Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Kitchen Garden in July

It’s almost comical looking back at the Kitchen Garden in July in comparison to now. It is a kind of wild abandon at this time of the year. In July, however, it looked fairly tame. Come into the garden and take a look...

Things were growing and looking healthy in July. As I mentioned before, I was late getting my seeds and plants planted this year, so it seemed that things were slow to get started. July, however, proved to be a fairly decent time.

Garlic Chives, Sweet Basil, and both curly leafed and flat leafed parsley were to be had in July. I added these to salads and many other dishes. The red flowers in this photo are Gift Zinnia, which I planted from seed. They are from Hudson Valley Seed Library. I love the pop of red in what is mostly a see of green in the Kitchen Garden. The bright pink in the background is a Crape Myrtle.

Below is a close up of one of the Gift Zinnias. My favorite part about zinnias is the center, which looks like this cluster of tiny little flowers. Zinnias remind me of an old neighbor who passed away last year. She was a dear lady and her favorite flowers were zinnias. She lived across the street from us at our old house. I used to help her shovel in winter. She called me her “snow angel” and would leave me little treats throughout the year on the front porch, such as homemade applesauce or fresh blueberries. I kept in touch with her after we moved and then later when she moved, as well. I miss her and think of her when I see these pretty flowers, that are more than meets the eye at first glance.

Not edible, but a new addition to the Kitchen Garden this year was this Japanese Maple in a blue pot, along with some annuals. I was inspired by Margaret Roach’s large potted Japanese Maples that she has in her garden in NY. My pot is not nearly as big and expensive, but it’s a start. I specifically chose flowers to plant in the pot that would attract the hummingbirds. The red flowers of ‘Lady in Red’ Texas Sage bring them visiting several times a day. Sorrel, along with more Sweet Basil and parsley in the background.

I was eating lots of leafy greens in July. The Merlot Lettuce was really tasting good that month. That was another one that I grew from seed from Hudson Valley Seed Library. Other greens I was enjoying were Arugula and Little Gem Lettuce Mix, also from the Seed Library.

I had some leeks in the same bed, however, I admit they never really fully developed. I did enjoy looking at the interesting flowers and pods, though.

Tomatoes were mainly a bust this year in the raised beds. Actually, they weren’t the only thing I had troubles with. Squashes have been plagued with powdery mildew so much the last couple of years that I didn’t bother planting zucchini or yellow squash this year. Oh and my poor cucumbers. I will get to those, but first, here is what the Indigo Ruby tomatoes looked like before they ripened. This is literally all I got from this plant. Quite sad.

So yes, the cucumbers. They started off like gangbusters, but in late July they were ravished by some sort of disease. This is as big as most of them got and the leaves and stems were a mess...

One squash I did try this year was this Gold Nugget Winter Squash from Seeds of Change. In July it looked so healthy with thick, green foliage and oodles of buds and flowers. Come August, well, it went the way of the cucumbers with only one squash to show for it. So disappointing.

This year was my first try at Brussels Sprouts. These were also grown from seeds from Seeds of Change. They are Nautic F-1 Brussels Sprouts. They are on the right in this photo. Again, nice and healthy looking in July. No disease for this one, however, insects of some sort are eating holes in the leaves. I am holding out hope for some brussels sprouts still. We shall see. The yellow flowers in the background are Heliopsis Summer Nights, a real favorite of mine due to its ability to flower for months on end, even in extreme heat. The red flowers are Gift Zinnias again.

The Alaska Nasturtiums did well again this year. I had planted these seeds last year, as well. This year the leaves didn’t seem as variegated as last year. Lots of pretty flowers, though, and I added several to salads.

The blackberries always start out looking more like raspberries. They never really get fully developed berries, though. Although maybe they do and the birds get to them first.

This Solanum quitoense (Naranjilla) is an unusual fruiting plant that I bought last year and overwintered in my greenhouse. It survived and has been producing fruit like crazy this year. It wasn’t ripe yet in July, but is now starting to turn yellow. The fuzzy leaves with purple thorns and the purple stems are really why I bought this plant. It is probably the coolest plant I own. I love it. Don’t back into it while weeding, though. Those thorns sure do hurt!

The Solanum quitoense lives in another blue pot in the part of the Kitchen Garden that gets a little more shade.

Non-edibles in the Kitchen Garden are classic, old-fashioned Hollyhock and Cinderella Milkweed. See my last post for more about the milkweed.

July was better than August for the Kitchen Garden this year, so don’t get too excited about what you’ll see when I post those photos. Remember what I said? Wild abandon. And not much produce to show for it. I have decided that I need to do a soil test of the raised beds and amend accordingly. I add compost every year, but clearly something is going wrong. The beds are four years old now, so they probably are overdue for some amending.

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