A Gardening Update

My environment’s a little upside down today, so let’s take a nice, relaxing stroll through the garden, shall we?

As usual, there have been smashing successes, abject failures, and a few things that make me scratch my head in confusion.

The tomatoes are going like gangbusters, giving me a handful of the cutest little cherry tomatoes every other day. I’ve already run one batch through the dehydrator and put the results in a jar with some olive oil; I’m going to try them in a few months and see if they’re still edible. The basil is also quite happy living between the tomato plants, and I’ll probably turn that into pesto sometime next week. The peppers are enjoying the heat, and I’ve gotten one bell pepper, with more on the way, and a steady trickle of purple Aurora peppers- a very mild chile. The carrots are almost ready; I dug up one a couple of days ago and, yum.

On the flower side of things, I have nasturtiums, borage- an experiment for me- and echinacea- planted last year and it survived with no help from me; I assumed it was an annual in this climate. The real standout is the zinnias, another experiment. They started blooming about a week ago, and I’m getting one or two new flowers every day. And since they’re right next to the back door, I see them every time I go in or out, and they make me smile.

There have been a couple of straight-up failures. The most noticeable is the beans. They’re a purple variety, and they just haven’t thrived. I don’t know why. I wonder if they caught some sort of fungus or rust; the leaves are looking wilted and discolored. I may have to resign myself to eating store-bought snap beans this year. The only other complete failure has been the raspberry plants I put in buckets this spring. They haven’t done anything, and space is so limited that I think I’m going to repurpose those buckets for something else.

I’m scratching my head over the vine crops- cucumbers and watermelon. Each vine is enormous and has a zillion flowers, but no fruits. The first flowers appeared almost a month ago, and I’ve seen plenty of pollinating insects roaming around, so what gives? I dunno; I’m not an expert.

So what’s next for the garden? I’m glad you asked. This area has a continental climate, so we get our first frost in mid October and usually have good weather up until Christmas. Time for cold weather crops. I’ll probably hold off until September 1, then put in kale, lettuce, rocket, and carrots, and try to keep them going as long as possible. Which might be next spring; I had some lettuce plants that wintered over with protection from two weeks of sub-zero temps, and came back up in the spring.

One weird success that I forgot to mention is the ground cherries. I planted them on a whim, and now I have these huge bushes with little Chinese lantern-looking fruits. Tasty, too, though rather seedy. I have no idea what to do with them, except eat them. Has anyone grown ground cherries? What are they good for?

8 comments

  1. They’re good for hiding behind the bush and throwing at girls in your class as they’re walking to school. Oh wait, you mean grown-up uses? Um. Jam?

  2. They are related to tomatoes and tomatillas. I’ve had them, not grown them.

    Salsas and relishs, I’d guess, maybe marmalade.

  3. My garden got hit by the drought, and by my being non-stop busy with conventions. I got some snow peas and sugar snap peas harvested before it got too hot and the vines withered. However, all three kinds of beans were a compete loss. Stunted, and the pods just didn’t develop. I got some pear tomatoes, and I think I may get one or two big red tomatoes (several of my plants died before they could bear fruit) but I think the bell peppers will be a complete loss. I need to harvest yellow squash and zucchini, but I’ve been scrambling to catch up after our last convention. I hope they haven’t gotten too big.

    I’m figuring on ordering next year’s seeds as soon as they’re available. With the weird feeling in the air, I’ll feel happier with them in hand before winter truly sets in (although I do have leftover seed from this year and last year, which could be planted in a pinch — just sow more seed per area, because some of the embryos will have run out of food and died ungerminated).

  4. I’ve grown ground cherries once, and they’re worth further experimentation. They tasted like a cross between pineapple and cherry tomatoes – the vegetal taste is supposed to lessen if you let them sit for a week or so after harvest. Nice jam, sort of tropical-tasting, and next time I’m going to try a salsa.

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