Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The ups and downs of this summer's garden.

I am feeling grateful this week as just about every evening we've included something straight from our garden with dinner - a fresh tomato sliced on top of a burger, crunchy cucumber slices, zucchini in some way, shape or form.

But I mentioned in a post the other day that it has been a weird year for gardening, and that's true for my vegetable plants and my perennials.

My tomato plants, which I am still impressed with because I grew them from seed, hardly have any leaves left on them. Either there is something funky in the soil that splashed up on them, or it's just been too darn chilly a summer here. The leaves started getting brown spots and it spread quickly, then eventually the leaves would just turn crusty brown and fall off if I didn't pull them off first.

Interestingly, the plants still produced lots of tomatoes and they are turning red. And they taste good. So ... I don't know. This is one of those times when I shrug and decide maybe my garden just wasn't meant to be perfectly pretty this year and I should be happy with what I get.

I am on my third planting of green beans, and having gotten a full day of rain yesterday I am hopeful these will sprout and my dear daughter will get to pick and eat some beans - her favorite - from her own garden.

The bean situation started out great; I had planted seeds and they were sprouting, but we got a lot of rain early in the season and my gutters got clogged up and overflowed, sending a stream of rainwater straight down into the raised garden bed below and washing out much of what was planted. The few bean plants we had I dug up and gave to my parents, as their beans had never sprouted. They gave me what seeds they had left, and when I had cleaned up the garden bed I replanted. I got two plants.

Those two plants now mark the rows of where I planted a new crop ... hopefully.

I planted, watered, and prayed. If we do get some plants we should have a nice fall harvest of beans. We shall see.


 Going like gangbusters. I've got some beets and carrots looking good, too.

This year's cucumber crop is the best I've ever had. They are beautiful and they taste amazing - not bitter like I've experienced in the past. Tonight I combined a couple of those fresh cukes with some red onion and a dressing made of olive oil, lime juice and cilantro (also from the garden).

When I dished some up for myself I tossed some avocado in there, too. Oh. My. Gosh. It's like SUMMER in a dish. Yum.

My jalapeno plants look sad. Last year I had jalapeno trees - tall, wide, and abundant producers. This year? The first four plants dried up and died. I bought two more. These are alive and green and leafy, but only about six inches tall. Stunted. Again, I throw my hands in the air. I suppose I have a few weeks to try to nurse them along, maybe fertilize and see what happens. Or I could go buy $1 worth of jalapenos when I need them, but store bought just isn't the same.

Such is the life a gardener, I suppose. Trial and error, ups and downs.

Elsewhere in the yard, my hostas are absolutely gorgeous and several plants and shrubs are blooming for a second time. Even those early bloomers that say they "might" bloom later in the season rarely do, it seems. I guess it's a good year for those.

And then there's this guy ...

Cilantro that sprouted right up in the walkway between garden beds. It's got to be from seeds that I harvested from last year's plant. I intended to put them in an envelope late last summer to keep and plant this spring. Most of them got blown off the patio table before I had a chance. I did pull a couple of cilantro sprouts out of the cracks in the patio earlier this summer. But this one ... I guess if it has the will to sprout and grow in the gravel, I'll let it stay. It'll be really yummy in my cucumber salad in a week or two.

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