Garden Things

Egyptian Onions, always the first thing to pop up in the garden

{Egyptian Onions, always the first thing to pop up in the garden}

It’s starting to get a little chilly out there, so I thought now would be a good time to reminisce about warmer days, and to sum up how our garden went this year.

It went well! For the most part, anyway. :-) As always, some things tend to go really well, and some things not so much. But all things considered, it was a pretty productive year out there. And each year you learn something new, so it’s never a loss when things don’t turn out as you expect.

This year, we bought a roll of weed paper in attempt to keep the weeds at bay in our cold garden. The weed paper worked really well wherever it was laid. It protected our plants, but it was a bit pricey and didn’t cover all of our garden (check out our luscious green weeds!), so next year we may have to rethink a more cost-effective solution. :-)

The cold garden and our fire pit

{The cold garden and our fire pit}

A new addition to the cold garden this year: broccoli! This worked out really well. We harvested heads from every plant, and they’re actually growing new heads right now! I think we may make broccoli a permanent resident.

Broccoli plants doing their thing

{Broccoli plants doing their thing}

We also decided to be ambitious and build two more raised beds this past spring. First, we built a dedicated bed for my Nonna and Nonno Durante’s white pole beans. Don and I built the bed, and my mom muscled it into the ground for us while she was visiting. This joint family effort and new dedicated location resulted in our best year of beans yet! We ended up with bean vines that were 12+ feet tall and produced many, many beans. I like to hope that wherever my grandparents are now, they somehow know we’re carrying on the tradition, and that their beans are still providing nourishment and happy memories for our family. :-)

Durante Beans

{Durante Beans}

We also built a second raised bed to relocate our zucchini and cucumbers, as well as try to grow my Nonna Maria’s tomatoes and some ground cherries. We took a little while to get this raised bed into the ground. So by the time we actually planted everything, it was obvious that we stunted the zucchini and cucumbers. We ended up with no zucchinis and a few “cucumber balls”.

I thought the cucumber balls would have been total write-offs, but Rowan showed us differently. I passed him one to hold and he immediately started to eat it, and finished it off! It was the first whole fruit or vegetable that he’s ever eaten, so he showed us a thing or two that day. :-)

Rowan eating a cucumber from the garden

{Rowan eating a cucumber from the garden}

The tomatoes in the raised bed also took a while to get going. We didn’t end up with any red tomatoes, but we did get quite a few green tomatoes that made it into our chow chow this year. And the ground cherries grew like crazy, but it was a similar situation with their fruit too. They mostly stayed green. Thinking on it now, I probably could have brought all the fruit in to ripen, but I just grabbed a few ground cherries for next year’s seeds and left the rest in the bed to hopefully replant themselves the way cherry tomatoes tend to do. We’ll see what happens, I guess! We did get to enjoy some delicious ripe ground cherries before the frost took them out, so I was pleased.

Bug time!

There were so many insects in our garden this year! Most were beneficial and some were darn pesky! On the beneficial side of things, I was thoroughly given the heebie-jibbies by a gang of baby spiders.

What's this, a dried dandelion head that you should flick with your finger?

{What’s this, a dried dandelion head that you should flick with your finger?}

Nooooope! Eeeeeeeek!

{Nooooope! Eeeeeeeek!}

Spiders are good. Spiders are good. Spiders are good. Right?

Right. Moving on.

Next in the slightly creepy but actually beneficial category, the┬ápelecinid wasp! This little lady was originally facing away from me, then turned her head towards me (like so), and then turned her whole body to face me. That’s when I backed off. She looks intimidating, but is actually quite harmless to humans. That crazy long “stinger” is meant to locate June bug grubs in the ground into which she’ll inject her eggs.

A female pelecinid wasp

{A female pelecinid wasp}

And now bees! I used to be afraid of these guys in my youth. However, working a garden has made me used to them being around, and it has really made me love watching them work.

A bumble landing on our echinacea

{A bumble landing on our echinacea}

We even planted some perennial herbs last year that would attract the bees and keep them thriving!

A bee working our anise hyssop plant

{A bee working our anise hyssop plant}

And last but certainly not least in the insect category, two grasshoppers getting intimate on a sunflower (one of the sunflowers that grew from Rowan’s gifted seeds).

Ahhh, romance! :-)

Grasshoppers giving each other back rubs - photo courtesy of Don

{Grasshoppers giving each other back rubs – photo courtesy of Don}

Speaking of sunflowers, the birds planted a really nice one for us this year too! Thanks birds!

A pretty sunflower surprise

{A pretty sunflower surprise}

Another notable thing for this year is that we mostly figured out planting and harvesting garlic in our zone! The missing piece of the puzzle was when exactly to pull them up and the answer is sooner rather than later. As soon as our garlic stalks started to turn yellow, we stopped watering them and pulled them up on the first dry day. This has produced better results than all our previous years, so I’m hopeful that things will just get better next year. We’ve already replanted 49 garlics (up from 36 last year, which are all mostly gone now).

Hubby tidied up the garlic for storage - photo courtesy of Don

{Hubby tidied up the garlic for storage – photo courtesy of Don}

All-in-all, it has been a pretty great year in the garden. We made it a point to get out there as much as we could (almost every day!) and enjoy our moments together as a family in our private little piece of the great outdoors! I loved every moment of it. :-)

Bubbles!

{Bubbles!}

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4 thoughts on “Garden Things

  1. I can’t believe you guys have already had frost!

    Love the angle of the last photo. Very cool.

    Your broccoli has reminded me: I have rapini seeds! Next year, I will make rapinis. Your garlics look dope! Next year, again, I will make garlics. Hopefully.

    1. Frost comes early over here! I think with our last frost and first frost dates, we tend to have a month less growing time than you guys.

      If you figure out rapinis, let us know! We tried this year, but the plants didn’t make it out of the greenhouse. :-) I wish you much luck with your garlic growing! Scapes feel pretty rewarding when you eat em. Omnom.

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