How Does The Garden Grow?

The grasshoppers have been pretty terrible this year.  They’ve got some epic numbers.  Most of of our broad leaved plants are rather lacy looking.  There is not one strawberry plant that hasn't been at least nibbled around the edges.  I’ve heard other locals say it was worse last year, but not for us.  They’re everywhere at our place this summer!
Pretty flower, pesky hopper.  7/10/2020
Walking across the yard they scatter in a confetti-like spray as they flee.  Riding bicycle Matt has found himself with several grasshopper stowaways clinging to his back or shorts.  Ginger likes to stalk them through the grass, finding their unpredictable springiness an extra fun challenge.  All the more so now that so many of them can fly.  It is hilarious to watch.  As with the voles and mice, we cheer her on.  (Have I mentioned that I spanked her the first time she brought me a bird and ever since she’s just gone for small mammals and bugs?)
The grasshoppers have sure enjoyed the rhubarb leaves, well, all the leaves, really.  7/21/2020
My recent ode to eggplants made me think maybe I’d write a more comprehensive garden report.  
A bright and green garden scene, looking out from the patio.  5/25/2020
Despite the hungrily destructive efforts of the grasshoppers, our garden is pretty stellar this year.  We ate peppers and eggplants significantly earlier in the season  than we ever have before.  The tomatoes are loaded.  LOADED.  We've already enjoyed a few.  The eggplants grow just about faster than I can keep up with...but I am keen for the challenge!
Speckled Romans Tomatoes are just as tasty as they are beautiful.  8/3/2020
Matt keeps trying to train the squash vines so they don’t just smother all their carrot and pepper neighbors.  (Though it was pretty amusing to see how the butternut squash was trying to wrap tendrils around our fall crop of carrot sprouts when they were all of three inches tall.  Ha!)  Barring the unforeseen, this is going to be our best squash year ever.  Convenient timing since our Farmer's Market was cancelled this summer.  We usually supplement our winter supply there.
Grilled garlic scapes (and other yummy things...)  6/11/2020
We grew shallots for the first time and were quite pleased.  We got a swell haul given the limited amount we planted.  Dozens of pounds.  They were really nifty-looking plants to watch grow.  They reminded me on aloe or some other succulent.  
The first harvest of shallots, trimmed and ready for storage.  7/26/20
The advice Matt got from a local garlic farmer has paid off HUGELY!  The heads of garlic we got this year are just fan-foo-goo-tastic.  They're both giant and flavorful.
When a recipe calls for "one clove of garlic" I am not sure they had monsters like this in mind.   7/27/2020
We’ve got boatloads of Thai basil and spicy peppers.  I am in pepper heaven.   We're growing the cutest little sweet peppers called Lunchbox Peppers.  They're fantastically bite-sized.  I’ve made three batches of hot sauce already and have at least a quart chopped and frozen for winter use.  I was even able to gift some to a friend without feeling like I was going to short myself for winter.  She wanted to make a couple batches of the sweet Thai-style hot sauce.
Aren't they cute?!?!  6/28/2020
The strawberries just kept going and going and going, though the raspberries aren’t quite as numerous as last year.  The currants got some sort of worm this year so I was only able to save a quart of them.  I left the rest for the birds…and the worms, I guess.
We had so many strawberries we ate  and ate and ate them fresh...and baked pies...and still had plenty to freeze for smoothies. 6/26/2020
It is a pretty spectacular garden season and there is so much yet to go.
Matt and I love watching the sunset over the garden in the evening.  The light is just magical. 6/12/2020
The neighbors’ tree being gone certain helps. 
Before and After - June 2020
The fact that Matt and I are almost never gone certainly helps.
Matt is pretty darn happy with his greenhouse.  8/5/2020
Using an actual grow light instead of florescent tubes in our seedling nursery certainly helped.
Pepper seedlings, which we'd grown indoors, hardening off in the greenhouse before we transplanted them out into the garden.  5/2/2020
For the past three or four years we’ve also been upping our flower game in the garden.  We scatter wildflower mixes, sunflower, and marigold seeds.  We’ve got a couple patches that reseed themselves now.  The Bachelor Buttons were especially lovely this year.  We buy a new perennial or two.  This year we added two more Baskets of Gold.  We were delighted when our hollyhock from last year bloomed.  Delighted and surprised, because it was a "Double Hollyhock" and we didn't even know that was a thing.  Our clematis, now in its fourth summer, made quite a few blooms this year, even with the grapes perpetually trying to invade its space.  
Hollyhocks 7/13/2020
I used to think growing flowers was, well, not quite pointless …but close, since they don’t make food for the effort.  This is such silly logic to me now.  First of all, their beauty would be reason enough because they really require minimal effort.  Secondly, flowers bring the pollinators around and that helps all the plants, including the food-producing ones.  I couldn’t begin to describe or name all the weird different types of bee, wasp, and fly I’ve seen buzzing around the garden.  We love to sit behind the screen of sunflowers that grows along our patio and just watch all the traffic.  Its nuts!  Some mud daubers lives in the woodpile.  Swallowtail butterflies have been a frequent visitor.  I saw a leafcutter bee flying awkwardly across the yard carrying a piece of leaf significantly larger than itself.  Plus, like I said, flower are pretty and I like looking at them.
The Wall of Flowers along the patio.  The sunflowers are open now, too.  7/21/2020
One of the apple trees died, inexplicably.  The other one is fruiting though.  Oddly enough--and just as Matt was threatening to cut them all down since they never produce and are in their seventh season--our peach tree is studded with tiny little peaches this year.  Same for the plum tree.  I've gotten to eat a few of the latter and they were juicy and sweet as all get out.  The trees had been terribly plagued by neighborhood deer which are no longer a problem.  I guess they just needed time to recover from their trauma.  
Peach blossoms.  4/29/2020
We discovered that Johnny likes green peas.  She prefers them cooked, but raw will do of if that’s what hits the floor…they're just trickier to chew.  We had a swell crop this year and ate creamy potatoes and peas a couple times.  We have peas frozen and squirreled away for winter, too.  I discovered this wonderful garlicy, pea-and-lemon risotto for the InstantPot and made that several times while the peas were fresh.  One of my favorite recipes for Indian Feast nights is a pea-and-cabbage combo.  I just had some leftovers for lunch, in fact!   As far as potatoes go, we only planted fingerling potatoes this year and they are divine.  So creamy and buttery and tender.  We've only dug a few hills, but they've been quite prolific, too!  Huzzah!  We sure love potatoes.
Peppers will always be my favorite vegetable, but eggplant are my favorite to grow.  8/8/2020
Ginger remains Queen of the Garden.  She spends sizable portions of her day lounging in the Raspberry Fortress.  (Sometimes when she comes inside she has dried raspberry smashed into her fur and between her toes.  This cracks me up.)   She’s also a pretty big fan of the patio-adjacent wildflower patch.  Like a bison in a wallow she always manages to kill one area of vegetation there with all her flopping, writhing, and napping.  She often spends all night on her adventures out there.  She never wants to come inside. 
Streeeeeeetching out on the Garden Sink.  She has a few places where she likes to sit and observe her little Queendom.  7/4/2020
I think we were quite on the mark to say it is our best garden to date.


  1. Ah, this was fun to read! I agree with you about the flowers! I let part of my mint flower last year and I could not believe the buzzing and flying! I did it again this year and planted more flowers.

    Wish my family loved eggplant, but they do not. I still make it occasionally and they humor me.

    1. Thanks, Margo. I had a jolly good time catching up with you and yours just now. I think we both enjoy peeks into the real lives of "ordinary" people like ourselves...and the pandemic has made that more so, really. It has been interesting to see how families are growing and adapting to the ever changing circumstances.

      I didn't know I liked eggplant until I ate Thai food. It was like a whole new world opened up. I don't believe I ever at it as a young person.

      And hooray for flowers and bees!!


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