If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. –Cicero
You've already read a lot about my little vegetable garden. Some have asked for updates.
I've been keeping up with photos as we enter the brutal Texas summer.
Before we head out to the vegetables, check out our beautiful lilly. Last year, as Easter came to an end, the grocery store has so many leftover Easter lilies in pots that the flowers went on sale.
My husband ended up buying all of them for around a dollar. He took the bulbs out of the pots and planted them in our flower bed by the deck in the back.
I thought they had died and he had wasted his money and hard work. Boy was I wrong!
They not only be back, but also put out more bulbs underground. Now we have a while patch of lillies! I wish you could smell them! Wonderful!
Heading out to the garden at sunrise is the only way to avoid the heat and, for me the worse part, the humidity. Sunrise comes early. Around 6:30 a.m. but it starts getting light a little bit before hand.
The good part about getting up so early is watching the sun come up.
Of course I realize the sun doesn't actually rise. It is the earth rotating But I like the poetry of a rising sun.
Once it is light enough to see, but still cool, is the best time to start watering and weeding.
The swiss chard is no longer a huge jungle of leaves. The light shining through the veins of the leaves really underlines the reason this chard is called Rainbow Chard.
My husband has set up a system of dams around the plants so we can soak the soil.
I will just set down the house and fill up the "dam" while I run around like crazy person taking photos.
When I see a new bloom or tiny baby vegetable, I get so excited. I talk to the little babies. I'll say, "Aren't you so pretty. You are going to be delicious!"
The grapevine is doing well this year. It has put on many bunches of grapes. I hope we get some before the birds eat them all.
The grapevine also provides it's leaves for dolmades and sarma. Grapeleaves are so nutrtious as well as delicious. They contain a great deal of vitamins A and K and antioxidants. They're also super yummy.
Some of the flowers on this squash plant will make squash. But some are called, "false flowers." The flowers are obviously real, but they only leave a stalk and no vegetable.
An old wives tale is that if you pinch off the false flower, you will get more squash. This makes a bit of sense because of the plant isn't putting it's energy in growing a flower, it can put that energy into growing a squash.
I pick the false flowers, and though they are edible I don't like the flavor. I feed them to the goats or chickens who love them.
I love squash. I love to get it up in some butter and add eggs. I like roasted squash with olive oil and garlic or cayenne. I add roasted squash to my tomato based pasta sauce. I also cook it in my "magic soup".
My son named this soup. He firmly believe it is magic because it makes him better when he is sick.
The ingredients come straight out of the garden. Anything green. Kale, spinach, green beans, peas, zucchini. Add these to boiling water with a LOT of fresh garlic, a little salt, a little turmeric powder, and a little cayenne powder.
I also make a less healthy garden greens. Also anything green from the garden. The squash, chard, and kale get boiled with a great deal of bacon. So much bacon that it really isn't very healthy anymore. I serve it over rice and baked fish.
This year the squash beetles came out in force. All the garden pests did. We were forced to harvest all of our cabbage a bit earlier than planned so the cabbage worms didn't destroy it all.
I'm currently fermenting some cabbage. It'll be sauerkraut in a few more days. I used 3 or 4 small heads of cabbage.
I already made stuffed cabbage leaves for dinner last week.
Another result of the pest problem is we had to spray some chemical on the plants to kill the bugs.
I don't prefer to do this and for years I begged my husband not to. But in 2019, money got tight. I couldn't afford to share my vegetables with the bugs any longer.
So last year we sprayed. And we had garden veggies until it got too cold. This year, with all the rain we've had, the bugs came much earlier. So we sprayed.
I hope we won't have to spray again, but I suspect we will.
You can see big tall weeds growing over the wall of our garden. The weeds are home to bugs. If only they would stay home! They don't. They come into our garden and make a new home. There goes the neighborhood!
We put up tin walls to keep the rabbits out. We put up chicken wire to keep the chickens out.
I don't like to cage my chickens, turkeys, goats, or sheep. But I like my vegetables! So, I cage my garden.
Back to the cabbage worms. Last year was the first year I've grown cabbage. So I don't know all the ins and outs of it, yet. I have a library full of gardening books, but I never think to read them BEFORE I start my garden. I prefer trial and error. Last year I grew red and green cabbages. This year only green seedlings were available for purchase.
As soon as these cabbage seedling were in the ground, the plants grew and grew. But then I saw something was eating the cabbage leaves.
I went and looked up what to do. It turns out most experienced cabbage growers put a special net over the cabbage plants as soon as the plants peek out of the soil. Or in my case, as soon as the seedlings are planted.
Last year I learned how to harvest a cabbage head. There are a couple of choices. You can pull the entire plant out of the soil and take your cabbage head that way. You will then have room to plant something else. Either new cabbage plants or broccoli or something else.
Or, you can carefully cut out the cabbage head.
When you cut out the head from the center of the plant and leave the rest in the ground, new, smaller cabbage heads will form.
These new cabbage heads will be smaller, but you'll get more of them.
Since I didn't use netting, I will have to be very vigilant in looking under the leaves and in tight spots for the dreaded cabbage worms. I call them 'The Dread Worm Roberts." Because when you kill one worm another takes it's place.
The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, do so. It's so good. Even over 30 years later.
Also doing well are our tomato plants.
I planted basil around the base of the tomato plants. The tomatoes are growing so big and wild I can't find the basil! Can you?
Finally, the watermelon plant is growing. I hope to have some watermelon. It's so good when it's cold. My husband's grandparents would pick the melon and put it in the stock tank overnight. The stock tank is filled with well water. The pump is constantly refilling the tank when the float gets below a certain point. The well is deep under ground. The water is ice cold. It cools the melon so it's ready to split open and eat during the heat of the day.
I will just keep the melon in the refrigerator.
If we get any melons!
I looked up the reason for the name of this berry. I thought it might be because straw is often used as a mulch.
I was wrong. It seems the word strawberry is from the middle English words meaning strewn.
This is in reference to the plant putting out long runners and the berries assisting to be strewn on the ground.
You can read more about it here if, like me, you are interested in these types of things; the etymology of words.
I took all of these photos last week. Today, while watering I found some little things to harvest. Strawberries and zucchini. I pulled a carrot to see how well they are growing.
I noticed I didn't take a picture of my carrots. I guess I'll have to do that soon and include it in the next gardening story.
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Do you have questions? Let's talk! Please feel free to comment.
Got veggie recipes? Publish them and tag me! @JonicaBradley
I don't like to wake up early but it would definitely be worth to do so once and awhile to get some great sunrise pictures. Your garden is doing well and I am not much for vegetables but I think one day I will try growing cabbage and spinach just because they are good for me. I have done well with my own squash plants. I look forward to having squash soon as I currently have two baby squash plants growing up nicely. I have books on gardening I haven't read either....but I plan to sit down one day and read them. I enjoyed the article and the pictures .