From Last Summer's Garden
I'm saying goodbye to last summer's garden today. In the past few weeks I've been harvesting off the last of the bounty and thought I'd share with you how well everything grew!
The Sungold and Red Pear tomatoes were prolific as were the zucchini and yellow crooked neck squash. We really enjoyed the squash blossoms deep fried with some cheese inside served with a bit of Mae Ploy's Sweet Chili Sauce. Yum! I gave some to Melanie and she fried some up too!
Aren't these beautiful!
Below are some pics I took of things about a month ago. I was especially surprised by the large volunteer cabbage plant I grew. It popped up in my raised bed and I transplanted it in the rose garden once I knew what it was so it would have enough space to grow and we got one very large head and several leaves that I was able to cook up like collard greens.
If you click on the images I've added more thoughts about these different plants, what worked and what didn't.
I've never grown spaghetti squash before and it grew beautifully under my rose bushes! These squash grew so big! Much bigger than the ones in the store. I cooked one and I'm also impressed with the flavor. I always find the ones from the store to taste watery and bland but these are so full of flavor and sweeter. If you're not a big fan of spaghetti squash you might want to try these home grown.
I do a lot of container gardening so I can tell you that although many people say zucchini and yellow summer squash are good candidates, I haven't had any luck. Once I put them in the ground they just took off! Make sure you have space for the large plants.
I do have spectacular results with peppers and chilies in containers. They don't need very much space either to produce a lot of fruit. The thing about peppers is you need to pick them. If you pick them they will produce more and more fruit for you.
We had a fairly short season because it snowed and never warmed up until well into May so I did start with some large store bought plants this year. I hope things warm up a little sooner next spring.
I planted my garlic a few weeks ago for next summer's harvest. Be sure to check out my post about How to Grow Garlic. I've grown hard neck garlic 3 years now and it never fails. We love the garlic scape bonus that comes with growing hardneck garlic too! Mmmmm Garlic Scape Pesto!
Hover or click on these images for more information
I just love succulents and I'm learning how easy it is to propagate them. Many are quite hardy in our winter temperatures so I'm going to propagate and spread them around even more next year. Kalanchoe and Stone crop reproduce readily from cutting placed in a glass of water. As soon as they have some roots I put them in pots and they grow very easily. Kalanchoe is not winter hardy and I have to bring that into the house to place with bright light.
This Maidenhair fern is one of my favorite plants. It's about 30" across in this picture. It has gone brown and died back as it does every fall but since it doesn't live outside here in the winter this is okay. I recently brought it in and cut off all that was of the beautiful foliage you see here and it thinks it's spring again already and it's putting up all kinds of new little shoots, Yay! I've been moving this plant inside and out again for 3 years and it's getting bigger all the time. I may have to get it a bigger pot next spring.
This is my favorite planter this year. I started it with 4 small starts in May so it's about 3 months old in these pictures. Purple petunias, pink calibrachoa, white alyssum, and sweet potato vine.
These are garlic chives in the foreground. Aren't they beautiful! I think I finally got them in the right place because they haven't bloomed before. Something that keeps me container gardening is the ability to move things around until I find the right location for a new plant. Often when I plant something in the ground I don't know if the light or heat will be too much for it because our summers are so hot and sunny here in central Oregon. Containers give you a lot of wiggle room to move something quickly if it's getting burnt up or to get it out in the sun if it seems to be limping along.
Forest Fire Smoke Filled Skies
For several weeks starting in July until sometime in late September we had the most smoked filled skies anyone in our area can remember. Their were forest fires all over the Pacific Northwest this year and when the Eagle Creek fire started it was the tip of the iceberg here. Smoke filled the air to seriously unhealthy levels. I ended up throwing away an entire harvest of tomatoes during that time because they started to taste terrible and I'm sure the smoke was the problem. After it cleared, another crop of tomatoes grew and they were as delicious as ever!
Once when we were visiting a winery in Gold Hill, OR we had some wine that was made from grapes that were harvested during a big forest fire year. That was the smokiest wine I've ever tasted! It has an effect.
Beautiful home grown Bartlett Pears
We have a very old pear tree that never ceases to amaze us. It's producing wonderful fruit every year with very little attention other than it gets watered when we water the lawn. We always have one bug in each pear but they don't eat much and I cut away that part. We have more fruit than we can use every year. I've made juice and canned pears and made many delicious deserts like Pear Blackberry Crisp and we still can't use them up. Usually we give away a few boxes to friends and lots drop off the tree for our dog Jolie to eat. Years ago we had an old dog named Jake who also liked to help clean up the extra pears.
The pretty pink calibrachoa I started from seeds I saved last year. It's super easy to do. I wait until the plant has gone completely dormant and the branches have dried on the plant, then I cut the branches and store them in plastic produce bags in a dark cupboard for the winter. In the spring, I shake the dry branches in whatever pot I want the calibrachoe to grow in and they grow! I'm going to try to get them going somewhere as ground cover next spring.
The winter savory above on the left is very invasive in our climate so I keep it in 2 pots that I have and one small space near the barn. It looks a little like rosemary but produces tiny white flowers along it's branches that the honey bees love. I use the herb dried or fresh in dishes where I would use sage or thyme. It's great on meats and roasted veggies.
I sent the spikey cordyline (above right) home with my step son to Portland so it would live. It will look great at his house by the pool! I think the sage and petunias might make it on the front porch out of the wind for the winter. Petunias don't really make it through the winter here but they are good re-seeders.
This is the beautiful raised bed garden my husband built for me. It's painted with chalkboard paint around the top so I can write on the edge of the planting to label it.
In the back is the huge sungold cherry tomato plant that produces the sweetest cherry tomatoes on earth! Front left is flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, to the right, some chard and some tiny french haricot vert. There's some leaf lettuce in here too.
My tiny tree frog friends.
I have had up to 4 frogs living in the top of this planter for most of the summer this year. They come out to greet me each day when I come to spray the front of the planter and fill the reservoir in the top of it. They are so cute I really love this part of my day!
Snap dragons and purple alyssum ground cover.
The Frog Prince
This is my frog prince sitting in the bee balm and nasturtiums. The bee blam was huge this year and I had finally cut it back after it's major flowering when it came back up as ground cover. It didn't have time to bloom again but it's a nice plant that's not too invasive and super drought tolerant. In fact, I had to water it indirectly all summer. As long as I kept the water on the plants on either side this plant was fat and happy!
Here are a few pictures of some of my late harvests.
Most of these tomatoes have ripened since their harvest and I've brought in several more yellow and zucchini squash. I harvested about 3 5 pound bags of new and purple potatoes from my one potato bin and I also brought in 2 more spaghetti squash that are just a touch green but the vines have withered in the frosts so I'm hopping to see them harden up in the house. If they don't they will be the first we eat and I'm sure they will be delicious!
Well, that's enough about my summer garden. I hope you found something interesting here. I know I will be dreaming through the winter about next years garden and all of the beautiful things that will grow in it.
Are you already making plans for next year like I am?
I'd love to hear about them. Drop me a comment below!