Lettuce’s Last Call

I think this week will be the last harvest for my lettuce. It’s big, full, floppy, and crying out to be put into a salad before it’s way past its prime. My arugula has flowered, and while I still think its flavor is quite yummy, I think I will be harvesting that, too.

Does anyone have a great recipe for arugula, besides the typical salad? I’m open for suggestions! Once the arugula is out of the bed, my bush beans will have more room to stretch out…

They are growing up fast. But I think something is nibbling on the leaves…any of my garden expert readers have any suggestions as to what might be doing this? These are in my raised bed enclosure, so it’s got to be a smallish bug in order for it to get in there.

I bought some additional bush bean plants today to supplement my chewed-on, from-seed beans, but I’m holding off on planting them until I find out what’s snacking on what’s already in the Grow Camp.

Once the arugula and lettuce are out, some eggplant and a sweet yellow banana pepper plant are moving in, too. That’s about it in the garden for now – I’ll leave you for the night with a parting cabbage and herb garden photo. :-)

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Meanwhile, on the Deck…

I have just a few more garden update photos to share:

Parsley, chives and lemon thyme have really taken off in the herb garden. I’ve been putting fresh parsley in everything, the chives will be front and center in a ranch dressing I’ll be making (and posting) this week. And the lemon thyme? Well, mainly I just like snipping it and rubbing it on my hands. Have I mentioned I’m a little crazy-in-love with the smell of lemon thyme?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planter the basil is taking its sweet time, but the cilantro is making great progress. We sprinkled cilantro on our chicken chili last night, and today it’s part of a marinade for our salmon dinner!

This blurry little guy is a sprout of dill I found in the Grow Camp. Every time I see a volunteer sprout pop up in the Grow Camp, I haven’t the heart to toss them! So this guy I transplanted here. He seems to be fairing OK so far.

Take a look at my brussels sprout plant! On the advice of many of you dear readers, I decided to keep one and placed it in a random planter I had in the garage. I’m so glad I did! I’m looking forward to watching its progress.

On the flower front, we also have some petunias on the deck. I’m really pleased with the health of these plants. I have a sketchy history with petunias. LOL

So that’s everything that’s going on out back! It’s been very rainy the past two days, so I’m looking forward to some sun (and weeding – not looking forward to that) in the coming days.

May Garden Goings On

Time for a garden update!

Above: The Salad Bowl lettuce has been harvested. This space will wait for bush bean seeds in a few days. The arugula and “Gourmet Blend” lettuce is still going strong. I will be making a big salad tonight from some of it. Beyond it is the chard…

It’s really taken off in the past few days. Swiss Chard is such a pretty plant. I love the red and green.

Above:  The tomato and pepper seedlings are out today getting some fresh air.

The cabbages are huge – still waiting for some “cabbage making activity” in the center.

Onions are moving right along! Beyond them, the spinach has been completely harvested. This is where I’ll be planting the peppers.

I trimmed a healthy amount of oregano today, so that he will play fair with all his neighbors.

Look what I found peeking up from the oregano! A tomato plant that sprouted from last year’s tomato jungle! I’m transplanting this little surprise!

Here he is! Hope he does OK!

My oregano bundle – we had raviolis for lunch with olive oil, sweet peas, and you guessed it – oregano! The rest I will dry.

And here’s the last of the spinach! What to make…what to make…healthy sauté? Or decadent creamed spinach? I’m leaning toward decadent.

What’s your favorite spinach recipe?

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7 Lessons Learned My First Year of Gardening

Last year was my first official gardening season. As I journeyed through my first planting and harvests, I took some mental notes on lessons learned for this season. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. It really is so much fresher
It seems like a given, but I was amazed at just how fresh everything tasted. Not to mention the fact that the produce (including tender arugula leaves) would last three times as long in my fridge, since they had not been sitting on a grocery store shelf for a week before getting to me.

to the left, lots of arugula. Lots and lots.

2. I don’t need to plant so much arugula
And speaking of long lasting arugula, I really didn’t need a whole row of it. It was so prolific, I had more arugula than any family could need or want. But we ate it, by golly. This year, I planted half as much. I’ll probably still have too much.

3. Tomatoes do not work in a Grow Camp
Specifically, indeterminate tomatoes. I planted two cherry tomato plants and as I did, I thought to myself, “Self, you know these are going to get too big.” And sure enough, they took over the Grow Camp and turned it into a tomato laden jungle. Never again!

4. I don’t need so many hot peppers
Don’t get me wrong, we like the spice over here. My son, at the tender age of 11, is already the jalapeno king in our family. But even with all the spice loving taste buds in our home, three hot pepper plants were too many for us. They were big producers! I’m going for just one jalapeno plant this year.

5. Buying onion sets isn’t cheating
When my dad handed me a brown paper bag last year with a big smile on his face, declaring that I would LOVE this onion set and to take good care of them, I admit I was a little underwhelmed. I was a bit of a seed snob last year, and figured it was too much of a short cut to just plop some onion bulbs in the ground. But oh, the happy, instant gratification these little guys brought! Within no time, we were enjoying them and I was thanking Dad.

6. Plant more green beans!
Perhaps it was the jungle shade of the tomato plants. Maybe it was the hot pepper plants that were taking up valuable space. Whatever it was, we did not plant enough bush beans last year, and what we planted were not very good producers. It may be delightful to see that one long, tender bean ready for picking on your plant, but one long, tender bean does not a side dish make. This year, I’m devoting a whole section of my raised bed to nothing but bush beans.

7. Gardening draws attention
Our backyard is up on a hill, with no fence to speak of, so we’re kind of on display. As such, any time I walk out to the garden, someone is inevitably watching me. This results in a lot of well meaning questions regarding what I’m planting, how much I’m harvesting, and occasional jokes, like, “What, do you keep your kids in that little green house you open up every morning?” Ha ha. Ahh, No. But really, I don’t mind. Though sometimes I find that song from the 80′s running through my mind…I always feel like…somebody’s watching meeeee…and I got no privacy…woahwoah…

So that’s my list! And with this growing season well underway, I’m already compiling a new list for this season. It would seem with gardening, the lessons just keep on coming. Here’s to trial, error, and hands in the soil!

What are some of your gardening lessons learned?

Great Growth Under Gray Skies

This past weekend brought copious amounts of much needed rain to our area. So much so, in fact, that we closed up the Grow Camp so it wouldn’t get water logged with the rapid rainfall. Sadly, I didn’t catch it in time for my microgreen trays. They were swamped. The rest of the garden looked lush and happy this morning, though.

The broccoli rabe is in the foreground above. He’s doing great! I’m glad I squeezed one in.

The lettuce blend I planted from seed has taken off! We’re having a big ol’ salad tomorrow for lunch!

Swiss chard is on the top left above.

Time for beer traps! These slugs are doing a number on my lettuce.

That’s me making faces at the slugs. In the foreground is the oregano from last year. It’s huge! And yes, I’m digging around in my garden in a white cardigan. Because I’m intelligent and practical like that. Ha.

I love all the lush green! Makes me happy on a cloudy day.