I'm in love with gardens. Not just the small one we have out on our patio, but just backyard gardens in general. Whenever Zach and I take a walk, I always look to see what people have blooming or growing in their yards. Vegetable gardens are still new things to me, and I find them so fascinating. I grew up in a city where space is scarce so not many people have the luxury of growing their own food. I've lived in Indiana for fourteen years and this is the first time I've ever planted a seed. Our garden has changed the way we view food and the way we eat. My desire to plant everything has resulted in a very crowded patio. Too many pots crammed on the one side that receives the most sunlight. We have so many things growing in such a small space that it's getting quite hard to make sure we attend to every plant. Thankfully some plants are just hardier than others, and they pretty much are content with sun and water. The bugs and worms leave them alone and they grow happily, undisturbed.
|just a section of the patio ...|
When I visited with my friend Corrinne earlier this week, she took me to see the giant patch of pumpkins growing in her backyard. She said the patch was an unexpected discovery that grew from a pumpkin they had left out last year. See, gardens are magical.
Here's what's been happening in our garden since August!
The wolfberry seeds I experimented with grew! The seeds are tiny so I scattered way too many in the small pots that I have. Now we have the difficult decision to make -- which ones get to continue growing, and which ones get yanked out? By the way, caterpillars, the same ones that attacked my yu choy, love to feed on these baby plants. We have to be extra vigilant about picking them out so they do not kill our seedlings!
And speaking of caterpillars that devour baby plants, we're losing the battle with the cabbage worms that have been feeding on my kai-lan (Chinese kale). There are so many of them and they are not easy to spot (can you see the two that are in this picture?). I'm going to have Zach pull out these poor plants so we can start some new. And oh, for those of you who are familiar with my infamous tomato hornworm incident, I am proud to say I have a new way of dealing with the creepy crawlies I find. I pick them out with scissors. And if I accidentally snip them in two, oh well. (I apologize if that just grossed you out! haha!)
These are garlic chives (also known as Chinese chives). I bought some seeds and thought I'd try them out but these have been super slow to grow. Neither Zach and I pay much attention to these. They don't get attacked by bugs or worms so we just leave them to do their own thing! I hope the upcoming cooler days will accelerate their growth. I've been waiting to make this recipe!
This is Roman Chamomile, a relative of the more popular German Chamomile. We bought this on a whim at our local farmers' market, brought it home, and stuck it in a small pot. It wasn't doing much for a while, but lately it's been on a growth spurt and threatening to spill out of its container. I think chamomiles are happier when planted in the ground, so I might have to find these a new home soon.
A single flower off of our dill plants. Zach planted these when we got back from Singapore and they have been growing super well. I love the cheery yellow flower so we decided not to pick it off. We've been adding dill to the yogurt sauce we serve over grilled salmon. It's absolutely delicious! Dill is also great to use in egg salads. Yum!
OOOooohhhh, our long awaited shiso. I planted a bunch of seeds way back in June and it took forever before a small seedling even surfaced (and that lonesome seedling stayed tiny for a long time too!). I didn't think we were going to get any shiso plants so I moved the pot into the shade. And suddenly, bham -- that lonesome shiso grew by leaps and bounds! Now it looks like the other seedlings are growing strong too. Don't quote me, but I think shiso grows better in cooler, shaded areas of the garden. Zach has asked me what we're going to do with the shiso. Frankly, I don't know yet. I'm just happy to see it growing!
Our small Big Boys on the left, and our big Sweet Baby Girls on the right. They're still flowering and growing, and we still find the occasional hornworms. Yuck. Zach and I have decided that we're growing more sweet baby girls next year. They taste delicious and are delightful!
No more jalapenos and pepperoncinis, but this chili pepper plant is still producing a good size crop. These little suckers are plenty hot. I use them in modest amounts in almost everything we cook. I hope we have enough to dry at the end of the season! They would be nice to have in the winter time when we take out the crockpot to make lots of spicy stews and soups.
Okra (we call them ladies fingers in Singapore)! We chose the Clemson Spineless variety because the nice folks at Bennett's Greenhouse told us they were the best kind to grow in containers. Our plants look like they are about ready to flower. I can't wait to harvest okra. I know they'll be great in gumbo but I also want to see what else I can make with them. I'll have to get in touch with my uncle Simon to see if he has some fail-proof recipes for me!
We have a large herb collection and we use every bit of it. There is almost always herbs in everything we cook. They seem to enliven even the most boring recipes! I know we'll have plenty to dehydrate and save for the winter. And the first moment after the last frost next year, we'll be planting lots of herbs again! I decided that we should feature a picture of our oregano for this post. The leaves are starting to turn red and they look really pretty.
My aloe vera plant. It looks great, it's easy to grow, and absolutely nothing bothers it. Not even the cat!
One of our four blueberry bushes. We didn't have any blueberries this year, but hopefully we'll get some next year! We are pretty clueless about how to care for these plants. We haven't monitored the pH levels of our soil, neither have we pruned or fertilized. We'll do some research over the winter and try much harder next year!
Zach's surprise raspberry shortcake bush! I know how much he loves raspberries so I bought him a Brazelberry thornless red raspberry bush from White Flower Farm. It arrived in the mail today and it's looking a little sad right now. We're going to stick it in a pot tomorrow and shower it with lots of love and attention and hopefully it can recover from its travels.
Things we've gotten rid of so far: Our lettuce -- bolted in the summer heat. Our yu choy -- we ate them all! Our jalapeno plant. Our pepperoncini plant. Our red and green pepper plants look like they're done too.
Stay tuned for an October update. We're planning to grow some new Chinese veggies soon!