Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First Fruits of Summer

When we moved to the country, I had dreams of having a bountiful garden. Despite having four acres, my garden never happened. It never happened because I was the only one who had this dream and I didn't have the drive to go at it alone. I'm not sure why that was the case, but it was.

As this spring approached, I still had dreams of a garden. Now, living once again in suburbia, I have one. How is that for irony?

About six weeks ago, after waiting out the torrential rains that we had this spring, we finally planted our garden. There was no doubt that raised beds were the way to go. Our planting choices were determined by our taste and our space. We figured that this year's garden would be primarily a learning experience. We would see what worked and what didn't and adjust accordingly next year.

Residing in our garden our yellow squash and zucchini, cucumber, red bell and jalapeno peppers, okra, basil, cilantro, and tomatoes. Because we got a late start planting, we began with small plants from Home Depot rather than seeds. We also got three tomato plants from another local nursery.

These three tomato plants have a somewhat sad story. Because it is close to the house, we began our search for plants at a nearby nursery thinking that they might have a bigger selection and might be more helpful to a few novice veggie gardeners. We were wrong on both accounts. But what they did have were tomato plants for 50 cents each. Sadly, these were plants that looked as if they should be in the horticulture ICU on life support. We chose the three that had a little green on them figuring at 50 cents each we didn't have a whole lot to loose. When we got to the register to pay for them, the cashier said that these plants were free. That should give you some indication of how pathetic they really looked. I am proud to say that with a little TLC they all not only survived but are thriving.

Here is our garden six weeks into its growing season.
Even without fresh vegetables, rabbits love our yard. You will see marigolds scattered throughout the vegetables. Those are to deter the rabbits. We lost one squash plant early on, pulled up by its roots with no trace left, but other than that, the marigolds seem to be functioning well in their capacity as rabbit deterrents.

Everything is doing great! All of the plants have either set blossoms or are bearing fruit.

Here are a few jalapenos who are about ready to make their contribution to some salsa along with the cilantro that is growing right next door.
The bell peppers are doing equally well. Though not ready to pick, there are several that are well on their way.
The squash and cucumber are growing to fill all available space and then some. I'm not sure how much longer the marigolds will survive here. They may never see sunlight again!

The cucumber and squash are setting blossoms, lots of them. We'll see how many pickles we get to can and how much squash casserole we get to eat this summer!
The tomato plants have blossoms as well, with the exception of one; it has a tomato already.
And in case you are wondering, this is one of the ICU tomato plants. Its fruit is somewhere between the size of a tangerine and a small orange. Or, I should say, it was. I took these pictures yesterday and this morning the tomato was gone. As you can see, it was on the very edge of the bed - an easy target for any tomato predators.. Some wildlife somewhere is enjoying a nice plate of fried green tomatoes.

I picked two okra the other day but did not cook them. The only way I like okra is fried; we still don't have a kitchen so frying them was not an option. We took pride in our success at having actually grown them and then put them out for the birds or rabbits or whomever.

Perhaps our first taste of the garden will be a basil, (store-bought) tomato and mozzarella pizza.

Ya gotta start somewhere, right?