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Front Yard Vegetable Garden Update!
August

Title

Heirloom Tomatoes

 

I just ate a bug.  And that’s not the worst of it.  I have a bug on my boob and 3 of them in my hair.  Actually eating one probably was the worst of it.

I just got in from talking with some of my neighbours outside and we were viciously attacked by some gnats.  They weren’t biting bugs or anything but they were swarmy.  All kind of flitty and bothersome.  Like Bieber fans.

At around 7:30 tonight I sauntered down the street with that very basket of tomatoes you see in the picture above, handing them out to neighbours, strangers … the homeless guy who lives in the bush.  I guess technically he’s not homeless, he does have a home, it just happens to be a tarp.

Anyone and everyone got a tomato.  It’s been a bumper crop.  The problem is … they just don’t taste as good as the ones I tasted at Tree & Twig.  I asked the owner,  Linda about that and she said it was probably my soil.  Apparently she has delicious dirt.  The amount and types of minerals and nutrients and compost and stuff you have in your soil makes a big difference in how the things you grow in it taste.  She’s a proponent of Spanish River Carbonatite which is proven to increase the Brix count of what’s grown in it.

 Blah, blah, blah,  who cares, don’t understand what she’s talking about so I’m going to go play with cheese  now.  That’s what you’re thinking right?

All that means is, if you amend your soil with this stuff your tomatoes will be sweeter.  The Brix count is a measurement of sugar levels.  I learned all about it when I was teaching myself to make Maple Syrup this spring.

So even though this here front yard food patch is barely growed up, I’ve already started planning next year’s garden. And it will include Spanish River Carbonatite.

Settle in.  This is gonna be a big one …

Onto the reveal!

 

 

Front Yard Vegetable Garden

 

Wanna grow something that produces from spring until fall, has bright colours and never looks messy and floppy?  Grow Swiss Chard. It’s the tall, upright plants on both sides of my path.

 

Front Path

 

You might notice some bare spots.  That’s where old vegetables came out, and new vegetables are still being planted.

 

Front Right

 

The famous Amish Cockscomb.  The most fantastic flower ever grown.  Want some?  Buy it from Tree & Twig here.

 

Cockscomb

 

No idea.  If you know what he is … lemme know.  They SWARM the Cockscomb every day.

 

Bug

 

Remember the Great Green Bean experiment?  Well, this is how the pole beans look less than a month later.

 

Green Beans

 

Green Pole Beans

 

This is disaster corner.  Welcome to it.  I had planted 4 Zucchinis and every SINGLE one of them croaked due to a variety of ailments and pests.  The same pests got 3 of my 4 Acorn Squash plants.  For hours I hand picked Striped Beetles and Squash Bugs off my  plants only to have them up and die from a gross maggoty thing that bores into the stem of the plant and eats it from the inside out.  So you don’t even know it’s there!  Vine Borers are vile, parasitic annoyances.  Like Nickleback fans.

Just kidding.

About the fans.  Not about Nickelback though.  Yeah, yeah, you’re a big fan.  Whatever. They’re no Barenaked Ladies.  This is about vegetables anyway …

Squash And Sweet Potato

 

So I have managed to get a few acorn squash off of this one vine, but I’m gonna have to think about whether I’d plant them again next year.  I love them, but the amount of work they were to get them to produce a few squash was horrifying.

Acorn Squash

 

This is the sweet potato patch.  There better be sweet potatoes under that patch of vines or there’s gonna be a shit show.  They take up a lot of space those sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Vines

 

Green peppers which will eventually be red peppers. We’ve harvested 2 reds already and have another 15 or so on the 2 plants.

 

Pepper

 

My biggest surprise has been the celery.  I will never go celeryless again.  Think about it.  How often do you buy a bunch of celery, use a few pieces and then let the rest of it wither then turn slimy in your crisper? Always.  You always, always do that.  Or maybe I always, always do that.  Regardless, growing celery is the perfect solution.  I go outside, pull of a few stalks and let the plant continue to grow.  I’ve been doing this all summer long and it thrills me every single time.  Also, celery from the garden is so crunchy it feels like the earth is moving underneath you when you bite into it.

Celery In Garden
Tomatoes.  Yup.  Even though I don’t really like them, I grew 4 varieties of tomatoes.  It’s my way of trying to like them.  And growing them really has increased my appetite for these little suckers.  I ordered all of my seeds from Linda at Tree & Twig, OTHER THAN one variety.  I decided I really wanted to grow Black Krim tomatoes.  They’re dark, dark tomatoes with a hint of saltiness to them.  So I ran up to my local organic seed store and grabbed a packet of Black Krim seeds.  They were the tomatoes I was most looking forward to.  I sold and gave a bunch of my Black Krim seedlings away, but kept one for myself.  I waited all summer for it to start producing tomatoes.  And it did.  That plant has produced more tomatoes than I could ever possibly eat.  It’s about 8 feet high and COVERED in … not Black Krim tomatoes.  Apparently there was some kind of mixup on the seed store floor which resulted in me growing some boring, round, flavourless tomato.

If I gave/sold you a Black Krim I’m sorry if it turned out to be a boring, round, flavourless tomato.  If you DID end up with a Black Krim … drop a few off on my porch.

Tomatoes

 

Dinosaur Kale.  Still doin’ well after 3 months in the garden plus because of it’s blue tinge it looks great too. Kale is especially good when it’s grown in cold weather so I’m going to plant a couple of more plants and try my luck at some winter kale.

Kale

 

The last of the carrots.  These will be carrot soup by tomorrow.

Garden Carrots

 

And these will hopefully be full grown carrots by the end of October or so.  I tried to plant succession crops with anything that does well in cool weather.  Things like carrots.

Carrots

And beets.

Beet

I still have a fair amount of beets in the ground, but I want to make sure I have beets to store for the winter so a couple of weeks ago I planted a bunch of beet seeds where my lettuce used to be.

 

Beets

 

And since my lettuce is all gone, of course I had to plant more lettuce.

 

Lettuce

 

Another succession crop I’m trying is peas.  Not a single pea from my first batch made it into the house.  I sat in the dirt and ate the peas.  All of the peas.

Peas

 

One of the plants I was ridiculously excited about growing was potatoes.  SO excited.  I experimented with a few ways of planting them to see which one worked best.  Some of the vines have already died back completely …

Potatoes

While others are still HUGE and green.

Full Potatoes

 

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to scrape away the straw and dirt to see if there actually were potatoes under there.

Be still my heart.  There were.

 French Fingerlings

French Fingerling

 Kennebecs

Potato In Dirt

 

So the front yard vegetable garden I was worried the neighbours would shun me for has done the exact opposite.  I visit my neighbours more, dropping off extra produce, I talk with them more as they walk by and ask questions, I hear about how at first they were sceptical but have decided next year they’re going to have a front yard vegetable garden too.

If I could get a Nickelback for all the people I turned into Beliebers I’d be rich.

 


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98 Comments | Filed Under: Outdoor | Tags:

98 Responses to Front Yard Vegetable Garden Update!
August

  1. Tricia Rose says:

    Your garden is so amazingly productive Karen, and your beets are positively psychedelic! What’s a bug or two against all that Nature’s Bounty?

  2. Elen Grey says:

    You’ve convinced me to try celery next year, Karen. Your front garden looks absolutely fabu. I love the potato crop. By next season, your garden may be trending on Twitter. Cheers! :-D

  3. Rachel says:

    oh that pun was genius ;)

  4. DianneT says:

    That pun…I had to comment!!

  5. Alisha says:

    It’s a “Black and White Wasp” Creative right? With all the collective brain power biologists must have you’d think they’d come up with something better.

    I’m so jealous of your garden though. My yard (landlord’s) is literally concrete. They had this short berry making shrub where grass should have been (surrounded by concrete) and last year they tore it out. I was so pumped until they told me they were putting in faux-grass. Which only made me hope they meant turf. But alas, they actually did mean astro-turf. It’s a high-end version and you can pick your shade of green and length but dammit – it’s still fake! I’d love to tear out everything and plant some beautiful potatoes and swiss chard and carrots. *jealous face*

  6. Alisha says:

    I spoke too soon – more common name is the Four-Toothed Mason Wasp. (Monrobia Quadridens) Even though the name is kind of scary as hell, I’m grateful they didn’t go for a boring name like Black and White Wasp.

  7. Krista says:

    I am SO impressed with your garden!! :-) It’s spring here in Australia so I’m just getting seeds and seedlings in the ground, hoping against hope that this year is better than last year. :-)

  8. Maureen says:

    Chard will last well into December. Don’t take the Kale out at the end of the year. I left mine in and it went dormant for awhile and then has continued to produce all summer long. Why aren’t you making tomato paste with your excess?

    • Karen says:

      Maureen – I’d need Roma tomaotes for that. Which I plan to grow next year. ~ karen!

      • Amanda says:

        Nope. I make it out of whatever tomato I have handy. Yes, romas are very good b/c they’re not as watery, but you can use anything as long as you cook it down far enough. I’ve used the crockpot with the lid off. Be sure to cook with the skins, then run through your food mill since there is pectin in them thar skins. Helps the texture.

  9. Val says:

    It’s 4:25am here in Cleveland, OH, and I just took our new puppy out – brrr, it’s cold outside, but I decided to check my mail and sure enough, got your update on your garden amongst all the spam that filled the screen, of course I read your awesome garden update before I deleted everything else. Amazing is what your front yard is, utterly amazing! I know what you mean about the celery, as we got to taste some celery out of our friends garden and it was delicious, almost tasted like it had salt on it already. I would love to attempt to grow potatoes next year – any tips you can offer? I am sure that people in your neighborhood are calling you the “Veggie Lady” and get excited when they see you coming! I personally call you “Amazing” and I don’t even know you, but my day is not complete without seeing your post in my inbox – Thank You! Val

  10. Elle says:

    Your garden looks absolutely amazing! I’m so gonna grow food in my built-in planter (it’s 10 meters long, about 50cm wide and 50cm deep) on the deck!

  11. Belinda says:

    gorgeous vege patch! The bug on the cockscomb looks to me like a species of parasitic wasp – parasitic to other bugs, not to people, and something to keep in your garden! That’s my humble, and not totally educated guess :)

  12. Amanda Pedro says:

    Did you know that you can steal potatoes from the mother plant without digging up the plant!! Yes, you can! You should! Unless you like really big, bigger than your head potatoes. Just wiggle your fingers in the soil, you can feel the potatoes. Take it from the root shoot is is growing from. Pat the soil back down. You don’t need to dig up the whole plant to enjoy the delights. And I thought growing celery was the best too!

    • Karen says:

      Amanda – :) Yes I did know that. We’ve eaten a few that way, but I really want them to get bigger so we just tried a few. ~ karen!

  13. Esther says:

    Beautiful garden! You’ve inspired me to think more seriously about putting in a vegetable garden next year – even though I don’t like getting my hands mucky and mosquitoes love me. By the way, even if you don’t get any actual sweet potatoes, the leaves are edible – just saute them like spinach. Mind you, they are better when they are still young and tender.

  14. An early Monday morning crack up is worth a comment. Not that I try to be selfish with them but it’s the time factor and thinking that a rare thing is a beautiful thing. Anyways.
    I live in the Phoenix desert so our growing season starts next month. I’m currently cleaning up my backyard to try and grow good things. You have inspired me to get dirt under my nails.
    No one before has ever been able to do so.
    Good work, all around. Blue ribbon.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Laura. You’re gonna love it! I’ve hardly had to buy produce all summer. Every night I just wander around the front yard and pick stuff for dinner. ~ karen!

  15. cred says:

    Love those peppers! Could you tell me about how you grew them? I believe your garden plan showed them in the ground rather than pots and did you start from seed or buy seedlings. And if you did start from seed are they from Cubits and what kind are they?

    So many questions!! Also, did you do anything special to amend the soil besides some lovely chicken poop?

    • Karen says:

      Cred – I bought the peppers as seedlings. Both the hot and the green/red peppers. If you’re growing red peppers (red peppers start out like green peppers and then turn red) they need to get a bit of shade in the afternoon otherwise their skin will scorch before they get a chance to turn red. Mine are planted in front of a big rose bush so when the sun is in the afternoon the peppers are protected from most of the sun by the shade of the rose bush. This year I didn’t have time to do much soil amending. I’m in the process of composting everything so in the fall I’ll amend with that, and in the spring I’ll do it again. ~ karen!

  16. Karen says:

    Your garden is amazing. I wish we had your growing season here in Alberta. I will soon be pulling my garden in. I dug up half my beets and pickled them. Hoping the other half gets bigger so I can pickle them too. I am curious about your potatoes. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your harvest! Cheers.

  17. olemike says:

    Wow, great results. I really like your pictures.

  18. Terri says:

    Lovely garden! Heirloom vegetables are so beautiful and tasty. Cherokee Black tomatoes are our favorites so far. And you’ve convinced me to try celery next year. On to bugs….we have had a serious problem with squash bugs and vine borers eating our squash & pumpkins as well. If I didn’t love summer squash so much I wouldn’t even bother so finding a way to control those horrible pests is a must. Next year I’m trying Diatomaceous Earth. Apparently it will help control the population some and is very safe as long as it is food grade. I’m hoping it will help control the Japanese beetles that nearly stripped our roses bear this year. Unfortunately they are a much more formidable opponent than the squash bugs and are super disgusting to tackle.

    Here’s to hoping we all have fewer pests to deal with next year.

    • Renee says:

      I just found this website, so I apologize for being a little late with any help. I live in Virginia and we have a horrible Japanese beetle problem and vine borer problem.
      I have found that Diatomaceous earth doesn’t stop either of them. I’ve put up beetle traps, but if you don’t get your neighbors to do the same, they don’t really help. I did a combo of traps, spraying dish soap and water, and hand picking them off (yuck!!!) seemed to be the best answer,
      For the borers, yes you can carefully slice the stem open and pull out the disgusting creature, but don’t forget to bury that part of the stem under the dirt. I found what works better is to go out at night with a flashlight. The borer shows up nicely as a shadow that you can then skewer with a toothpick! It’s actually quite satisfying!

  19. Tigersmom says:

    Very punny!

    One way to help you like tomatoes: Drag those yellow pear ones through some really good homemade bleu cheese dressing (they even come with handles already built-in for his very purpose)and pop them into your mouth. So delicious.

    • Janet says:

      Have you tried fresh sliced tomatoes on toast with lots of pepper? YUM!….never liked tomatoes much until I tried it…well, maybe I loved Bloody Marys from the get go, but OMGosh, the toast thing…it’s so good!

  20. AmieM says:

    Dear Karen,

    When I grow up, and buy a house, I want a garden just like yours.

    Amie

  21. I have officially got garden envy. After last year’s abysmal failure, I said *bleep* it, I am going to the farmer’s market and gave up in disgust. So my tiny plot lies fallow. Oh, and re: celery, I go through at least half a head (or is it a bunch??) a day – super great in green juice, naturally salty along with cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, dill, parsly, kale, swiss chard, etc! With your abundance of greens, juicing is a great idea – my Omega works great and is easy to clean (just in case you don’t already have enough to do hehe)

  22. Judith says:

    Oh my God, your chard!! It’s easily twice the size of mine – never thought I’d have chard envy.

    I’m curious about the Green Zebra tomatoes. Do they taste like green (as in unripe) tomatoes? Like what you’d make fried green tomatoes with? Or has your unlove for tomatoes kept you from ever eating that…

    • Karen says:

      Judith – The Green Zebra tomatoes taste just like a regular tomato, only I’d have to say better. They’ve got some zing, but they don’t taste like a green tomato at all. ~ karen!

      • Judith says:

        That sounds yummy! Okay, Green Zebra’s going on the list for next year along with celery. You’re influencing gardeners around the world :)

  23. Leslie says:

    Those tomatoes are so beautiful I cried. I am not sure I’d even be able to cut one. I’d just cradle it and weep. No way. Then I’d totally eat it all by itself.

  24. Lisa says:

    Your garden posts are some of my most favorite and I was excited to see another one this morning. I enjoy seeing what did and didn’t work and I love that you aren’t afraid to experiment. You’ve given me some new inspiration for next year’s garden and I’m already looking forward to trying new veggies! I somehow planted all cherry tomato plants and no full sized. Oops! That’s too bad you didn’t get any Black Krim.

  25. Arianne says:

    You never cease to make me giggle. So glad your garden is doing well. Mine is a weed patch. A really giant weed patch. :)

  26. Thera says:

    I am seriously inspired!

    p.s.
    Tip for not getting dirt under your nails (literally):
    run your nails across a dry bar of soap, soap gets under there, not dirt, when clean up time comes just wash and scrap the soap away.

    p.s.s.
    I really hate gardening gloves which is why this tip stuck in my head full of trivia :)

  27. ruth says:

    Hilarious post, awesome garden. Try this with some of the tomatoes.
    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/05/oven-roasted-tomatoes-tomato-recipe/
    I’ve used all kinds, some have more liquid to cook off but, oh, the flavour. I make this at every opportunity.

  28. Kate S. says:

    Try planting garlic or garlic chives, catnip (in pots) and Nasturtiums next to your squash plants next year. We had terrible hordes of squash bugs and cucumber beetles decimating our squash plants until we starting interplanting last year. They made a huge difference for us. Now we control them with handpicking eggs off of the leaves and have little problem.

  29. cc says:

    I said to myself as I look at those lovely tomatoes and veggies, if Karen can do this so can I…. I sooooo badly want a mini veggie garden and now you have inspired me to do so. THank you..
    I was waiting with some results.. I wish I lived down the street from you..

  30. Dawna Jones says:

    Great job Karen your hard work sure paid off,there is always something to learn about gardening that makes us want to try once again next year to be better at it then we were the year before.
    http://www.dawnajonesdesign.com/

  31. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Re. squash bugs, a friend of mine does this – prop up a small board under your plants; the bugs will congregate there in the shade during the heat of the day. When they are gathered knock the board down and do the “dead squash bug dance” on it. Two-for-one… kill the bugs and entertain your neighbors at the same time!
    Here in Texas growing lettuce is a challenge, especially during the hot months. When we did have a large garden, when I had lots of garden drudges (aka children), we grew spinach instead. Every day we (they) would pick the young leaves off the plants for our salad, and the plants produced all summer.
    We had chickens then too. Nothing beats home grown veggies and eggs. When we had to move to town and leave all of that behind my palate went into shock.

  32. Nicole says:

    I am so inspired! This is amazing. Minus the peas, growing up, my mom used to tell me they were little green candies. I was not fooled.

  33. Debbie says:

    OK OK thanks for the inspiration. Need to go get a garden bed that I let go to weed and seed ready for some winter stuff. Beautiful front yard!

  34. Dana says:

    karen, THANK YOU for identifying the mystery flower, now known to me as a cockscomb. i’ve been calling mine “my furry flowers.” which, in hindsight, sounds just as weird/inappropriate as cockscomb.

  35. Ann says:

    I tried an experiment this year with my sweet potatoes. In the past I got good crops but damaged so many of them getting them out of very compacted soil. So this year we used some strong wire mesh fencing and formed big round raised bins. We filled them with a layer of garden soil and then a layer of leaf mulch that we were able to get for free by the truck load. Well, until my DH was diagnosed with cancer, needed surgery and then needed to recover. We will be able to get more truckloads this fall. But anyway, this soil ended up about 24″ deep and stayed very loose. I planted my slips in the middle of each bin and waited for them to grow. And grow they did. Thru the drought and all. They grew across the bin, down the sides and out about another 6′ all the way around.

    Well, today I planned on harvesting the first bin. I went out and pulled enough vines to be able to get close to the bin in one place. I looked at the dirt in the bin and saw a sweet potato growing right out of the soft soil. I pulled it and it was ENORMOUS!! And I kept pulling more out til I had an entire washbasket full of large sweets. And I bet I will find more when I actually pull the rest of the vines out and open up the bins. I am expecting the soil to tumble right out with more sweets along with it. So my experiment was a huge win and it will be repeated.

    I still remember this spring when DH wanted me to plant the other 9 slips somewhere else so they weren’t wasted. I stuck to my guns and tossed them in the compost pile hoping that 3 plants would be enough. Today I reminded him of that and he laughed and said I was right.

    You have gotta see these babies. 1 sweet alone is enough to make a pie or feed a family of 4.

    • Karen says:

      Well that’s exciting! I can’t tell you how much restraint it’s taking for me not to dig the plants up early to see what’s goin’ on under there. I can’t dig em until frost is near and that’s another month or so. THEN they have to cure for a couple of weeks. I feel like I’m never gonna eat a sweet potato. Congratulations on yours! ~ karen!

  36. Evalyn says:

    What is the world coming too when you can’t trust a seed packet? I planted Green German tomatoes and got some round red thing that I already had dozens off on my Early Girl plants. *Sigh* Should have stuck to the Green Zebras.

    You have some mighty handsome chard and kale! I planted my late crops a few weeks ago hoping I will finally get some carrots.

  37. Rebecca says:

    Your garden really is an inspiration. I would love to learn more, but am not sure where to start. Any chance you could recommend some good resources for a “beginner” in the Toronto area?

  38. Jody says:

    Spectacular! Laura Ingalls would be so proud. I too tried some potatoes this year and was thrilled when I could just go out and dig up a few for dinner. Where did you get the different varieties. I think I got my seed potatoes from Dundas Home Hardware. Next year I’m trying beets and celery-and more potatoes.

  39. Sorry to hear about your squash. I can totally relate. Last year i tried zucchini and yellow summer squash (from seed). Everything started off great and we were able to harvest two actual zucchinis before it all went to hell and all four plants just died. SO disappointing!
    Winter kale, on the other hand, was a huge success! That is the plant that keeps on giving! I just planted more for the fall/winter season along with some more lettuce. Nothing like fresh veggies from your own yard :)

  40. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Just beautiful Karen..I wish mine look half as good..I got nothing really good this year but tons of tomatoes..big ones and cherry ones..all sweet and delicious..I found something new down here..a squash that tastes like sweet potatoes when cooked..I bought them from some Amish ladies and will be trying them tonight..Hoping they are yummy as they told me!!! If they are I will be going back for more and to find out the name of them which I forgot to ask..Have you heard of these???

    • Karen says:

      Nancy – I have not! If you had an actual name I might recognize it. Is it a type of Butternut squash? Or Acorn Squash??? ~ k

      • Nancy Blue Moon says:

        They are sort of an oval shape..about 7″ long..light yellow color with ridges like a JOL pumpkin and the ridges have green stripes through them..also a little pumpkin orange in some stripes..inside they are a pretty shade of yellow with strings and seeds like pumpkin seeds?? They told me to slice them in half lengthwise..put open sides down in a little water and bake a half hour -45 minutes..the same way I cook spaghetti squash..I will drive up there in a day or two and see if they can tell me the name..I want to get more sweet corn from them ($2.00 a dozen!!!) and there is an Amish farm I want to go to for fresh green beans..I am so planting g-beans next year as nothing tastes as good as fresh ones..

  41. Raymonde says:

    Oh wow!Your garden is gorgeous!
    Next year I’m going to cover my whole fence with green beans!!! Yeah!!!
    By the way, I love green beans, I pressure canned 97 jars this year.:-)

  42. Barbie says:

    LOVE the pun!
    I wonder if I can grow celery here in Spokane…..we have a really short season. How does it do in cooler weather? I DO always do what you said…use one stalk and the rest goes to waste!

  43. I’m jealous. In my neck of the woods (GTA) the frosts (well colder weather is starting) way earlier in the mornings and it has immensely affected my veggies. Especially lettuce and carrots. My plants are pretty much like Yeah I’m done, go rake your soil. What’s the secret to your peppers? Mine are the size of golf balls.

    • Karen says:

      Alex – No secret to the peppers. I have 2 plants and one has big huge peppers like you saw and the other one has peppers about the size of my fist. They’re loaded and all turning red but the size difference is huge! Same variety, planted side by side. Very weird. ~ karen

  44. Barbie says:

    We are zone 5….
    I would have never imagined growing celery!

  45. Kathy says:

    ‘bother thing you can do on concrete patios is fill burlap bags with soil and plant potatoes in those. And go to McDonalds and get one of their gross plastic 5 gallon tubs and punch holes in the lower sides and use for planters on the concrete!

    Karen – do you get deer in the front yard?? I do even at my city place, so wonder what I could put out there that would survive their browsing? They would LOVE the chard and kale, I know they eat peppers. They leave the tomatoes and potatoes alone, as they are nightshade plants. Mmmmm. It’s an idea!!

    • Karen says:

      Kathy – I don’t get any deer but my mother gets them in her backyard. I have chipmunks to content with. So far all they seem interested in are my yellow pear tomatoes. Which I have so many of I wish they’d invite their friends for dinner. ~ karen

  46. Patti says:

    My celery did great last year, but is a bit slow this year. Those squash borers got all my squash as well. Zucchini, winter squash, pumpkin etc., but I hunted them down with a pocket knife, sliced and diced and saved about a dozen plants, losing only 3. The vines have now taken over the garden like the blob. The chicks keep jumping the fence and have eaten the tops to my beets and carrots, so it will be a blind harvest. Those girls are lucky I love them!

    • Karen says:

      Patti – I think next year I”m going to put pipe or something around the base of my squash plants. I can’t stand thinking of a squashless garden. I can (barely) deal with the beetles and the squash bugs but the vine borers … once they get in … unless you’re really fast and lucky … you don’t have a chance. You did a good job saving that many! ~ karen

  47. Shauna says:

    That is almost exactly what our sweet potato plant looks like. I almost don’t want to dig it up for the sweet potatoes because it looks so pretty.

    I have to say, you have inspired me so much since I’ve been reading your blog. Things that I’ve always said I would, I have actually done now. Planted a garden, canning…I haven’t tried the yogurt tampon, but you just never know what’s around the bend.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shauna. It’s a very strange thing to know I’m inspiring people to do stuff. (even though that’s entirely the point of this blog venture) I’m thrilled people are taking the cue and doing things they’ve always wanted to but never got up the gumption to do. Yay for canning! ~ karen

  48. Sarah C. says:

    I think the idea of growing celery instead of finding that grayish soft bag of what used to be celery in the back of the produce drawer in the fridge is brilliant. I will try it next season.

    Question: how many sweet potatoes do you think you will get from that patch you photographed near the top of your blog post? I want to know how many I should plant to plant as I have never grown them before.

    • Karen says:

      Sarah C. – I have no earthly idea. Not a clue. This is my first year growing sweet potatoes, but I plan to do an end of season count of many of my vegetables for you and sweet potatoes will be on the list. I planted around 9 slips or so in that one area and several more in burlap sacks around the yard. CAN’T WAIT to see what I get. ~ karen

  49. I grew many of the same crops this year in my front yard garden and had a mixed bag of results. I had the same problem with my zucchini as you had with your acorn squash. Lost three of them to vine borers. I got one HUGE zucchini from the remaining vine before it, too, succumbed to the evil borers. Won’t be planting any more of those. My potatoes were small but I still have some in the ground so I’m hoping they get bigger. My carrots and tomatoes were BIG, peppers were few and small, broccoli was impressive and my onions were gorgeous. I’m waiting on an order of garlic to plant this fall for next year’s harvest as per your post on planting garlic in the fall. Fingers and toes crossed. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

    - Gitana the Creative Diva

  50. Gayla T says:

    Gorgeous garden! My mouth watered seeing the green beans and new potatoes. I didn’t plant much this year as I can raid my daughter’s any time I feel like tottering down there. Her peppers are just now coming on strong after a horrible hot summer. Even the bedding plants I put out look like the dickens. They have pretty much just sat there and decided to commit plant kamikazee. Burned up if you don’t water and cooked when I watered. Days of 110 to 112 made it a losing year. You can make sauce out of your kind of tomatoes and can wonderful salsa. Have you tried Mrs. Wages seasoning packets to make salsa? Wonderful stuff. Deedra has canned lots of jars of sauce and salsa. However, they can eat it almost as fast as she makes it. She feeds 3 men, one of them a teenager so nothing is wasted. Have you ever seen a 4 ft mum plant? I haven’t until now and it has grown so tall and has one tiny bud. I can’t figure that out at all. It’s an old plant that has been normal till now. How’s the search for the perfect fridge going? What ever you buy is going to be obsolete by the time it’s delivered. My new Better Homes and Garden’s mag shows the new sparkling white ones cause steel is out. It could drive one crazy staying up with fads. So I don’t!

  51. Jan says:

    I yearn for a garden! Too much shade here although herbs and lettuce do fine. Love your garden.

  52. Marion says:

    I wish I was one of your neighbors! I’m jealous of them. Also, that last line = pure genius.

  53. Rondina says:

    I am again amazed at the difference between locations. That Four-Toothed Mason Wasp isn’t called four toothed for nothing. North Texas is full of wasps. Stay away from them. The sting is nasty.

    We plant sweet potato vines for decoration. When we pull them up in fall, we get potatoes.

    We also use kale to decorate our gardens. I never actually thought about eating it.

    Wonderful soil. Did you have it trucked in when we weren’t looking? I have to use a grub hoe and tiller to get anywhere with my soil even with the compost. It takes years to get soil like that here.

  54. ev says:

    Thanks for the pics Karen! Our garden has suffered from the lack of rain we’ve had (not had!). We watered, but prob not enough, as we worried about our well. Oh well, next year…. Your pics were great and thanks for sharing them!

    • Karen says:

      No problem. The only reason my vegetables made it through the drought was the fella. He installed the sprinkler system in the front yard. I had it on a timer to go on once a week for an hour. Just enough to keep things alive. ~ karen!

  55. Stephanie says:

    I planted way too much swiss chard this year, but discovered that my chickens luuurrrve it so they get 5 or 6 big leaves of it every day (they don’t eat the pretty red stems, just the leafy bits). Then I had a stroke of genius and discovered that they make a fabulous arrangement in the house- just 5 huge stalks of it in a tall glass vase is really striking.
    I have a question about your celery- I tried it out this spring, and while it stayed leafy and even grew new leaves for a while it never really grew. So I got tired of watering it and yanked it out. Is it just slow to grow, or what? Did you plant seeds (I just plopped the cut off end of a store-bought bunch in the ground. Maybe that was my problem)?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stephanie – Hah! I used chard in this arrangement … http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/vegetable-flower-arrangement/ Lasted forever. I think planting the root of the celery may have been your problem. I didn’t grow it from seed. In fact I had no intention of growing celery, but I saw some at my local grocery store’s nursery and bought it on a whim. It turned out to be a great investment. Incredibly crunchy, very prolific and tastes naturally salty. Love it. Try buying seedlings next year. Easy as pie to grow. Not that a pie is particularly easy to grow. ~ karen!

      • Stephanie says:

        I probably got the idea of using chard from you. I find that most of *my* ideas are actually things I saw somewhere and then forgot about, which then resurface and I think I’m brilliant. So thanks for that idea, because it was a great one! Thanks for the tips on celery, too. I probably got the idea to plant the butt of a store bought bunch from pinterest, which is a hotbed of crappy information, and also really yummy cookie recipes.

  56. Danielle m. says:

    Oh, Karen, how I have missed thee. Sitting by myself at a restaurant waiting for a friend and just laughed out loud from a couple of your lines in here, garnering some looks. Screw ‘em. They’re probably Nickleback fans.

  57. lin says:

    I just came across yr site through pinterest. Amazing stuff! Did u know that sweet potato leaves (young shoots) can be eaten? They are amazing! I used to go to my late grandmother’s backyard and ‘harvest’ the sweet potatoes shoot. Just take up to 3-4 leaves. My nanny stirfry them with some shallots, garlics and prawns and a bit of chillies. Drool~

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lin! Glad you found my site. I didn’t know the leaves were edible until people started to let me know. I’ll give them a shot next summer! ~ karen

  58. You have inspired Hubs and I to incorporate veggies into our front yard landscaping. Though we have deer and rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks along with the occasional possum and raccoon to deal with. Love the suburban wildlife. :-D So now I am off to research critter repellants that can be used on veggies.

    • Karen says:

      That’s great! Not the part about the deer, rabbits and squirrels etc … but the garden. You’ll love it. It’s SO much more fun than growing shrubs. Good luck! I’m no expert but I’ll answer any questions you have. ~ karen!

  59. cameo says:

    Those wasps are wonderful and badass. They dig a hole and then go find a big, fat caterpillar, who is probably in the middle of eating some plant you’ve been babying all season. They paralyze it with a sting, stick it in the hole they’ve dug, lay an egg on it and seal up the hole and leave. The egg hatches and the baby wasp proceeds to eat that fat jerky caterpillar alive. A suitable punishment, I feel. Plus, the wasps don’t have nests so they’re not all territorial aka aggressive. Tiny wasps are great for a garden too. They also eat caterpillars, tiny ones. They get them before they’re too big to do any real damage. You attract tiny wasps with tiny white flowers, like alyssum or letting some of your basil flower. Finally! Someone I can spout off about my love of garden wasps to! Thanks Karen, your blog is wonderful. I’ve put down the book I was reading because I’m apparently just going to read your entire blog instead.

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