Settle Down Veggie Patch!

It’s late July and along with every other garden patch in Central PA, ours is beginning to look rather jungle-like.  You’ve got to compare what the garden looked like about 7 weeks ago.  Everyone was minding their own business and keeping their hands to themselves…it was a neat, controlled looking garden.  And here we are this evening…

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The kale to the left front corner is still a champion of life and kicking butt.  Kale must be naturally resistant to pesky critters because the leaves are nearly perfect and it’s been the lowest maintenance thing in the garden.  Just past the kale is broccoli- it’s been doing decently well.  The vacant row to the right of the kale and broccoli was our green leaf lettuce and has since given up in the mid-summer heat.  We still have some kaleidoscope lettuce just beyond the empty row but you can tell its about shot.  Our carrots have been doing well and we have more red and yellow beets than we can handle right now.  The celery was unlike any celery I’ve ever had– it was actually really green and massive.  The pale grocery store celery was all I knew of until this summer.  Our herbs are out of control- the cilantro has gone to seed and we’re waiting for the coriander to ripen, the sweet annie, basil, parsley, thyme and lavender are all happily coexisting in their very cramped quarters just past the happy fire-orange zinnia’s you see on the right-hand side.  All of the bright blue ‘stuff’ is larkspur- I was careful to weed everything else and leave the tiny larkspur shoots for the simple reason that a splash of bright blue mixed among the veggies looks really cool.  (Doesn’t it!?) Larkspur reseeds itself really well and will keep coming up year after year.  It also makes an awesome dried flower.

And look what we have just beyond this front garden–happy, healthy stalks of sweet corn!  It seems like it was just yesterday when I planted the little kernels by hand in 5 neat rows and carefully placed our sheep manure between the rows.  The ears are nearly read to eat!

DSC_0020In between the veggie garden and sweet corn are some incredible unruly pumpkins.  They have all but taken over everything… it amazes me how rapidly they grown and intertwine themselves among the rest of the garden.  When it comes to inappropriately invading personal space, pumpkins are the winner!

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Last, but not least- we have the upper garden.  THIS mess is really a jungle!  We planted our army of tomato plants way too close together this spring and we totally underestimate how crazy big potato plants get.  Our onions sort of suffocated in between the tomatoes and potatoes.  Just in front of the tomatoes we have some spindly but productive green pepper plants and just in front of them, our row of green beans.  Aside from the rabbit that chose to camp out for the summer in the bean row, they’re doing pretty well and we’ve already harvested 10+ quarts of beans.  The front of this garden is our strawberry patch.  Aside from routine weeding and control of the ‘runners,’ the strawberries are just chilling until next June when we get berries again.

We’re now at the stage in gardening where we’re actually harvesting the fruits of our labor and giving it away to friends and family–my favorite part!!  I LOVE being able to ‘shop’ for dinner in the front yard and pick and choose whatever is ready that evening.  We’ve been eating a decent quantity of roasted beets, potatoes and carrots along with salads, sautéed squash and kale and steamed broccoli and green beans.  Meat is always the center of the meal but our sides are whatever is ready to eat the day of.

I know…I know…tons of people garden and reap the benefits of their gardens and its really no big deal.  My mom did this very thing when we were little kids and she’d spend her evenings canning whatever she had a large quantity of.  She did it to be thrifty and save on the grocery bill. Decades and centuries ago people had no choice…if you wanted fresh vegetables, you grew them yourself.  Today, we have the luxury of shopping for whatever suites our fancy regardless of what is in season.  It may be nothing special to shop for dinner in your front yard for many people, but to me- this summer- it’s been super exciting!

Anyone else pretty stoked at watching their garden thrive this summer?

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