Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Garden Becomes a Source of Local Eating: 2008 Garden Update #8

Summer Squash in ColanderI can hardly believe it's been a month since my last garden update and I'm thrilled to report that my garden is abundantly producing veggies and herbs. I've always had a pretty fertile garden, but the raised beds and compost enriched soil seem to have bumped it up another notch. In the colander above is one day's picking of squash, which shows you what a challenge it is to use all the produce. Luckily, I have a lot of nice neighbors to give things to! By the way, I'm intrigued by the fact that the pale green zucchini and the striped green zucchini come from two plants that were growing in the same container!

Here's a current view of the garden space, with two herb beds in the front overflowing with herbs, and the four larger beds in back also completely filled with various veggie plants.

A view looking west-to-east in the garden shows the squash plants up close, and now you can see the really big squash (butternut) that's growing along the back fence.

This is the largest Really Big Squash, a hybrid variety of butternut that produces a lot of squash, and each one is (you guessed it) really big. Last year I had lots of these that were over a foot long.

At the east end of my raised beds, I also have spaghetti squash growing next to the beds. This is the biggest spaghetti squash so far, about 6 inches long. By the way, did you know you can cook spaghetti squash as a summer squash if you pick them when they're young? That's definitely my favorite way to eat them.

Finally, Brandywine tomatoes on the plants! This is my favorite variety of heirloom tomato, producing huge tomatoes with great flavor. They're slow to start producing compared to other tomatoes, but worth waiting for.

I haven't had a huge number of ripe tomatoes so far but my old-standby Celebrity tomatoes are producing a few, and I've even had a couple of tomato sandwiches.

At this time of year, I always start pruning the tomatoes. Like you see in this photo, I cut off the end of the stems, just after a clump of tomatoes. Some tomatoes need pruning more than others, but I think this makes the tomatoes on the plant grow bigger and ripen more quickly.

This is the long row of tomatoes along my fence after pruning, so you can see that this was quite a bushy row of tomatoes before they were pruned! If you don't prune, the indeterminate varieties of tomatoes grow a lot of long stems and leaves and less fruit.

I have loads of tomatillos on my plants now, and I've even used a few in some black-bean salsa. I wasn't sure how to tell when they're ripe, but I just picked some that had filled out the papery skin, and they were great.

I have both white and purple eggplant in one of the raised beds, and they're finally starting to produce some eggplant! I'm really looking forward to making Spicy Grilled Eggplant again this year.

I had two rosemary plants, and then decided I needed one more plant (silly me!) Now there are two distinct colors of rosemary, although they seem to smell and taste the same.

Finally, one of the most exciting new plants this year is green onions! Although they're slow to grow big enough to use, this is something I buy regularly at the store, and I love being able to grow my own.

If you want to check the progress of the garden through the season, use the label 2008 Garden Updates to load all the garden update posts.
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41 comments:

  1. Absolutely stunning garden, Kalyn! Since you have now also become my gardening idol, what is the best way to prune tomatoes. I am noticing that mine seem stemmy rather than bushy. Can you give us your technique? My bigger tomatoes are also slow to produce--lots of greenies but not many turning color yet.

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  2. your harvest is amazing!! So beautiful and lush... I don't really see this breed of heirloom tomatoes here and they are so pretty. your neighbours are so lucky, heh

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  3. Stefania, I don't use a particularly scientific method for pruning! I just look for stems that have a couple of bunches of tomatoes on them, then prune after the second bunch of tomatoes. I know a lot of experts advise cutting off the new stems that grow in the "elbows" where a stem goes off of another stem, but honestly I never bother with that, just trim below the tomato bunches. I think that will really make your tomatoes bush out and also make them turn red more quickly.

    Noobcook, thanks. The Brandywine tomatoes are absolutely the most delicious thing you've ever tasted!

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  4. What a lovely garden! Much less weedy than mine! I posted a pix of my harvest today too...

    Mary

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  5. It's gr8 for a family,having a home garden with lots of herbs and veggies .This types of garden not only help us 2 eat healthy but also gives us fresh air with full of oxygen and feels better 2 our mind. But I can’t understand that particular line that is” the pale green zucchini and the striped green zucchini come from two plants that were growing in the same container!”Can u pls tell me wat u wanted 2 mean by saying that?

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  6. Your garden is awesome! I wish I was one of those lucky neighbors. ;-)

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  7. What a beautiful and well-organized garden! Mine's pigsty by comparison.

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  8. Kalyn, Your garden is impressive! II bet your brother who built the beds is thrilled with how the beds have positively influenced your bounty. How wonderful to produce such amazing bounty. It never ceases giving me pleasure seeing a productive garden. Your first garden blog inspired me to put one in, and although mine is much smaller than yours, I'm loving nuturing the plants and harvesting fresh edibles! Great post!

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  9. Cline, what I mean was I bought a garden plant at the garden center with two zucchini seedlings growing in the same pot, but now that they're producing zucchini, they are two different colors of zucchini. That seems kind of funny.

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  10. wow you have a huge garden! it's so beautiful!

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  11. Your garden is beautiful! We put in raised beds & brought in "good" soil this year. The cantaloupe and watermelon are splendid but everything else is just sort of putzing along. We live in the South & I think we started too late.

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  12. Your garden is amazing!! I wish I had enough sun - can't wait to move. I think the raised beds look great.

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  13. Kalyn your garden is beautiful. I can't wait to buy a house next year and have a yard for my own garden.

    I was wondering, how do you choose a good eggplant when buying it in a store?

    I tried one for the first time the other day in a modified Ratatouille (sp?) dish and I just didn't like it at all which is not like me when it comes to a veggie. But having not eaten eggplant I don't know what it should taste like, so i'm clueless.

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  14. Your garden is beautiful! I wish I had more of your plant variety. (Too many tomatoes this year... but that's not much to complain about, right?)

    What did you use between your beds? I started a garden this year with 2 raised beds (love them!) but I'm tired of mowing between them. I need to kill the grass and keep it from coming back.

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  15. Beautiful.. We gardened a LOT up north. Been in Central Florida for almost 30 years and still don't have the hang of it. You've inspired me to try once again. Seasons are totally turned around. Time to start those tomato seeds and get some other seeds into the ground! I love your emails..your personality shines through!

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  16. Ranee, I really never cooked eggplant until I grew my own, so I'm afraid I don't know how to choose a good one. I do know that I never particularly liked eggplant until I had it grilled, so you might try it that way.

    Rache, my beds are built where there was garden before, so they just have dirt between them. I've been surprised that there haven't been too terribly many weeds. I'm planning to put something between them, probably small wood chips, but I might wait until next spring now.

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  17. That is quite an inspiration. I'll bet you started small and then added a little year by year. I think I have read that you can replant green onions. I prefer the green parts to the white part. When I buy then they still have a few little roots. I've thought of planting them but I haven't tried it. I have heard the same of leeks.

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  18. I have some beautiful red Russian kale in my garden this year from seeds that I bought on a whim. While I do like to toss a torn leaf into my garden salad my favorite use for kale is the Portuguese soup caldo verde. I notice there is a link to a recipe here, and there are as many variations as there are Portuguese cooks, but using this kale I change the name to caldo purpurino, or purple soup. :-)

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  19. Your garden is amazing! I wish I was still your neighbor:)

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  20. Maria, me too! But I know you will have your own fantastic garden in no time. Maybe we can do dinner and I'll give you some veggies and herbs!

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  21. Hi Kalyn,
    Our local food pantry encourages gardeners to "Plant a Row for the Hungry". This way fresh produce that may go to waste is donated to local food pantries. You may want to consider this when your amazing tomatoes really come in!
    Here's a link for you to check out:
    http://www.gardenwriters.org/par/
    Happy Growing,
    Brady

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  22. The garden looks gorgeous, Kalyn! I remember when it was all just wee plants...so glad to see how well it's doing now.

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  23. I second Stefania...what an absolutly stunning garden!

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  24. Kalyn what a fabulous garden. i am so envious. shame that there is an ocean between our front doors.it must be wonderful to have all those lovely vegetables at the bottom of the garden.

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  25. Very nice garden, Kalyn.

    Paz

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  26. I love your garden photos! I don't think I've ever seen an eggplant "in bloom!"

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  27. With a whole row of tomatoes, you'll be making those slow-roasted tomatoes we love before you know it! I love watching the progress of the garden over the course of the whole season. Makes me wish I documented my own garden more diligently.

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  28. Something odd here. I wrote a comment this morning on your garden and for some reason a comment I wrote about the Russian kale article appeared here. It had posted to the kale article as well. Just curious. (come to think of it, I am often accused of being curious.)

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  29. Michael, I noticed that too. There is definitely some kind of gremlin on the loose in the blogger comments today. All night whenever I publish a comment it says "that comment has already been moderated." Then most of the time when I check the comment actually *did* publish, but sometimes it doesn't publish and I have to copy it and paste it into a comment form again. I hope they fix it!

    Now I want to know what your garden comment said! So I guess I am curious too. That comment hasn't appeared in my e-mail so I'm guessing it's lost forever.

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  30. Really!!lol..it's very funny.Anyway Thnks Kalyn.

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  31. Nope, sorry Kalyn. The moment has passed. That's what happens when you get to be my age. :-)

    Z

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  32. Michael, this is getting even more strange. I've been publishing comments all morning, no problem, and now your last comment just did the "has already been moderated" thing, although the comment did publish!

    The Blogger gremlins are really after you! Don't take it personally.

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  33. Hah! Now it's doing it to me too!

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  34. If you don't hear from me for a while it is because I am hiding under my desk hoping the e-gremlins don't find me.

    Z

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  35. Sorry for clogging up this posting but I remember that one of the things I mentioned yesterday was the danger of getting too attached to rosemary. A photo of my rosemary patch is at www.zgardenz.info

    Z

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  36. Wow, you do have a lot of rosemary! Time to make rosemary bread or rosemary mustard grilled chicken.

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  37. All I can say is, WOW! I am a chef by trade, and I have been experimenting with gardening as well. I had all sorts of grand designs for raised bed gardening this year, but it never came to pass. I would love to hear how you made your raised gardens though, they are stunning.

    Cheers,

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  38. Jason, if you click the label that says 2008 Garden Updates, you can see all the progress of the garden through the season, including how my brother made the beds.

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  39. The garden looks amazing! I remember when the top soil was just sitting on a blue tarp in the yard.

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  40. Still wildly jealous of all your wonderful produce - you certainly have green fingers! I am going to try your tomato pruning trick, although I planted mine so late they are still in the process of making fruit, but it looks as if we will have quite a few. I am struggling tremendously to get my butternut fruit to set. There are loads of flowers on my 3 plants, but they simply die and fall off - no fruit :( Any thoughts?

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  41. Jeanne, I've had that happen with my summer squash, but I really have no idea why it happens. It seems like the first few blossoms fall of, then they start to set. Hope that will happen for you!

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

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