Saturday, June 20, 2009

Veggie Garden Update-June 09

Skeeter's Veggie Garden Update:

Good and not so good news from my Georgia Garden! First the white radish were so hot we could not eat them. Sigh, We were too late getting them into the ground and our hot days fired them up.
My once beautiful heads of cabbage,
have now become a meal for some type of insect. I don't know what to put on cabbage to destroy the bugs without harming us when we eat the stuff. Again, we were too late in getting the cabbage into the ground as the heat is giving it a slow death!
On a happy note, we have Roma Tomatoes growing strong for us! If we gather half as many as we did last year, we will be happy! The Purple and German Queen tomatoes are doing well also but no fruit as of yet.
We ate lettuce and spinach and now they are no longer with us. We replaced those empty spots with Yellow, Red, Orange and Green sweet Peppers. The Saint put in a couple of hot Peppers also.
A surprise is good! I found this plant growing in the compost bin after the spring rains! Do you know what this is? A potato plant! Ha, too funny, I am keeping my eye on this and piling up the soil as it grows. Not sure which type of potato this will be but will be fun if we are able to harvest a potato since we have never grown one in our life!

I am sad to say the Veggie Garden will be no more for us next year. We have too much rain in the spring and when the soil in the fenced area is finally dry, it is too hot for us to plant anything. We did transfer a few things which survived the heat of being in the containers but they do not look too well. We now need water on the rest of the yard but this area remains moist so maybe they will survive with the hot sun making them grow like weeds! Oh well, we gave it a try and it was not meant to be for us in this yard. We will continue to have tomatoes, herbs and sweet peppers as we have such luck with those things and they are working out well on the edge of the flower garden.

Now lets see what Tina has to say about her Tennessee Garden!

June has been a month of highs and lows in the vegetable garden here in my Tennessee garden. Highs because of some successes-namely the peas and green onions. Lows because of the failures-broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
In the picture above we can see the peas. They are the tall kind and I will be sure to buy this kind in the future. Remember! Fresh pea seeds each year! The bed behind it holds garlic, yellow squash and other vining crops. I have to confess, I've been a very bad vegetable gardener this year. I haven't even planted the cucumbers yet and have not been well organized in it. Fortunately, what does grow there takes care of itself otherwise it would be quite a jungle. This is another bed. Here we can see my over the top planting style. This means I plant veggies on top of veggies on top of more veggies. Can you see a problem here? I don't have a big enough garden but will make do with companion planting I suppose. The lovely green plant in the foreground is Swiss Chard, grown from seeds Frances sent me. Not sure why it does not have the bright red color it had when young, but it healthy and looking good. How do I eat it?? Behind it and also to the right in the cages are pepper plants. The warm season crops have been very slow to take off this year. While the tomatoes do have baby tomatoes forming, the plants themselves have been slow to fill out. Part of the issue has been the rain and the wonderful spring temperatures we have been experiencing here in Middle Tennessee, but more likely it is the fact that the oak trees just to the south of my vegetable garden have grown so much that the vegetable garden is almost too shady to get any good growth. Not much I can do about that as the trees take top billing here. I might just convert the whole veggie garden to an ornamental garden when I get really tired of fighting the shade. I'll give it more time to see how it goes before I make that drastic decision though. Most vegetables need a full 8 hours of sun to really produce a good crop of vegetables. I think this garden is hard pressed to get 6 hours on even a good sunny day. Throw in all the cloudy days and it's been a real struggle. The garden is oriented east to west and I think that now the sun is nearly at its highest the vegetables may begin growing better. I hope so anyhow.

The garlic and onions should be ready to harvest any day. I usually dig one or two to check for maturity before digging them all. I then leave both outside on a covered porch for a few days so that they can cure. That is, they dry and the soil that comes up with them is easier to brush off. Once dried and cured, I will brush off all the dirt and braid the foliage and store in a cool dry area in the house.

The peas will be pulled after one more harvest. I had tons of peas from these vines this year. The best year yet! And I didn't even burn them when I cooked them! An extra bonus for us all. Once the peas are pulled I'll be planting my zucchini in this bed. Right now it has a cherry tomato and catnip growing in it. I'll add a layer of compost and turn the soil, plant the seeds, then mulch well, being sure to leave the area over the newly planted seeds a bit bare so the seeds can peek through.

The chard and lettuce stay put until I need the space. I don't mind the old plants growing in the garden as they serve as a living mulch for the beds. When the plants get too ugly they find their way to my nearby compost bin.

I have a few other beds. One of the beds (not pictured, also has garlic in it. This will come out soon and the entire bed will be filled with corn (that's the plan right now anyhow). The last bed (which you can just make out the A-frame in the foreground in the second picture) has peppers and tomatoes growing in one half of the bed. The other half (the half with the A frame) will have cucumbers growing in it soon. The cucumbers will grow above the pepper plants on the north side of the bed, therefore the peppers should not be overly shaded. We shall see how that works. Remember I told you I have to be creative? Yup, more like crowded but I usually get a good crop of all the veggies I grow though I am not sure how.

One other note, there are many herbs growing in the vegetable bed. I've planted basil in with the bananas, chives with peppers, catnip in a couple of beds, and stevia in the ornamental flower bed, along with zinnias and Indigofera amblyantha. I am really enamoured of the catnip (Nepeta cataria) and the stevia. I like to pinch off a leaf of the stevia just to have something to chew on when I walk around the garden. It is so neat! The catnip is a bit more open than the catmint (Nepeta faassenii) and is loving the vegetable garden. I'll try to post a picture of it at some later date. So far Orkin has not found it; which makes sense since it is the dog's yard where she avoids like the plague when they are around.

I've spent a lot of time talking of companion and succession planting simply because growing vegetable is a challenge when you are limited on space. It can be done but it is difficult. No matter how often I tell myself two plants can grow in the same spot at the same time or close to the same time, it really cannot be done well. Planting like this is a necessity when you do not have a lot of space and I hope some of these ideas help others who are also spatially challenged. I do not fear planting some of my crops late here in Middle Tennessee because our growing season is very long. In fact, I hope that by planting cucumbers and zucchini later than normal that I will avoid many of the usual pests that bother these plants. We shall see as only time will tell.

How are your vegetables growing this month and do you have any special challenges?

Mom, did you get your potatoes all planted? Dawn, how is your veggie garden coming? Lola? Anonymous? And all the rest of you-how's life in your veggie garden?

in the garden....


  1. HI Tina and Skeeter, Your gardens are looking great. I've had the same problems as skeeter, everything was so flooded, it killed one row of potatoes and now it's as hot and dry as can be.

    Tina, girl you are so funny! I love over the top planting!!

    I wish you happy harvesting and growing!

  2. It's all looking pretty darn good. I wish my veggie garden was that nice right now.

  3. I like your double-sided landscape bricks, mine are the light yellow color one, I can only find those from Lowe's. Where are you getting those? Here are what I harvest lately:
    - Mint
    - Spinach
    - Romanian Lettuce
    - Basil
    - Plum fruits
    - Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries
    Probably will harvest squash this weekend.
    Happy gardening and have a great weekend!

  4. I love the veggie updates. The only thing that's doing well for me is lettuce so far. I also have something growing in my compost bin--it's either a hot pepper or eggplant, I'll have to look more closely next time I walk by! :)

  5. Skeeter, don't give up yet! Every year in the garden is different. Last year the spinach and lettuce grew like crazy, and the tomatoes all died of wilt by the end of the summer. This year it's the opposite--well,we'll see if the tomatoes make it. I do use products like Sevin on cabbages and other crops where the bugs can destroy the whole plant. Just follow the directions carefully so you don't harvest it too soon. This is why I never grow broccoli anymore--too many bugs!

    Tina, gardening is always a challenge, isn't it? I may try some double-planting in my garden for the first time this year, since I also ran out of room. I did join in today with the veggie update, so you can check out what's growing in my vegetable garden.

  6. Tina --your peas did great!!! We had peas from my early planter ones and hubby planted some seeds late that are just starting to bud. Tons of lettuce and several bell peppers -hubby had one cucumber so far but the vines are covered. We had to let him pick the first of everything, hahaha. Since he tilled and fenced the garden area -what a guy I tell you. Skeeter -I wanted to do radish but no one else eats them hence not planted -haha. We decided to plant only things we will all eat -so our garden is strictly green -hehehe. (peppers, lettuce, peas, green beans, cucumbers -hope I didn't forget something) Lil Bundle is in my arms:0)

  7. Good Morning All.
    Tina, Skeeter, your gardens are looking marvelous.
    Skeeter, have you or anyone heard of sprinkling flour on your cabbage for the worms or insects? Try it, it may work and the flour won't hurt you. Just wash the head good.
    Tina, I cook my swiss chard like I do any greens. It is rather good. I like it for a change. I think you can eat it raw, not sure about that tho.
    I've harvested, Blueberries, sweet 100's, grape tomato, yellow wax bush beans, regular size toms, swiss chard, onions. Cukes soon. Squash borrows got to my squash, their history. I planted more much later, so far, so good. Corn is tasseling out. Too much rain at once. Then nothing. Strange Spring.

    Have a wonderful day all.

  8. So I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with the veggies' progress or lack of it. The snow peas were by far the best producer this year; potatoes were fair-to-middlin'; lettuce was good while it lasted; tomatoes were going great guns until those nasty gray bugs got to them; beans have been disappointing; cukes are beginning to show some progress; squash plants look healthy, blooming like crazy but nothing to eat yet; cabbage is looking like Skeeter's; herbs are thriving and delicious; peppers are slow to put on, and one plant was entirely stripped of its leaves. We did get a few plums from our two new trees, and the blueberries are still too young to produce more than a few this year. One remedy for bugs I've been trying the past week or so (it seems to be helping the tomato plants) is castile soap mixed with a little Neem oil and water in a spray bottle. I spray the plants in the early evening, leave the solution on all night, and then rinse the plants early in the morning.

  9. Good morning all! It's most nice to see everyone's veggies this morning-even if they all look way better than mine. I had better get to work soon! Vegetables can be so rewarding yet SO frustrating too. Some years everything goes just right, other years everything wrong-but for the satisfaction of eating that one single ear of corn you manage to produce (or four in the case of me one year), it is worth it usually to go to the trouble.

    Lzyjo, I'm a terrible gardener trying to fit all the things in such a small space, but hey it's fun.

    Flwrgirl1, Give it time but in the meantime sure enjoy those irises!

    Vuejardin, Are you asking for Skeeter's bricks or mine? If mine, someone gave them to me on Freecycle. I think Skeeter's bricks are bullet edgers and can usually be found at most hardware stores. Your spinach is great! I happen to love it but have no luck growing it.

    Monica, Lettuce fresh from the garden is great! Too funny on your volunteer. Will you let it grow there or move it? I hope either way you gets tons of veggies from it.

    Rose, Your veggie garden looks fabulous. You hit the nail on the head with your comment on getting frustrated by weeds. It can be a downer. The mulch WILL prevent this this year-just stay tough on the few stray weeds and before you know it will be fall and you'll be eating yummy tomatoes. I added your link. If you see anymore veggie posts, do let me know and if the blogger does not mind I can add them in too. Thanks for the link this morning and I look forward to seeing a great veggie garden next month too.

    Anonymous, Yes! Great to let the hubby pick the firsts. It always tastes better that way for some crazy reason. I have the same hangup. Ummm-what's missing?? I know-tomatoes!!:)

    Lola, I must pick that chard and boil it up for lunch then. I think I'll like it (I hope). I've not heard of the flour trick. Sounds neat. Great on your harvests! Lucky you on all those veggies and fruit.

    W2W, I like the Neem oil trick. I hope it works on those gray bugs. I remember gardening in Alabama and it was such a challenge with all the insects. They've taken over this year for sure. Snowpeas sound so good right about now! And squash too. Great job!

  10. You guys have already eaten from you gardens and mine is just getting going. I have not had real good luck with the herbs in the bucket especially the catmint. I have no idea what is up. We are keeping a eye on what's eating the beans.

  11. I forgot to say, yes you can eat chard raw, we purchase it in the spring mixture of packaged lettuce, it's good.

  12. Hey Ms. Skeeter and Ms. Tina. I got the feelin that both of y'all's veggie gardens leave a bit to be desired. That's okay, some years are better than others. If you really think you'd be better off not doin the veggies next year Ms. Skeeter, that's okay (and don't give up on your cabbage just yet, it may still produce, by the way, that kind of damage looks like it may have been caused by cabbageworms). Ms. Tina, I think you need to find a much sunnier spot for your veggie garden. And it's a good idea (when you have a long growing season like you mentioned) to plant late. The veggie garden here is in and not much to report this early. Gourds and pumpkins are up, as is zucchini; egg plants have some flea beetle damage but I'm stayin on top of it sprayin with horticultural oil; tomatoes are doin good and I need to cage them soon but it's been rainin; potatoes are growin along well too; cabbage is comin along nicely as well. That's about it.

  13. Wow, you girls have a lot. Here in Maine all my stuff is up and doing good but only thing to harvest yet is radish but will have peas before long, hopefully.

    Skeeter I also read that corn meal will keep some bugs away and something has been at my peppers, beans and tomatoes so I just dusted them all with it 2 days ago and been raining ever since so can't tell you if it works or not.
    I also put out several bowls of beer as I have seen some slugs at the radish. Never had a slug last summer but we had hardly no rain last year and then bunches this year.

  14. Tomatoes are producing nicely, peppers are slow, and I planted carrots too close toegether--but they taste delicious! :)

  15. Skeeter, I can relate to your frustration with growing vegetables. I find growing flowers much easier than growing vegetables, frankly! But can't do without tomatoes, although I hardly got any last year.

    Tina, your vegetable garden looks great. Mine is already starting to look out of control, tomatoes pulling over their cages, etc. lol

  16. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with highs and lows in the veggie garden. The highs like the peas and tomatoes make up for the lows.
    Not much aside from peas are happening in the veggie garden. Lots of flowers on the tomatoes, so that's a good sign. The broccoli isn't doing much though.

  17. Great to see your veggie updates. The Roma tomatoes look yummy already. And Tina, I envy your peas! Despite some of the frustrations, you've got so much going on. The Swiss Chard looks healthy.

  18. Just popping in for a minute. I just found 2 nice cukes. More maters both little & big. Also found some asparagus spears---big & yummy, raw.
    Haven't heard of corn meal, must remember that when I plant fall veggies that might need help.
    It's great to get good tips & info all the time like this.
    Hot, hot, hot here. At least no rain today yet.

  19. Speaking of mystery plants - my MIL used to have a beach condo that she rented out in the winter months and after the guests lefts one summer she went there to move in and there was a tomatoe plant growing out of the garbage disposal!

  20. Hey Skeeter,
    Those Roma tomatoes look like they are going to be yummy. What fun finding plants growing out of the compost. Too bad you can't make the veggie garden work but knowing that you will have tomatoes, herbs and peppers is a good thing. The plants you plan to continue are good essentials... and plenty to take care of too.

    Those peas look fabulous. What kind did you plant? I planted Wando Heirloom and they were delicious while they lasted. I think I should have planted them a little earlier... I don't think they liked the heat. They were good while they lasted though. I'm going to try broccoli in the fall. Vegetable gardens are tricky things... not at all like landscaping. But all in all very fun to learn as you go.

    I've posted a veggie update today. Only wish I would have been joining in when my garden was doing better.

  21. I had some nice mild white (daikon) radishes last year. I was so impressed that I also planted some that were hot and stringy this year. Maybe in a soup?

    I'm harvesting regular sugar snap peas (Sugar Ann) lettuce - Red romaine and an oak leaf red, radishes (french breakfast, tricolor bush beans and herbs. Zucchini and cucumbers are taking their time, but I see some tiny ones emerging. Tomatoes are flowering but not setting fruit the way I'd hoped. We've had so much rain! and its only up to 70 degrees or so. Maybe when the sun finally comes out it will help.
    Everything looks terrific there - especially those peas!

  22. Amazing harvest you've had with the peas!! Mine are only about 5" tall and far away from producing...I know they are a cool weather crop but this is ridiculous...all this rain we've had...not great conditions for my veggies :(

  23. Good Morning everyone and Hapy Fathers day! My scheduled post has not posted and I dont have access to it with my mothers computer! I am waiting until a decent hour to call Tina to see what is going on with it.....

    It is SUMMER today so I reckon I should stop complaining about the heat as it is to NOW be expected!

    The veggie garden has been frustrating for us this year but now that I see everyone else has had some issues, maybe we will rethink planting next year! I forgot to mention that the herbs are doing well, basil, dill, catnip, parsley and cilantro. The chives are not so strong as of yet but seem to be slowing appearing for me...

    Tennessee has been fun thus far but I am ready to finish with the volunteering at the hot building and then stay cool! I am exhausted each evening afterwards! I am on vacation and having to take two showers a day and not lake or ocean involved so not nice. But I am helping out the homeles fur babies so all worth it for me.... I got to hold the most tiny little kitten yesterday and it was so sweet! They are bottle feeding it after the mother disapeared during a storm. Poor babies are now relying on humans to be their bottle feeders! I want one but luckily I live in Georgia and cannot take one back home with me! :-)

    Everyone have a nice day! I will call Tina soon to see what is going on with my post today....

  24. Vuejardin, I am not sure if you were asking about Tinas stones or mine but I got the clay red ones at Lowes. We are lucky to have 3 Lowes in our area and they dont all stock the same supplies. One Lowes had them while another did not. Did not check at the third one though....

  25. It seems like there are always successes and failures in vegetable and other gardening, for that matter.

    I planted a taller variety of peas, too, and they are doing well. I've noticed it's easier for me to see the peas from a distance than when I'm up close picking.

    I hope you get some potatoes!