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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Today continues the vegetable garden evolution.  I planted the beautiful Jersey Prince asparagus from that arrived this week from White Flower farm.  Thanks to Margaret Roach for this informative article on asparagus planting techniques.         Fortunately, the beds were easy to prepare because I had previously added dried manure to the soil.  Since the beds are so narrow, I did place the asparagus crowns closer together than usual.  I planted just under 20 crowns altogether, filling up the right bed completely.  As the plants grow in, I’ll finish filling in the  trenches with the remaining soil.  Then, I’ll get to enjoy the lovely plants in the garden for a few years before I can begin to harvest the spears.

Trenches prepared for asparagus plants

Trenches prepared for asparagus plants

Asparagus crowns in place

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Finally time to sow early spring vegetables!  After a few unsatisfactory growing seasons, I’m planning some major changes this year for the vegetable garden.  First, I’m turning the right section into a perennial asparagus bed.  This part of the garden gets the most sun, so I think the asparagus will do well.  Plus, the plants themselves are so beautiful, I’ll enjoy them during the TWO YEARS that I’ll need to wait for the root systems to mature.  Just yesterday, I received word from White Flower Farm that my order of Jersey Knight asparagus crowns is on its way to me.  I’ll be able to get them planted before my UK trip.

Seeds for my spring vegetable garden

Beyond the asparagus, I’m focusing on early season vegetables – peas, bush beans, carrots.  I’m headed out to plant these today.  I’m also sowing leafy greens – Swiss chard and lettuces – as well as their floral companions, marigolds and nasturtiums.  So far I haven’t had a chance to order any other leafy greens, but I do want to try mache again and a few different lettuce varieties.  My sister-in-law also asked for kale.  Later on in the summer I’ll add the cucumbers and squash.  The other traditional summer vegetables – tomatoes, peppers – are going in a grow box on the front lawn where they will get more sun and hopefully produce better yields.

Fingers crossed for a beautiful and bountiful harvest!

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Summer tomato harvest

This year, even despite an attack of hookworms, we’ve had a fabulous summer harvest of cherry tomatoes  (Sungold and Gardener’s Delight, both from www.whiteflowerfarm.com).  I used them to make this roasted tomato recipe and it was outrageous!  (Best at room temperature, with a little crumbled feta sprinkled over the top).

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/vegetables/roasted-summer-cherry-tomatoes/

The hookworms seem to like the beefsteak tomatoes better than the cherry tomatoes.  I’ve had to harvest the beefsteaks while still green just to save them from the worms!  Now there’s a big bowl of them sitting on my kitchen windowsill, slowly coloring up.  As soon as they’re ready, I’ll try the roasted tomato recipe with this variety as well – plus some stuffed with breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley and cheese and then baked.  Mmmmm!

Photo from www.whiteflowerfarm.com

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Today I did the third round of planting in the vegetable garden – lettuces and broccoli which should germinate easily in the warm soil and continue to grow as the temperatures fall.  By the time they are finished, it will be time to plant the tulips again!  I love having a four-season garden.  The blueberry bushes add great fall color and winter structure, the tulips color up the early spring, and the summer yields so many vegetables that I get to share the bounty.  Plus, the white picket fence, rose bushes, pink Veronica and other plantings look so charming that the garden is always a visual feast!

I borrowed the idea of planting tulip bulbs in the vegetable garden from White Flower Farm,and it worked great!  No critters ate the bulbs, so I got a full season of beautiful cut flowers, and then pulled the bulbs after flowering was finished.  Double planting the garlic also worked well – bulbs went in in September and garlic was ready to harvest in late June.  But there was so much of it, so I’m not sure I’ll do it again.

Some other good successes in the vegetable garden this year as well.  To begin,  I eliminated the things that did not work last year – no melons (bugs ate them), no zucchini (t0ok up too much room).  For herbs, I planted rosemary, peppermint (buried in a pot, of course!), sage and dill.  They all grew lush and happy.  In fact, the dill was so happy that it attracted a population of black swallowtail caterpillars (note to self, dill goes in a pot on the deck next year!).  Lettuce and Swiss Chard were also happy, although the peas did not do so well.  I picked all the carrots way too small, and the beets got leafy but no roots.

For tomatoes, I planted three varieties – Sungold and Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes from White Flower Farm, and Jersey tomatoes from a local farm market.  Some lessons learned:  a) the Sungold fruit up early and prolifically, but they are a bit tart; b) the Gardener’s Delight are yummy but they fruit up late and not so heavily; c) space the plants further apart and use tomato ladders – it’s quite the jungle out there at this point in the summer.  Also, the swallowtail caterpillars ate a bunch of the tomatoes, so really, no more dill in the main garden.

French filet green beans went in in July – only a few plants germinated, but the beans were delicious.  Next year, I will skip the peas, carrots and broccoli, and go right to the beans in June for a longer season.  The cucumbers were the biggest success – Emir Prolific variety.  Indeed they were prolific and tender.

I’ve had some success keeping bugs away by interplanting planting marigolds and nasturiums with the vegetables.  The nasturiums really took over though, so I’ll stick to just a small patch or two next year.  The marigolds took a really long time to bloom, so next year I will start them early in cell packs and transplant later on.

Over the next couple of weeks, it will be time to clean out the spent plants, and add compost to prepare the soil for next season.  Even though it’s a messy chore, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the results next year.  In gardening, as in life, everything is a cycle.

I posted last year’s photos of the vegetable garden on hgtv.com.  Here is the link:

http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/Gardens/Cottage-Style-Vegetable-Garden/detail.esi?oid=15651876

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