Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Garden Notes

One of the best things about summer is when "eating local" means going up to my garden to pick fresh veggies for dinner.

So in no particular order, here are notes from the garden.

  • I always plant mostly roma tomatoes and make and freeze tomato sauce that I use all year in sauce, soups, chilis, and anything that calls for tomatoes.  This year I planted San Marzanos for the first time and they are doing fantastic. I made my first batch of sauce last weekend.  Here's the recipe for Tomato Glut that I use.
  • For last weekend's batch of tomato glut, just about everything came from my garden--the tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, thyme, basil, and parsley.  The only ingredients from my pantry were the salt and pepper, oregano (not sure why I didn't have a pot of it this year!), balsamic vinegar (the secret to the wonderful depth of flavor in the sauce), and celery (which I've never tried to grow).
  • Potatoes!  Finally I have a decent crop.  Where we live in Colorado has very dense, claylike soil so potatoes typically don't do well.  I've tried bags (a disaster).  This year we redid our raised beds, making them 18 inches high, instead of 12.  The result is that we have 18 inches of gardening soil in which to plant potatoes, and I dug up 6 beauties for potato salad two nights ago.  Victory!

  • Peppers - for some reason we didn't plant my favorite anaheims but have lots of poblano and jalapeno peppers, which I use in various salsas.  Here's a link to my favorite summer dish, corn mango salsa.
  • No apples this year.  Our trees are on a every-other-year cycle, so last year we had so many apples we had to prop up the branches to keep them from breaking under the load.  We made lots of applesauce, which we ate all winter and still have a few jars left, and we even had so many apples we made a press and pressed them into juice.
  • Wildflowers - we are into our second year of beekeeping and planted a mini-meadow next to the hives that has been blooming all summer long with a profusion of color.  It's starting to look bedraggled now and the bindweed is choking some plants but it's now one of my favorite parts of the garden and I'm hoping that it will reseed itself and come back strong next year.
  • Sunflowers - we have multiple birdfeeders that we keep stocked with sunflower seeds.  Under two of the feeders, along a south wall, we have a hedge of volunteer sunflowers that sprouted with the leavings of messy birds.  Now, we have a pair of goldfinches plus a lot of insects and other less vibrant birds who feast on the sunflowers outside the living room window.
Mr. Goldfinch has breakfast

  • Perennials - I made a concerted effort to fill in my flower beds with perennials, leaving the annuals for the containers on the deck.  Bee balm is my new favorite perennial--spiky, bright, and exotic looking.  The lavender I planted last year is finally blooming, and I finally got around to adding phlox to the beds with their pretty party dress colors.
Bee Balm

  • Peaches and corn - I don't grow either, but Colorado produces some of the best in the world.  If you ever come to Colorado, make sure you treat yourself to peaches from Palisade and Olathe corn.  It's what we live on in August and September!
  • Less lawn, more mulch - we tore out big sections of the "natural" lawn around the garden, which was really mostly weeds that we mowed, and replaced it with bark mulch.  The result is cleaner, neater, and easier to take care of.  We found an organic weed killer, Avenger, that we use to keep the weeds from taking back the land from the bark mulch. It works great. does your garden grow?


  1. This looks and sounds lovely! I want to garden but we have so much wildlife around that I'm not sure how to do it effectively. I also want to keep bees. But this year I'm getting my honey and fruits and veg from our local CSA. :)

  2. It looks and sounds like you are growing some great stuff.

    My wife does most of the gardening around my house. When one can do it, homegrown vegetables are the way to go. They taste better, are healthier, and it is rewarding to grow them.

  3. These are wonderful photos of your garden. I plant tomatoes and cucumbers and this year only the cherry tomatoes are good. Thanks for your Tomato Glut recipe; I'd like to make sauce one of these days. I'm envious you live in Colorado; where are you -- front range or western part? I once lived in the state. What a great place!

  4. Very impressive! And your energy to do all this (along with everything else!) is impressive too. It sounds like your garden would make a beautiful quilt theme--in addition to the yield of delicious ingredients for sauces and salads. Brava!

  5. I love the pictures - and it sounds like you've got a fantastic garden!

  6. My garden grows not nearly as well as yours, I'm officially jealous! On the other hand, I just couldn't stand your climate, I would melt.