Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My garden

It's been a rough spring for my vegetable garden, but those plants that survived the cold and wet weather are now thriving in the summer heat.  My cucumbers are doing quite well, loaded with pretty yellow flowers and little baby cucumbers.  I think this is the best year I've had so far for cucumbers.  Most of the plants survived and are now producing vegetables.

Eggplants are slow growers, and only about half the plants I started with survived.  The survivors are getting bigger now, and their flowers should start opening in the next few weeks.  Even if this plant didn't produce a delicious vegetable it has beautiful purple flowers and large soft fuzzy leaves.  Like many garden plants, you could grow it for looks alone. ;-)
I'm also starting to get tomatoes.  As usual, once the temperature warmed up the tomato plants grew like crazy.  For me there's no such thing as too many tomatoes.  What I don't eat fresh off the vine I turn into tomato sauce which I use in recipes all year long.  When I harvest more tomatoes than I can eat I wash them, place them on a baking tray, and stick them in the freezer until they're firm.  Then I seal them in plastic bags to store.  When I want to make sauce I thaw them out and the peels slip right off .  I think it's the easiest way I've found of preserving tomatoes.

The Bell peppers are also growing nicely and will be getting flowers any day now.  These seeds were mixed colors, so I could be harvesting, red, yellow, orange, and purple peppers soon.  I don't care for hot peppers, but I do love a nice crisp sweet Bell pepper.
And this is the first baby zucchini of the season.  I spotted a few more little ones today, and should have some yellow squash mixed in too.  Most of those plants look pretty good and they all have lots of flowers.  Zucchini and squash plants are usually pretty tough, and one plant can produce many vegetables.  I've got all sorts of delicious recipes for zucchini, and I enjoy it fresh from the garden in a salad.
And I just harvest some of the garlic I planted early last fall.  Like many bulbs, garlic divides and spreads: each of those little cloves can become an entirely new bulb of garlic.  I started with just a few bulbs several years ago, and this is what I harvested the other day.  And this isn't everything I planted either- I left some of the bulbs to grow larger, and may have another harvest again in the fall.
And I would have beans right now if the bunny hadn't eaten every single bean plant in the garden!  But it's hard to stay mad at anything this cute.
So I just fixed the holes in the fence and had a stern talk with the little rascal about not eating my vegetables.  The beans are actually getting leaves again, so I may get a small late season harvest.  
This is always the time of the year when the results of all my hard work in the garden start to show.  These fragile plants I started from tiny seeds are now big, strong, and vibrant.  I'm still amazed that huge plants like tomatoes (mine will be taller than me soon) start from a tiny little seed.  These resilient vegetables have battled harsh weather: rain, wind, hail, and frigid temperatures, insect attacks from bean beetles, cucumber beetles, slugs, and more,  and animals stripping their leaves from the stems.  And yet they continue to grow and most will produce nourishing vegetables until the first frost of fall.  A garden is so much more than just some dirt and plants- it's a life and death struggle, sometimes on a microscopic scale.  I can get lost in the beauty and magic of my garden.  Thanks for stopping in and sharing some of that garden magic! ;-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

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