The garden has been growing like crazy as the weather really, actually, finally warmed up and summer arrived. Looking at the photos from my last post (at the end of May) there is such a huge difference! The front beds are flourishing and the plants are so happy you can't see much dirt anymore, while the other beds around the yard are either totally stunted or covered in weeds, which is OK because the "money plants" are all out front in the good sunlight anyway. It's becoming very clear to me: compost is king. When my dad brought us a truckload of black leaf mulch in the fall, most of it ended up in the front, and that is definitely where the plants are happiest. The raised nature of the beds probably helps too. We planted tomato and pepper plants out back in what was mostly red clay with a little gypsum and topsoil mixed in, and they're hardly growing larger at all, so we actually moved a few of those plants out front to give them a fighting chance. The other two beds (one right at the base of our steps and the other along the driveway) are about to be dug up, as nothing of note is really growing except weeds, so I think maybe I'll try something non-edible...hydrangeas, perhaps?
One of the most exciting things happening right now is the growth of my tomato plants. Back in the winter when I was overzealous in my seed-buying, I purchased a few packs of heirloom seeds which I promptly attempted to start indoors. Seedlings emerged, but never got larger than an inch or so tall, even when I put them outside to get real sunshine. I planted a few of these seedlings in the front bed, when they were still tiny (which I know you aren't supposed to do, but I figured I'd try it) and they sat there, remaining an inch, maybe two inches tall, for weeks. Then, they actually started to grow! Now I have five substantial tomato plants with thick stalks and a few flowers coming on, all from those seeds. Combined with plants purchased at the corner store (including Mr. Stripey...PLEASE grow some fruit, Mr. Stripey!) we have 7 or 8 tomato plants out front getting big and strong. I have dreams of homemade spaghetti sauce, salsa, and a caprese salad or two...
We've also got a handful of pepper plants, some of which were also transplanted from the back of the house out front. I've picked a few super chilis which are beautifully orange and red (and even made Evin take a bite of one...he says it was pretty darn hot!) and there are some jalapeños and banana peppers growing nicely. Even if we don't get a bumper crop of anything this year, it has been such great fun to be involved in the entire process of our food, from preparing the garden, planting the seeds, tending the plants, and reaping the rewards of harvest. Finding "surprises" in the form of huge zucchini and squash, our first cucumber, and towering tomato plants in the garden after being away for the weekend is very exciting!
Obviously I have not been as diligent as I would have liked to be in my documenting of the garden, but I do frequently Instagram the harvests I gather. A few recent treasures below, and I hope to have an update soon on our first tomato & pepper harvests... :)