The Garden – end of August 2014

I’m sure many of you have guessed that I’ve gone into my yearly canning phase. Yes, yes, I have lots of good stuff put up now, and much of it from MY GARDEN, which is so exciting.
garden end august-4Ah the August garden. So full that it’s had too see the weeds for over flowing blooms, fruit, veggies, and lush green everywhere. I love it, obviously. Where to start (since it’s been a month, oops)? Looking right at this picture you’ll notice two things in the back you won’t see next year: scarlet runner beans and a cherry tree. I was given the wrong cherry tree variety and unfortunately it took four years (and fruiting) to figure it out. This type will grow to large here and has to go. To be replaced by columnar peaches? I’m starting to scheme and dream. The scarlet runner beans are just horrible. Totally gross as a bean. I mean what is up with this bean??? First of all it took FOREVER to fruit. Then the beans go from maybe edible to giant and fibrous overnight. At this point I’m harvesting zero and going to attempt something with the dried beans from the pods instead. I almost made the girls’ bean teepee out of these, what  fail that would have been. They love the yummy purple beans that have been passed down in my family and are happy to snack on those. I have been told after I sowed the scarlet runners that gardeners plant them only for ornamental reasons sometimes. I think that’s weird, but they certainly are pretty. And hummingbirds like them.
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And bees like these. Every time they bloom the bees go crazy for them. It’s really amazing you can get so close and watch them just go to work. I’m enthralled with bees right now after reading this fabulous book called The Bees (seriously click on that and just look at that cover!!!). It’s fiction, about the life of a bee, I was sucked in and read it quick.
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I feel like my garden as a whole could use more flowers. Well maybe not flowers, but color. I’m focused on food right now, but hopefully I’ll have time to learn more about flower gardening as well. Friends have done cut flower gardens this year and they looked lovely. I might have to try that. Even though bouquets in the house aren’t really my thing (I know! But I hate cleaning up after pollen dripping flowers and dead crumbly leaves).
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See where more flowers were in years past I have edible plants like this gorgeous kale.
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Opposite the kale my pumpkins are doing well. I think I’ll have at least four that will ripen well, hopefully five or six. I wanted to focus on this lovely Jarrahdale variety. I grew them last year because my friend had extra seeds and fell in love. I got ONE pumpkin. I Stuffed it and was without a doubt the best meal I’ve ever prepared. So I went to the market to buy more, only it’s not common. I found a similar one and it was ten dollars. They hold very well so I figured eating one a month for four or five months would be a good goal. mmmm cheesy, bacony, yummy goodness I can’t wait for you to be in my belly!!!!
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Almost ready for me to eat you!!!!
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How many melons can you spot? Now these I’m not so sure when I’ll eat. Since I got burned! I was like, “Hey this looks like a melon from the store, I’ll pick it!” only it wasn’t ripe and we couldn’t eat it. And I almost cried. But I think these will ripen, as it’s still hot here (93 today!) and sunny. This trellis Bj made me is working great. Super sturdy. I’m a huge fan of this style of melon growing (especially because it’s the only kind that will fit in my yard!). The apple tree is empty. We have roving raccoons and I was afraid they would try and get some apples and wreck my tree (after all it already suffered a pretty horrible branch loss due to my inability to properly thin). So once they were ripe I just took all the honeycrips. So delicious. I am surprised how early they ripened. I love them, but they’re competing with so many other fresh things to eat! I hope they will hold for a month or two at least in our cool basement.
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Next year I will also be eating grapes, I hope. This one vine is doing great, the other one a little slower, but it will get there. Maybe it will camoflogue our garbage cans, weed bins, and mangled kiddie pool next year. A girl can dream! 🙂
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Speaking of next year; I am so proud to say I know what I will be picking first thing next year: hopefully some cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts come late winter. Yes I’m trying a winter garden. I have wanted to do this but never got it together to try it. The first year of the garden I had a one year old and hundreds of new plants I knew nothing about. The second year I had a 2.5 year old and when I should have been putting in a winter garden, a miscarriage. The third year a newborn. The forth year a one year old and a 4.5 year old. This year though. I can do it. I think I am finally getting my parenting self together a bit. A two year old and a 5.5 year old don’t take care of themselves, but it is just much more doable for me. Also only having to wake up once at night is wonderful. I digress. I got these starts at Good News Nursery in Hood River. Tuesday and I were going up there for a Daisy Girl Scout day camp and by the time I rolled into the nursery I had five minutes to shop before they closed. I think I did good, considering.
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Here you can see the bed I prepped last month, so those carrots and swiss chard are a month old. A few weeks ago I decided to over seed some of the lesser performing carrot rows and the onions. So now I also have spinach coming up. Bj is going to make me a tunnel out of PVC pipe to put over those two beds and I’ll cover it with plastic, to make a sort of green house. I would love to have fresh greens almost year round. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that my beds are all clean and in good shape. Even my herb bed is freshly mulched and my cane berries have been trimmed and thinned for next year.
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Ya, loving it back here. I am still mostly out here earlier in the day. It just gets too hot to hang out in the afternoon. That’s our rest time anyway, so it works out. That’s when we pick most ripe things. I’ve done great with tomatoes this year. I’ve already put up 15 pints of whole crushed tomatoes in their own juice, and 4 pints of salsa. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to buy any tomatoes, but I didn’t plant any paste or romas. So I probably will for Italian sauce.
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In the front we finally did it. Goodbye giant mess of a willow-grafte-whatever-you-were. Sure, you were pretty but not for this space. Taking gardening classes made me realize it was totally the wrong tree for the space. Of course it won’t willingly die, as you can see. We’ll cut it out stump and all and prep this space for something new. I’m pushing for a trio of super dwarf fruit trees (backyard orchard culture style). Pretty blooms in the spring, fruit in the summer, sounds good to me! The swiss chard in front here is so pretty (and tasty). I plan to sprinkle that seed all over my yard next year. It could almost be an ornamental!
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Sunflowers, while not as impressive as last year (and no I didn’t take a picture somehow), still give a nice bit of privacy to our front porch, where we eat regularly.
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The flowers could all use dead-heading, but I don’t mind the mess of them. It still looks quite nice walking up to our place.
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And you might notice these basil plants. I’ve gotten a few quarries as to if I’m going to plant them. Nope. They love it here and I am totally doing this every year. I went to the store and happened to see basil was $3.99 a (small, not organic) bunch. I figured I would have to bulk order basil since mine never seems to grow well, or it gets over shadowed or something. Then we walked back to the garden center and they had these $7.99 basil plants marked down to $1.99 (this was maybe the beginning of August?). They looked healthy and I figured I’d just take the basil from them and toss the roots into my compost. But when I started cutting them there was so much nice new growth I just took the taller stems and made sure there were no flowers (flowers make the basil put all it’s energy into seed growth instead of leaf growth). I’ve done this twice and look at them! You can’t even tell, it’s nuts! I’ve put away enough pesto to last at least a year and a half, and that’s accounting for keeping my mom in pesto too. 19 containers the first time, 5 big ones the second time (I bet 4 pounds of pesto!) and I could keep going. I’ll pull these in when it gets too cold and see how long I can keep them going inside. This is a tip I must remember for next year.
How is your garden? What did you learn gardening this summer?

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  1. Your garden is *so* beautiful. I really like your kale in the front. I am moving towards an edible landscape and plan to have blueberry bushes, kale, and strawberries in my front bed. I may have to copy your melon trellis. I didn’t trellis my squash and they have gone wild in the garden. This summer, I learned that my tomatoes like to be left alone. The ones I watched and treated with tender care didn’t do well while the ones I ignored fruited tremendously.

  2. First time here and I have to say I love you backyard, it’s a great mix of garden and playground, organized but lived in, real. I really like the edible landscape too, it’s nice to have colourful flowers popping up in amongst the vegetables.
    What have I learned this summer? That my garden is small, and I need to realize that. I cannot cram plant after plant into such a small place and expect them all to do well. Also, my family can eat through a seemingly endless supply of raspberries. Mmm.
    Here is my latest garden update if you are interested

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