How's Your Garden Growing (2011)?

July 21, 2011

Credit: Catherine Boeckmann
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How's your garden growing this year? Please share below! I asked this question last year and learned so much from our Almanac community. Here are my 2011 update and a few tips.

Despite the current heat wave (I feel for so many fellow gardeners!), my patch of New Hampshire had a nice, wet spring followed by more sun than we usually receive. 

The weather gave my small, raised-bed garden (10 x 10 feet) a great start. I bought only a small bag of compost to mix into the soil and supplemented from my own compost pile for the first time. I largely credit compost and soil preparation for the health of my garden plants.

I studied a couple of garden plot plans for ideas. I highly recommend the article, "Raised Garden Beds and Small Plots"—with 5 ways to grow more for less.

Lettuce: This year, I decided to grow more lettuce, as I love the light, buttery taste of garden-fresh salad. Once again, I didn't stagger the sowing of the lettuce enough, so I'll need to hand out baggies of lettuce to friends and colleagues. (Do the plants always catch up to each other?!)

I have to say that I LOVE my new salad spinner! TIP: Don't wash the lettuce until you're ready to eat. Then, swish lettuce gently in tepid water to remove the dirt and grit.

Broccoli: My broccoli didn't fare well this year; it seemed to bolt quite quickly: I pulled up the plants, composted them, and planted more beans. TIP: Before cooking broccoli, soak it in 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt to make that sure any bugs float out.

Zucchini: We just picked my very first zucchini yesterday! Last year, nothing happened because I planned the seeds WAY too close together. This year, I'm tickled to see all the yellow blossoms; I have a feeling that the extra zucchini will be shared with friends and colleagues, too! TIP: Patrol your zucchini patch daily and pick the squash when they're about 8 inches long. Feed your compost those baseball batsize zucchini and feel no guilt.

Beans:  All the beans have blossoms and are almost ready. To think that in my first year of gardening, I didn't understand that flowers were "good" for beans, yet signaled that broccoli was bolting! TIP: Pick beans every 2 or 3 days to encourage continued production. They'll have the best flavor if you harvest them in the morning.

Beets: What happens if your beets have large, beautiful leaves, but tiny roots? Uh-oh. Now I remember that I didn't go back to thin my beets again, and the roots are too close together. TIP (to self): Don't be afraid to thin! Oh, well, I actually enjoy the leaves more than the root. One of my best garden discoveries was that beet leaves taste even better than spinach.

The tomatoes are still green, the basil's small, and the carrots will be in the ground for a while. Otherwise, I'm just watering a few minutes before work, adding organic fertilizer every few weeks, and spraying the leaves with soapy water every few evenings to keep the bugs off.

Janice, the editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac, gave me a bag of dried chicken manure which she claimed would make plants go crazy. I added it again a few weeks later—and have got to say that this has been my best garden yet. Could it be the poop?

Hope you enjoy my garden photos. It would be great to see your pics. Just load them here (and select "Gardening")! 

Happy harvest. Remember, gardening is an ever-constant learning process! What did you plant in your garden this year? What worked and what didn't? Please share by posting below!

 

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Catherine, our New Media Editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 2008. She edits content on both this Web site, Almanac.com, and the companion site to The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids publication, Almanac4kids.com. She also pens the Almanac Companion enewsletters and keeps up with readers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Comments

Green Tomatoes

By SherriLou

I live in Tacoma, WA where we haven't had a whole lot of sun this summer. My tomato plants have alot of fruit but not getting red. I may end up with alot of green tomatos come September. On the other hand,
my hanging strawberries are doing wonderful!
Go figure - my favorite veg may not rippen.
There is always next season! Cheers

My 2011 Spring Garden

By Braveheart444

For the most part my Louisiana garden is growing bountifully with a few exceptions due mainly to the intense early heat this year. Rain has been a bit stingy but now looking much better.

ONIONS - White Bermuda and Red Sweets pleantiful but small.

POTATOES - A very nice crop of Red Lasodas. The vines were so lush and green.

SWEET POTATOES - Evangeline and Beauregards still growning. Now that we have had a few days of rain they are finally blooming and the vines very healthy.

BUSH BEANS - Contender - Wow what a crop. We picked and picked. A 50 foot row produced so many beans. We will be enjoying them well into fall.

PEAS - California Blackeyes #5 Very few peas at first but now with the rain beginning to fall my crop looks much better.

EGGPLANT - Black Satin - A steady harvest of plump beautiful fruit.

OKRA - Clemson Spinless and Cowhorn - Plants were very slow to start but now producing more. This is the first year that I have seen okra with no sticky juice inside. Must be from the lack of rain although I watered regularly.

TOMATO - Ah, the wonderful fruit. Brandywine, Celebrity, Rutgers, Big Boys, Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak and Marglobe. All tomato plants although very healthy appearing were very slow producing fruit. Blossom end rot was a real problem. I began a program of spraying them with a calcium product. We now have a bountiful harvest of these delicious gems.

BUTTERBEANS - Florida Speckled - Wow, the vines have taken over part of my garden. On poles they have grown to over six feet tall and four feet around. Blooms everywher.

LIMA BEANS - Jackson Wonder - Just now beginning to show some pods. Rain has really spurred them on.

PARSLEY - Flat Italian - Nice healthy looking bushes with tasty leaves.

SPINACH - Bloomsdale Long Standing - Started out nicely but the heat took its toll and left me with very little spinach.

SQUASH - Gentry - Nice healthy fruit. Very tasty and doing well.
- Pattypan Scallop Mix - Great squash, nice healthy fruit.

GRAPES - Several varieties not doing so well. Very light production on all varieties. The early heat this year and lack of rain seems to be the cause.

All in all I feel the quality of produce is a little less than last year but nontheless delicious.

Braveheart, thanks for

By Catherine Boeckmann

Braveheart, thanks for sharing. What a garden! It's great to hear which varieties worked for you and how you dealt with a few obstacles, such as the tomato blossom end rot. I'm now having a slug problem with squash and can't help but wonder what you'd do. Going to pull out the beer tonight and see if they take a swim!

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