Season Review

Well since summer seems to be gone, I thought it would be a good idea to think about this past year and make some notes for next year.

It seems that last spring I could have planted more lettuce, radishes, beets & carrots later in the season. This would have helped with the gap in late May. While the kids enjoyed the baby corn, it seems they really wanted regular fresh corn.

I definately need to plant more melons. Plant less small tomatoes and a lot more large ones.  Give the large tomatoes more space, they probably need a good 24 inches each. I only had about 2 doz large tomatoes, could probably use upwards of 75-100. It takes a lot to make sauce, ketchup and other tomato based things.

Twenty to thirty row feet of snap and snow peas are probably enough, since I don’t like the way they are when you freeze them. But we could use 50 or more row feet of shelling peas for freezing little green peas and probably 25 feet or so of the Blueshokker soup peas.

Since the Lima beans didn’t set pods until late September, they could probably go in a lot later than they did.

I need more bird protection, especially in the summer and fall. Not only did I lose a lot of seedlings to the birds, but also a lot of sunflower and popping sorghum seeds.

I need more rat/squirrel/rabbit  control, they got some melons, tomatoes, squash and other things.

I want more peppers of all types. The amount of squash was fine, as we don’t eat much, especially of the summer types.

We would probably eat more spinach type greens, but mustard and turnip greens were a bust at the table.

We could probably eat more dry beans. The amount of green beans might have been too much, they weren’t a big thrill for the kids so I anticipate the 21 pints I canned to be more than enough. Though I will plant less yard long beans and more Kentucky Wonders.

We could use a lot more strawberry plants. Nobody likes Huckleberries, so I will just invest in more blueberry bushes.

We needed a lot more cucumbers. So this year watch out for the aphids and try to get rid of them ASAP.

I really need to work on the succession plantings. Not keeping up lead to a lot of gaps this year.

Tally HO! And in the Kitchen

WOWSERS! The tally for July is in and a big surprise!

Eggs, 102, which is down a bit from previous months. That isn’t really a surprise, since it has been so hot, the hens have been in a bit of a moult, which always lowers production.

alfalfa & comfrey, which I grow for the rabbits and chickens: 4.8 pounds

Produce: 101.75 That is the big surprise. The bulk of the poundage has been potatoes, tomatoes and onions, but includes strawberries, several kinds of beans, swiss chard, tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, Tromboccino squash, eggplant, basil, apples, watermelon, mesquite beans [which will be ground into a flour when really crispy dry,  high in protien with a sweet lemon taste] and baby corn.

And there is more to come. It has been too hot for the lima beans to set pods, but as soon as it cools off a bit I think we’ll have lots, the cukes and yard long beans are just now hitting their stride. The baby corn is just coming in, to the girls delight [they’ve been waiting all summer for baby corn and are eating it raw!] The Kabocha squash will probably tote up a lot of poundage, there’s the yellow Moon & Stars and the Jubilee watermelons, the cantaloupes, a couple of kinds of pole beans, peppers and eggplants, to say nothing of the fact that there are still potatoes in their pots.  While it’s been too hot for the large paste tomatoes to set new fruit, once the daytime temps stay under 90, they should set a lot.

So it is quite possible for Aug and Sept to show even more poundage than July.

Each time I go to the grocery store my list gets shorter and shorter, partly due to the produce coming in from the garden. Part of it is because I am making more and more things from scratch at home. For instance milk was very cheap when I went shopping yesterday so I picked up an extra gallon and it is ‘ripening’ right now to make cottage cheese. I have found a really delicious brand of yogurt and while I am also going to begin making my own, especially when milk is cheap, it was on sale too so I got extra. The extra carton is now draining to make ‘yogurt cheese’. This is a soft and creamy spreadable ‘cheese’ to which I will add fresh herbs and eat on crackers.

Peelings, cores and bruised bits of apples sit in a gallon jar becoming vinegar. The cucumber crop is in various jars becoming fermented dill pickles. Scott eats tons of mayo so that is another one I’ll start making at home. He also loves garlic and I have a garlic mayo recipe to try out on him.

I’ve really been disappointed with BBQ sauce and salad dressings since I started really reading labels. Also with ketchup. They all have tons of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup in them along with chemicals I can’t pronounce.  This makes most of them way too sweet and of course any non organic corn product is likely to be genetically modified, something I don’t want to eat. So I have been experimenting with making my own sauces. One really good one has been garlic & ginger. When I get it tweaked just right I’ll post it here.

Pesky Critters

Grrrr!First a mouse was eating the bean and sunflower seeds right out of the soil blocks in the house. Then the birds were pulling up young seedlings outside. Then a rat ate some of the pepper plants to the ground, just as they were blooming. Now a blasted rabbit has been eating up the cantaloupes and blue jays are stealing the tomatoes! Very Very aggravating!

I did get some bird netting over the strawberry bed and finally got a couple more strawberries [the jays steal them before they even turn pink!] Today I’ll be getting some more netting to put over the tomatoes. I’m not sure how to solve the rabbit problem as the melons are growing on the compost and there’s so much junk sitting around up there it would be hard to put up a fence…..

Busy Busy

Well it’s really busy around here, just not enough hours in a day to keep up with everything!

gardenapril09 001The Maxi Golt peas were done for, so out they came, to be replaced by Burgandy okra and several inches of sawdust mulch

gardenapril09 004Some of the Sugar Snap peas come out and are placed by Double Yield cucumbers [thanks!] and Kentucky Wonder pole beans

gardenapril09 005Chires Baby Corn seedlings. These are the little baby corns in Chinese cooking, or left to mature they make popcorn.

gardenapril09 006The strawberry bed is interplanted with purple bush beans.

gardenapril09 007The Elephant Garlic is blooming. We got almost 5 pounds!

gardenapril09 008A spell of cool rainy weather gave the Blueshokker peas a new lease on life.

gardenapril09 010A Grimes Golden apple grows with Mammoth sunflowers, asparagus, Swiss chard, cosmos and nasturtiums.

gardenapril09 011Super Italian Paste tomatoes in large cages. Despite a wind storm knocking them over and breaking some branches, they are doing ok.

gardenapril09 012A Lemon Gem marigold. It really does smell and taste of citrus.

gardenapril09 013On the patio looking down the SW side of the house. The big green bushes in front are some of the potted potatoes.

gardenapril09 014This sad looking Red Currant tomato nealy drowned. It’s planted in an old ice chest and I didn’t realize the drain plug got closed up. But it’s making a come back and even delivered up our first taste of homegrown tomatoes.

gardenapril09 015Yard long bean seedlings in a planter by the house. They’ll grow up to shade the laundry room windows.

gardenapril09 016The trombocino squash is taking off.

gardenapril09 017On the patio tomatoes grow in old ice chests and peppers in the orange pots.

gardenapril09 018!st big red tomato, an Imur Prior Beta, it weighed 1 1/2 ounces and tasted delicious.

gardenapril09 020The Kabocha squash was rudely pruned by a pack rat

gardenapril09 021The buckwheat is blooming. mmmm buckwheat pancakes, coming up!
gardenapril09 022The chickens enjoy scratching in their new spot.

gardenapril09 023A wild sunflower with very tiny seeds volunteers in the raspberry bed.

gardenapril09 025The Baba raspberries are showing some color.

gardenapril09 026The new garden area: paths laid, beds made, planted with popping sorghum, quinoa and Bloody Butcher corn.

gardenapril09 027Potatoes in the ground out front aren’t as big and lush as the potted ones on the patio, but doing ok under 6 inches of sawdust mulch.

gardenapril09 028Bloody Butcher corn seedlings. The sticks along the edge of the bed are guides to keep small children on the path.

gardenapril09 030King of the Garden Lima beans are taking off up their trellis.

gardenapril09 031Pencil pod yellow wax beans await transplanting.

gardenapril09 032Poppies and wildflowers bloom along the driveway.

gardenapril09 033A strong smelling sage blooms

gardenapril09 034WOW! look at those melons taking off.

gardenapril09 035Yippee! A baby watermelon

gardenapril09 036The Baby Blue Hubbards are blooming. That compost pile is still hot, 138 degrees!

gardenapril09 037More wild flowers, poppies, a corn flower and a baby apple along the drive way

gardenapril09 038A bee buzzes a bright red poppy full of pollen.

Varieties Growing in 2009

Well, I’m getting around to a few things, one is a list of what’s growing this year, this includes things we’ve already harvested and eaten as well as what’s in the ground now. But it doesn’t include things that I will plant in the future. Altogether I count 132 edible varieties. That number will grow somewhat as the rest of the summer planting goes in and later on when I put in the fall and winter crops.


This is a list of varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers grown in 2009. Items marked with * are from home grown seed.



*Apache Purple Pod

King of the Garden Lima


Yardlong or Asparagus Beans



*large mixed [yellow, pink, red, white]


Danvers Half Long


Purple Dragon


Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple cauliflower

White cauliflower


Chires Baby Corn

Bloody Butcher


Black Beauty

Neon Hybrid

*Neon F2


Lettuce mix

Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

*Swiss chard



*Red Russian Kale

Giant Red Mustard

Pak Choy

NZ spinach

Malabar spinach



Basil, Lettuce leaf

Basil, Spicy Globe

Basil, Thai



*Cilantro / coriander

Chives, regular

Chives, garlic

Chaste tree, aka Monk’s pepper, buddleia, summer lilac







Marigold, Lemon Gem

Marigold, Tangerine Gem

Marigold, Texas Tarragon

Mint, peppermint

Nasturtium, Alaska

Nasturtium, Empress of India

Oregano, Italian



Sage, broadleaf

Sage, chaparral

Sage, Pineapple





*Hales Best Jumbo cantaloupe

Blacktail Mountain watermelon

Jubilee watermelon




Leeks– the Student

Garlic, regular and Elephant



Florence Red Bottle

Welsh bunching

Red Bunching


*Sugar Snap


*Dwarf Grey Sugar

*little Marvel

Maxi Golt

Sweet Magnolia


Ancho Gigantea

Jimmy Nardello


Santa Fe Grande

Sweet Red Bell

Georgia Flame

Alma Paprika


All Blue [Peruvian ?]

Red LaSoda

Yukon Gold



Easter Egg


Baby Blue Hubbard







Super Italian Paste

Polish Linquisa

Snow White

Yellow Pear

Yellow Marble

*Princepe Borghese

Imur Prior Beta


White Globe Purple top



Purple de Milpa Tomatillo

Ice plant

Honey locust tree



Jersey Hybrid Asparagus

Connover’s Colossal Asparagus

Elephant Ears


Sequoia strawberries

Thorn less blackberry



Granny Smith Apple

Anna Apple

Grimes Golden Apple

Summer apple [mislabeled, unknown variety]


Heritage Raspberry

Baba Raspberry

Santa Rosa Plum

Wild Mexican Elderberry



Winter wheat


Popping sorghum

Mammoth Sunflowers

Oil Sunflowers

Sunflowers, mixed kinds & colors


Red root pigweed

Lambs quarters



Soapwort: roots make cleansing suds good for gentle cleaning of delicate or vintage fabric

Golden bamboo: useful small garden stakes

Madder: produces a long lasting red dye from the roots, yellow/tans from the tops. My chickens love it.


Vinca major, drought tolerant ground cover

Virginia creeper, Drought tolerant vine/ground cover

Bearded iris: flowers

Star jasmine: fragrant flowers

Trumpet creeper: draws humming birds

No Monocrops Here!

A monocrop is what you have when you have a solid stand of just one thing. This is how commercial farming works, just one thing in each field. But nature doesn’t do things like that and neither should gardeners! You get much more production from a given space by planting intensively.

gardenapril09 025A case in point, this is my strawberry bed. It was planted with strawberries last fall, the plants are in staggered rows, each plant with 12 inches between it and any other strawberry plant. Then I planted bits of different crops to try out over the winter, chervil, carrots, spinach, cilantro, mache, claytonia.  That big bushy clump in the back is the cilantro going to seed. The dainty white flowers are pretty and supply necter to many beneficial insects. And the seeds are the spice you know as coriander.

gardenapril09 028This is the chervil, also going to seed now. Chervil tastes like a very mild black licorice. I haven’t decided if I like it or not, sort of like cilantro, it grows on you over time.

gardenapril09 027Here’s a bush bean seedling. After eating up a lot of the greens in the bed, when it got hot I started the beans in soil blocks and put them out in the bed about 6 inches in all directions, more or less, where ever the bed was pretty empty. Strawberries and bush beans grow well together.

gardenapril09 026and just look what I found hiding out here. This year the few strawberry plants in this bed will barely give us a taste. But this fall the large plants will make runners and by spring the bed should be full of fruit producing plants.