Photos from the last week of August.


First raspberries of the year.

First raspberries of the year.

Lots of squash, some cucumbers, a few corn, peppers, sunflowers and basil.

Lots of squash, some cucumbers, a few corn, peppers, sunflowers and basil.

The Nutterbutter Squash are looking so good!

The Nutterbutter Squash are looking so good!

One of the many beautiful sunflowers in our yard this year.

One of the many beautiful sunflowers in our yard this year.

Look at that tall sunflower! That is one plant with many, many flowers on it. Approximately 15 feet tall!

Look at that tall sunflower! That is one plant with many, many flowers on it. Approximately 15 feet tall!

Snowy White eggplant is beautiful and delicious.

Snowy White eggplant is beautiful and delicious.

Raspberries are coming in now. By the looks of it, we'll be eating plenty of berries over the next several weeks.

Raspberries are coming in now. By the looks of it, we’ll be eating plenty of berries over the next several weeks.

Close up of red orach seeds.

Close up of red orach seeds.

Here is what the three tomatoes look like this week. A bit of a disappointment.

Here is what the three tomatoes look like this week. A bit of a disappointment.

We must be the last people in the Midwest harvesting tomatoes. They are finally ripening. These are the Sweet Cherry.

We must be the last people in the Midwest harvesting tomatoes. They are finally ripening. These are the Sweet Cherry.

Happy bee.

Happy bee.

Made a nice little flower arrangment with some sunflowers, red orach and lavender.

Made a nice little flower arrangment with some sunflowers, red orach and lavender.

I'm enjoying this amazing display of color and texture very much. Kales, rainbow chard, eggplant, red orach, nasturtium, marigolds... what an outstanding combination.

I’m enjoying this amazing display of color and texture very much. Kales, rainbow chard, eggplant, red orach, nasturtium, marigolds… what an outstanding combination.

Before & After


beforeafter

 

I’ve made it to that mid-point in my gardening season. Cool weather crops are done and warm weather crops aren’t really ready yet. I do still have lettuces and of course, herbs. But that’s about it for the next few weeks.

It’s been a busy June/early July and I haven’t been able to keep up with work in the garden. Now I have a few weeks where I can put in the time and really get things fixed up. I thought it might be interesting to show you the before and after of a real life garden. Not so pretty before. But definitely worth the work for the after.

This self seeded sunflower is monstrous!

This self seeded sunflower is monstrous!

Honeysuckle vine is doing well, no aphids this year. However, one of the vines did die, though the second one is so robust it's hard to even tell that one is missing this year.

Honeysuckle vine is doing well, no aphids this year. However, one of the vines did die, though the second one is so robust it’s hard to even tell that one is missing this year.

View from the deck to the back wall.

View from the deck to the back wall.

Garage side garden in a mid-season transition.

Garage side garden in a mid-season transition.

Peas are done, lots of weeds and some squash plants.

Peas are done, lots of weeds and some squash plants.

Peppers and sunflowers, some lettuce and marigolds. And weeds!

Peppers and sunflowers, some lettuce and marigolds. And weeds!

Compost bin and rhubarb.

Compost bin and rhubarb.

The back wall is a mishmash of perennials, annuals, garlic and lots of weeds. Needs a clean up.

The back wall is a mishmash of perennials, annuals, garlic and lots of weeds. Needs a clean up.

The wall lines the entire back property line of our yard.

The wall lines the entire back property line of our yard.

It's a good lettuce year! No bugs and cooler weather. This needs a major thinning. Time to eat some salad.

It’s a good lettuce year! No bugs and cooler weather. This needs a major thinning. Time to eat some salad.

Strawberries, gladiolus, a few impatiens and some straw that decided to seed itself and grow some annoying green growth. Needs a clean up and prep work for the strawberry runners that are starting to grow.

Strawberries, gladiolus, a few impatiens and some straw that decided to seed itself and grow some annoying green growth. Needs a clean up and prep work for the strawberry runners that are starting to grow.

More of the gladiolus, impatiens and strawberries.

More of the gladiolus, impatiens and strawberries.

New "Believe" rock from my sister-in-law.

New “Believe” rock from my sister-in-law.

Whoa! Okay, so this is a crazy raised bed. From this view you can see borage, garlic, onion, a volunteer lettuce, and dill. Time to harvest the garlic scapes.

Whoa! Okay, so this is a crazy raised bed. From this view you can see borage, garlic, onion, a volunteer lettuce, and dill. Time to harvest the garlic scapes.

The rest of the crazy raised bed is not quite as crazy. It's home to two very small eggplant, three kinds of kale, volunteer red orach, marigolds and Swiss chard. Things are going well here. It needs some weeding and some plant food on those sad eggplant, but I think once we have a long hot spell those will do just fine.

The rest of the crazy raised bed is not quite as crazy. It’s home to two very small eggplant, three kinds of kale, volunteer red orach, marigolds and Swiss chard. Things are going well here. It needs some weeding and some plant food on those sad eggplant, but I think once we have a long hot spell those will do just fine.

Weeds.

Weeds.

So many weeds. Raspberries are back there as well as a potted eggplant that is doing great. And the mint which is recovering from a bunny incident.

So many weeds. Raspberries are back there as well as a potted eggplant that is doing great. And the mint which is recovering from a bunny incident.

There is a rock garden under there somewhere.

There is a rock garden under there somewhere.

Herbs are doing fine. There is a ton of purslane in this raised bed that needs to be pulled, but once that is done this should be low to no maintenance for the rest of the season.

Herbs are doing fine. There is a ton of purslane in this raised bed that needs to be pulled, but once that is done this should be low to no maintenance for the rest of the season.

Beans climbing a support. Need to get my landscaping rocks back in their spots... they seem to walk off with my kids.

Beans climbing a support. Need to get my landscaping rocks back in their spots… they seem to walk off with my kids.

This area needs a clean up. That dill is good for now, but will probably be done in a few weeks.

This area needs a clean up. That dill is good for now, but will probably be done in a few weeks.

Basil is finally getting to a point where I can begin harvesting. I will plant some more in another location for later in the season.

Basil is finally getting to a point where I can begin harvesting. I will plant some more in another location for later in the season.

This is a container of carrots... and weeds.

This is a container of carrots… and weeds.

Another view of the kale, Swiss chard and orach.

Another view of the kale, Swiss chard and orach.

Overhead view shows the extent of weeds taking over the patio.

Overhead view shows the extent of weeds taking over the patio.

This side of the patio has few weeds, but still needs some work. The dill sure looks cool from this view!

This side of the patio has few weeds, but still needs some work. The dill sure looks cool from this view!

Honeysuckle and deck from above.

Honeysuckle and deck from above.

Lawn from above.

Lawn from above.

I have three tomatoes in pots this year. They look small right now and they are. But they are healthy and the weather at my house has been cool. I am confident that these will take off very soon.

I have three tomatoes in pots this year. They look small right now and they are. But they are healthy and the weather at my house has been cool. I am confident that these will take off very soon.

 

One week later, things are looking much better! Here are the after photos:

With weeds gone, the squash seems happier.

With weeds gone, the squash seems happier.

Nutterbutter squash plants are getting bigger.

Nutterbutter squash plants are getting bigger.

Cucumbers just about ready to start climbing.

Cucumbers just about ready to start climbing.

I still have plenty of lettuce here. Also peppers, sunflowers and marigolds. I've also added some basil seeds here, hoping to get a late summer crop to go with tomatoes.

I still have plenty of lettuce here. Also peppers, sunflowers and marigolds. I’ve also added some basil seeds here, hoping to get a late summer crop to go with tomatoes.

Peppers.

Peppers.

Back wall looks much nicer now with weeds gone.

Back wall looks much nicer now with weeds gone.

Pretty lillies.

Pretty lillies.

I like the color back here. And at night I can see the white flower from the house.

I like the color back here. And at night I can see the white flower from the house.

White petunias.

White petunias.

A view of the garage.

A view of the garage.

I topped off the older strawberry plants and will now let the runners go wherever they please.

I topped off the older strawberry plants and will now let the runners go wherever they please.

I "believe" the garden looks better now!

I “believe” the garden looks better now!

Weeded, but still jam packed. Soon the garlic will come out and the dill will take over.

Weeded, but still jam packed. Soon the garlic will come out and the dill will take over.

Weed free, for now. Second container of carrots moved over here.

Weed free, for now. Second container of carrots moved over here.

I love all the colors of kale, orach and chard together.

I love all the colors of kale, orach and chard together.

Swiss chard has the most beautiful leaves.

Swiss chard has the most beautiful leaves.

Raspberries are getting very tall now! We put in a support to try to keep them upright, hopefully it holds.

Raspberries are getting very tall now! We put in a support to try to keep them upright, hopefully it holds.

Pot o' eggplant.

Pot o’ eggplant.

Herb garden is in such good shape right now.

Herb garden is in such good shape right now.

There's the rock garden! I knew it was under those weeds somewhere.

There’s the rock garden! I knew it was under those weeds somewhere.

I'm very happy with my Climbing French green beans. They are perfectly ascending this support and have flowers starting on the bottom.

I’m very happy with my Climbing French green beans. They are perfectly ascending this support and have flowers starting on the bottom.

Lavender, dill and chamomile.

Lavender, dill and chamomile.

A very tall sunflower. It keeps getting taller! I will have to pull out a measuring tape soon.

A very tall sunflower. It keeps getting taller! I will have to pull out a measuring tape soon.

Tomatoes are still looking good and starting to get bigger. They are definitely behind schedule though, so at this point I'm hoping for a nice long summer.

Tomatoes are still looking good and starting to get bigger. They are definitely behind schedule though, so at this point I’m hoping for a nice long summer.

A nice place to sit.

A nice place to sit.

My happy place.

My happy place.

View of the patio garden. I did plant some nasturtiums which are supposed to rise up and meet that sun, but they are only about a foot tall right now.

View of the patio garden. I did plant some nasturtiums which are supposed to rise up and meet that sun, but they are only about a foot tall right now.

Another view of the patio garden.

Another view of the patio garden.

Another view of the deck.

Another view of the deck.

Garage garden.

Garage garden.

Garlic with scapes. The scapes are now ready for harvest and the garlic will stay in for about another month.

Garlic with scapes. The scapes are now ready for harvest and the garlic will stay in for about another month.

Overhead view of herbs and honeysuckle.

Overhead view of herbs and honeysuckle.

Overhead view of deck.

Overhead view of deck.

Patio garden.

Patio garden.

Raspberries and mint.

Raspberries and mint.

Backyard view.

Backyard view.

Overhead of raspberries, beans and nasturtium.

Overhead of raspberries, beans and nasturtium.

Why I’m back with a CSA.


Four years ago I wrote a post titled Why I dropped my CSA membership. Having gleaned all the info and inspiration I needed from that CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership, I was ready to make a go of it on my own. Things have gone pretty well in the last four years. We have eaten lots of great garden food. We’ve tried many new varieties of vegetables and herbs. We’ve preserved pound after pound of garden goods and enjoyed them throughout the year.

It hasn’t been all glamour though. Blight, bugs, cold weather, an insane amount of weeds and a myriad of other issues continue to plague my garden year after year. Nothing out of the ordinary. but enough to leave some holes here and there in my harvest.

Also, in that time, I’ve added two children to the family. And my other two kids have grown bigger. When I cook meals now, I need to make a lot of food.

Online and in other media, I’ve seen so many beauty shots of produce from local farms, farmers markets and CSA  boxes. I sometimes get veggie envy.

One year I spent the better part of our food budget at the farmer’s market. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that. But it did make me think about my CSA days of yore and consider the value of purchasing produce that way. Perhaps the CSA did make better economic sense after all.

And then there’s the creative factor. The CSA boxes included items that made me stretch my cooking chops a bit and learn new techniques. I was missing that. Left to my own devices, I tended to buy basic vegetables that I knew my family would eat without complaining. Again–nothing wrong with that. But it wasn’t as interesting or as much fun. I like a food challenge and researching techniques and recipes is my idea of a good time.

So this winter, when I started to notice all the CSA sign up reminders popping up in my facebook feed, I began to reconsider my stance on CSA membership. Maybe I was ready to dive back in? Indeed, I believe I am.

The first box is here and I’m presented with a whole new vegetable (puntarelle, anyone?) to try and lots of possibilities ahead. I can’t wait to see what every new week brings. I’m confident that the produce we receive each week will be helpful in feeding those two new mouths we have, as well as the other four of us. Thankful for the bounty we grow, but also for that which is grown by others.

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The Fulfillment of the Promise


What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. ~Gertrude Jekyll

It has been a beautiful spring so far in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yes, we have had some chilly air here and there. But overall things are right about where they should be. I find some comfort in that. After enduring winter’s bone-chilling cold and colorless landscape, it’s feels so good to know that once again Spring has arrived and the promise of another season of growth and life is now here.

The spiritual message of all this Spring wonder is not lost on me. I’m reminded of life eternal each year, and that only through death can we truly gain life. I don’t want to forget that, even in the giddy excitement of planning and planting the garden and observing the world as it comes back to life.

Here is some photographic evidence that the month of June is here at my house in all her glory. I’m sure the story is similar in countless backyards everywhere. By the way, you don’t have to have a garden to enjoy the sight of wild asparagus on the side of the highway or gorgeous green leaves upon the trees. Go find your own evidence, pretty much anywhere you look right now. And enjoy! It only comes once a year.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don't want hanging around.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don’t want hanging around.

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

A peek at the red orach which reseeded itself from last year's planting. The color is outstanding.

A peek at the red orach which seeded itself from last year’s planting. The color is outstanding.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Strawberries setting fruit.

Strawberries setting fruit.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year--honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year–honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

This year's tomatoes freshly potted. Here's hoping for a good tomato year.

This year’s tomatoes freshly potted. Here’s hoping for a good tomato year.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

Radish Love


Radish assortment from this year's garden.

Radish assortment from this year’s garden.

I probably never ate a radish (willingly) until I was well into adulthood. They just weren’t very good. In the last several years though, I’ve discovered there are lots of radishes that actually taste very good. I just have to grow them myself. They are nowhere to be found in the stores.

Radishes are my go-to early season garden filler. They are the first thing I plant in the spring, as soon as the ground is warm enough to dig. They are the perfect bridge between winter and summer. They grow fast and easily even in cold early spring temperatures, only taking about 25 days from germination to tasty salad addition. By the time they are all harvested and eaten, it’s time to put in more summery crops.

Pink Beauty radishes, early in the seson.

Pink Beauty radishes, early in the season.

French Breakfast radishes almost ready for picking.

French Breakfast radishes almost ready for picking.

Now, the whole radish is edible. The leaves can be added to salads, soups, stir fry, or wherever a bright green slightly bitter and peppery punch is needed. Truth is, I don’t love to eat the leaves. Sometimes they are fuzzy, even “spikey” as my kids say. I prefer to toss the leaves in the compost and let them nourish us that way.

Cherry Belle radishes with their greens.

Cherry Belle radishes with their greens.

For me, the radish root itself is where it’s at. Fresh from the garden they are crisp and full of zip. Even better after being chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Radishes have varying degrees of “heat”. Seed catalogs usually inform on the level of bite that can be expected. Terms such as “mild”, “pungent” and “hot” give an idea of what to expect.

Here are some radish varieties I’ve grown and enjoyed:

Pink Beauty
Ostergruss
French Breakfast
Cherry Belle
Early Scarlet Globe

Radishes are great by themselves, but they also make delicious dippers. Any veggie dip would work. However, a real treat is to make an herb butter compound and serve that room temperature alongside chilled radishes. Oh my. Butter and radishes are a match made in heaven. If it’s too early in the season for fresh herbs, dried are a good substitute. My kids love plain butter with just some garlic salt mixed in. And if all it takes is a little butter and garlic salt to get my kids to eat radishes, then I’m in. Because I remember being a kid who would not eat a radish. So I consider it a success to have raised radish eaters.

Fresh-from-the-garden French Breakfast radishes with an herb butter.

Fresh-from-the-garden French Breakfast radishes with an herb butter.

While the butter dip is my favorite way to eat radishes, there is no denying that they are perfect for salads. A peppery spring salad of arugula and sliced radishes with a simple drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper is something I look forward to every year.

It's no coincidence that arugula and radishes are ready to harvest at the same time. They are a tasty combination!

It’s no coincidence that arugula and radishes are ready to harvest at the same time. They are a tasty combination!

If my radishes are getting a little “long in the tooth” it’s a good time to consider roasting them. Like all root vegetables (think carrots, parsnips, etc) radishes can be tossed with some olive oil and salt and roasted in a hot oven.

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy radishes. A quick online search or scan of Pinterest will yield tons of ideas.

I’ve never grown a fall crop of radishes, but maybe it’s time to start. They are pretty much the perfect start to the gardening season, I imagine it’d make a fitting end to enjoy them then too.

Radishes come in many shapes and colors. It's worth seeking out new varieties in seed catalogs.

Radishes come in many shapes and colors. It’s worth seeking out new varieties in seed catalogs.

Starting Point


Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere. And that I suppose is the theme this month in my garden. There are no showstoppers. No amazing spring miracles to report. No beauty shots of a well kept spring garden. It’s just this ol’ work in progress, folks.

Here are some photos of where things are at today, April 17th 2015. It’s been a very long time since my last post in 2013. My 2014 garden had it’s ups and downs, on which I did not report. Instead I took some time to reflect, focus on the work of the garden and mostly–tend to my May 2014 baby boy. That boy is turning 1 in a few weeks. I intend to give him–and his siblings–the gift of a beautiful garden in 2015.

So, here goes. We start here.

Well. This WAS the lemon tree. I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps I left it out too long in the cold weather earlier this spring. Or perhaps a curious three year old removed all the leaves. No one can say for sure.

Well. This WAS the lemon tree. I’m not sure what happened. Perhaps I left it out too long in the cold weather earlier this spring. Or perhaps a curious three year old removed all the leaves. No one can say for sure.

By the end of May I'll remove last years bean vines from these pots, add some new potting soil and get new beans started.

By the end of May I’ll remove last years bean vines from these pots, add some new potting soil and get new beans started.

This back bed contains perennials, but also garlic. My daughter planted 22 oriental lillies in here last weekend. She would like to have a cutting garden this summer.

This back bed contains perennials, but also garlic. My daughter planted 22 oriental lillies in here last weekend. She would like to have a cutting garden this summer.

It's always a happy day when the rhubarb returns!

It’s always a happy day when the rhubarb returns!

My son planted 30 gladioli in this small garden under the play set. It's pretty shady, but if they grow it will brighten up this spot quite a bit.

My son planted 30 gladioli in this small garden under the play set. It’s pretty shady, but if they grow it will brighten up this spot quite a bit.

I've made my way to about the middle of this garden bed, so far I've planted radishes, carrots, peas, pak choy and some flowering broccoli. Lots more to come in here.

I’ve made my way to about the middle of this garden bed, so far I’ve planted radishes, carrots, peas, pak choy and some flowering broccoli. Lots more to come in here.

I'm wondering if this clematis will do anything. It barely grew last year but is showing a few buds on the old growth. I'm hoping for the best.

I’m wondering if this clematis will do anything. It barely grew last year but is showing a few buds on the old growth. I’m hoping for the best.

Onions and garlic now poking through the surface of this garden bed. Teeny tiny spinach and arugula seedlings are scattered on the other end.

Onions and garlic now poking through the surface of this garden bed. Teeny tiny spinach and arugula seedlings are scattered on the other end.

Strawberries are in a new location this year. Looks like at least some of them will grow just fine here.

Strawberries are in a new location this year. Looks like at least some of them will grow just fine here.

Chives seem to be the only green visible in the herb garden.

Chives seem to be the only green visible in the herb garden.

Oh no! I don't think this rosemary survived the winter.

Oh no! I don’t think this rosemary survived the winter.

The kids have been collecting materials to create a fairy garden.

The kids have been collecting materials to create a fairy garden.

These peas we planted in March are coming along.

These peas we planted in March are coming along.

Raspberries doing their thing.

Raspberries doing their thing.

Here are my starts. There will be another tray planted soon, but for now I have various kales, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and parsley.

Here are my starts. There will be another tray planted soon, but for now I have various kales, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and parsley.

Excited to see the chocolate mint once again.

Excited to see the chocolate mint once again.

A Summer Well Spent


It’s a warm, sunny, October day here in Wisconsin.  Cooler temperatures are on the horizon, but for today we will enjoy the warmth and sunshine for yet another day.

As I reflect on my summer (which I realize remains a mystery to readers as it’s been months since I’ve posted) I feel thankful and satisfied with what was accomplished.  I set out with a vague goal of preserving more food this year than I ever have before.  I knew that I would grow some of that food.  And that I would buy some of that food from farmers.

You might be wondering what has been grown, purchased and preserved this year.  As a matter of fact, I was wondering that same thing this morning as I pulled out a jar of peaches and thought how nice it would be to have an inventory of some sort.  Here is a list–with and without amounts–of what I worked on this summer.  I hope it inspires other urban gardeners to try some preserving.  Nothing here is exotic or difficult to do, just good ol’ jars of food and stuff in my freezer.

60-ish jars of jam:  rhubarb-vanilla, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, peach-vanilla, blueberry
6 cups chopped frozen rhubarb
12 quarts of peaches in medium syrup (my son’s favorite!)
2 gallon bags of frozen blueberries
8 quarts frozen strawberries
strawberry fruit leathers and dried strawberries (these were gobbled up a while ago, I don’t remember exactly how much we made)
5 quarts cherries in almond syrup
4 pints cherries in wine
2 pints dried cherries
1/2 gallon cherry wine
several bags chopped, blanched kale (for winter soups)
4 pint jars dehydrated chocolate mint (for tea)
6 pints mint syrup (for mixed drinks, sweetener)
3 pints cherry wine syrup (to pour over a pound cake)
pesto (we keep eating this, I’m not sure how many we made)
kale pesto
1/2 pint jar dried chamomile (for tea)
several containers cream of broccoli soup
several containers creamy carrot soup
several containers eggplant supper soup
dried thyme
dried oregano
dried parsley
6 quarts garlic and honey dill pickles
7 pints bread and butter pickles
6 pints spicy classic dill pickles
4 pints tomato sauce
4 pints marinara sauce
4 pints tomato salsa
6 pints peach salsa
dehydrated apple rings
dehydrated tomatoes
8 pints applesauce
3 pints cinnamon applesauce
8 loaves zucchini bread
12 heads of garlic
gallon bag of frozen kale cubes (to throw in smoothies)
gallon bag of frozen beet green cubes (to throw in smoothies)

Meanwhile, we’ve eaten countless salads and tomato dishes out of garden.  We’ve eaten mountains of kale chips.  My kids have a habit of eating raw beans, peas and carrots straight out of the garden… in fact these things never make it in the house.  Every day we look forward to our raspberry snack, straight off the canes outside.  We put fresh herbs on all of our meat and fish, make salad dressing with our herbs and use them in mixed drinks.

This year we enjoyed fresh garden onions for the first time.  We made fresh juices with our celery, cucumbers, kale, parsley and other fresh garden goods.

It’s the second week of October and we still have much to look forward to.  There are tomatoes on the vine.  If a frost threatens, I can pull off the green ones and let them ripen indoors.  Until then, bruschetta and salsa awaits!  And probably a few more BLT dinners (our favorite).  Celeriac is ready to harvest and be transformed into a delicious soup.  Leeks are large this year and ready to be used in a leek and potato soup, as well as other applications, such as our Christmas ravioli filling as we’ve done in the past.  There is plenty of swiss chard and kale, the latter of which will continue to grow until it gets very cold.  Raspberries continue to ripen each day and the eggplant has hit a stride that I find hard to keep up with at this point.  I have such good luck with eggplant.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in this year’s garden is the lemon tree.  So many big, beautiful lemons!  They are turning yellow now and will be perfect stuffed into a chicken for roasting or in salad dressing, on fish, in tea, or on my favorite lemon garlic pasta recipe.  What a blessing to finally get some lemons off that little tree.

I garden in a small city sized lot.  I squeeze a lot in to my small space.  Not everything grows, not everything is a success.  That’s okay.  I’ve learned much from my garden failures.

At the beginning of the season I prayed over my garden as I planted it.  “Dear Lord, if it is your will let this garden nourish us this year.  Make it grow!”  God delivered.  I’m not a perfect steward of these blessings (oops, I’ve had to toss a few things I let go past their prime in the compost), but thankfully God doesn’t withhold His blessing just because I make some human mistakes.  I’m so glad He gives me the opportunity to keep trying and keep learning.

So, for now, my larder is full!  Praise God.

Dwarf Meyer lemon tree has been working on growing these lemons all summer.

Dwarf Meyer lemon tree has been working on growing these lemons all summer.

The lemons are beginning to turn from green to yellow.

The lemons are beginning to turn from green to yellow.

I picked these today--October 8th--our tomatoes continue to produce late into the season.

I picked these today–October 8th–our tomatoes continue to produce late into the season.

Celery root (celeriac) is ready for the soup.

Celery root (celeriac) is ready for the soup.

In this part of the garden, I have (from left to right) celery root, leeks and Swiss chard.

In this part of the garden, I have (from left to right) celery root, leeks and Swiss chard.

Marigolds and nasturtiums finishing out the season.  They have added so much color.

Marigolds and nasturtiums finishing out the season. They have added so much color.

My daughter is picking raspberries.  As you can see, my garden is still full.

My daughter is picking raspberries. As you can see, my garden is still full.

Plenty of herbs are available for flavoring meats, soups and sauces.

Plenty of herbs are available for flavoring meats, soups and sauces.

This garden bed is still going strong with strawberries (I admit they've taken over a bit), walking onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, kale and tomatoes.  October 8th and it is all still looking great.

This garden bed is still going strong with strawberries (I admit they’ve taken over a bit), walking onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, kale and tomatoes. October 8th and it is all still looking great.

The strawberries have really multiplied, as you can see from this view.

The strawberries have really multiplied, as you can see from this view.

Every day we enjoy raspberries.

Every day we enjoy raspberries.

Photos from June & July


I’m feeling very blessed over here as I process the fruits and veggies we’ve purchased as well as the bounty from our garden. God is providing for our earthly needs in a very lavish way this year! I’m working around the clock on peaches and blueberries, dehydrating chamomile and mint teas, eating out of the garden every day and sending my kids out for hours of snacking fun in their own backyard.

Here is a glimpse of the garden. These photos have been taken over the last month or so.

The lettuce patch in mid-June.

The lettuce patch in mid-June.

The lemon tree in mid-June, full of big, healthy, growing lemons!

The lemon tree in mid-June, full of big, healthy, growing lemons!

When my pak choy bolted instead of developing a head, I used the flowers to decorate the dinner table.

When my pak choy bolted instead of developing a head, I used the flowers to decorate the dinner table.

Making strawberry mint water.

Making strawberry mint water.

The finished strawberry mint infused water was completely refreshing.

The finished strawberry mint infused water was completely refreshing.

Making flower confetti in the dehydrator.  Will use this to top salads, appetizers or even ice cream.

Making flower confetti in the dehydrator. Will use this to top salads, appetizers or even ice cream.

The lettuce patch on July 8th.  Big, beautiful heads of romaine and butter lettuce.  Now I have to eat them before they bolt.

The lettuce patch on July 8th. Big, beautiful heads of romaine and butter lettuce. Now I have to eat them before they bolt.

My experiment with these buckets is a complete success.  Amish paste tomatoes, purple runner beans and fava beans are thriving.

My experiment with these buckets is a complete success. Amish paste tomatoes, purple runner beans and fava beans are thriving.

Everything is growing so well in this warm weather with near daily bursts of well-timed rain.

Everything is growing so well in this warm weather with near daily bursts of well-timed rain.

A view of the patio garden area.

A view of the patio garden area.

Nasturtiums spill into the yard while fennel and tomatoes are getting very tall.

Nasturtiums spill into the yard while fennel and tomatoes are getting very tall.

My first attempt at growing broccoli seems to be going well.

My first attempt at growing broccoli seems to be going well.

A healthy crop of chamomile.

A healthy crop of chamomile.

An Italian heirloom tomato.

An Italian heirloom tomato.

The purple clematis vine I planted after my daughter was born almost four years ago has really taken over the space--in a good way!  The view from the window in the nursery is so pretty.

The purple clematis vine I planted after my daughter was born almost four years ago has really taken over the space–in a good way! The view from the window in the nursery is so pretty.

Mint in the left foreground, eggplant in right foreground and raspberries in the background.

Mint in the left foreground, eggplant in right foreground and raspberries in the background.

Food preservation projects abound!

Food preservation projects abound!

Cherries gleaned from the neighbor's tree.  Aren't they beautiful?

Cherries gleaned from the neighbor’s tree. Aren’t they beautiful?

All in!


All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I'm away.

All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I’m away.

The process of getting the garden in went into high gear this week as we prepared to head out of town.  It was really a family effort, with my husband doing much of the structural work and hauling of supplies and the kids helping me with seedlings, seeds, weeds and watering.

I knew several months ago that the garden was going to be more productive this year, but I had no idea just how many things we would be able to squeeze in.  I’ve used every inch of dirt and nearly every pot we have.  The result is a backyard full of dozens of varieties of vegetables and beautiful flowers.  I can’t wait to see how it all grows and what we are able to do with it.  I’m especially hoping to be able to preserve more to eat throughout the off-season.

Why do it this way instead of planting fewer varieties but more of them?  Done that way, I could have enough tomatoes to make all the sauce we’d need for the year.  But I wouldn’t have anything else.  And it wouldn’t be much fun.

Planting several varieties ensures that there will be successes, even amid failures.  If tomatoes get blight, there are still many other edibles to enjoy.  Variety is also a great way to draw beneficial insects to the garden.  Each one may attract something different.

And of course, variety is beautiful!

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden.  They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden. They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband installed this lattice.  I'm planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini.  The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

My husband installed this lattice. I’m planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini. The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

Wonder what I’ve been eating?


I have a website dedicated to documenting meals created from my garden.  You can find it here:  Photos from the Garden Table