If you haven’t already, read part 1 here. Let’s jump right into part 2 of our garden update.
I have mixed feeling about growing cabbage. It feels like it takes forever for them to grow and they take up so much room. I think next year we will plant them closer together and see what happens. I am trying to decide if they are worth it for us to grow. I’m still not giving up on them but I don’t want to give them an entire row next year.
I really loved the Chinese Green Noodle bean last year so much so I decided to grow many more plants this year. They’re great for stir fry meals and they don’t have strings. This year, I also added the Chinese Red Noodle bean. Unfortunately the flavor of the red is not as good as the green. I’m not sure I will grow them again next year. I will have to research red bean recipes before I decide either way.
I was so confused about another bean plant in my garden. I thought I only planted red and green noodle beans in one particular row but this other bean plant came up. I thought for weeks that my the seed packet had been mismarked. I harvested the beans but didn’t know what to do with them since they were an unusual bean. They are red and have a kind of waxy texture. I’m sorry to say I never ate any. I worried they might be some kind of poisons bean plant that was accidentally switched with my red noodle bean packet. Well, when I finally figure out what they were it was a little late to start harvesting. They are called the Moonshadow Hyacinth Bean and apparently can be poisonous. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to buy these. I’m not fond of things that have the word POISONOUS in the description. One thing is for sure about these plants is they have beautiful eye catching flowers. Everyone who toured my garden commented on them. Sadly, I will probably never plant them again. By the way, these beans can be eaten but it must be when the pods are small and tender.
Amaranth really is a beautiful easy to grow eye catching flower. We grew three different kinds of amaranth this year -Love Lies Bleeding, Hopi Red Dye and Golden amaranth. All very unique and pleasing to the eye. Loves Lies Bleeding is the variety I planted last year. The flower heads clusters are droopy and the leaves are green. In most catalogs that I have seen these seeds sold, it appears that the flowers are red but they are actually a dark pink. We added the Golden and Hopi Red Dye amaranths this year. Each amaranth has a unique desirable quality. The Golden amaranth is all gold, both leaves and flowers. The Hopi Red Dye leaves, steam and flowers are a deep burgundy color. As the name suggests, the Hopi Red Dye amaranth was used by the Hopi Indian tribe to make dye. I believe they also used the seeds to color foods.
Amaranth is a winner in my garden. The three varieties I planted all made great cut flowers for bouquets. Since most people have never seen amaranth flowers, they always offer the awe factor. Amaranth seeds can also be harvested and used for cooking.
I finally got smart and only planted one variety of corn this year. In years past I tried to grow different varieties close together not realizing they will cross pollinate and create strange versions of corn. Last year I did a popcorn varieties next to an eating variety. The two created some crazy corn babies :).
You can plant two varieties of corn close together but you need to be sure they have different pollinating times. I plan to plant two different varieties of corn next year but with different days to harvest lengths.
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
My favorite pumpkin, Fairytale Pumpkin, cross-pollinated with another variety and created some crazy but cool looking pumpkins. I was a bit disappointed because now I can’t create another pumpkin man for Christmas. Oh well.
We did get a decent amount of my favorite squash this year, Hokkaido Stella Blue. Last year I didn’t plant very many because I didn’t know they were going to be so good. This year I decided to plant a lot but only ended up with a lot of little ones and I am not sure why they were not as big as last year. Perhaps it was the way I watered or maybe because I didn’t use the Mittleider fertilizer mix. I will be doing things differently next year. I am hoping to get more T-frames built so that the winter squash and melons can grow up instead of on the ground. By the way, Hokkaido Stella Blue makes the best squash soup EVER!
Berries and Grapes
Our raspberries did much better this year. I was happy with the amount we got but the size of the berries were small. I think I may need to fertilize them more next year.
Strawberries were yummy when we had them. We didn’t get very many even with having a lot of strawberry plants. I think the plants need to be replaced. A local farm let me take up some of their old plants. What I didn’t realize when I took these plants was that as strawberry plants get older their fruit production goes down. I get now why the farm was happy to have me dig up the old plants. Apparently the variety of strawberry plants I have only produce well for a few years. We will buy new plants for next year. Probably an ever-bearing variety.
Grapes didn’t do all that well but that’s because we didn’t water them properly. We did get one decent cluster of grapes from one of the three vines we have. My hope is to get more grape vines to boarder the garden with next year.
A garden is not complete without flowers, if you ask me. I love the colors and pleasant smells they bring to the garden. We planted a lot of varieties this year. We had Chamomile, Asters, Zinnias, Four O’Clocks, Hollyhocks, Amaranth, Sunflowers, Calendula and Dahlias. Sunflowers are a must for our summer garden. The plan for next year is to plant them every two weeks so that I they come up all summer. The saddest part about planting large sunflowers is that eventually they die and since they are large it’s very noticeable when they are dead. Hopefully planting them in succession will solve this problem.
Not only are flowers lovely to look and smell, many of them also are good for medicinal purposes. The plan is to plant more flowers that can be dried and added to my medicinal herb chest.
I’m so glad I finally finished this update! I’m not sure if you enjoy reading my updates as much as I enjoy writing them but I hope so. The great part about journaling your garden experiences is that you have a record of things to do and not to do for future gardening years. Besides this blog, I also have garden notebooks I record my experiences in. My notebooks are more for taking notes, writing out plans and drawing plans of my dream garden. If you aren’t already, I would encourage you to start journaling as well. You will not regret it :).
How did your summer garden grow? Are you growing a winter garden?