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Archive for the ‘tomatoes’ Category

Well, now that it’s the end of the summer, I figured I’d better do a bit of an update on my garden! ūüėČ

I have been posting some casual updates in my Instagram stories, and I’ve saved them as a highlight, too! (find them HERE–tap the little circle under my profile picture labeled “Garden 2020.”)

However, I wanted to share some photos here on my blog, too– a few of these are the same as in my saved Instagram story, but there are a number that are just posted here!

garden on July 20, 2020

The garden grew beautifully! The deer fence seemed to be effective– we’ve seen lots of deer roaming through our backyard, but for the most part, my garden was left alone. Toward the end of the summer, I’ve noticed that my carrots (but only my carrots) have been eaten, but (as I’ll talk about below), this is not a huge loss. If I have to grow carrots to appease the deer and keep them away from everything else, I’m definitely willing to do that.

our first harvest on July 20, 2020

Our first harvest was on July 20, and we had three good-sized, delicious cucumbers!

harvest on July 28, 2020

The cucumbers were plentiful, and we got our first ripe Tiny Tim (cherry-sized) tomato about a week later.

carrots on July 29, 2020

On July 29, we pulled some of our carrots. It was fun to see their beautiful colors and interesting shapes. The purply-red skin was so thin, and the inside was bright orange. However, all of them had a very strong flavor and an extremely woody texture. None of us really liked eating them, but they sure were pretty!

August 14 harvest, including a weird-looking carrot

We got a couple more carrots out of this pot, but we didn’t eat them. In fact, I’ve noticed recently that the carrot greens are getting eaten–but nothing else in the garden has been munched by the wildlife! I’m willing to have sacrificial carrots for the sake of preserving the rest of my plants!

Tiny Tim tomatoes on August 2

The Tiny Tim tomatoes were surprisingly prolific– more than I remember from past times I’ve planted them. They did go bad really quickly–sometimes even on the plant. I’m not sure what was going on, but it definitely looked different from blossom-end rot.

a very quick fresh salsa made from Tiny Tim tomatoes

In fact, one day we had a harvest of Tiny Tims that needed to be used quickly, so I chopped all of them as finely as I could (no small task with cherry tomatoes!) and turned them into a quick salsa. Even though I didn’t have any onion or jalape√Īo on hand to make my regular recipe, it was still so delicious.

Speaking of delicious and easy things made from my garden produce, we enjoyed creamy cucumbers several times this summer.

August 3, 2020

Right before Tropical Storm Isaias came through our area, I wanted to make sure that the garden was as “secure” as it could be, since the forecasts were making it sound like things would be pretty bad. I added a stick to stake up the Tiny Tim plant, and I also moved the big tomato plants back toward the house. As I did, I noticed that their roots are coming through the opening in the bottom of the pots! In the end, the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as had been predicted, and the garden looked lush and green afterward!

My daughter has been really excited about helping in the garden this year. She even took over daily watering and delighted in helping me to harvest our produce.

It took a long time, but finally in mid-August, the Best Boy tomatoes started to ripen.

August 14, 2020
our first Best Boy harvest, August 22, 2020

I harvested our first Best Boy tomatoes a bit early because we were going to be away. We took them along with us and enjoyed them as they finished ripening on our counter!

When we got back from vacation, the garden was definitely worse for being left alone. Even though I heard that there was quite a bit of rain, it was very brown and wilted. I also think that by this point, the cucumber vines were just about done for the season.

Last week, I harvested my last cucumber for the year.

last cucumber on September 4, 2020

In my next garden post, I plan to sum up my thoughts from this year’s garden and do some tallying of my produce (because I’m nerdy like that!). Until then, I’m going to enjoy the last few Best Boy tomatoes that are ripening on my plants!

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Now we had some seedlings growing, and not much of a plan to do anything with them. But it’s always been a dream of mine to have a successful garden.

If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you might recall that the garden plot that we have here in our current location (MD) has not been very successful. I think that there are some major problems with the soil, and add in a veritable menagerie of local wildlife (we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (yes, I know they’re not herbivores, but they’re still around), groundhogs, and who knows what else!) that persists in eating the garden produce just before I harvest it, and the fact that last summer I was dealing with ankle issues, and it has all added up to a disappointing track record for this garden.

So this year, I have a new game plan.

I think.

At least, we’re going to try it.

I have decided that I prefer container gardening, after trying in-ground gardening here and in upstate NY. This year, I’m going back to container gardening, and we’re testing out a few things to protect the garden from deer, especially.

After an extensive discussion with Husband, we have decided to reconfigure the garden plot and change our fencing strategy. The old plot (you can see it here at the beginning of last weekend, with the chickenwire fence removed and weeds mowed down) was 8′ wide by 15′ long.

After mowing around it for years, Husband decided that he would vastly prefer it to go all the way up to the corner of the house (the right side of this photo) to close that gap.

We decided to remove the chickenwire fencing we’d been using and use some black plastic fencing material that we already had on hand to create a low fence that would be easier to maintain (the weed-whacker would get tangled in the chickenwire and so the weeds were unpleasantly bushy at the corners and along the sides of the old garden. Husband cut it lengthwise because we wanted it low enough for us to step over it.

We had thought that we had enough of this black material to completely fence in the “new” 8’x20′ plot, but we didn’t. So we made the garden narrower– the footprint is now 4’x20′.

Since I was only planning to have a small number of containers, this isn’t a problem, and if this configuration turns out to work well, we can adjust in the future. (This is basically becoming a test year– will these measures to prevent wildlife from eating our garden be enough to make it worth having a garden?)

After lying fallow for a year, there were a lot of weeds to clear. I attempted to use our tiller tool, but it was getting so tangled that I just attacked it by hand.

Once the weeds were cleared in the new garden footprint, Husband began installing our little fence. He dug a trench so that we could bury the bottom 5″ or so. There are also taller supports for our deer fence (more information on that coming up below).

We put down Vigoro Weed Control Fabric over the entire plot, tucking it into the trench Husband had dug for the low fence. We are hoping that it is effective, especially since we won’t be cutting holes into it to plant in-ground. I will be putting mulch in, as well, but I haven’t bought it yet! (That’s a project for this weekend!)

My container set up is pretty modest this year. I had three terra-cotta pots that have survived since my original 2007 garden, as well as some other large pots that I’ve acquired over the years. I filled them with potting soil and started planting. The first priority was getting my tomatoes out into the containers, and I also brought our pot of carrots into the garden enclosure. Any extra soil would be used to plant cucumbers from seed. Using potting soil completely circumvents the issues that we seem to have with the in-ground soil in this garden plot. (P.S. I’ll be adding stakes and trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers after I add the mulch.)

In the end, (after a lot of reconfiguring the order of my containers, haha!) we have six containers. On the left, there are two pots with two different cucumber varieties, planted from leftover seeds I’d stashed away from old gardens (Ferry-Morse Tendergreen and Burpee Pepino/Salad Slicer). Next come three tomato containers: a smaller square pot of Tiny Tim and two large terra cotta pots with the Best Boy seedlings. To the right of them, I placed the pot with our carrots.

Finally, we installed the deer fence. After talking to some neighbors and doing some research online, I found a University of Maryland Extension blog post that confirmed that the idea of fishline or similar cord strung between supports could actually work to protect the plants from nosy deer. Husband found some bright orange twisted mason line that we’re using to test the idea. Husband lashed some of my tall tomato stakes to the shorter metal stakes that support the black fencing so that we would just reuse what we have on hand already. Then, we strung the cord as tightly as we could between them. If you look closely, you might be able to make it out in the photos below:


I like this solution for keeping away the deer (well, if it works!) because it’s visually non-invasive and also inexpensive. We left a gap at the end closest to the inner corner of the house so that I can climb in and out over the black fencing. We’re hoping that this gap is close enough to the house and the basement window well (and also narrow enough) that the deer won’t use it as a private entrance into the garden!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming warm weather to see how my plants grow in their new home– and I’ll be getting some mulch soon, too!

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It all started because I felt the itch to see something growing. A bit of stress relief for me, and an activity for the kids as pandemic news was starting to skyrocket.

I had recently found a tiny packet of carrot seeds among some papers in my kitchen, and I thought it would be fun to plant them in a pot that we had outside.

And then, about a week later in mid-March, my kids’ school closed.

At that time, we had no idea that school would be closed for the rest of the academic year, and that our school system wouldn’t start any sort of distance learning for a LOT of weeks. But I wanted to do some fun but still “learning” activities in the meantime, so one of the first things we did was dig out some more old seeds and plant them in some seed-starting soil I had on hand.

We planted some lettuce seed that I had leftover from my second garden ever (way back in Illinois, on the balcony), as well as parsley seeds and a few different tomato varieties from packets leftover from various years.

At this point, I had no real plans for these seeds, just some vague ideas that maybe this year, without ankle troubles to hinder me, we might be able to use our garden plot again.

I had warned my kids that the seeds were pretty old (and they hadn’t been stored perfectly and had been through a couple of interstate moves), and so we couldn’t be sure if they would actually sprout. I think that made it even more exciting when they did sprout!

Of the lettuces and the parsley, only the arugula seeds in the mesclun mix sprouted. It took an extra long time for the tomatoes to germinate, and I had given up on them, but in the end, we had two Best Boy tomatoes and a few Tiny Tim tomatoes– what a happy surprise!

I had also given up on the carrot seeds outside (the theme of this whole garden is seeds that are at least 5 years old!), but we were thrilled to see them sprout and watch them start growing.

Now that we actually had some seedlings growing, I needed to actually decide what we were going to do with them! But that’s for my next garden 2020 post!

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Well.

Compared to my garden in 2016 (recall, I had no garden in 2017), the tomatoes did okay.¬† I’m actually not sure whether this summer’s tomato harvest was better or worse!¬† In 2016, I had a bowlful of green tomatoes at the end of the summer, but I’m not sure that I will get that much this year.

However, I did only have one regular-size tomato plant as well as the Tiny Tim plant I’d had on my windowsill for a good long while!¬† So perhaps I didn’t have such a bad year after all.

This is what we got:

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three Tiny Tim tomatoes.

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two slicing tomatoes (unknown variety).

The slicing tomatoes were yummy.¬† I did pick them a bit early– seems like that’s the only way I get them before the local wildlife does!– but I let them ripen a bit more on the counter before we enjoyed them!

I’d really like to have more success with my tomatoes in this garden, but I fear it means a lot more work than I’ve been putting into my garden in recent years!

 

 

 

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So.¬† I wasn’t really planning on having a garden this summer!

But when a friend from church posted in our online marketplace that she had some extra seedlings to give away to whomever wanted them, I changed my mind ūüôā She’d advertised pumpkins, but on the Sunday she brought them in, she also brought yellow squash and tomato seedlings, too.

I picked up one yellow squash, and one tomato, and two pumpkin seedlings.¬† And after about a week of rain and cold, I finally cleared out the weeds in the garden plot and put them in.¬† I also added the Tiny Tim tomato plant that I’ve had growing on my kitchen counter for months (or more?), which has produced flowers but no fruit.¬† Our kitchen is being renovated this summer, so it didn’t really have a good place to live indoors any longer.

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freshly planted garden on May 20

After that, I basically ignored my poor garden for several weeks, except for when my daughter brought home a lima bean plant she’d started during a science unit in her kindergarten class.

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proud of her tall lima bean plant!

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We decided to plant the lima bean on the reverse side of the trellis from the yellow squash.  

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She planted the lima bean plant all by herself, using my garden gloves!

Unsurprisingly, when you leave a garden to its own devices and add in copious amounts of rain, it starts to get a little jungle-y out there.

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Can you even tell where the yard ends and the garden begins, except for the stakes for the fence?

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The weeds were weighing on my mind, but quite honestly, I was dreading tackling them.  Mosquitoes find me especially appetizing, and I was not relishing the thought of providing my flesh for their feasting.  However, one day, I spent the morning outside with friends, and I used bug spray.  Also during that same morning, we were talking about gardens, and the weediness of mine was again at the forefront of my mind.  After lunch, since I still had the bug spray on my skin, I forged ahead and started the 1.5+ hour process of weeding my garden.

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phew!¬† about halfway through… you can see the lima bean plant and the yellow squash to the right in the photo.¬†

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finally finished with the weeding!

I didn’t want all that hard work to get overgrown too quickly, so a couple days later, I got some mulch and spread it over the garden.

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the garden on June 30, right after I mulched

The mulch has done wonders for keeping the weeds mostly at bay.¬† I’ve watered my plants a few times, and three weeks later, the heat+rain has helped my garden plants increase dramatically in size!

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garden on July 22

The lima bean plant is almost completely engulfed by the yellow squash. Both tomato plants have green fruit on them (I’m surprised and delighted that Tiny Tim is bearing fruit after so long). I also saw a squash starting. The pumpkin plants continue to increase in size and have lots of flowers. I’ve never grown pumpkins before, so I’m interested to see how the fruit develops.

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Throughout the month of June, we had our deck replaced, as well as some other work done on the rear wall of our house. ¬†Because the contractors were out there every day, I didn’t tend my garden quite as attentively as I should have! ¬†As they finished the work, I decided that the jungle-that-was-my-garden needed to be tamed. ¬†I put the kids in the inflatable pool right next to my garden patch, pulled on my long sleeves and pants, and got to (the HOT) work!

Before:

After a couple weeks of "neglect"-- I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel-- the garden was looking really overgrown.

After a couple weeks of "neglect"-- I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel-- the garden was looking really overgrown.

After a couple weeks of “neglect”– I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel– the garden was looking really overgrown.

After:

the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying up spree

the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying up spree

the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying-up spree

I was pretty proud of how everything looked–weeded, tidily pruned and tied up. ¬†I was also excited to see how many of my plants were on the cusp of producing yumminess!!

Cherokee Purple tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes

flourishing cucumber vines... but no cucumbers yet!

flourishing cucumber vines… but no cucumbers yet!

the kids' tomatoe plant-- in a pot in the middle of the garden!

the kids’ tomato plant– in a pot, now in the middle of the garden!

Super Fantastic tomatoes

Super Fantastic tomatoes

Tami G grape tomatoes

Tami G grape tomatoes

On Sunday 7/17, I made my first harvest from the garden! ¬†–a small handful of grape tomatoes, three cucumbers, and some cherry tomatoes from my kids’ plant! ¬†I¬†was¬†so excited for the harvests to come!

First harvest! A tiny handful of grape tomatoes and three cucumbers.

However, the bounty hasn’t materialized for us — at least not yet.

We had a dry spell (and I am notoriously lazy about watering, even though we have a lovely rain barrel to provide us with “free” water), and even though I was collecting large numbers of cucumbers (as many as 7 every few days), they were so bitter as to be inedible (even when peeled). ¬†Since we’ve had some rain, the cucumbers have improved, though!! ¬†So thankful.

Today's harvest: seven(ish!) cucumbers. Thankfully they are sweeter than earlier cucumbers we've gotten.

Harvest 8/5: seven(ish!) cucumbers. Thankfully they are sweeter than earlier cucumbers we’ve gotten.

Even more disappointing– not one large tomato, and only about 5 grape tomatoes since that first harvest! ¬†The tomatoes are literally disappearing– both green and also when they are just about ripe. ¬†We have a strong suspicion that a deer is coming and making a smorgasbord of our plants. ¬†Even though we’ve never had a problem with deer in the past, it’s the only explanation we can think of for why ALL of¬†the tomatoes– even the ones in the back of the garden– are disappearing. ¬†Husband thinks that they are stepping right over the fence¬†to reach the ones not along the edge. ¬†The deer in our area are quite bold– we actually saw one come up to our garden in the middle of an afternoon! ¬†I had to go out onto the porch to shoo it away (knocking on the window wasn’t enough), and even then it stopped at the edge of our yard and stared back at me as if it was sizing me up (I’m having flashbacks to my rodent wars days!).

EDIT: My neighbor told me that it’s actually squirrels! ¬†They are carrying off the produce one piece at a time!

I haven't had the motivation to take very good care of the garden, since it seems as though a deer is eating every single tomato that approaches ripeness...

Sadly, since it seems as though deer (and the squirrels!!) are eating every single tomato that approaches ripeness, I haven’t had the motivation to take very good care of the garden. ¬†The deer (and the squirrels) don’t seem to mind, and I’m not going to trim up the garden just for it! ¬†It’s a bummer that we aren’t getting any tomatoes for ourselves; however I am glad that the cucumbers are improving. ¬†I guess next year, we’re going to have to put up a deer-proof fence! (and do something about those pesky squirrels)

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Now that the weather is consistently warm (yay!) the garden is thriving and growing quickly!  Here are some photos from a few weeks ago.

The garden today.

The garden on June 3.

The garden today.

Another view of the garden on June 3.  

zucchinis are finally coming up (from seed)!

The zucchinis are finally coming up (from seed)! ¬†–June 3

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Since all but one of the cucumber starts I purchased got eaten(? by deer??), I poked some old cucumber seeds from a previous year’s garden into the ground at the base of the trellises. And they’ve come up! Hooray! ¬†–June 3

The kids' tomato plant

The kids’ tomato plant looks hale and hearty. ¬†–June 3

The kids' tomato plant

There are even a few flowers on the kids’ tomato plant! ¬†–June 3

A week later, the kids helped me to water the garden. Look how much the plants grew in that short time!

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On Monday (almost three weeks from the first set of photos), I took some more photos of the garden– it never ceases to amaze me to see how quickly plants grow in the summer heat!!

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The garden today — June 20 I haven’t been out in it much, since our deck is being redone. We’ve moved the kids’ container tomato to the middle of the in-ground garden for now!

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The garden today — June 20.

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The cucumber vine (from the purchased seedling) is starting to bloom. ¬†It’s the biggest vine, though the sprouts from the seeds I planted are catching up! –June 20

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There are even female flowers on the biggest vine! Hoping to have some cucumbers growing soon. –June 20

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The Tami G Grape tomatoes are flowering. ¬†The flowers are so delicate. ¬†–June 20

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The kids’ container tomato is looking good… –June 20

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…and there are some baby fruits forming. –June 20

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I planted my 2016 garden last Sunday!

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I purchased tomatoes and cucumbers at Home Depot and planted some (probably very old) Burpee zucchini seeds.  I had seriously considered decreasing the number of plants I put into the garden, but Husband (easily) convinced me that if we were going to put in a garden at all, we might as well plant 6 tomatoes again.

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To be planted! zucchini seeds. TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato Burpless (hybrid) cucumber Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)

Since we put the weed-blocking cloth down last year, it was so much easier to get the garden set up for this year!  Wow.  I just had a few weeds to pull, and I was good-to-go.

garden before.  the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!

garden before. the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!

 

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after. Can you tell??  Everything is planted!

This year, I decided to switch the sides on which I planted the tomatoes and cucumber/zucchini. ¬†I don’t know, call it crop rotation or something! ¬†I just had the idea that it might be good to switch. ¬†Otherwise, the planting is exactly the same as it was last year– I separated the layers of weed-preventing fabric and planted the seedlings (and in the case of the zucchini, the seeds). ¬†We bought new metal wire trellises for the cucumbers this year, since the wooden ones we got for our first garden in this location had lived their life.

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

We’ve had so much rain here recently that I was easily able to water the whole garden from the rain barrel!

After I had the in-ground garden planted, the kids “helped” me to plant their cherry tomato in a pot on our deck. ¬†I helped them to use the spade to replace the soil around the plant, and they took turns watering. ¬†I hope that they will really enjoy watching their plant grow and have a fun (and delicious) time eating its fruit!

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...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

Varieties:
TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato
Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato
Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato
Burpless (hybrid) cucumber
Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)

 

 

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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
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  • 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.

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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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