I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last documented my garden. There’s been a lot going on in other parts of my life—volunteering, networking, writing—but the garden certainly hasn’t been waiting around on me to do its thing.
I hope you all find this interesting, but I have to admit that the biggest reason I do regular garden updates is to serve as a reference for myself. I’ve found it incredibly helpful as a record of previous years’ growing seasons, to calm my overeager perfectionist when it seems the peas are flowering too slowly.
The last overall garden picture I took was May 14th:
These days when I go out poking around, I feel like I’m entering a jungle!
The carrots and onions have jumped up, forming lush green patches between the prehistoric-looking broccoli plants. Today I cut the last main head, which is probably the biggest I’ve ever grown.
Last year’s weather really messed with my broccoli harvest, so in a sense this year’s crop was better, but I had fewer plants, so it’s a bit of a wash. That one limp-looking plant never recovered, so I had five plants instead of nine. Sadly, I’ll have to file broccoli as a crop I grow for fun, not for productivity. I’ll let each plant give me one more head, and then it will be time to rip them out. Hopefully the garden won’t look too bare when they’re gone!
Another just-for-fun crop we put in this year was three fennel plants. One of them we pulled a couple of weeks ago, and this one is more than ready. I’ve been threatening Miss Chef that if she doesn’t figure out how she wants to cook it, I’m donating it to Friendship Gardens.
Some of the onions may also be ready to pull soon. I haven’t grown these before, but I’ve read that the tops fall over, and then you’re supposed to wait two or three days. This morning I saw this guy signaling he was about done.
In the last couple of photos, you can see some of the weeds have begun creeping in. Although I have been a bit busy, I think the real problem is that I’ve been once again
obsessing over distracted by the peas. They are my favorite crop, and so fun to grow! For the past week or so, the plants have been positively dripping with long, flat pods while I check each day to see if they’ve filled out.
I picked my first handful of pods the other day, and more today. Yesterday, after weeks of baking sun and temperatures in the mid-80s, we finally got a good inch and a half of rain, so I’m expecting them to really get going soon! I never tire of shelling my own peas.
Sadly, after years of pest-free pea plants, the rabbits (I think) have finally discovered them. Rosie is a terrible garden guardian, so I’m glad I’ve got enough to share a few with the local wildlife. If I could let McKenna have the run of the back yard, I bet she’d keep the rabbits in check. And then she’d probably go lie down on my bean plants, so I’ll just resign myself to sharing.
While I was waiting for the peas to plump, I started pulling the first baby carrots. In this picture, you can also see some garlic scapes, which for the first time I’ve harvested early enough for them to be edible.
What are garlic scapes? I’m so glad you asked, because that was the subject of my second paid article that was published online this week! Click here to read it. My editor is planning on running my “column” on Thursdays, so you can get a weekly shot of my writing, even if I’m slacking off here in Flartopia. (And if you’re too busy to read the article, garlic scapes are the stalks that the flowers would grow on if I let them. But the article is much more informative and interesting.)
Back in the garden, I’m happy to see flowers showing up on some of the summer producers. My bean plants are looking good…
…and I was shocked when all the volunteer marigold plants I let stay in my carrot patch were suddenly studded with tomato flowers!
I have no idea what variety they are, because I didn’t put tomatoes in this bed last year. I’m fairly certain they’re not cherry tomatoes, since they’re pretty compact plants. Once I saw the flowers and realized they weren’t marigolds, I tried to trim the suckers, and now I have to figure out how to stake them without being too invasive to the carrots.
Since we’re talking about tomatoes…the cherry tomatoes are still putting on little green babies, but none have started to ripen yet. Miss Chef’s Cherokee Purple plant has finally fruited, though my Mortgage Lifter is still looking anemic and pointless.
Field tomatoes should start showing up soon at the farmers markets, but we’ve got a ways to go before we’re picking our own.
Oh, and remember the lettuce I let flower, to attract pollinators? Most of those flowers have resulted in a plethora of small seed-filled pods.
I haven’t done any research to find if they’re tasty enough to eat, but I’m definitely interested in saving the seeds to see if I can grow some fall lettuce in my new planter box. On the other hand, these may be a hybrid variety, so who knows what I might end up with?
And that is something that I’ve held as my gardening mantra for this season—every year is an experiment. Sure, the peas are a tried-and-true producer, but this year I also totally rearranged my plans to try companion planting. And I have to say, that particular experiment has given me some very positive results!
Maybe it’s the two years’ worth of good soil amendments, but overall I’ve never had such a productive, happy group of plants. My broccoli had notably fewer holes in the leaves, and since they were spread out with other plants in between, only about half the broccoli plants had any pests at all (I did spray once with BT, but most years one application is not enough). My radishes, shaded by the broccoli and lettuce, were slower to bolt and flower. And it may be that the plentiful pea pods are a result of pollinators visiting the neighboring lettuce flowers. Also, my carrots and onions both seem to be happy with their cohabitation arrangement.
Late spring is the highlight of my gardening year, but I’m hoping that I can extend this happy period a bit longer this growing season. Last year’s beans, squash and beefsteak tomatoes pooped out under bushy marigolds, vine-boring grubs and poor pollination, so if they are at all productive this year, I’ll be a happy gardener indeed.