at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

2014 Garden: What's Growing On

Garden 2014

I’ve been a slacker on the garden blog this year. Or, perhaps on the blog in general. But fear not: the 2014 garden update has arrived. Overall, it has been a good garden year.  I started my tomato and pepper seeds in early March indoors.  I did a little test to see if the seed starting mixture helped the plants grow any better than regular potting soil. It did not. I’m not with that stuff. Miracle-Gro potting soil from here on out! Because we had such a long, cold winter, which extended excruciatingly into spring, I was not able to plant in the garden until late this year. That meant cold weather crops lasted until fairly late in the season.  It also meant by the time I could actually plant my tomatoes, they had gotten quite large and even had flowers on them (think: comparable with the garden center plants. Hooray!).

From left to right: beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, more lettuce, Brussels sprouts, potatoes. Asparagus in foreground.

Indoor Seedlings!

Here’s a synopsis of what’s growing on in my garden this year:

Mixed Variety Radishes: Much to Tom’s chagrin, I decided to plant a variety pack of radish seeds this spring. Some long, skinnier types; white radishes; stripey ones; and some normal types. Well, they didn’t grow so well. I’m not a fan of the long white ones that resemble my white carrots (which I also dislike). The bugs ate most of them anyways. Next time (this fall), I’ll take Tom’s advice and just plant the more normal varieties.

Rainbow Carrots: Speaking of strange varieties, I still had rainbow carrot seeds leftover from two years ago, so I decided to plant some. And decided to pull anything not in Carrot Row, so as to avoid the takeover I had last year. I actually have gotten a good variety of yellow, white, orange, red and purple carrots. I dug some up early because the deer have nibbled many of the stalks down to the ground. Again, if I ever buy carrot seed in the future, it will be a more normal variety, cool as the multi-colored are.

Mixed Leaf Lettuces: Ah, here's a seed blend I actually am glad I purchased! I've done a similar mix every year and I really like it. Last year, my lettuce didn't grow, and I suspect it's because the baby bunny ate it as soon as it sprouted. This year, it did phenomenal! I wish I had eaten more before it started to bolt. But, I did give a lot away, and I'm planning on planting seeds for a fall harvest shortly.

Baby leaf lettuces!

Spinach: I tried growing spinach again this year for the second time. It grew okay, but I feel like the season is so short. It bolts at the first sign of heat, and I feel like I didn't get much of a harvest. Perhaps that's just because I had to plant so late this year. I did enjoy what I got, though!

Spinach, lettuce, and white radishes

Asparagus: This was the first year that I could harvest my asparagus! What a crazy plant. Spears that grow out of the ground and blossom into ferns. They grow ridiculously fast, so I had no problem with letting some of the spears fern and just harvested the ones I caught at just the right time when they were a good length and the buds were still tight. Yum! I'm looking forward to even more next year.

Snow & Snap Peas: Well, the peas didn't really grow this year. Again. the chipmunk or some other burrowing animal keeps eating all of my seeds that I plant. I'm not sure what to do about that except maybe let my dog loose to eat all of the animals... Just saying.

I actually started some potted peas indoors, and those did best since they were protected from critters!

Green Beans: I tried a new variety of bush beans this year. So far, I really like them. They have a good yield and taste delicious! They don't seem to get overgrown as quickly as the previous variety I had. The deer got to a few plants before I put the fortress (er, netting) up, but I think the rest are safe now and are doing well.

Hot Peppers: I had leftover hot pepper seeds, so I decided to try them, even though my success rate has been dismal in the past. I got a few plants that grew to a decent size before transplant time, and I actually have some hot peppers growing! Woo-hoo! I also got some end of the season Thai chili pepper and sweet bell pepper plants. I'm not sure I'll get much off the bell peppers (they never grow for me), but the Thai chiles are doing well!

Delicious Tomatoes: No, really. That’s what they’re called. I grew them my first year and they’ve been my best performers to date, so I thought I ought to try them again. With the exception of the plants that the deer have managed to mangle, they’re producing pretty well with sizeable fruits. Another bonus: no tomato worms found this year.

I haven't gotten many good tomato pictures yet, but here's the salsa I made with some of my tomatoes!

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes: I tried this variety from my uncle’s garden last year, and decided to grow them myself this year! These have replaced the yellow pear tomatoes I’ve grown in the past, and I think I really do like them better. They keep part of the green color, which, when mixed with the red looks brownish – hence the chocolate name. They have good flavor and grow bountifully.

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Tomatoes, beans and hot peppers

Cucumbers: I decided to give cucumbers another go this year. I have a few plants that are growing and just a few cukes. We'll see if I actually end up with any edible ones. I just don't seem to have luck with these. And, I think they picked up some sort of powdery mildew...

Brussels Sprouts: This is my new plant for the year! They are pretty cool to watch grow -- I started them from seeds, but they were tiny little plants when I transplanted them into the garden.  They were growing okay, but had some holes in the leaves. I finally discovered the culprits: cabbage worms. No sooner had I picked them all off than the deer discovered my garden, and apparently they LOVE Brussels sprouts. They nibbled what they could reach down to stubs, and I'm left with just a few plants under the netting, recovering from the worm damage. I hope I actually get something to harvest!

Onions: I tried onions again this year.  They are not growing well.  Again.  I'm not sure why some things grow for me and others don't, but I do have a few baby onions. Perhaps I'll get one decent sized bulb this year.

Red Gold Potatoes: I love red skin potatoes. I also love Yukon Golds. So when I discovered Red-Golds, I had to try them! They were not the best seed potatoes. Awful, actually, with hardly any eyes. But, they are growing. The plants didn't flower (same thing happened with my seed potatoes last year), so I'm not expecting a huge harvest.  I did plant a few grocery store potatoes that grew eyes, too, and I swear they grow better than the expensive seed potatoes. A few potato plants sprung up around the garden from missed potatoes last year, too, so I will have several treasures to uncover!

Squash: I tried removing all of my squash/gourd remains from my garden (thrown in after Halloween last year) and moving it to the field behind our house. But, obviously, I didn't get all of the seeds. They have sprouted amid my tomatoes, and I decided to let them be. Something amazing happened this year: I didn't get any squash bugs! I don't know if it's because I did such a diligent job of destroying them last year or what, but I haven't seen a-one. There are flowers but no baby squash yet. We'll see what comes.

Hops: These are actually growing at the back of my perennial garden, on strings going up to the roof of our garage. And they are Tom's garden babies, to be used for home brewing! We got three varieties: Cascade, Tettnanger, and Willamette. The Tettnanger took off first, but the Cascade caught up and has overtaken it. They look really cool, and hopefully we'll have some ready to harvest before too long!

Phew! I guess I have been growing quite a bit. You want to know the best part about my garden this year? It's Tom's contribution: he installed an irrigation system for both my vegetable and perennial gardens. It's amazing! We have a timer hooked up to run each of them at set intervals. I've spent far less time maintaining my garden than ever before.  I also organized my plants in actual rows this year, which actually does make weeding way easier. 

We started with a sprinkler system, which quickly moved to the perennial garden. We got the sweat-hose drip irrigation for the veggies. Love it!

Oh, and we got an awesome arbor that Tom installed as the entryway into the garden area.  We were going to grow hops on it, but decided it wouldn't work well, so I got a clematis plant instead.  It's flowering, but the plant is still pretty small. I've always wanted an arbor with flowers growing up it, so I'm really excited about this!

New arbor and new lattice! A pain to stain, but loving it now that it's done!
We also did some landscaping around the edge of the garden to finish off the look.
And, last but not least, I'll leave you with a few pictures of the perennial garden.

Home grown flowers!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!