Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Kitchen Garden in August (yes, August)

Wow, I don’t think I have ever been THIS far behind with my garden posts. Major home repairs due to a roof leak, transitioning to a new job, and the holidays are my excuses this time. At least I have the winter to get caught up!

What the heck WAS happening in the kitchen garden in August? It seems so long ago.

From purely a visual standpoint, the kitchen garden was looking lush, green, and full in August. The Gift Zinnias, which I had planted from seed in spring (from Hudson Valley Seed Library), added a pop of red to the raised beds, as did the Lady in Red Texas Sage in the blue pot.

The white hydrangeas and yellow Black Eyed Susans in the flower garden made for a nice border to the kitchen garden.

I had planted a Japanese Maple in the blue pot, along with the Lady in Red Texas Sage, which is an annual. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the Maple survived the dry heat that we had later, but I could be wrong. I am trying to remain hopeful that it will surprise me in the spring.

Speaking of the blue pots, in my other blue pot I still had my Solanum quitoense (Naranjilla), which I had bought in 2014 and overwintered in my greenhouse. It did even better in 2015 and formed tons of fruit. The leaves were as fuzzy and spiky as ever.

The u-shaped beds contained orange Zinnias, Alaska Nasturtium, Garlic Chives (a perennial), Nufar Sweet Basil (this variety did best for me in 2015 and managed to avoid the Downy Mildew that has plagued a lot of basil varieties the past couple of years), and curly-leafed Parsley (which does better for me than the flat-leafed variety).

This photo was taken later in August when the Garlic Chives started to bloom.

I do love the look of the Garlic Chives in bloom, but you have to be careful and try to cut them off before they drop seed. They reseed literally EVERYWHERE, including in the gravel path. I never seem to get them trimmed in time.

A new and exciting addition to the kitchen garden in 2015 was the Red Noodle Bean from Hudson Valley Seed Library. This started to take off just before I went away for a long weekend in the Poconos and I never managed to harvest any of the beans to actually eat! It looked so cool, though. I want to try again in 2016 and actually eat them this time. A friend had given me these seeds and the magenta-colored, foot-long, bean pods were really thrilling to see.

There was some new seeds that I planted in 2015 that I was really stoked about, but they never took off. One of them was Hopi Red Dye Amaranth from Seeds of Change. I was really looking forward to seeing a cluster of 4-6 feet tall plants with dark red leaves and fuscia flowers, but only got about two of them and they were no more than a foot or two tall. This is a tender annual, so I’m doubtful they will come back.

Another crop I was looking forward to was Gold Nugget Winter Squash, also from Seeds of Change. I got one. Yes one.

One thing that did really well was the Merlot Lettuce from Hudson Valley Seed Library. This was a tasty addition to salads and I planted at least two crops of it. The leaves were pretty both in salads and in the garden!

My Cilantro always bolts before I have a chance to use it, so I tried Cilantro Papalo this time, from Grower’s Exchange. It is popular in Hispanic communities. This ended up forming a tall plant. I liked it, but I do love the regular Cilantro that I’m used to and it just wasn’t the same. This plant certainly did well in the garden, though.

Parts of the kitchen garden started to look a bit overgrown later in the month, as the Nasturtium creeped along the gravel paths, the Hop Vine took over the garden bench, and the Beautyberry bush blocked the back path.

I had filled in a bare spot late in August with sweet potatoes (left bed) – my first year trying them. The Nautic F-1 Brussels Sprouts from Seeds of Change (right bed) were getting taller, but not really forming sprouts.

A better shot of the Brussels Sprouts. Something was eating the leaves, however I was trying to remain hopeful that the sprouts would form.

Tomatoes were a disappointment in the garden again this year. They don’t seem to like the raised beds too well. In fact, with the other issues I had in 2015, I think I need to do a soil test and amend accordingly. I may try my tomatoes in pots this year. I had a hanging pot of tomatoes that did great on my back porch. In the garden, I got only a couple of Rutgers tomatoes.

It was enough for some caprese salad, though, a summer favorite of mine. I do mine with balsamic vinegar. Click here for my recipe.

The Indigo Ruby cherry-sized tomatoes in the garden grew a total of maybe 8 fruits. They were very tasty in salads, though. This salad contained greens, cucumbers, and parsley from garden, along with the Indigo Ruby tomatoes, and local corn and mozzarella. I put just a tad of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar as dressing. Delicious!

The hanging tomato plant was called Tumbling Tom Yellow and I had gotten it at an Amish market in Maryland in the spring. I had tons of grape-sized tomatoes all summer long. They were great in this Roasted Tomato and Ricotta Crostini recipe from Martha Stewart. I added fresh basil from the garden to the recipe.

So yeh, that was the kitchen garden in August, yes August. Sheesh. It is fun looking back on the gardening season from 2015, though, as it is quite cold and winter-like outside right now. Time to start dreaming about what I will plant in the kitchen garden this coming spring!

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