Welcome to a new feature here at Counting My Chickens: Photo Friday. (Of course, pretty much every feature here is new since this site is only a week old – duh.) Anyway, on Fridays, I will be sharing some of my favorite photos from around the old suburban farm or from my off-farm adventures. This week, I am going to give you a tour of my garden and show you what’s growing this time of year.
Our garden expansion this spring gave us enough room to plant sweet corn for the first time this year. We planted an entire 4 x 8-foot raised bed with the Golden Bantam Organic variety from Seed Savers Exchange. According to the old saying, corn should be knee-high by the Fourth of July. Mine was chest high, and today it’s over ten feet tall. Ears have begun to form and it should be just a matter of a few weeks before we are eating fresh, delicious corn-on-the-cob.
We have eight tomato plants in a raised bed and four more in pots, six different varieties in all. This one is an Italian Heirloom variety, which produces large fruits (yes, tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable) that are excellent sliced on BLTs (or my new favorite sandwich, the BCT – bacon, thinly sliced cucumber and tomato).
We also have an entire raised bed dedicated to peppers, with varieties ranging from the super-hot habanero to this sweet orange bell pepper. Peppers like hot, dry weather, and all the rain we had earlier this summer did not help our pepper plants. Most of the plants lost a lot of leaves due to the excess moisture and are now putting their energy into regrowing those leaves instead of producing fruit. They are starting to recover, however, and you can see that this pepper is finally starting to ripen, as are the paprika peppers visible in the background to the left. The imperfections on the skin are a symptom of the blight caused by over-watering, but are a cosmetic problem only.
This is a birds-eye view of a cantaloupe plant. How many melons can you spot in this photo? The thing is, this is just one of four plants. We are going to have a lot of cantaloupe this year! I may have to resort to leaving melons on the neighbors’ doorsteps under the dark cover of night.
This is another view of the cantaloupe plant. We tried a new type of vertical gardening this year – growing down. We planted melon, sweet potato, and cucumbers at the top of a retaining wall and let the vines cascade over the side of the wall. It saves space in the garden and the effect is beautiful, don’t you think?
In my third season of growing kale, I’ve come to realize that kale can feed the world. This kale was one of the first things we began harvesting in the spring and we likely will be harvesting it late into the fall after the rest of the garden in done. Not only does it grow prolifically, it’s such a versatile vegetable. I use it raw in salads, bake it into chips, saute it, and chop it up and throw it into soups, stews, and even pasta sauce. And it’s a nutritional super food. I’d like to think that the world hunger problem would be solved by giving every household their own little plot of kale.
The plant in the foreground is dill. I planted dill exactly once, about 12 years ago, and every year since it has reseeded itself. I pull a lot of the volunteer dill out like weeds, but I leave a few so I have fresh dill for cooking and dill seed for making pickles. Plus, I think the flowers are pretty.
Speaking of flowers, I always mix in a lot of flowers among the vegetables, and showy zinnias are my favorites. Not only do flowers add an attractive element to a vegetable garden, they make great companion plants to vegetables by attracting wasps, bees and other pollinators and deterring harmful garden pests.
This rooster was an anniversary gift from my husband, who thought I needed a rooster because all my other chickens are hens. The rooster was created by a local artist and now stands watch over the raised beds.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my garden. If you have any questions about the vegetables I am growing, please make sure to ask about them in the comments section.
Have a great weekend, and I will be back on Monday with a new seasonal recipe for you to try.