Hello friends!! August just FLEW by for me. What about you? I can’t believe it’s September already. And Mid September at that. Where did the summer go?!?! This was one of the warmest and driest summers I can remember in a long, long time. Which means I was outside watering my garden a LOT. But, it is totally worth it because the harvests are rolling in and tasting delicious and I couldn’t be more excited. This is the time of year for us veggie gardeners that makes it all worth it. Huge harvests, tons of veggies, plants at their peak, it’s the best!
How are your gardens doing this year? How was the summer where you live? Every year seems to bring a new host of interesting experiences in the garden, one of the many reasons I enjoy it so much! That is also the reason I enjoy blogging about the garden every month, and I suggest you keep a similar journal of your home gardens each month. It is so easy to forget what the carrots did 2 years ago vs today. Especially if you are trying them in different soil, different beds, with different companion plants, etc. It is SO important to keep notes of how they performed so that next year you can make changes as needed. It is also good to keep notes that way you have benchmarks to compare from year to year. When things are setting fruit, when you are harvesting, etc. Also, pictures really help. Because in May it is so easy to stuff that garden to the brim because it is so hard to imagine those teeny plants getting 6 feet tall in just a few short months. Yes, I am guilty of over stuffing my gardens, year after year. I will never learn that one!
So, let’s dive into the details!
What was most productive in your garden this year? Drum roll please, if you follow me on Instagram, you will not be shocked to hear that my purple string beans took that away by a LONG shot. My freezer is so full of green beans (well, technically purple beans), we are totally set for winter. That plant is a BEAST. We aren’t sure though if we totally loved the taste of those beans though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were good. But we don’t know if they are our favorite. The problem being with the beans is that they grow so fast it was hard to keep up on picking them small enough. And once they get too large they start to get stringy. So, I am not sure if we will try a different variety next year or not. You seriously can NOT beat the productivity of them though. I’ve never seen a bigger harvest of beans from other varieties I’ve grown (not even CLOSE).
The corn was a bust. I was told by my farmer friends it wasn’t worth it to grow corn at home unless you have a big plot to dedicate to it. Just a couple plants isn’t worth it. My smart ass response was “well, I’m gonna try it any ways!!” Listen to people who have been farming for 50 years when they give you advice like that. It was a total waste of space. I ate two ears of corn (which, don’t get me wrong, were delicious) off of 6 plants. Most of the ears never amounted to anything. But they took up 3 square foot of space which could’ve have 3 pepper plants, 3 tomatoes, or even 48 carrots or onions!! Yeah, for 2 ears of corn I would’ve rather had tons of jalapeños! Leave that one to the pros. In theory, the corn should’ve produced 2 to 3 ears each and in that space there should’ve been 12 plants (according to my square foot gardening methods). That would have given us between 24 and 36 ears of corn. THAT would have been worth it. But theory doesn’t always hold true and instead of 24 to 36 I got 2 ears…. so that was just a fail. In other news, I’ve got some free cornstalks for decoration this fall.
But, on the bright side, my peppers were more productive this year than ever before! They were also taller and bigger this year than ever before. My plants are normally pretty lame looking and while they produce, they never amount to anything of much size. This year, thanks to the SUPER HOT summer, those babies got huge by my standards! The only problem with my peppers this year was I didn’t know what I was planting and so I wound up with only one bell pepper plant, where I was planning on having 3 or 4 and the only jalapeños that I wound up with were in containers. Now, you might be wondering, WHY didn’t you know what you were planting. Well, well, well … little miss Dixie has a favorite activity of stealing things. Like chapstick off the night stand, or highlighters off the end table, or plant tags out of your seed trays. She just has so much fun and whips it all over the house, tail a wagging, throwing it in the air so she can catch it, I mean she really has a ball. You can hear her as soon as she gets something because it’s like a freight train coming through, it’s usually pretty comical because she doesn’t eat or destroy anything she steals, just plays with it. Then she just lays whatever she stole next to her and plops down somewhere and falls asleep. Needless to say, we keep most things out of Dixie height these days, just to be on the safe side. But, I had all of my seedlings outside in May hardening them off for life outdoors and one by one, tags would disappear, and you would see Dixie going the speed of light through the yard flinging and flanging those plant stakes all over the place. Sooo…. yeah. I just planted a couple of plants from each row and hoped for the best. In all reality, it didn’t turn out too bad.
In a ‘save all the plants’ effort, I planted some kohlrabi at the end of July in the corner of my bed where my cilantro was, for no reason other than it was only 25 cents a plant (because who plants things at the end of July??). I had no hope for it. Which is good because it doesn’t look like its grown much at all since I planted it : )
Over in my other bed, I’m in hog heaven. My tomatoes are producing nicely, and unlike last year where I had the largest cherry tomato plant of all time and nothing else, I have a variety of tomatoes! Black krim, huge paste tomatoes, prudens purple, and of course, some cherries. My cucumber plants are the largest they have EVER been. Normally, by this point in the season, they are totally dead with powdery mildew (from a super rainy season). THIS year, they’ve grown up to the top of my 6 foot trellis and are starting to climb across the top. I also grew a longer, slimmer cucumber this year, instead of my usual pickling cukes, and I am really happy with them! They taste delicious!
This year I got back to planting a fave of mine that I didn’t do last year (sad face). Celery! Celery in the garden is so fun! And, I will let you in on a secret, just take what you need! Don’t harvest the whole crown of celery like you buy it in the store. Unless of course you want to, then by all means, go for it! But, otherwise, just take what you need. It will keep producing for you ALL summer long. It just keeps sending up new shoots. I love growing it and you can’t beat the taste of fresh celery. (and remember to save those celery tops and greens for your homemade veggie stock!) If there is one downside to growing celery, it is this: it got too big, shaded out all of my onions, and now I have NO onions. Well, I have one onion the size of a cherry tomato but I don’t think that counts. Lesson learned: give celery more room/plant root veggies somewhere else.
But, in other root veggie news, my carrots are growing nicely! So far the ones I’ve pulled aren’t as big as I thought they’d be. Although the taste is amazing. So I am going to let the rest of them grow for a little longer. Really, it is still early to be harvesting carrots. They will grow into the snow without any problem. I just got impatient and wanted to see how they were looking lol. I also don’t really space my carrot seeds, I just sprinkle them, so sometimes I have to harvest some younger ones to make room for others to mature!
I think that is about it for my garden! SO, over to you guys! Fill me in on all the juicy details. Share pictures with me on Facebook and Instagram! Please, please, please! I would love to see what you’ve got growing.
OVER TO YOU: What do you have growing? Any big fails or super successes? What varieties of veggies do you absolutely love?! Share pictures with me using #simplefreshnatural and I’ll repost my faves!