Monday, May 26, 2008

Vegetable Garden Update-May 08

It is time for the monthly vegetable garden update. The garden has exceeded my expectations. I have been picking broccoli for quite some time, the peas are in and have been picked, all radishes have been heartily consumed, lettuce is being used and we also have spring onions. Yum!

It is all coming together nicely. If you'll remember, I
reworked this whole vegetable garden last fall due to it having to move. I added brick paths and built raised beds. So far this method has worked great, but I am stopping short of calling the design a complete success until I see the summer vegetables come in. They tend to overtake all in the vegetable garden-with barely any room for the gardener! So we'll see then if it is still workable. Vegetables do have a tendency to grow into paths, but I want to be able to walk comfortably. Two years ago while checking on the vegetables I brushed up against some foliage and was stung by a saddleback caterpillar. If you have never been stung by one consider yourself lucky. The sting was EXTREMELY painful. Like pouring boiling water on my skin. The bad part was I walked back through the area to find out what it was that stung me, and got stung again! I found the culprit and killed it. Be careful of saddleback caterpillars and foliage in the paths. To be fair to the vegetables, the saddleback caterpillar was on gladioli foliage that stuck out too far. I am not sure if vegetables host these caterpillars but be careful.

Here are the tomato cages with small tomato plants planted within each of the four cages. I have decided to downsize the number of tomato plants I plant this year. I usually grow about 6 or 7 plants but I get a bit overwhelmed with freezing all the tomatoes in the summer. It is SO hot that I don't want many tomatoes around so as to not to have to put them all up. I can't seem to give them away fast enough either, as I have certainly tried that route!

Here is a picture of the broccoli growing in its bed. I have been able to harvest this broccoli in amazing amounts this year. I am trying to restrain myself from pulling it while it is still producing. I have a bad habit of doing this when the summer vegetables start growing in, but it is kind of silly since the veggies are giving me so much fresh food. This bed is double planted. There are three pepper plants and one eggplant planted in between these broccoli plants. Skeeter posted about her vegetable garden and has a great picture of an eggplant.
Here is a picture of some of the broccoli. Since this picture was taken and this broccoli harvested, the amount of broccoli flowers have doubled. The more you pick the broccoli the more it produces. No loopers have shown up this year. Yahoo!

The below pictures show two beds across the path from one another. The first picture shows the rhubarb, companion planted with basil. I seriously lack space to grow all the vegetables I want to grow, so I overplant and double plant every square inch I can.

The picture right next to the rhubarb shows my sweet little red cabbage plants. To see what they initially looked liked when planted, click here. They have grown like crazy. They are planted closely together. I believe in planting very closely together so that when mature, the leaves of the plants just touch on another. This method ensures the ground is covered and shaded, thus reducing and even eliminating weeds. The soil in the vegetable garden is amended well with plenty of homemade compost so it can support the needs of the vegetables. You can see the outline of my banana bed just past these two beds in the pictures. The banana bed is edged with round concrete forms that look like millstones. The circles are all partial circles and not complete. Does anyone know what these things were originally used for?

Lastly, a picture of the long bed looking north to the house. You can see the A-frame, an indispensable part of my vegetable garden. Under the A-frame are the 100 or so onions I planted back in February. Growing on the A-frame right now are peas. They are interplanted with gourd seeds. The gourds will overtake this A-frame, and one other frame soon to be built. The gourds overtaking the peas will work out perfectly because the peas will be finishing up about the same time the gourds come into their own. I hope the gourds will shade the onions and lettuce growing under the A-frame. The shading may help to keep these cool season crops a bit cooler, thus increasing my chances of growing and harvesting lettuce and onions all summer. Just off to the right of the A-frame are my bananas, aka Musa basjoo. The bananas are growing well. Another winter with no problems.
Vegetables are coming in fast and furious and I find spring is a big month for vegetable gardening. The busy time comes with planting the summer crops while managing your cool season crops. The month of June should see most cool season crops finishing up and the warm season crops taking over. Once this happens, maintenance is the word. July and August will see you simply picking the vegetables with some watering if we have another drought. Let's hope not! Happy vegetable gardening to you all.

in the garden...


  1. Yummm, maybe I should come to your house to eat!

  2. I am hoping that you let us know how you put up your veggies, I just started doing broccoli last year and we thought it did really good for the drought we had. I so want to know how to freeze tomatoes, broccoli, and squash.

  3. Jillybean, You are welcomed anytime but I warn you-I am a better gardener than cook.

    Sarah, I usually use the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (the red and white checked one) in the vegetable section to know how to freeze the vegetables with a few exceptions. I will most likely post on them. The few exceptions are canning the cucumbers (I make pickles which I usually give to family and friends as gifts), and the tomatoes (I freeze mine like my mother used to). It is complicated but not too bad. I skin them, chop them, then simmer them all day on the stove with some fresh peppers and fresh garlic, let them cool then pack in freezer bags. Most folks can tomatoes but I could never get into that. Even hubby says to can them. I say let him do it! If you got ANY vegetables last year you did super! Last year was a nightmare in the garden. You should post on your vegetable garden sometime, I really love to read about gardening. And talk about it too-can you tell?lol

  4. Looks like lotsa changes, add ons and hard work since I was there last summer.

    Happy Memorial Day today. A day to remember and reflect on our heros but I like to think I remember and thank our great veterans on a more regular time period than just on Memorial Day. Hope you all do also.

  5. What a great idea mixing the gourds with the peas. I wish I had thought of that.

  6. I've never heard of freezing tomatoes in that manner, I'll have to try it! I usually can any leftovers and pickle the green ones that aren't big enough to be fried. Your garden is so big and lovely, makes me jealous!

  7. Awesome plant, red cabbage. Finished the new rock wall yesterday, clipping and transplanting coleus. Liliacs are blooming like gang busters.. Ugg more raking, we are crazy for having such a big yard.

  8. Yum! I can't wait to reap the harvest of the veggie garden. Yours looks like it is doing well. The A Frame is a great idea, I hope you don't care if I steal that one! ;) Our tomatoes are going great, I had to spray for the aphids yesterday though. I need to pull the radishes. Time for an update on my veggie garden.

  9. Mom, I guess I should've added to all to have a great Memorial Day to this post. Sometimes we forget what this holiday is all about but I never do. Especially after my visit to Normandy a few years ago. The deaths did hit home there.

    Aunt Debbi, It works well. Sometimes you just have to put two or more things in the same space when space is limited. Try it!

    The well read gardener, I so enjoy reading your blog and following along. Glad you visited me. Hope you had a great trip. The tomatoes smell so good when simmering but I don't take it too far. Most of the time my tomatoes are going to be spagetti sauce so this manner works but if you use them for something like salsa, the texture might not work well.

    Dawn, That cabbage would do well for you up there. Then you could make some really cool stuffed cabbage rolls or slaw or sauerkraut. We love it all!

    Dave, Steal away. I used to have these poles just standing upright with a trellis attached there and a wood frame base to balance them. They blew over ALL the time. This year I got smart and changed it to the A-frame. Those babies aren't going anywhere and I am pretty sure it will work awesomely. Wish I had thought of it years ago. The trellis part is concrete reinforcing wire which is the MOST useful thing in my garden. I emailed you.

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  11. Hey all, I have changed on who can comment to only registered users. The spam comments seem to keep coming. Fortunately I have the url, IP address, time, city and state and have reported it to blogger. Hopefully they can get the people doing this. In the meantime, you need to be registered to comment. Sorry for any inconvenience. Thanks!

  12. Nana used to make cabbage rolls that were to die for and would'nt you kniw, I can't find her reciepe
    Darn it!!!

  13. Tina,

    Hey there! I am back in town, went to my Mom's birthday celebration...anyway, I feel way behind in visiting blogs, etc.

    Your veggies look great and I love the brick! Really, Tina, you have a good looking vegetable garden! You know the vegetables have got to taste great....yum, yum.


  14. Wow! You have this gardening planning down to perfection. I wish I had the ability to figure that stuff out.

    I would love to grow bananas. It's way too cold here though.

  15. Mom, It is ok, the recipe will turn up.

    Gail, Welcome back! Missed you.

    Cinj, I try to plan but really go by the seat of my pants half the time. You might try bananas in a pot then bring them into the basement each winter. I love mine.

    Late night again-WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

  16. The broccoli and peas were yummy Tina!
    Wish everyone could have munched on them with us on Sunday…
    Your gardens are truly spectacular Tina and I get such great inspiration with each visit...

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  18. Luckily we do not have saddleback caterpillars here! They sound nasty.

  19. You sure know how to grow vegetables, Tina - it looks wonderful! We only have space with sun for a few tomatoes and peppers and enjoy whatever we get - but remember freezing tomato chunks when we had a bigger garden in IL.

    I had to google Saddleback caterpillar and was shocked! Some people end up in the emergency room from the bites. Thanks for the warning.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  20. The broccoli looks great! Did you grow them from seeds or did you buy seedlings? I'm thinking of expanding my vegetable garden (it's not as huge as yours!), so I'm thinking of going to a nursery in town and getting more variety of vegetables.

  21. moaltd, I had never even heard of these caterpillars until I painfully met this one or two. Ouch. Lucky you to not have them!

    Annie in Austin, A few tomatoes and peppers are good. Is TX gardening much different than IL gardening? TX is such a big state and I hear diverse. Never visited it but maybe one day. Those saddleback are awful. I am sure you would have them there so watch out. My leg stings just thinking of the incident. Fortunately after a day or so the pain and redness left. I am glad I was not hospitalized. Gardens can be dangerous at times. The littlest bugs can lay us low.

    dp nguyen, I bought these broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers as seedlings.I never start veggies from seeds except what can be direct seeded like cukes, gourds, zucchini and so on. I think the big box stores do a great job of stocking interesting varieties for the home gardener so I save my time for other things. The broccoli is growing like crazy. My friend Geri was still picking hers all summer last year. With your square foot gardening you should be able to fit a bunch of things into the beds. Or even add some veggies into the ornamental beds? I am actually a bit limited on space too. Hubby has to have his driveway in the back so the gardens and cars compete. Sigh. Makes for creative growing as you know.

  22. Hey you all, I checked out the website and I must say moalt, it is very informational! You all might like to check it for good veggie info.

  23. Skeeter, I too wish we could've visited longer. Forget the gardens-we can talk! We all know I love to talk and I know you do too so look out hubbies. I am glad the Saint and Mr. Fix-it finally met. Yes, he really does exist. And such a good sport with all these 'get in the way' gardens. How did the veggie garden fare?