and bake. Delicious!! We had so much zucchini this summer that I was on the lookout for good recipes to use it!
  • Zucchini Stir Fry
    ATK stir-fried chicken and zucchini with ginger sauce
  • Shrimp Scampi with “Zoodles” (well, ours were just shredded zucchini since we don’t have a spiralizer)– thanks, Christine, for the recipe idea!
    2015_08_20_shrimpscampizoodles-Edit

The garden is nearly done for the year, and I have some more thoughts to share, but I’ll save them for a future post.   As we move into fall and winter, I’m certainly going to miss my fresh tomatoes and my seemingly-never-ending-supply of zucchini!

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On Mother’s Day, I spent the afternoon taking this:

Garden: before.  All that grassy looking stuff was an awful weed that literally sprayed seeds when you brushed against it (or tried to grab it to pull it out...).

to this:

hand-tilled garden!  All ready for compost and planting.

I encountered a most vile species of weed– this grassy stuff actually fired tiny little seeds everywhere whenever it was brushed!  I literally had seeds stuck to my skin and caught in my eyes.  Yuck.  Instead of throwing it into my compost bin, I actually bagged it up to put into the trash. I don’t want that stuff propogating, as much as I can help it!

Garden: before.  All that grassy looking stuff was an awful weed that literally sprayed seeds when you brushed against it (or tried to grab it to pull it out...).

After I got out as many of the weeds as I could, I used our tiller tool to loosen the soil.

hand-tilled garden!  All ready for compost and planting.

I opened up our compost bin and spread the new soil on top of the garden.

We weren’t able to get to a store to get plants that day, so on Tuesday evening, we took a family field trip to Home Depot to get our plants.  I decided during the course of last year’s garden that starting tomatoes from seed isn’t quite working for me right now, so I planned to buy seedlings this year.  We got four varieties– three for the in-ground garden and one for our kids’ container on the deck.

tomatovarietycollage-Edit

The garden layout is essentially the same as previous years’, in which the cucumbers and zucchini are on the left, and we have six tomato plants (two of each variety) are on the right.

After the jungle that was last year’s garden, we decided to lay down weed-preventing black fabric.  The day after we bought our plants, I went out and spent an hour or two getting the cloth laid, the tomatoes installed, and the zucchini and cucumber seeds planted.

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After our experience with last year's weeds, and dealing with those awful seed-spraying weeds to prepare the garden, I decided that we should use the black weed-blocking cloth this year.  Hopefully it helps tame them!

After our experience with last year's weeds, and dealing with those awful seed-spraying weeds to prepare the garden, I decided that we should use the black weed-blocking cloth this year.  Hopefully it helps tame them!

…and then I added mulch.

Garden planted and mulched!  Tomatoes from left to right: Tami G (grape), Golden Jubilee (heirloom), and Red Beefsteak (heirloom)

Garden planted and mulched! Tomatoes from left to right: Tami G (grape), Golden Jubilee (heirloom), and Red Beefsteak (heirloom)

Garden planted and mulched!  Cucumber seeds (background) and zucchini seeds (foreground) planted.

Cucumber seeds (background) and zucchini seeds (foreground) planted.  I cut small holes in the weed-blocking cloth for them.

Garden planted and mulched!

 

My daughter and I took a quick few minutes to plant a tomato in a pot on the porch an evening or two later. V helped me to move the soil around the plant and water it.

Vivian and I took a quick few minutes to plant a tomato in a pot on the porch before we headed to small group this evening.  Vivian helped me to move the soil around the plant and water it.

 

I was delighted to find, just a week later, that all of my seeds had sprouted.  I had been pretty worried, since we got a couple big rains, that the seeds may have washed under the weed-blocking cloth… but thankfully, everything seems to be in place!

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zucchini sprouts

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cucumber sprouts

My tomato plants were looking healthy, happy and growing, too!

The tomatoes are looking happy :)

 

One of my main goals with the garden this year is to make sure to prune my tomatoes regularly to keep them under control.  I really don’t want a buggy jungle this year!

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