Our garden moved this year from the back hill to the flat front yard. We were able to build five garden boxes. They have been doing amazingly well, considering I've had a black thumb of death when it comes to plants. They only thing I've successfully grown in the past is tomatoes and zucchini. This year we planted lettuce, green beans, peas, bell peppers, Fresno chilies, padron peppers, carrots, shallots, white onions, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, mini watermelon, butternut squash, and sugar pumpkins.
|This is what it looked like when we started. Green beans on the left, peppers in the middle, and peas on the right.|
Our boxes aren't really deep enough for carrots, so we got itty bitty carrots. But, they were the rainbow variety so it was fun for the kids to pull them up and see what color they got.
The peas did great and had really pretty flowers. I pulled the plants out about a month ago and just planted fall lettuce in their place.
The green beans did great! I only bought a six-pack of plants and we got a lot of beans. Chris doesn't usually like them, but he's enjoyed the fresh ones. Now that they're out of the ground I planted broccoli. I've never grown broccoli, so we'll see how it goes. Something is eating holes in the leaves already. :(
|One of our first harvests of beans. I still have a bag of them in the freezer|
The three varieties of peppers looked sad at first and we didn't think they were going to make it. Turns out we planted them too early (in April). We had a cool May and they just didn't want to grow. But once the heat showed up they took off and we've gotten lots of little bell peppers and lots of the chiles. The padron's haven't produced quite as well but we can try again next year.
|The garden mid-summer. In the left side of this box are the zucchini plants, and the yellow squash on the right. The tall bushy plants in the back are the tomatoes.|
The tomatoes have gone crazy! The variety six-pack I bought from Home Depot didn't have a tag, so I don't know what varieties we have, but I do know they are indeterminate because they very quickly grew beyond their cages and are so heavy the cages bent and tipped over. But, we've gotten some beautiful, delicious tomatoes. We've had so many I made this recipe of tomato sauce (that requires six pounds of tomatoes) three times. It's delicious! I also found a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Torta di Pomodoro (which sounds better than Tomato Tart, Chris was skeptical when I called it that). It was a hit and is now in the tomato recipe rotation. We also like to make fresh bruschetta. It's best on homemade bread. I also made my first attempt at canning crushed tomatoes and was successful (I was terrified of messing it up and giving someone botulism!). I'll save them for soup in the winter. Canning tomatoes is a lot of work though.
The zucchini and yellow squash are producing abundantly. We only have two yellow squash and three zucchini plants and at the peak we were harvesting at least one or two squash a day. I've made lots of zucchini patties, zucchini bread (a modified version of this recipe), and a casserole that uses yellow squash. I've also chopped and frozen it in portions for a vegetable bean soup to make when it cools off. It's also great just sauteed.
Last year, we got one butternut squash on our plants. I blame the deer, they kept nibbling at the leaves and vines that grew out of the fencing. The advantage of the front yard is the deer can't get in there so my butternut squash plants are happy. There are several squash that look ready to harvest, and the plants are still setting new ones. Yay! Lots of butternut squash this year. :) My favorite way to prepare it is roasted with shallots and thyme. And the next day the leftovers make great soup.
|Tucker likes to hunt for lizards in the rocks next to the butternut squash|
And I finally grew sugar pumpkins! We picked four little ones and there are two more growing. Hopefully they will ripen before the first frost. I have lots of pumpkin recipes: muffins, cookies, cupcakes, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course pie.
There's more to come, I'll be planting onions and garlic in November. Once the summer crops finish out I'll let the chickens in there to eat up what's left and then prepare the beds for winter. I've been reading up on cover crops. When we started these boxes in the spring, I figured it was a seasonal venture. I'm learning it can be a year-round project to have a garden, but I'm enjoying it nonetheless.