Monday, July 2, 2012

The Kitchen Garden in June

It’s been interesting trying to get pictures of my garden using a 55-250 zoom camera lens. As mentioned previously, many times in fact, my 17-85 has been acting up. I am finally sending it in for repair after talking to Canon about the aperture issues. It doesn’t like to take pictures at any higher an f-stop than 4.0, which means it’s not very good for my purposes lately. Please, Canon, send it back to me in tip-top shape! (And don’t charge me an arm and a leg for it. I need those for working in the garden.)

I had so many triumphs in my vegetable garden last year. This year, there’s been a few disappointments. My beets and spinach seeds didn’t germinate. Why? I’ll tell you why. I used seeds from last year and they hadn’t been properly stored. It was kind of an experiment and now I’ve learned my lesson. Also, my iceberg lettuce either didn’t germinate or looks a lot like my Buttercrunch Lettuce. I think maybe it IS Buttercrunch.

Little Ceasar and Buttercrunch, I believe.

Other greens I planted from seed: Heatwave. As you can tell by the name, these greens are supposed to do well even in the heat of the summer. This is the first year I have planted this variety. I like to mix it with the other greens in a salad. You may notice I have carrots planted here, too. I have soybeans planted in this same bed, however, they are pretty spindly looking. First time I’ve tried them.

Heatwave lettuce and carrots.

If you look at the bed on the right towards the back, you will notice it’s a little bare. That is where the beets and spinach are supposed to be. I have some zinnias and a Sungold Tomato in that bed. The bed towards the front right has cilantro, nasturtium, zinnias, an Early Girl Tomato, and Picklebush Cucumbers. (As you can tell from this picture, the neighbor behind us has STILL not finished putting up that fence — that’s their boat in the upper left of the photo. Argh!)

Kitchen Garden.

Here’s a close-up of one of the nasturtium flowers. This is variegated Alaska. They are edible — give them a try in a salad sometime. They have a kind of peppery flavor.


I picked up these orange cosmos at a local farmer’s market in the spring and I just love them. They are so cheerful. They were stunning next to the lavender when the lavender was at its peak and really purple looking. In this photo it’s a bit past peak. The yellow flowers in the background are a type of Heliopsis called Summer Nights. They have a dark, almost black, stem. It blooms constantly and has become a favorite. I planted it last year.

Orange Cosmos, Lavender, and yellow Heliopsis Summer Nights.

I love using hot colored flowers in the Kitchen Garden. The yellow Heliopsis, the orange cosmos, the yellow, orange, pink and red zinnias, and then the red/magenta colors of the Rainbow Swiss Chard — all happy colors, as Bob Ross would’ve said. The u-shaped bed also has Sweet Basil and Garlic Chives in it.

Hot colors in the Kitchen Garden.

The raised bed that is a bit on the left in this photo is the one that has the Early Girl Tomato and the Picklebush Cucumbers, as well as zinnias, nasturtium, and cilantro.

Tomatoes and cucumbers.

I absolutely adore old-fashioned Hollyhocks. Surprisingly, they are hard to find anymore. Sure, you can find those double ones, but the classic, grandmotherly, single variety seem to be more rare anymore. I planted these two years ago. Last year I thought I lost them to rust. This variety is supposed to be rust-resistant, but I really think that’s almost impossible with Hollyhocks. I did loose one to rust last year and now only have two. However, these two have been putting on a real show. Makes me want even more. However, they are getting rust again and that makes me nervous that I’ll still loose them. Time will tell. The bees and butterflies love these, and I also saw the hummingbird hanging around them.


The first bed with the teepee looking structure (that Brian and I built last year) has radishes, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Sugar Snap Peas, Toy Pak Choi and zinnias. The Sugar Snap Peas were a disappointment — didn’t do much. The Pak Choi really has done fairly well except for the fact that some bug has been eating the leaves. Maybe slugs. I battle slugs all over the yard. Pak Choi is great in stir fries. I even like some raw in my salad. The other teepee structure in the background is covered in Kentucky Blue String Beans. They are a pole variety, obviously. I just harvested my first batch the other day and man, they were scrumptious! 

The Kitchen Garden.

If you read my blog last year then you know how much work I put into building this Kitchen Garden — from clearing out space, to leveling the ground all with just some elbow grease and a shovel, to recruiting Brian to help me build the raised cedar beds, to putting down edging and landscaping fabric, to filling the beds with compost and other good stuff, to hauling three tons of gravel from my driveway to the back of the yard. All by my lonesome (except for the cedar beds part with Brian’s help). It was a serious project. But boy, it was worth it. My only complaint is weed seeds still find a way to sprout in my gravel paths and require a lot of pulling. But otherwise, I LOVE my Kitchen Garden. Now if I could just keep the squirrels from loving it, too. They didn’t bother it last year, but this year I’m chasing them out of there all the time.

Here’s a “map” of what I have where this year in the Kitchen Garden. Click on it to enlarge.

Map of Kitchen Garden.

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