Well, it's almost the end of the gardening season and I know I've been promising for months to show garden photos, but I have been so busy in my garden, I have barely had time to take pictures yet alone blog about it. This year was unusually busy because in addition to renovating a very large garden that had completely gone to weed, we also put in a vegetable garden. So to make up for my lack of garden posts, I'm going to do a little wrap up of most of the garden year for you. Unfortunately, I did not take any midsummer pictures, so I separated the post into four categories: spring, late summer, the vegetable garden, and the fruit of my labor.
This spring the gardens were gorgeous. The laminum was the star of the garden this spring. My daughter was still living with us at the time it was in bloom and asked what the beautiful purple flower was in bloom all over the yard. She really loved it.
The peonies did very well this year too. Below is the common pink peony followed by a beautiful burgundy version.
The Foxglove was not as showy this year as it has been in previously years. It needs to reseed every year, and last year I renovated this garden so I'm sure I disturbed the seedlings.
Black Eyed Susans are the star of my late summer garden. It reseeds everywhere, and I don't mind one bit. It is such a low maintenance eye-catching plant. I just love it.
This is the top of the garden I just renovated looking down into my yard at the other side of the garden shed. When I finished renovating this garden, after I removed all the weeds, there was nothing left! So I sprinkled some Zinnia seeds that I picked up from the Dollar Store onto the ground and racked them in. I had no idea they would turn into these gorgeous beauties!
Here is a side view of the newly renovated garden. I left plenty of growing space so I don't have to do this again in a year. Perennials grow so fast, leave them plenty of room to grow.
The Vegetable Garden
And now for my vegetable garden. This is the view from inside the garden looking down at the shed.
Jackson has been enjoying his time in his "Catio". He's like a little puppy dog. Every morning he runs down the steps and stands by the door till I let him out. His usual routine is to spend all morning outside, then he comes in for lunch and his afternoon nap, then back outside he goes till dark. I hardly ever see the little guy anymore, he always wants to be outside. One night he came to the door with a mouse in his mouth. He was so proud of his catch he had to show him to us.
His favorite spot in the garden is in the cool shade underneath the tomato plants.
The garden has grown beyond my wildest dreams. Everything is so huge and lush, when people visit they are truly amazed and keep asking me what I did for they never saw such large and healthy plants before. My response is "Nothing! I simply planted a tiny seed and watched it grow". I will have to give all the glory to God because we ordered top soil from a local truck driver and what we ended up getting was pure clay. We were so devastated. When it rained, it hardened like cement. I lamented to my husband that "Nothing will grow in that soil!". My poor hubby spent weeks trying to amend the soil with sand, peat moss, and wood ash, but still, it was so bad. But I went ahead and planted my seeds anyway, and for awhile, things looks pretty sad, so I said a prayer over my garden asking God to bless it and make it fruitful for my family, and lo and behold....He did! I have more food than we can possibly consume ourselves. Every morning I go out to the garden and harvest a bushel full of produce, sometimes two, then I spend the afternoon canning/freezing the produce. Our brand new freezer is almost full to the brim already! God is good!
In the picture below the squash and watermelon vines got so big, they grew onto the porch!
This picture was taken a month ago, and when I look at it now I can't believe how much things have grown since this photo was taken. The garden on the left is so full now, you can't even see the dirt.
I thought I'd include this picture so you could see where the garden is in relation to the house. It is right off our sunroom so it's almost as if the vegetable garden is an extension of the sunroom. There is a door underneath the wreath on the right, that leads to the porch and the rest of the vegetable garden.
The Fruit Of My Labor
And finally, I wanted to show you the fruit of my labor. I actually think "labor" isn't even the right word. My husband did most of the hard labor of hauling the dirt and amending the soil, I just planted the seeds and laid down the cocoa bean mulch. Once the mulch was laid, there was very little labor involved until harvest season. Now I spend about an hour or two every day picking beans, tomatoes, cukes, summer squash, and Zucchini . I also look for bugs, and hand pick those off as well. I did use a little Sevin dust when the plants were young to ward off the cucumber beetles, but once the flowers bloom and the plant starts producing fruit, you can't use the dust anymore....hence the hand-picking!
In the picture below I'm pointing to my Spaghetti Squash. I have never seen such huge spaghetti squash before in my life, have you? It grew up the fence on its own and I let it. So far, only one has fallen off. I have so much spaghetti squash growing on the ground, I don't mind losing a few.
I planted one row of radishes this year and they were incredible...better than any I've bought in a store. I was hoping to plant another row this fall, but I don't have any room! Everything filled in so much, I don't have a row available to plant more.
The bush green beans were incredible. I could not believe how easy bush beans are to plant and grow. If you don't think you have a green thumb, at least try beans. If you have small children, they would love to plant bean seeds with you as their seeds are nice and big and easy for little fingers to handle.
Now, just so you know, you are seeing a rare photograph of me without makeup. I hesitated posting this photo because I have no make up on but I get questions/comments all the time like "You're always so well put together, it makes me wonder what you look like when you're just at home". Well, this is what I look like: no make-up, my hair pulled back in a pony tail or messy bun, and a t-shirt and jeans or jean shorts.
What I'm holding is a bowl full of kale. Kale is such an easy plant to grow. It grows so prolifically that I could harvest a bowl this large every single day. I've been freezing some of it, but really run out of time in a day to freeze as much as I should, so I fear a lot is going to waste.
I planted one cherry tomato and one grape tomato bush. They have both been provided me all summer long with more fruit than I possibly need.
I've mostly been canning pickles and tomatoes, but I plan on canning salsa starting today. I was waiting for my hot peppers to start producing to do the salsa. The beans, summer squash, and zucchini I have been freezing. I don't really care for canned beans, that's why I've been freezing them.
I planted a few herbs: basil, oregano, parsley, and cilantro. Pictured below is basil before I harvested some.
Here you can see what it looks like after I harvest it, don't worry, it grows back bigger and better than before. I filled an entire colander with basil and then dried it.
There are many different ways to dry basil. I oven dried mine. My first batch I left the leaves whole and then put in a canning jar. I read if you leave the leaves whole and crunch them as you need them, it produces more flavor. My second batch, I actually crunched the leaves and then put them in the jar. Sometimes I'm in a huge hurry and I don't have time to crunch the leaves and prefer to have them pre-crunched so I can just sprinkle them on.
Once the basil is dried it really shrinks down. My fresh basil leaves filled two cookie sheets, yet when they were dried they filled one quart size canning jar.
I only planted two zucchini plants and three yellow squash, yet they produce so much fruit it's ridiculous. Next year I think I will only plant one of each as I seriously don't know what to do with this much zucchini. I have made just about every dish I can think of at this point.
Even though I check my garden every single day, zucchini can really get hidden underneath the large leaves. This one grew so big by the time I saw it I wondered if it was still edible, but it was! I think I got three dishes out of this one large zucchini.
The picture below would be a typical days harvest in July. Now, it's probably double that since the cucumbers and peppers are also ready to harvest.
I've never grown summer squash before. My husband picked up the seeds and I actually had no idea what they were. I planted them in the ground and I was so surprised by the results. And the yellow squash is a lot easier to spot in the garden than the zucchini.
And finally I leave you with a picture of one of our little forest friends who visited my garden a few evenings ago. He/she saw me taking pictures of him/her through the window, and was not afraid at all. I let him/her nibble on a few things as it's so late in the year it really doesn't matter anymore. I just love seeing wildlife in my yard. But, now you know why we have to have our vegetable garden fenced in. Before we had it completely fenced in, a woodchuck got in and did some serious damage. We would not have a vegetable garden if it wasn't fenced in as we have a lot of wildlife in our yard.
Have A Great Day! Amy
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