Hi Folks, it’s been a while. I haven’t had the time or energy to write anything worthwhile lately, but I do like to update this space every so often. Today I thought I’d share some photos of all the different things we grow organically in the backyard (with organic soil/compost, organic fertilizer, and no pesticides.) Most of what you see here was grown from seed, although I usually supplement with a few starts from local garden centers.
This year we have green beans, five varieties of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, summer squash, five varieties of chili peppers, kohlrabi, Cardinal basil, apple mint, cilantro, anise hyssop, and nasturtiums. I was about a week late getting most things planted so we are just starting to get a decent harvest now. The yellow squash is a new variety called ‘Sunstripe’ and it’s really beautiful, but it needs a LOT of space and we ended up having to pull it out because it was crowding out the surrounding plants. Next year we will plan better for that. I also wanted to try Kohlrabi this year, and I planted lots of seeds early in Spring but they were quite a disappointment. Most of the seeds yielded a ton of leaves but no bulbs. We pulled all but three plants, none of which have reached maturity (even though they are an “early” variety.) So we won’t likely grow those again.
We are most excited about the sugar pie pumpkins. Last year we tried growing mini jack pumpkins up a trellis and they were really fun, but they needed more space than we had allowed for them. This year my dad dug out a few shrubs next to the house, and I planted seeds for pie pumpkins. After thinning the seedlings down to one plant, we now have at least 15 sizable pumpkins hiding under the huge prickly leaves. It is such a storybook thing to grow and if you have space for them, I can’t recommend it enough. I also recommend planting lots of nasturtiums around your garden, especially if you’re growing squash and/or cucumbers. The flowers act as a trap crop for squash beetles and they are completely edible and oh-so-beautiful.
Not surprisingly, our weather this summer has been one of extremes: weeks of drought and uncomfortable heat waves followed by back-to-back severe storms, one of which knocked over our sturdiest tomato plant. Luckily there wasn’t any serious damage to any of our crops, and we have since added some structural support where it was needed.
I hope to do another update in a few weeks when the tomatoes and peppers are ripening. One of the tomatoes I planted is a cherry type called ‘Pink Bumblebee’ – a gorgeous red variety with orange stripes that look like jewels. We have cucumbers climbing an A-frame trellis this year, a cultivar developed in Israel called ‘Beit Alpha’ that is burpless and sweet (my nephew loves cukes but hates the prickly surface of most of the larger types because they remind him of pickles – he hates pickles.) I love getting kids excited about growing their own food – it’s a skill that I think everyone should cultivate.
There’s never been a better time to start growing your own food, whether in your back yard, in containers on a patio, or in a community plot. So what are you waiting for?