It almost makes up for the rabbit-eaten edamame buffet. (Almost!) These are Japanese cucumbers and they’re very tasty. So far we have eaten them in salads and hiyachuka.
We also have several tiny melons. I’m not a huge melon fan, but I’m hoping these will change my mind.
And at this point, we have a steady stream of cherry tomatoes coming in, with a few big tomatoes ripening now and then too. The tomato plants are full, so…it’s just a matter of time before it’s all caprese, BLTs, and tomato sandwiches allll the time!
On July 5th, I plucked my first Black Cherry tomato harvest! Only a small handful of tomatoes were ready but there are tons more ripening on the vine. Tomato season is finally trickling in!
Our Japanese melon and Japanese cucumbers are vining nicely and have tons of flowers on them…no fruit yet. Sadly, the rabbits made a buffet of Naoto’s edamame again, so we replaced them with three new tomato plants, a Mortgage Lifter, a Purple Cherokee, and a Pink Brandywine. They were late-season plants so we’re not sure how they’re going to do, but we figured it’s worth a try. We also added four poblano pepper plants, and a tri-color sage.
The rabbits made a feast of my ranunculus, but all of the other cutting and edible flowers are thriving. I’ve already used tons of borage blooms in cocktails and ice cubes. Other than nasturtium, the rest of the flowers have yet to bloom. And now that I know how big the dahlias will get and that the borage will take over, I have a better idea of how I’d like to plant this bed next year. Gardening is such a learning process!
This bed has–as it always does–turned into a tomato jungle.
Will this bed be big enough for these giant tomatoes and these wild vines? I guess we’ll find out!
In other garden-related news, the old owners left us an egg chair stand in the garage and this year we bought an egg chair to fill it. Zero regrets. It’s so fun hanging out in that thing reading and enjoying the yard, which is what I did last Sunday. Our weather has been pretty summer-perfect this week–not too hot and little humidity. Just dreamy.
The circle garden is blooming again and our plots are finally fully planted for the summer. It’s our second spring here, so it was fun to anticipate was going to return. Early spring, I was greeted by daffodils, hyacinths, Columbine, and hellebore.
Now my iris, clematis, and roses are in bloom with more things opening up every day! I am also happy to report that all of our hydrangeas, which we planted last spring, and then transplanted later in the summer because they were getting too much sun, are back and look like they’re going to be fine. Hopefully they will start blooming soon!
The spiderwort and foxglove just started opening this weekend. The spiderwort was here from the previous owners, but I added the foxglove last summer. The color was a total surprise since it wasn’t in bloom when I bought it. I think it goes nicely along that side of the garden though.
If you remember from last year, we have three raised beds along the south side of our house. Last year, this bed was full of garlic, so we didn’t really use it (except for the garlic.) This year, a couple of garlic came up, but I was able to fill the rest of it with seeds and tubers to make an edible flower and cutting garden. So far, there are dahlias, ranunculus, poppies, nasturtium, zinnias, borage, and calendula coming up. I also planted cockscomb but sadly, none of the seeds have germinated. I’m so bummed because I have wanted to grow giant cockscomb since high school. There was an older gentleman who used to bring his crop to the golf course where I worked and I just love those velvety blooms!
In the middle bed, we have basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and marigolds alongside cherry, Black Krim, Purple Cherokee, and Brandywine tomatoes. Naoto also tucked in some daikon radish.
In our third plot, we have another cherry tomato variety, some leftover potatoes from the previous homeowners (that are probably planted too close to the tomato,) cardinal basil, edamame, Japanese melon, and Japanese cucumbers. We are hoping that the bunnies leave this bed alone, but history tells us otherwise. Our friend gave us a trellis for the vining plants, so I hope we actually get something to vine this year before the rabbits have a snack!
Since I was planting a slew of things I’ve never grown before, I made some plant markers to keep track of everything. They aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing project, but they get the job done!
I always love the garden this time of the season, all tidy and full of possibilities! We all know our plots will be tomato and zinnia jungles soon enough!
We are continuing the tomato jungle tradition at the house… Everything was fine at first. I was even removing lower branches and leaves and suckers and keeping the plants tidy. But then we got a ton of rain all at once and, well, the tomatoes have minds of their own.
The previous owners built these raised beds along the side yard, which faces south. The picture above is from when we first moved in. I call the side yard the working part of the yard–it’s where the garden is, and we placed our composting bin there, and it’s where the air conditioning unit is. It might look like the area gets much sun, but all three beds get a full day’s worth, even with the fence. The old owners left us a huge garlic crop in the bed on the far right and potatoes in the bed to the far left, so we decided to work around them this season, and hopefully we can come up with a better plan for ourselves next spring.
We sort of focused on the middle plot for all of our usual crops. Our tomato plants are doing well with no signs of whiteflies or blight, which is so exciting since the past few years have been pretty sad for our tomato crops. Our basil and thyme and lima beans are thriving too. And we planted a strawberry plant that seems to doing well, and it’s producing many teeny, tiny fruits.
In the potato bed, we planted edible flowers, cucumbers, edamame, and a brussel sprout. Then tragedy struck. I lost two cucumbers and Naoto lost his entire edamame crop to the rabbits. It was heartbreaking! So, in that bed, we still have our potatoes sprawling around the edible flowers and the brussel. We added a tomato (which isn’t doing well because potatoes and tomatoes don’t grow well together) later in the season just to see what would happen.
The borage is booming with blooms and the nasturtium is looking good, but there are no flowers yet. I’m excited to use them both for cocktail garnishes.
Naoto ended up finding some edamame seedlings at our favorite local garden center and we planted them in a hanging basket and so far, they have remained safe from the bunnies!
In the garlic bed, there is tons of garlic, and plenty of nightmare mint spreading all over. In that bed, we planted some zinnias for cutting and some lettuces that are long done. I dug up a few garlic heads last weekend and I’ll probably dig up the rest soon so we can plant some late-season crops and take advantage of the extra room.
We have two of these arches in our basement (one on each side of an arched doorway) with built-in hooks, so that’s where the garlic is curing for now. I’m so excited to have some space in the basement to start seeds and prep for the gardening season. (Some day I will show you the basement, but not until we finish getting the rest of our boxes unpacked and put away!)
It’s book club weekend so I will be finishing Double Indemnity and enjoying the garden walk so I will see you next week!
Naoto has spoiled me the entire pandemic by pouring my Manhattan into a frosty cocktail glass. This spring, as we’ve branched back into other cocktails (mostly involving gin,) we have continued to serve things up in a frosty glass. Most of my vintage cocktail glasses are tucked away until we remodel the kitchen. And they are too delicate for the freezer. So we’ve been using our Libbey workhorses–we have twelve of these, which are perfect for larger parties and for keeping a few in the freezer at all times.
Even when he’s not home and I’m mixing for myself while I water the garden, I’ve been treating myself to a frosty glass. I’ve been on a Jasmine kick since June. Jasmine cocktails are so crisp and tart and slightly bitter…perfectly refreshing on a hot evening. The original recipe calls for Campari, but I prefer the slightly more subtle Cappelletti. Both are delicious, so use what you have.
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
0.25oz Cappelletti (or Campari)
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a frosty glass (or a coupe if you want to be proper.) Serve as a reward for putting the hose away without swearing.
Still here at home…Presley is thrilled. Illinois is opening up a bit more this week. Outdoor seating at restaurants is going to be allowed soon and while we won’t be partaking, I’m glad for the restaurant owners. We will continue doing carry-out for now. It’s so funny looking at this picture now, us walking in coats! It has been so hot this week that Naoto is anxious to turn on the air conditioner. We probably should, but I feel like we just opened the windows! I got all of the pots on the lanai planted this week. I am so excited about my choices this year…I say that every year I suppose, but I really tried to lean into the part-sun plant options this year so I can hopefully enjoy blooms all season. I’ll share some pictures as soon as I clean up the rest of my potting mess and get the lights strung up this week. It’s not a fully functional lanai without the party lights! I’m behind on reading for the year. I set a goal of thirty books for 2020 and you’d think I’d have finished by now with all this time on my hands, but I haven’t been able to concentrate well enough to really stick with anything. I’ve finished our book club books and that’s about it. I know I owe the blog a book post, but even writing about what I’ve been reading might be too boring to share!Celebrating birthdays and holidays on FaceTime isn’t the same, but it is still nice to see everyone’s faces and to do a proper toast. We celebrated Karen a couple of Sundays ago and I made this little invitation typed on some kaishi-paper and some sparkling wine stickers. And in good mail news, I received my Last Week Tonight stamps and I can’t wait to use them! Are there any other John Oliver fans out there? I just started watching Community (I’d watched the first few episodes back when it aired) and I’d totally forgotten he was on that show!
I think that’s all to report. Next week is our anniversary and I’m trying to coordinate a bedroom painting party this weekend, which means I need to finish cleaning the bedroom. Hopefully I can report next time that we’ve actually painted…it’s been a struggle.
I am a little scared to talk about Plot 6 today because we’ve had torrential rains this weekend and there’s a ton of flooding around town…I can only imagine what our plot looks like right now. Certainly any seeds we planted on Friday have not stayed in their tidy rows! This is the “before” picture. We were surprised to find that we didn’t have many weeds creeping in. Other plots, as you can see in the background, are COVERED…ugh. We pulled weeds and then topped off our plot with some fresh compost before we planted. So far we have:
another tomato (I said four was plenty but I lied…)
I thought I had some back-up edamame and basil seeds but it looks like we need to go shopping for some which is easier said than done right now. I wish I’d ordered some seeds online before this whole thing started. Sigh. So many lessons learned for the next pandemic.
After going strong all year, I kind of fizzled out of the reading habit by December. I barely finished my book club book in time for the discussion and then I found myself cramming one last book into my suitcase so I could achieve my goal of fifty books for the year.
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
This was our book for book club. I didn’t love it, which put me in the minority. (It was widely loved by the group.) I think I didn’t love it because I tried to read it in too short of a time. A book club friend compared it to a really sweet dessert; it’s best enjoyed in small tastes. So, I think I need to give ol’ P.G. another try sometime.
for a flower album by Colette
This is a really lovely book. Colette writes exquisitely about flowers and her beautiful prose sits alongside simple, sweet watercolor illustrations. She weaves vignettes of her life into the floral descriptions. There’s no real plot, but it’s the kind of book you can revisit over time and still enjoy it. Hmmm…maybe it’s similar to Jeeves in that way!
Our plot went out with a whimper this year…what is it about September that makes me lose interest in gardening? Well, this year, I think it was because we had kind of a mediocre tomato harvest (and you know I’m really just all about the tomatoes.) Plus, job searching and starting took up a lot of my free time. Anyway…we let the garden die……but not before we harvested a nice little batch of teeny carrots. These guys made it through several freezes and the first couple of snows, so I was just glad to have something to pick! The carrots are designed to be sort of stumpy, but I think maybe these are small for even the stumpy size. They’re pretty tasty though! I planted them among the tomatoes and then never thinned them as directed, so that could explain things. Here’s our plot all put to bed for the season. See you next spring, buddy!
I haven’t been to the garden as much as I’d like lately. Naoto has been running down to harvest tomatoes and basil and herbs on an as-needed basis, but yesterday, we were both home and free to go together. As usual, our plot is a jungle of tomato vines, but this year, it’s also a jungle of overgrown herbs and nasturtium! Look at that nasturtium!! I just can’t believe how the plant took off. It seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but now it’s huge and it has lots of flowers inside the big poof a leaves. I just found a recipe for nasturtium pesto, so I think we might experiment with that soon…which is good timing because our basil is done. Some of our tomatoes were slow to produce this summer thanks to the white fly infestation that plagued the garden. But we’ve gotten a decent harvest from our Juliet and a few other heirlooms. We haven’t been overloaded with tomatoes like we have in the past, but it’s definitely enough for us to feel good about plot 6 this summer. I picked a bunch of zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds to make a little bouquet for my desk. The zinnias are as tall as me and still going strong. And in other happy garden news, my tiny carrots are coming in! I planted them kind of late in the spring and they were quickly overshadowed by the tomato plants, so I didn’t have very much hope for a harvest, but I think it’s going to be decent! I’m not quite ready to pick them all, but I wanted to do a little test. This variety is supposed to be only 2-3 inches big. We’ve never had luck with root vegetables, so I decided to try a tiny kind and I think it worked!
How is your garden growing? Any other ideas for my nasturtium bounty?