The State of the Garden Report, Or, Half a Holy Guacamole



Sorry for the grainy picture. The lighting in the kitchen is suboptimal, and my camera, she has few adjustable bits.

I have more tomatoes than I had ever dreamed possible sans greenhouse. The Red Alert is as prodigiously prolific as promised. (Although the flavour is milder than I like, so I think I’ll be freezing these for use in sauces rather than eating them raw off the bushes.) The Sweet Million bushes have also produced oodles of fruit, but are taking longer to ripen. They may be felled by frost if they don’t hurry up. Or I’ll just have to look up uses recipes for green tomatoes.

Actually, I may look up green tomato recipes either way: the Red Alert is very prone to getting blown off the bush at any stage. So far I’ve been leaving the green ones under ripe bananas, and they’ve been mostly turning red, but a little dietary variety could be fun.

The ground cherries also tend to blow off the bush when not quite ripe, but they have been slowly and steadily ripening. After ravenously gobbling down my first few handfuls of them, I started a baggie in the freezer for them; I want to get a more quantifiable idea of how much fruit I’m getting off the bushes, and whether or not it’s worth them again next year. They take up so much room! On the other hand, I’ve never seen them in the grocery store, and they are incredibly tasty. So it’s grow them or never eat them again.

The snap peas are still producing, although far less this year than last (I think a combination of slugs and older seeds did most of them in), and the sunflowers planted on a let’s-see-what-happens basis are, miraculously, alive and blooming and not blown over yet. The very late cucumber plant has two cucumbers on it, and the fairy tale eggplants have produced four whole eggplants, with more on the way. So that’s miraculous.

There’s even another two peppers ripening.

On the things-less-vulnerable-to-cold front, the lettuce has more or less all bolted, but some wee baby greens are coming in and should be edible soon. Dunno how long they’ll last, but they’re under a rowcover, so hopefully I’ll have salad greens right through the first few frosts. Carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes are slowly being pulled, so there are many roasty meals in my immediate future.

And just for fun, I gathered up about a litre and a half of crabapples. Last year I had a lot more–a handy hurricane blew them off the trees for me all at once–but today I just got the ones that had fallen down of their own volition. I assume more will be coming over the next little while.





The asparagus peas are coming in. The plants are still growing, putting off loads of blooms, and turning flowers into pods. They’re a surprise success out of the thingsthatbyallrightsshoulddiehere section of the bed. Not particularly flavourful, though. So I’ll probably stick with asparagus or peas or some other less-fragile veg next time.

Maybe I’ll stick it in an ornamental border someday. The flowers really are stunning, and the foliage is pretty nifty too.




And I harvested most of my garlic! It’s hung up to dry in my front porch, as that’s probably got the best combination of cool, dry and dim in the house. A few bulbs are left in the plot–the runty ones that got shaded by the parsnips. I’ll probably pull the bigger parsnips soon; that should give the garlic a boost if the frost can just hold of for another few weeks.



Surprise Joys


One of the great surprises of vegetable gardening is potatoes. The lowly potato is well-known in these parts as a prolific plant (one of the few things that are…), easy to plant, and easy to keep alive. But it’s also generally considered sort of… plain. Just knobbly, ugly tubers.

But the flowers are an incredible, happy-making surprise. Big, bright, and beautifully scented.


I planted some of my tomatoes outside in the back yard today. It was grey and cold this morning, but warmed up to 18 degrees by mid-afternoon, and it’s supposed to be warm for a few days, so I’m risking it. There will probably be some cold nights later on this week, but I’m hoping row covers and bottles of hot water will suffice to keep the tomatoes happy. I kept some indoors as a reserve, in case I did put these guys out too early after all.


Also, decided not to let the space between the strawberry rows go to waste[1], and put in some beet and carrot seeds. We shall see what happens with that.



In clay news, I’m starting work on my submission to Hot Mud, which is nervous-making, but also fun and exciting.

[1] It’s only their first year! Surely they won’t need it.




Amherst Cove strawberries, supplied by a friend with a surplus. One medium sized grocery bag of dug-up strawberry bed will supply a shocking number of plants… They’re spaced closer together than anyone on the entire interwebs recommends, and even so, I’ve had to rearrange my garden plans to accomodate them.






Moseyed over to the community garden, to see what had to be poked at/weeded before planting. Found two kinds of kale growing happily in the communal beds, so I took some home to make boerenkool.[1] It’s more of a cold weather dish, but hey–it’s been chilly lately, and it’s my favourite way to eat the stuff.


There were also strawberry plants, raspberry canes, and rhubarb. Exciting.



[1] In pot, fry up some onions. Add chopped potatoes and kale; cover with water and boil. While that’s cooking, heat up the fattest sausage you can find; sometimes I use a frying pan, and pour the drippings over the veggies, and sometimes I just cook the sausage in with everything else. (Depends how crunchy I want my sausage.) Mash together kale and potatoes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Eat it all with mustard.


Most of my gardening aspirations have been food-related, but I’ve been feeling an itch lately for some frivolity, too. There’s a small patch of lawn at the front of the house, and I’ve been picturing it covered in flowers. I’ve got some seeds for lupins, foxgloves, and nicotiana that could be started soon. And the Vesey’s bulb catalogue just came in the mail, so now of course I’m obsessing over tulips and daffodils and crocuses and lily of the valley andandand…



Parsnip seedlings were planted out. Also, parsnip and zucchini seeds put into blanker areas of existing bed.


Spent today sawing boards and drilling holes and driving screws… Now have most of the second backyard bed built. Ran out of screws before the last board could be attached; will finish it tomorrow or the day after. This one’s going to be for tomatoes, ground cherries, melons, and strawberries.


Managed to completely miss the work day for the community garden. It was supposed to be Saturday, but nobody was there when I swung by after work. Turns out the work day was rescheduled to today. Oh well. Next one, maybe.





I helped dig a potato bed today! Went out to Seal Cove to spend the afternoon with some friends… we dug up and sifted a respectable amount of soil, moved the rocks to the rock pile, tipped the soil back into the hole, and planted last year’s happily sprouted spuds. And a few onions, because why not.


There were more seed potatoes than could fit in the patch, so I took some home with me. I’ve got purple and white varieties. Last year’s potato bed is now the lettuce-peas-beets-chard-rhubarb-garlic-nasturtium-broccoli-etc bed, but I’m building another raised bed and have a gaggle of containers and bags kicking around. They’ll get shoved in some dirt somewhere.




I put some of the seedlings out yesterday. It’s still over a month until frost is not a concern, but I am armed with row covers this year, and feel invincible. I planted broccoli, chard, pearl lettuce, simpson lettuce, nasturtium, and beets. Three of the four rhubarb plants from last year are poking through the soil, and two garlic shoots are juuuuust coming up. And there’s room in the bed still for peas, carrot, and zucchini. I’m going to wait until June for the peas and zucchini, and the carrot will be planted out when as the seedlings get a teensy bit bigger. 


Still indoors: ground cherries, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and eggplant[1]. Started in the spots vacated by the cool weather plants: thyme, dill, basil, spinach, melons, asparagus peas, and cucumber.


[1] I chose the “fairy tale” variety from Veseys. Because if I can succesfully grow eggplant in Newfoundland sans greenhouse, I will truly be living in a magical fairy tale.