It's been a little while since our last vegetable garden progress report, but the broccoli and the gang wanted us to give you all a quick synopsis of their growing efforts. Though it's been hot and dry this summer, Wendy and I have been diligently watering the garden and herbs in an attempt to provide a bounty of fresh vegetable. The garden is not huge, so I'd venture to guess it is more of a 1/4 bounty, maybe 5/16ths if we're being generous, but it's been good none the less.

Some of our less fortunate plants died rather quickly after planting. Though it started strong, the spinach just got too hot and shriveled away. We'll try them again later this fall or next spring. The peas also did not fare well, and left so quickly we hardly even had a chance to know them. I guess that's just the way of the garden sometimes, especially when you are just trying things out to see what works.

Even though we had a few quick deaths, we've had moderate to good success with several of the others. Though very hot for the lettuce at this point in the year, it did yield enough to make a few small salads and some burger garnish prior to the 4th of July weekend. Now it's just holding on and hoping for cooler and wetter weather. I don't think better weather is coming very soon, but we've not let on to the lettuce yet.

We have a little strawberry plant that is doing okay. But the a-hole squirrels keep eating the fruit. The photo below was taken mere hours before the little red and almost ripe berry was stolen from right under our noses. Lulu is not standing guard as I've asked her to do.

The other moderately successful candidate is our beets. Though puny to start, one of the plants has sort of taken off and is doing well now. It was a bit of a surprise, but a good one at that. We're hopeful for the eventual outcome of these particular veggies.

Our broccoli, while not yet yielding any broccoli quite yet, are getting quite large. A couple of the plants have a large hard ball in the middle that I assume will eventually be our broccoli. I've had to monitor these very closely for cabbage worms and have picked a few of these little jerks off. Grrrr.

The lavender and chives continue to do very well, and we use them often for various garnish in several dishes.

We're most excited about the eggplant, which really took off in the last two weeks. We have two large and several smaller ones showing their stuff. Can't wait for these to to ripen up.

The basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, and other herbs are doing absolutely great and we love to use them whenever possible. This is especially true for the basil. It seems every other dish Wendy whips up is using some of our basil, from salads and appetizers to our main dish. I just haven't seen them use in dessert Iron Chef style, though it wouldn't surprise me one bit.

And finally, the Kale ended up doing flourishing after I rescued them from the grips of the cabbage worm onslaught. Since those early tenuous days the kale has taken off with small and large leaves. We even had enough to make a good vegan Asian pasta dish for dinner two nights ago.

We started cooking a lot from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook last year and have a couple of our favorites. A few nights ago I made the Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale, and Carrots dish. It's a really great recipe with tons of flavor and allowed us to use our kale. 

We didn't have a ton of kale in our garden, so we pretty much used 80% of it, but at least it was for a good dinner. It's a bit hot out to get a huge bunch of kale or a quick regrow, but we expect to get a lot more come fall. Until then, we can just appreciate that we had enough for our dish.

The whole dish only took about 30-40 minutes to make and made four servings. I can definitely recommend it if you have some kale that is itching to be used. Sadly, we had no seitan (and can't figure out where to get it) so I'll just have to imagine what it would have tasted like with that mystery ingredient.

Hopefully our next update will be filled with tales of eggplant parmesan or some other delectable eggplant inspired dish. Until then, we'll be fighting off the cabbage worms and tending to our crops in hopes of a full late summer and fall harvest. 

At any rate, we've come a long way in just a few months.

If you have a garden, how is it doing this summer? Too hot? Too wet? Infested with cabbage worms or stink bugs? Do tell.

Comments 12


Lisa Schulz
7/27/2011 at 2:09 PM
mofo squirrels ate my strawberries too! Blue jays are eating all the blackberries. (get sietan at WholeFooods)
Old Town Home
7/27/2011 at 2:19 PM
We looked around at our local Whole Foods, but didn't see it. Will have to check again next time it gets real up in the Whole Foods parking lot.
7/27/2011 at 3:28 PM
It is so nice to share in the excitement of new gardeners! I am picking tomatoes, eggplant, beans, and peppers and hoping to get some squash and cucumbers soon.

Definitely plant more peas, spinach, lettuce, all the cabbage family soon--they all like cool weather, and in that protected spot you can probably extend your harvest well into winter. And if you use row covers of some sort all through winter--seriously!
I still struggle with getting the timing right with the cool weather crops--for example I've only gotten a cauliflower head once, but I am starting to plant the fall stuff. The cabbage worms are the bane of my existence. I need to get a butterfly net and kill the moths--but that is so much harder than squishing the caterpillars for some reason.
Thanks for the tips Val. Is it time already to start planting for fall? (Can you tell we're new to this?) We're having so much fun and learning a lot along the way. Good luck with your harvest!
7/27/2011 at 3:32 PM
My community garden spot is doing horribly!

The heat and the animals are killing it! The bean sprouts keep on being eaten by the birds (two years ago I had to pour a WHOLE bag of beans in order to get two plants that gave us beans back, the rest got eaten), the peas make it past 2 inches and the potatoes shriveled (and not in the "i'm ready to harvest" way.

At least I've got cucumbers and basil, lots of cucumbers.

My potted plants at home on the other hand seem to be surviving. We'll see, we will see...
Sorry to hear about your challenges this year Angie. Where do you live? The heat in the D.C. areas has been brutal. Luckily with a walled in area the only animals we deal with are squirrels and birds, but I hear deer can be brutal.
Laurie Kazimer
7/27/2011 at 4:59 PM
Picked a beautiful beef steak tomato last night. It was yummy.
Jen @ HouseonGirard
7/27/2011 at 11:14 PM
Our garden never had a chance. We've had record highs and are in the worst drought in 10 years. Last time we had a sprinkle was July 4th. Last time it rained was beginning of June. Haven't seen a squirrel in a month.
Your last rain was in June?? Oh my gosh. Where do you live? Best wishes for a better growing season next year!
Sara K
7/28/2011 at 8:16 AM
I've been square foot gardening for about 3-4 years... I've found certain crops do much better than others... I've had great success with edamame, sweet potatoes (these vine all over the place but are pretty and require no maintenence), yukon potatoes, kale, chollard greens, swiss chard (this does AMAZING and will last until the first hard freeze - so sometime in November at least!), lettuce, onions, carrots. I've had okay success with broccoli although I feel they take up LOTS of space for relatively little production... Smaller tomatoes such as chocolate cherries have gone gang buster but the larger tomatoes are so so (they requre lots of staking/caging to contain them to their square foot). If you've got space for viney things I've had a ton of luck with acorn squash and butternut squash. The zucchini and summer squash are good but the plants WILL over take your WHOLE garden, so you have to be careful. I just harvested my potatoes and I planted 1 potato in the spring and harvested 10lbs of potatoes... I feel like that's a good ratio! :)
Wow, I'm totally impressed Sara. We'll have to give collard greens and swiss chard a try. (These will do well this fall, right?) I have to agree with you on the broccoli size vs. production ratio. I'm on the fence whether or not to plant that again next year. As much as we LOVE butternut squash, I'm not sure we have the room. Our eggplant is getting huge, and I'm wondering if it's going to choke out the plants around it.
7/29/2011 at 8:58 PM
Wendy, we're just a couple of hours north, in Philly. I just can't believe the heat we had last week, I could barely breathe outside! Can't imagine how much hotter it must have felt in DC.

We are in center city, so don't have to worry about wild animals, well maybe a stray cat or two... and those hungry, hungry Robins that eat my seedlings and strawberries.

I'm hoping to remember to put up something up to scare them with next year...
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