It’s been a strange garden year. Like a lot of you, we had a heat wave in late May that blasted the plants and slowed some growth.
The tomatoes took the hardest hit. They’re still growing, but I’ve yet to have one get red on the vine. They were growing to full size and turning just slightly lighter green then stopping all forward motion. I decided to start bringing them inside when they reached that point and every one of them has turned red, so at least they’re not wasted.
I don’t use pesticides on our plants, for obvious reasons, but our heavier leafy plants have struggled a bit this year because of it. The collards and brussel sprouts both had leaves that looked like swiss cheese, thanks to bugs. I was able to salvage both by blasting the bugs off with a high powered hose stream and then cutting some of the leaves that were closest to the ground. The word on the street (internet) is that the bugs that were on them likely couldn’t get back on the leaves once knocked off. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know my plants look 100x better now.
The heat cut the lettuce season short, but we ate very well off of our romaine plants for 6 weeks or so before that happened, so I can’t complain too much. I’m still trying to figure out the sweet spot for when to plant lettuce, because our last frost is pretty unpredictable down here.
Our herbs did very well, but herbs tend to be one of the easiest things to grow in our yard. This year we had a ton of dill and cilantro. When they were about to flower, I cut everything off and froze what we hadn’t yet used. I wasn’t sure how that would work out, but I’ve already used some of the frozen herbs and they’re all good.
Much like the herbs, cucumbers are always strong.
We’ve had several big fat cucumbers and there are a lot more on the way. I have three cucumber plants in the garden and one container variety on the deck. Basically, we love pickles, so I want to make sure we have plenty for both fresh eating and for stored pickles.
A bonus this year is Russ announced that he thinks they taste much better when they come straight from a garden than from the grocery store. He’s obviously correct and I think its changed his opinion on cucumbers overall.
Our peppers slowed down for a little bit after the heat wave, but they are right back in their stride now and definitely producing. These are definitely Russ’s favorite thing we grow. So far, we’ve gotten a lot of little sweet peppers, which is great because we snack on those like crazy, but we’re both looking forward to the hot peppers.
This year, I planted poblano, jalapeño and habanero peppers. The first two are really starting to come in. The habanero plant is still relatively small, but it’s showing slow growth, so I’m hopeful.
One of my favorite things in the garden this year is the tomatillo plant. We love tomatillos, though they’re relatively new to us. I planted them because I saw them in the Greenville County seed library, so I figured they would do well here.
If you don’t know about the seed library, it’s a cool partnership between our local library system and the soil and water conservation district. Anyone who is a member of the library (free to all Greenville County residents, FYI), can go to the seed library and pick up up to 10 packets of seeds to plant in their home garden.
I picked up several little things from them, but the tomatillos are my favorite. They are tasty, but they also grow in these neat little almost papery leaves. You harvest them when the fruit bursts the leaves open, but the leaves will stay mostly on the fruit until you are ready to use the fruit. In the slideshow below, they’re the ones that look like little green balloons. When they’re ready, we’ll be making some salsa verde, for sure.
Another favorite this year is the brussel sprouts I mentioned earlier. They’ve struggled a bit, but they’re going pretty strong now and they’re just very cute. We love brussel sprouts, but didn’t know much about how they grow before this year. You can see a photo in the slideshow below. They basically just grow like little balls on the side of the stalk. They have a pretty long growing season, so we probably won’t harvest until early fall, but I’m fairly confident they’ll be worth the wait.
Last but not least, I don’t grow a lot of flowers, but I’ve always wanted a rose bush. Earlier this year, I went for it and bought an almost-dead looking knockout rose bush from the Lowe’s clearance rack. It was $2. For weeks, I figured I’d wasted the two dollars. Nothing was growing and no amount of fertilizer or water seemed to help. When I finally decided to just sit back and be patient, sure enough it came back to life. There are two beautiful flowers on it right now and lots of purple new growth. This thing is going to be even better next year and I can’t wait.