Tag Archives: vegetable gardening

July Vegetables

My spring vegetables really took a beating from the rabbits and the weather. Even though I had shored up the rabbit fence around the yard, all it took was a couple of holes and I had a nice happy family of rabbits devouring almost everything I planted. Radishes, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, kale, beets and carrots were all gone. The last straw was when my bean plants were each bitten cleanly off at the base.

Since this spring was a loss, I put up a rabbit fence around these two beds to protect what was left.

By now the weather has turned too warm to replant any cool weather seeds, so I’ll have to put my focus into what’s remaining and plan for some fall planting.

The Gourmet Gold Hybrid Summer Squash (Burpee) is truly a beautiful bright yellow summer squash and seems to be an early and heavy producer. A great addition when trying to eat a “rainbow of colors”. The Emerald Delight Zucchini has just started producing and so far I’m liking what I’m harvesting. Both are wonderful on a fresh veggie platter!

The garlic was ready to harvest last week and it’s now curing on the porch! I’m so spoiled by the amazing taste of homegrown garlic, that come late spring I dread having to buy garlic.

I planted the hardneck varieties Music and Purple Glazer, and the softneck Early California from Botanical Interests this year. My WI garlic is a little bit behind and probably won’t be ready for a couple more weeks. Want to know more about growing and harvesting garlic? Check out my previous garlic posts or search for the tag “growing garlic” on the right sidebar.

The Early Girl tomatoes have lived up to their name and already been producing tasty tomatoes perfect for salads and sandwiches, and the Better Boys aren’t too far behind. The Super Sweet 100’s cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen as well. Tomato season is here!

Last but not least are my potatoes. I planted a lot of Yukon Gold and Dark Red Norland potatoes. Even had to buy more potato bags to plant them all. They look really healthy this year since they’ve had plenty of rain. Want to grow your own next year? It’s really easy to do and fun to find all those potatoes in the fall. Check out my how-to’s on planting, growing and harvesting potatoes.

How are your vegetables doing? Have weather or creatures been a problem for you?

Maybe since it’s been cooler in WI, and the garden fenced in better, I’ll have better luck with the mid-summer harvests of my spring planted seeds that I planted there. I’ll be checking on that soon.

 

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My New Raised Beds-Construction

It took a couple of weeks because of the weather and finding the time, but the new raised vegetable beds are finally finished!  We had scoped out a site last fall that got a reasonable amount of sun and wouldn’t interfere too much with existing beds, drainage, play space for the kids, etc.  Getting full sun on my yard is a bit tricky, but most of the beds will be in full sun mid-summer, and the parts that aren’t, I’ll plant accordingly.  After measuring it out, we decided two 4’x6’x8″ beds were the ideal size for the space.  Anything more than 4′ wide is too difficult to garden in physically.

Raised vegetable bed

 I bought corner brackets from Plow and Hearth to simplify the construction of the beds.

raised beds

Then we went to Home Depot to get lumber.  We had planned to use cedar, but they only came in 6″ heights.  That just seems too short and doubling was too high and expensive.  We researched our options and finally decided on regular pine.  While they are not pressure treated, we used them on the other beds and after 3-4 years, they are weathered, but fine.  The possibility of eventual rot outweighed the potential toxins in pressure treated wood. To make the job a bit easier, we had Home Depot cut the boards for us for free.

Now the construction began.  All the hardware was included in the corner kit, we just had to supply the drill for drilling pilot holes and screwing in all the screw.

Raised vegetable bed

 

raised vegetable garden

 

Raised vegetable bed

 

Raised vegetable bed

One was done!  

Raised vegetable bed

Only took a couple of hours to build both, and they couldn’t be easier.  We lined them up, leveled them and then pushed them into the ground.

Raised vegetable bed

 

Raised vegetable bed

 

raised vegetable garden

Tomorrow–filling the beds.

To Add More Gardens or Not???

I am really in need of a new area for vegetables. For years, I’ve struggled with too many plants in a too small of a place. But, I also don’t have a good spot for adding more vegetable gardens, either due to too much shade or existing plants in the way. So I am contemplating putting 2 new raised beds off the back of the patio in a space that used to house the kids swing set.

View from my patio looking straight out

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Right now, this looks out onto half dead red-twig dogwoods that are unfortunately succumbing to some kind of canker. To try and help the dogwoods, we’ve tried to cut back all the old wood, clean up the leaves and last spring did some rejuvenation pruning removing about a third of the branches. No more have died and I’ll do another rejuvenation pruning in the late winter. We’ll see how much longer they last.

But, back to the vegetables. I have been following the sun pattern for most of the summer, and I think this spot will work out. It’s not full sun, but gets good morning and mid-day sun, which is the best I can hope for. I am trying to decide if I should add some trellis work in front to shield it, but in talking to my landscaper, he confirmed my fears that while it will look nice, it will make the area quite shady.  Maybe some other kind of less dense fence will work?

So now the question is, can I make this look pretty by adding some flowers, grasses or other interesting features to the area, or will it just turn into another messy vegetable garden? What have you done to “hide” the vegetable garden or do you think they are pretty?  I think what my mom has done with her gardens is pretty.

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The Garden in Fall: The Bad

It’s the beginning of October and the days are getting shorter, the nights growing colder. While yesterday I posted about the good things in the fall garden, there are also a lot of plants and beds that are really past their prime.  Whether it’s overgrown, or the plants need to be trimmed back, or just haven’t aged well, they really detract from the pretty parts of the yard. Here’s some of the plants and spaces that don’t make me smile.

Those beautiful daylilys are really past their prime!

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I’m not even sure what happened to these hostas???  Slugs, rabbits, too much sun, water???

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Some beds are just not right and need plants moved/and or added.  Will be doing that soon!

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My vegetable garden is just too small and becomes overgrown every year.  But, I think I finally have a plan to expand the garden!

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Plants need to be split.  Need to get on that, too! 

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After looking at all this mess, I went to the farmers market and pick up a lovely bunch of gladiolas!

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Whoops-Giant Zucchini

I go on vacation for a week, then got busy and forgot to check the status of the vegetable garden.  Not a good idea this time of the year.  I have HUGE zucchinis and summer squash.  They are the size of kiddie baseball bats and each weigh about 4 lbs.  This is not good!

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When squash get this big, they get tough and develop very big seeds. I’ve tried to cook them before and they just don’t work well for summer recipes. Especially the summer squash. Letting them get this big also saps the plant from any desire to make new squash since it’s real purpose is to produce seeds. And those big ones are just full of them, making the plant content to just continue make them even bigger.

So what to do?????

After some exploring on the web, I decided all was not lost. Looks like my best bets are zucchini bread and freezing for soups and winter dishes. So, my kitchen has been a flurry of baking and cutting trying to use these monsters up. I’ve never made zucchini bread, so again explored the web and came up with what I hoped was two delicious sounding recipes from Fine Cooking and Real Simple. First, I made Chocolate-Nut Zucchini bread from Fine Cooking with a couple of changes. First, I decided that 3/4 lbs of zucchini was about 3 cups shredded, I used whole chocolate chips instead of the bittersweet chocolate and vanilla yogurt instead of plain because that’s what I had on hand, and I then I just simply forgot to put the nuts in.

Because of the very big seeds and pithy center, I cut the zucchini in half and scooped out the center with a spoon before I grated it.  The skin didn’t seem too tough, so I left that on. If you can’t scratch it with your fingernail, it was suggested that it should be peeled then.

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This recipe got thumbs up from the family, so I will be making another loaf (or 2) for freezing.

Next, I made Zucchini Spice Bread from Real Simple.   I like the method of getting some of the water wrung out of the grated zucchini from the previous days’ recipe so I did that again here.  Briefly, put the grated zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp sugar to draw out some of the liquid, let sit for 15-20 minutes.  Then hand squeeze the water out before putting into the bread batter.  The only change I made to this recipe was that I added 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

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Again, thumbs up!  Two good recipes.  If you have another you like, I have plenty more zucchini to make into bread.

Lastly, I cut up another zucchini for freezing.

  • I again scooped out the pithy, seedy center, then it cut into about 1 inch chunks.
  • I then blanched them in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes, followed by plunging them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  I just want to blanche the chunks, not cook.
  • Then drained in a colander for a few minutes and packed them in 2 cup portions in freezer bags.

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Ready for use this winter in some kind of soup or stews. Does anyone have any favorites?  Hopefully now I will be able to pick some nice tender ones to use in my favorite summer side dish and salad recipes.

By the way, I did toss the one giant summer squash.  It was just not salvageable.  That’s where a composter would come in handy.