2013 Garden Update 1

May 30, 2013

Even though these posts are appearing closely the garden has been growing about six weeks now!  The sun is high, enthusiasm is high, and the tomato plants are especially high!


It makes me drool when I look at this cluster of flowers and buds on this Sweet 100 plant.


I hear this tomato is especially prolific, and produces huge clusters.  Can’t wait to do one of these again:


I wanted to show this as an example of the kind of growth that should be pruned from tomato plants:


Pinch off any of these extra shoots that come off at 45* angles, and try to maintain one single stem to the plant.  Sometimes it’s heart breaking when you realize you’ve been maintaining a shooter that practically becomes a second tomato plant and you have to pinch it off, but just remember you’re doing this so that you’ll eventually have more tomatoes and better quality than you would have!

The marigolds next to the tomatoes are also looking good.


In some bad news, most of the okra I planted died off.  They looked fine for about a week, but then all of them had their leaves turn yellow and then fall off.  Then, they all began to sprout new leaves and I thought, “Oh good, it must have been some sort of replanting shock.”  But a couple weeks of stagnant growth and pitiful plants didn’t encourage me.  Then, four out of six completely bit the dust. 


My suspicion is that I just planted them a little early.  It’s been a mild spring and while there haven’t been any frosts, there have definitely been a few repeated cold days and nights.  So after I mourned the loss I traded some bread at the farmer’s market for a 4-pack of new okra and in they went!


Other new additions include this cool green I had never heard of: mizuna.  It was another farmer’s market find, and the grower described it as “japanese arugula.”  It’s not spicy like arugula (currently?) but it certainly has similar uses.  It’s like a side additions to my salads to add some depth of flavor. 


I’d say it’s very “fresh” tasting – you know how cucumbers and celery have this freshness aside from their actual flavor? Kinda like that.  Maybe lemony?  Cooling?  Bright?  Hard to describe, and yet it’s distinct from other greens I’ve tasted.  Delicious!

Speaking of greens, the lettuce is doing nicely and we’ve had some great salads so far.  It’s at that point where you can rotate through the plants to harvest what you need and by the time you get back to the beginning it’s newly replenished.


Here’s a testament to why I find growing from seed so annoying: I directly sowed some Deer’s Tongue lettuce seeds in some spare space and it must have already been too warm in April because none sprouted… until a few weeks later!


It was probably the same cold weather that killed the okra that made these sprout.  Even still, it was only a few plants and I wasn’t sure if I needed them so I just pulled them out of the garden and into some bigger planters in case I decided to replant. 


When I cleared some of the kale I put them in the ground, mostly as a tester to see if I liked this variety of lettuce.

Other random additions include this single green cabbage plant:


Some broccoli:


And this patty pan squash:


Squash is so easy to grow (just add a BUNCHA water) and prolific.  I’m not worried about it being amidst the kale, it will easily grow above and beyond and will pretty much tell me when it’s time to pull the kale out.  I just hope I have enough space for it – they can easily take up a 3’ x 3’ section and more!

Speaking of kale, the leaves still taste good so I haven’t gotten rid of the plants, but keeping up with the bolting is laborious at times:


Good to see the hired guards are busy, though:


I hope your garden is going equally well!


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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tonya May 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

Nice post. So none of these greens were from seed? Last year I grew from seed. I may try transferring small plants.


2 Matt May 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

The kale from last year was from seed, direct sowed into the bed. I’ve just had such iffy results with germination when direct sowing so I’ve loved just buying plants and being lazy.


3 Sara P May 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

I love the gardening posts. I am fairly new to gardening as well and living in the south (Austin, TX), we get insane heat here during the summer and it is hard to keep plants producing. I too am excited to get bunches of tomatoes this summer. And because of these posts, I planted some kale and greens in between my other plants and am so glad I did. Thank you guys!


4 Carly @ Snack Therapy May 30, 2013 at 9:27 am

Lately, I’ve been getting the itch to plant a garden. This is a problem because (a) I have the blackest thumb around and (b) I live in an apartment. Dang! I’ll just have to live vicariously through yours ;).


5 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh May 30, 2013 at 9:29 am

I’m always so jealous of your garden! I would love to have the space to be able to plant as much as you do but I have to stick to my little container herb garden. Speaking of which, I should probably go water those, it’s gonna be a scorcher today!


6 Lauren @ The Highlands Life May 30, 2013 at 9:55 am

I actually need to go home and pull shooters off and water my tomato plants after work today. I love, love, love having fresh tomatoes in the summer! I want to plant lettuces this fall but am unsure of when. Lettuces make me nervous for some reason. Maybe I’ll attempt it though!


7 Nina @ Too Hottie For That Body May 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

I’m so jealous! We have a later growing season here in Colorado and everything is just now starting to pop up. I’m so ready to see how things turn out!


8 seana May 30, 2013 at 11:19 am

Wow, impressive garden. You guys are lucky to have weather conducive to growing. The season is so short here in upstate NY. Crazy weather we’ve had. Frost Monday night and it’s now 80 and humid (3 hrs North of us has 3 feet on snow Monday). My neighbor made the same type of beds as you have. He has pretty good luck with them, we just have to watch out for deer and bunnies. My husband is not exactly what you would call “handy.” Thus, no garden for us. I grow basil and that’s about it. I get my neighbors leftovers which I look forward to. Congrats, it looks great!


9 Ana May 30, 2013 at 11:49 am

Have you guys tried growing hops? We have found this to be surprisingly easy (in Wisconsin) and has taken our brewing to a new level!


10 Matt May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I’ve been dying to but I’m not ready to commit to having a permanent plant like that. Especially because there really aren’t a lot of great spots in our yard to put them, considering the large trellis/bine system.


11 Ana May 31, 2013 at 9:26 am

I hear you- we don’t have a great permanent spot for them, so we use large pots and string them up the side of the house or trellis with twine. We cut them back in the fall and store the pots in the garage for the winter. We have 6 pots total (with Centennial, Northern Brewer, and Cascade) and they provide enough hops for us with more to share. Happy brewing!


12 Sara May 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hi Matt (and Kath),
Thanks for the gardening advice!
For the first time, I’m living in an apt. with a balcony, so I finally have some sun for a pot garden —

I’m trying to grow herbs (cilantro/basil/dill/parsley/thyme/mint/rosemary) in individual pots, as well as a tomato plant. So far, the the first 5 herbs have sprouted — how long until they grow big enough to harvest? (A month?) Also, I’m having a heck of a time getting rosemary to sprout — I’ve failed before — any tips?

In general, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I got each herb a container and kinda dumped a packet of seeds into each one — lots of sprouts have come up in each one, but have I been too successful, and the competition for space will eventually kill them? Can I leave it in the container or will I need to re-pot?

Thanks so much in advance — I’m hoping this won’t be the summer of two black thumbs!


13 Matt May 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I’ve never grown rosemary from seed so I can’t help ya there.

As for harvesting, you can start as soon as the plant has maybe 8 leaves on it… it’s so hard for early gardeners to commit to cutting their plants but remember that using the plant will actually encourage it to grow more.

And on that note, you definitely need to thin the plants out… that’s another thing people hate to do, but better to have one beautiful plant than 5 that are struggling to survive! Once they have 4-6 leaves, go ahead and prune all the small guys.


14 Alicia @ Wanna Be Ina May 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Not to butt in, but rosemary can be hard to grow if you get it too wet. I always grow my rosemary separate from my other herbs. If you find that you get some plants but the needles are really spaced far apart, that also means you are over watering. They need drier soil to have a reason to put on the needles.


15 jillian May 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm

looks great! i had no idea i was supposed to trim/clip the tomato shoots! i’m still a little confused, going to have to google it for specific directions because my tomatoes haven’t done well in the past! thanks for the informative post! :)
PS, we just got a great harvest in our area — Old Saybrook, CT! So exciting!


16 Maria Tadic May 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

You have so many fun things in your garden! That mizuna lettuce is really fun. I’d pick it sooner than later b/c it can get kinda woody…or so says the guy at the farmer’s market. But I really love it! Good luck!


17 Eileen May 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hooray for the garden! My California garden is doing well–lots of baby tomatoes and jalapenos starting to emerge, and the basil is starting to actually look thick. :) I can’t plant much more since we rent–so I’m super jealous of your beautiful raised beds!


18 Kelly May 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I live in Minnesota and we’ve had the weirdest spring ever!!! It was like our winter didn’t want to end. Needless to say, I think we are about a month behind in the growing season. We are just now getting around to planting our stuff! Enjoy!


19 Sara @ sarasmiles May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Makes me want to garden! Wish I had a yard…


20 Katherine May 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm
21 jenna k May 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

my aunt and grandmother were just talking this weekend about how all their okra plants died! they came to the cold nights conclusion as well.

i actually really like growing from seed. this is probably weird, but i’m single with no children, and don’t have any pets, so my plants become like my little babies, and i love seeing them sprout up. that said, in years past i was always frustrated at how it took them so long to harvest that the growing season was almost done. so this year, i planted most of them inside on one of the first days of march, and then transferred them outside when the weather began to get consistently warm around the first week of april.


22 Amy May 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm

You’re garden looks amazing!

I have never been able to buy lettuce plants, already sprouted, in stores in So Cal. They always have zucchini, tomatoes, melons etc. But I have never been able to find kale, lettuce or any leafy greens already sprouted. I’ve only done them from seed. I was lucky, they sprouted in about 5-7 days this round. Same with the green onions.

Nothing smells better than Tomato plants; Nothing makes you feel more weird then staring at them for 5+ minutes searching for those pesky horned worms. :)


23 Bec May 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Mmmm… there is nothing better than homegrown tomatoes. I just can’t do the store brought ones! Unfortunately, I am not much of a green thumb. Love gardens, enjoy gardening… just can’t seem to get it right. Very jealous of your garden right now!


24 Elle May 30, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I’m glad you mentioned the kale bolting. This is the first year I’ve planted kale and I wondered what it was doing. Good to know I need to trim off the flowers


25 Nina June 5, 2013 at 6:50 am

If you’re eating the leaves of anything you need to watch for bolting!


26 Sam Peri May 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I just started making my own veggie garden. I will start planting veggie seeds such as okra and lettuce. Anyway, thanks for the tip. I have a lot more to learn from this new hobby.


27 Abby May 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I love these gardening posts! I have just recently planted all my veggies for the season. Its usually a hit or miss for most things because I am strictly a patio gardener. Thank you for all the tips on the tomatoes. Keep the updates coming!


28 Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach) May 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Ah! I am SO envious of your climate! We got frost in Boston last week (today is 90*), which worked out well for me because I was behind in my planting. I bought seedlings this weekend and planted some zucchini, squash, spinach, tomatoes, and herbs. Started spring mix lettuce outside a couple weeks ago and it’s just sprouting now. And, the cucumber and basil seedlings I started inside from 3 year old seeds are actually almost ready to be planted, too!!


29 Jessica @ Chocolate Covered Chickpeas   May 30, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I wish I had your garden, Kath! Thanks for the tips on the tomatoes!


30 Alyssa May 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Our garden is growing very well!! Can’t wait until we can harvest some of the goods :-)


31 Samantha @ Sweetly Striving May 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I am so envious of your garden. We are currently in an apartment and have nowhere or way of doing one. I would love to be able to grow a good portion of our produce.


32 Kavi May 31, 2013 at 7:15 am

Beautiful garden! As much as I enjoy the city life, I do miss gardening. I’ll have to get my fix when I visit my parents’ home in PA!


33 Lisa @bitesforbabies May 31, 2013 at 7:36 am

Once again…SOOOO jealous!


34 elizabeth May 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I love deer tongue lettuce, I’m eating some out of my greenhouse right now, it does well in warm weather. I find the germination rate for deer tongue is less than other lettuces, so I plant more seed. I actually prefer starting seeds, I transplant some things, but find it more stressful and the plants started from seed seem more strong and healthy, I do always start tomatoes, cucumbers and some other crops inside. Hope you have a great veggie garden year!


35 Kathy May 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm

If you find your squash usually gets too big, after you see several blossoms go ahead and pinch off the ends of the runners, thus ending the spread. It may help the “fruit” improve in quality as well.


36 Alicia @ Wanna Be Ina May 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Sweet 100s are by far my favorite cherry tomato. You guys are gonna love them!

My garden went in the ground on Monday. We have had awful weather here in Indiana, and it was just so wet I knew my seeds and plants would just rot. Our lettuce, carrots and beets have already sprouted. I attribute that to perfect soil temp and moisture. Though it is later for the beets and carrots, with our cooler than normal weather, I think they will be fine. We planted tomato and pepper plants.

I suspect we will see squash in the next 4 days or so. Who knows how long it will be when/if the green beans sprout!


37 Neil Butterfield June 2, 2013 at 3:57 am

Stunning Kath, we want to start a vegetable garden to grow our own foods.


38 Leslie June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am

Any advice for someone who is growing kale for the very first time?


39 Ruxandra @ Gourmandelle June 9, 2013 at 9:16 am

Love your garden! Hopefully I’ll have one myself in the near future:)


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