Kitchen Garden - Last Year / This Year

sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)April 8, 2013

These are some photos of my Kitchen Garden in the old Lower Orchard, taken last year (2012), in late June when it was coming in to it's peak period of growth and production.

By July, when it should have really been pumping out dozens of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, the extreme high temperature (record breaking highs of over 105 all summer long) and the three year drought were doing a number on all the gardens, but especially this one. I had to transplant the herbs and most of the perennial flowers up into the Rose garden or into pots in a last ditch effort to try to save what I could.

So far this year, we are getting weekly rains and a lot of it. If this continues, I may have a really great garden this year with lots of vegetables and dried herbs in my Larder and a bounty of beautiful flowers. All the flowering plants and trees are looking "Fat" and healthy.

View taken from the Lower Orchard .

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I grew Muncher Cucumbers on the two wooden step-ladders. That worked really well. Those are the best tasting cucumbers I have ever eaten!
Definitely growing them again this year.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:37AM
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Brandywine Tomatoes, Beefmaster and Cherokee Purple are my favorite fresh eating tomatoes. I also grow Early Girl, Big Boy and Super Sioux for canning tomatoes. Romas, Italias and San Marzano Paste tomatoes for eating, salads and making sauces and salsas. I grow one Lemon Boy for slicing and for making Tomato Preserves. It is the only tomato I use for my preserves. The Super Sweets and Juliets are for snacking. I usually "graze" on them while working in the garden.

In this little Kitchen garden, I will plant just what I will need for daily consumptions. The two canning gardens are big enough to accommodate a lot of veggies and fruit for canning and freezing.

I really liked the Terracotta pots in here. Esthetically pleasing, but they were for watering. I would fill them up with water and as the water ran out the bottom through a layer of gravel, it irrigated the neighboring flowers, veggies and herbs. My cats liked them to play in - nice "hidey holes". (LOL)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:03AM
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Last year, A variety of herbs went into the center bed. One Super Sweet 100 tomato was planted in the center and grew up into and completely engulfed the tower I built for it out of bamboo. That worked very well and everything thrived.

In the Center Round Bed:

Purple Basil,
Creeping Thyme,
Lemon Verbena,
Tricolor Sage,
Golden Coronation Yarrow,
French Marigolds,
Italian Flat-leaf Parsley,
French Fennel,
Golden Sage,
Spicy Globe Basil,
and a tomato.

The Outer bed held:
Two (2) Brandywine Tomatoes,
Blue and White Victoria Salvias.
Lemon Yellow French Marigolds,
Velvet blue and white Petunias,
Gloriosa Daisies,
Red Salvia,
Red Dianthus,
Genovese Basil,
Cayenne Peppers
Serrano Peppers
and several "Straight Eight" Cucumbers planted around the step-ladder.
I planted Hollyhocks along the west side last year. They should bloom this year.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:50AM
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That was quite an achievement sweetannie. Are you going to plant as much this year? I'm afraid my little veggie garden is going to be a lot smaller than yours. I hope you have a good yield.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:33AM
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lush and lovely, Annie

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:51PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Not much veggie gardening going on here. No rain. Last week it rained all around us. Does that count?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:17PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Great veg garden Annie- love the way you have set it up. Hopefully this year you will get steady weather and a bumper crop!

Jeez, too bad we couldn't have traded a bit of weather with each other last year. It was cool and damp here and everything got off to such a late start- hardly got any tomatoes or zuchs because of it.

While I love the taste of and prefer to grow heirloom veggies (especially toms), I think I will grow a few more hybrids this year, ones that don't take so darn long to produce (and aren't so stingy with the amount they do produce, Lol)!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:11PM
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Here is a pic of a bucket of tomatoes I had just picked that day.
I was picking a bucket every day or every other day, of various tomatoes, plus cucumbers, Mixed greens, onions, broccoli, zuchs, cabbages and all kinds of peppers and okra.
Got a few strawberries early on and enough peaches to make a large batch of Peach Salsa and a few pies. Not too shabby considering.

No beans and no potatoes though. The beets were good, but only got a few, but no bumper crop. They grew nice tops, but without enough moisture, they would not form nice, fat beets. I like to make them into sliced sweet beet pickles with cinnamon. Yum!

I am planting lots of Roma broad beans this year. My faves.
They are string-less, wide and tender. They freeze well, and produce a TON of yummy beans. I like to eat them fresh every day while they are producing. Whatever is producing, ya man, that's what I be ea-ting! :)

I got enough tomatoes though to makes salsa and I canned a dozen or more jars of diced tomatoes. I even made quite a few quart jars of Bar B-Que sauce and my own version of Pizza Hut's Italian Marinara Sauce (sooooo good). I won't waste my tomatoes on that Bar B-Que recipe again. Caca!

Anyway, the garden produced good things while it lasted. It just didn't last very long. Darn it!
I have HIGH hopes this year for a longer season. But either way, I can deal with it.

I can't wait for that first yummy taste of a vine-ripened tomato!!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Wow, yum! You are so inspiring!

Thought I had lost my two tomato plants with the freeze, so bought two more, and as I was getting ready to plant, noticed the "frozen" tomatoes had little tiny leaves just poking out the ground, so will baby them along with my two new plants. I was tempted by the heirlooms, but figured it would take too long, and with our heat...but may go pick one up just to try.

I've never had luck with vegetables until last summer, two tomato plants that gave us plenty for everyday use, along with some herbs.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 7:31PM
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I plant my heirloom tomatoes where they have afternoon shade - give them fish emulsion and then stand back and watch the miracle tomatoes grow! They are absolutely the most delicious "maters", and most of them produce gigantic fruit.
And let me tell you kid - you have never had spaghetti or lasagna until you've tasted it made with Brandywine tomatoes to make the sauces. OMG! :)

In the photo below:
Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomato in my hand and Red Brandywines and more M.L.s in the bowl.

I have heard so many people state that the heirlooms take too long to make fruit and don't make a lot of fruit.
My heirloom tomatoes put on fruit about the same time as all the other tomatoes and start to ripen around the middle of June...not really much later than the hybrids. The only tomato that produces earlier is Early Girl. But when the determinate hybrids kick the bucket, the indeterminate heirlooms will keep on making fruit, as long as the daytime temps don't exceed 98 degrees, that is. Then all tomatoes will all just sit there and sulk. Humph!
As for quantity - well, consider that they make LARGE freaking tomatoes! Each plant may have four or five tomatoes ripening, vs. the hybrid which may have 6-10. But, they are two or three times bigger tomatoes! You are getting the same amount of fruit per pound. And the flavor...out of this world.
I like to grow many varieties because it gives me a wider choice of tomato flavors, but it also extends my tomato production on into the Fall.

Anyway... I can't wait!
Fried Green Tomatoes,
Tomatoes and okra,
Tomatoes with Macaroni,
On pizza,
and in eggy, cheesy Quiche (yummy),
I love sliced Tomatoes Marinated with fresh Basil in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, splash of water, salt & black pepper, and a touch of sugar. Serve with warm Italian bread and a good red wine. Heaven.....pure heaven!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:42PM
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I'm going to Walmart (ugh!) on Thursday, and last week saw some Mortgage Lifters at Lowes next door so plan to try one. Annie, you're making me want to try vegetable gardening!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:16PM
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koszta_kid(Iowazone 5)

Will planting onions soon + potatoes . Will be while before ground drys out. Got much needed rains.Get ready for cukes,zukes ,matters and peppers. All most forgot snow peas.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:43AM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

Love your pictures Sweet. I really like how you made the windy paths, too. I see you have purple basil listed for your circle garden. How do you like that? I bought some seeds to try this year...more for ornamental purposes than for cooking. I'm also trying Silver Sage too.

This will be my first year growing heirloom tomatoes but how envious I am that your tomatoes start to ripen in June. Mine are perhaps olive sized in june! (smile)

Few things in life are as wonderful as biting into a huge, old-timey tomatoe and letting it's juice run down your chin. I have eaten them until the corners of my mouth are raw from the acid. (yum!)....owww...(yum!)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 1:24AM
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