We are now 6 months into our emerging garden and it seems like a good time to take a step back and observe the progress. There have been some disappointments, but overall not too many. Here are a few thoughts so far…
Nasturtiums are a multi-functioning flower that I hope to always include in the my gardens. The flowers are edible, they shade soil to protect it from drying out quickly, and the bees are constantly swarming the budding flowers. Plus the seeds are so incredibly easy to save – it makes it unnecessary to ever buy more. Next year, though, the nasturtiums are going on the ground, and not in the vegetable beds. I have such limited space in there and although it’s lovely seeing a nasturtium lazily wind it’s way through my neat rows of veggies, they have taken over and I can’t bear to tear them out. The veggies are probably not performing as well as they could with the nasturtiums sucking up every empty space.
I am considering hammering in some strings of wire between our fence posts as a permanent support for whatever climbing vines I plant from year to year. The trellises are fabulous for the perennial jasmine, roses and hops, but I need something on a more massive scale for the annual beans. With as little effort as possible, I leaned some wooden poles against the fence and house, but the beans planted underneath have taken over and there is no additional support for them.
The swiss chard and beets just needed a little love. I am pretty sure their wilty leaves were the result of too little mulch in combination with my less frequent watering schedule. I water less to conserve during these warm months, but I was missing an extra heaping layer of mulch to balance that. Once the straw was laid down, these plants went back to business with lush leaves.
Constant clipping of the swiss chard and lettuce has gotten under control as the season has gone on. The chickens absolutely love to gobble up whatever we can’t eat, and it encourages the plants to produce new leaves. It also kept the lettuce from bolting too early in the season.
I was hesitant to throw on any chicken-manure over the bell peppers and eggplant because I was afraid the shot of nitrogen would encourage the plants to focus on growing pretty leaves and less on developing good fruit. It doesn’t seem to be the case though, as both appear to be producing more fruit while getting taller at the same time.
Next year I will include this Black heirloom tomato in my garden again. I will actually do a whole post in the Fall to talk about which plants I plan to use again, but I can’t wait to talk about this one. The fruit was so dense and the flavor was amazing. Plus I have this weird affinity for ugly fruits and veggies – it just makes them seem more natural to me I guess. The poor plant this year suffered though from being transplanted too late in the season. Portland’s mild and wet summer hasn’t really done any favors in general of the tomato plants, but I won’t hold that against them.
More and more squash and gourds are popping up everyday. The poor Trick or Treaters this year will barely be able to step on our front porch when it becomes so covered with pumpkins and ornamental gourds… The beans are coming on strong so I am keeping my eyes peeled for a good recipe. Perfect timing since we have eaten that Broccoli recipe 1-2 times a week since it was first discovered. Hope your garden is growing well!

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