Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gardening for Food

Ever since we've been married, we've been putting in a food garden every year. It all started with a couple of tomato plants and a couple of jalapeno plants. Our first garden gave us the biggest and best tomatos we've ever had. I also had so many jalapenos from two plants that I had to either freeze or can them. Here is another glimpse of what we have going this year.
Strawberry Patch - before weeding
Here is the strawberry patch before the second weeding. We have about 300 plants total among this and the raised beds. We have Ozark Beauty plants and they are everbearers. However, our weather in SC is too hot for them to bear as much as they are supposed to. But this year we've had a bang-up crop of berries. We've had two bearings and a third smaller bearing is coming up. We ate most of the berries and the birds and slugs had some too. I have enough berries in the freezer to make about 8 pints of jam. That is a favorite thing for me to eat with my homemade biscuits and a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. Yummmmm. Back to gardening.
Strawberry Patch - after weeding
Here are some of the lovely plants growing in the Back 40 garden.
Zucchini and Summer (Crookneck) Squash

Pattypan Squash
We finally got zucchini to grow. We had six summer squash plants last year and just three made it this year. One or two zucchini and two Pattypan plants. I guess the zucchini makes up for not having so any summer and pattypan squash this year. If you've never eaten Pattypan squash, you'd really love it because it is a nice fresh flavored squash. It is best eaten when the fruit is about 6" in diameter or the green tinge has just gone off of the white skin. If it grows too big, you have to peel it to eat it. The skin becomes very hard.
Cherry and Grape Tomatos
Cherry tomatos on the top right and grape tomatos on bottom left. We have eight plants of cherry tomatos and two plants of grape tomatos. Our other tomatos are a mixture of Mortgage Lifter and Better Boy plants. They are all doing well but we are having a few problems. Blossom end rot and rust. We've pulled about six plants already. We probably should pull at least two more with rust, but they have nice tomatos growing on them. I don't know how that will affect anything, but we have to be careful not to touch other plants when we've pulled leaves from the rusty plants. Don't compost rusted leaves. That's not good for the next round of tomato plants.
Beans (squash to the left)
Here are our green, pole and speckled beans. They are all bearing well, right now. It is so wonderful to have fresh veggies on the table. They taste so good! I will have to freeze some of the green beans. They are really producing.

Now, all of these plants can be planted again in our zone beginning in July. We've never done a second planting, but we will this year. Then we'll figure out our fall crop for the winter growing season. It's three season gardening down here.
Herbs and Nursery Garden
I love my fresh herbs. This is what I have growing this year. Garlic chives in the front right and oregano behind it. The small patch in the middle is thyme and basil is the large-leaved things behind that. Dill is the ferny stuff you see to the back left. My nursery items are a very small strawberry plant which grew to a massive plant with babies. Little pieces of sedum (variegated and green) and a lantana plant that I didn't think would amount to much. I'm considering one whole box of herbs for next year and one for the nursery items.

Well, I have dinner to make and a lot of housework to do. You betcha we're having green beans for dinner tonight!

Take care.

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