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 thanks to Squash Vine Borer I lost all my other vines. 

Update: I have been growing squash successfully for years now in my 40′ x 40′ community garden. I researched and learned how to prevent and control squash vine borer by literally watching for them and cutting them out of the plants! You can read my whole post covering squash vine borer prevention and control here. 

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.

 

98 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 :)

  4. 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)

  5. AmieM says:

    Dear Karen,

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

    Amie

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. olemike says:

    Wow, great results. I really like your pictures.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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 :)

  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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. :-)

  19. 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.

  20. 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*

  21. DianneT says:

    That pun…I had to comment!!

  22. Rachel says:

    oh that pun was genius ;)

  23. 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

  24. 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?

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