Goings-on in the Veg Garden

Just as with the rest of the garden, on the veg front, it’s been slow going until recently.

Spring crops (lettuce, arugula, radishes, mache, claytonia, turnips & beets) were sown/transplanted seemingly eons ago, but with the unusually cool weather, they grew at a snail’s pace.  Now that warmer temperatures have arrived, they are finally sizing up.

My favourite variety of arugula, 'Speedy', not only sizes up quickly, but is also very mild,
which is a bonus in my book as I find some arugula to be a tad overpowering.

This Topsi radish is almost ready for picking -
let's just ignore the little bit of slug damage, shall we?

And we had our first harvest of greens – hurray!

The first greens harvest (a variety of lettuces, Red Russian kale, Speedy arugula
and mixed baby Chinese greens) made for a delicious salad
The lettuce was picked from both the lettuce bed (i.e. the lettuce that I started indoors, then transplanted into a bed):

Transplanted lettuce

as well as some surprise volunteers:

Volunteer lettuce

And the lettuce is not the only surprise veg volunteer this year.  I also have several cilantro seedlings in the same bed:

Volunteer cilantro

I let both the cilantro and lettuce go to seed last year and this is the welcome result.  Surprisingly, there is little difference between the lettuce that I seeded indoors early & transplanted and the self-seeded lettuce that came up when they darn well felt like it.

This year, I’m adjusting the overall quantities that I grow to better reflect what we actually use, which I spoke about in my Seed Diet post.  I’ve also decided to forgo a few of the veg that I typically grow in the spring (such as kohlrabi and cabbage) so that I can concentrate on the west border expansion.  I don’t plan to go completely without, however, as the plan is to grow some of these later in the season.  I’m actually looking forward to doing that as it will be interesting to see how well they do as fall crops.  Will I be surprised or disappointed?  Hopefully the former πŸ˜‰.

Moving on to the summer crops, these are also behind as I simply didn't feel comfortable transplanting them until the first week of June, which is 2-3 weeks later than they normally go in the ground.

I cut back the number of tomatoes to 18 plants (vs. 24) but there is still a lot of variety going on in the tomato beds - 15 different varieties to be exact.

Half of this bed holds tomatoes while the other half is planted up with basil

The peppers, however, got away from me.  The original plan was to plant only half a bed of them (16 plants total), but one thing led to another and I ended up with almost a full bed.  I’m not quite sure how that happened.

Practically all the peppers I'm growing this year are sweet since I still have a
whack of hot peppers both in the freezer & dried.

All of the recent transplants are looking a bit sad as they were languishing in their pots for far too long, waiting for the weather to improve.  The cucumbers and squash look particularly bad as they were pummeled by some pretty strong winds the day after I transplanted them.  Figures πŸ™„.

This 'Summer Dance' cucumber seedling is looking a little beaten up,
but it seems to be settling in now and putting  on some dark green growth, so I think we'll be ok

I’m changing things up a bit on the cucumber trellis this year.  Cucumbers are usually very prolific in my garden so I’ve decided to reduce the number of plants – growing only those that I love from my stash – and spacing them further apart which will hopefully help with powdery mildew.  I’m growing two slicers (Summer Dance & Chelsea Prize) and one pickler (Garden Sweet) which should be plenty considering I’m the only one that eats pickles in our house.

Normally, I grow a couple of tromboncino together with the cucumbers along an 8’ length of trellis but this plan abruptly changed when the tromboncino seedlings didn't take kindly to the massive transplanting delay (in other words, they bit the dust).  In their place, I’ve decided to grow some melons (these were previously going to be left to sprawl).

Just like the cucumbers, the melon plants are recovering
from a windy battering shortly after transplanting

My melon growing experience so far has been pretty much a flop, although I’m attributing that to culture issues of my own doing (i.e. using straw bales that were not fully conditioned).  If we get another scorcher of a summer (which is being predicted), I’m really hopeful that we’ll be sinking our teeth into some still-warm-from-the-sun melons this year.

Next to the cucumber/melon bed is the potato bed containing 3 varieties of potato:  Yukon Gold, Kennebec and Viking.  The seed potatoes were planted about a month ago and they are coming up strongly - a significant improvement from last years spindly growth:

I have since piled on the straw which should keep the bed a bit cooler (hopefully!) over the summer
as well as prevent any tubers that are developing near the surface of the soil from greening.

I tried something a little different this year when it comes to timing on planting the potatoes.  Normally, I would be planting them in mid-April, but there is an old saying that potatoes should be planted "when dandelions bloom" so this year, I did just that.  We’ll see how that works out.

Also looking WAY better this year than last is the strawberry bed.  Last year at this time, it was a sorry sight after a bit of an irrigation mishap when the bed didn't get watered at all during a heat wave while we were away.

The bird netting is now firmly on the bed &
I'm hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries this season.

The onions are starting to put on some growth and all of the Golden shallots (planted last fall) have really taken off:

Onion bed with fall-sown Golden shallots in the rear

While the onion bed was netted from the start, there was a bit of an oversight with the garlic bed.  I completely forgot to net it when the garlic came up and, in fact, didn’t even think about it until just recently.

The garlic bed - no netting could spell trouble...

The thing is, the large netting that fits this bed has a few holes that need mending & it’s a finicky task that I haven’t gotten around to yet, so I’ve decided to let it be.  If I do start to see leek moth damage at the base of the stems, I’ll sprinkle them with a bit of diatomaceous earth, which helped a lot the last time they were an issue.

One veg that I forgot to take a photo of is the broccoli.  My seed diet meant that I’m limited to the only main season broccoli variety I had left in my stash - Aspabroc.  Not a bad thing, actually, as I loved this variety last year – it was SO delicious. The broccoli is growing like a weed with all our recent rains and it shouldn’t be long until we start to see some spears developing.  I do have one more variety to try – Calabrese – but the packet (from a local seed house) states in ALL CAPS that this variety should ONLY be grown as a fall crop.  Calabrese has been in my stash for a few years now but I just never got around to sowing it because of that very reason – looks like this will be the year.

Lastly, about two weeks ago, I had a pleasant surprise - one of the fig trees that I overwintered in the garage (and then promptly forgot about, leaving it with zero supplemental protection and near the garage door that was constantly opened & closed no less) is starting to leaf out.  Say what??

Surprise, surprise

I had thought it was a goner and the pots had been sitting on the driveway, waiting for me to deal with them.  This is not the first time when I thought a plant was dead and it miraculously came back to life while it was waiting for me to drag it to the compost bin.  The lesson?  Don't be hasty about disposing of a "dead" plant.  Let it hang around for a couple of months and see what happens.

And that is pretty much what is up with the veg garden at the moment.  I’ll be offline for a couple of weeks ‘cause I’m in Denver for the Garden Bloggers Fling!  Even though the fling doesn't officially get started until the Welcome Event tonight, I arrived yesterday and am already feeling revitalized after a good catch-up session with some bloggy friends.  It’s the first time I’ve been to Colorado and I’m so looking forward to seeing some amazing gardens and catching up with everyone.

Back home, I left instructions for my daughter to water the newly planted border and all of the outdoor potted plants while I’m away.  That's something else I'm looking forward to - the weather is supposed to be nice and warm over the next week, so I'm excited to see how much everything has grown when I get back.


  1. Even on your "seed diet" your vegetable garden is daunting, Margaret. When I had a veg garden I never had enough room to do much more than have a 3 of this and 3 of that. Now, all I have are artichokes and a few fruit trees (citrus, persimmons and guava). I don't even count my grape vines as the raccoons take the fruit before it comes near to ripening.

    Best wishes for an enjoyable Fling! I look forward to your photos and, as our remodel is now officially kicking off, I REALLY wish I was attending this year's Fling with you.

    1. Oh, being out of the house during remodelling is definitely the ideal scenerio! Wish you had come - it was an absolutely fabulous time with many tear inducing laughter sessions :)

      I feel the same way about your ornamental garden as you do about my veg garden - I can't get over the number of amazing plants you grow, many of which I'd never heard of before. And of course I yearn for the edibles you do grow, especially citrus. Maybe one day when I can find a spot for them indoors over the winter...

  2. It looks like you're going to have plenty of veg again this year. The strawberry bed looks fantastic, I think that's one of the main things I miss about my allotment, home grown strawberries. Ha, how many times do we say that plants often thrive with a little neglect, I would have thought that leaving the fig in the garage for that length of time was overdoing it myself but just goes to show, what do I know. Enjoy your time in Denver, it's Daniel's girlfriends home town but she isn't a gardener.

    1. I've been on the ball this year about both watering & covering the strawberry bed with bird netting, so I have my fingers crossed for a bumper crop! The fig tree, however, is a "maybe". I'm not sure if it will have time to give us any fruit as it's still leafing out - but fingers crossed! I may leave it on the driveway for the summer as it does get a bit of afternoon shade there & I'm wondering if our super hot summers in the past couple of years are perhaps not the best for it when it comes to bearing fruit. Denver was absolutely fabulous! The weather was perfect for touring gardens, with only a couple of short hot spells.

  3. I hope you have someone looking after all that lovely produce. I’ve never heard of the idea of planting potatoes when the dandelu9ns flower. No doubt some of ours were planted then.

    1. We'll see if the "dandelion" timing does in terms of how early and how much I harvest - would be great if it worked out well as that would eliminate one of the steps I've done in years past (pre-warming the bed with plastic).

  4. It was great to see you in person at the Denver Fling, Margaret! I'm sure all your vegetables are glad to have you back. Those strawberries look very promising!

    1. It was wonderful to see you and Judy as well - I really enjoyed our chats! It took a couple of days to recover from the all-nighter at the airport but now I'm back to it...there's a lot to catch up on :)

  5. Well … judging from your photographs you are going to have a super lot of vegetables, which is wonderful :)

    Enjoy your time in Denver.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan - it was SUCH a fun time! I'm glad to be back, though - there was a lot of growing happening while I was away :)

  6. Your volunteer lettuce indeed looks lovely and reminds me of Spotted Trout/Forellenschluss. Timing is so important with growing veggies, and the weather makes it tough all too often. I have better luck with kohlrabi and cabbage in fall, but the timing is critical there too.

    1. I planted a couple of speckled lettuces last year that looked very similar (Specked and Freckles) - not sure which this is or maybe it cross pollinated?? That would be fun :) I've seen you and others growing brassicas for fall harvest and have been meaning to do that for a few years now but the beds are usually still occupied with spring/early summer veg (plus I always seem to get too busy for summer sowing). I'm hoping that leaving some of the beds empty will give me the added push I need to give that a go this year.

  7. Hello there Margaret !
    I so admire veggie gardeners .. you truly have to have such patience and fortitude (I have so little of both ? LOL) .. everything looks so neat and tidy and very healthy .. well done you !
    Congratulations on going to the fling .. I can well imagine you are having a blast with that ..
    The question you had about the bush clematis .. yes it flowers like most vine clematis .. I have a white one as well called Twinkle ... they are so nice to have for vertical interest, especially when you don't have a lot of room left in your gardens .. haha.
    Happy Canada Day where ever you are : )

    1. Oh, my "neat" garden has more to do with the camera angles than reality! The Fling was soooo awesome - it would be lovely if you could join us one year?? I've made so many wonderful friendships through it - that first one I went to with trepidation (as I literally knew NOONE - not even virtually), was literally one of the best decisions I've ever made. Thanks for the info on the clematis - I'll have to add one of those to my garden for sure :)

  8. nice article.
    thank you for sharing

  9. Is this a garden or a farm? :o) I have Peggy's Delight zinnias in my garden and they remind me of sharing seeds with you!

    1. Ha! I suppose it's a bit farm, a bit garden and a LOT untamed wilderness (or so it seems right now!). I love how Peggy's Delight and the Tithonia I now always have in the garden are reminders of our friendship - those are the best kinds of flowers. P.S. I miss you and I'm hoping you can make it out to one of the flings soon - next year Beth & Anneliese are hosting in Madison! XOXO


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