Garden Journal - June 15, 2016

Things are finally taking off in the garden....well, most things. It pains me to admit this, but I "gave up" on my ancho pepper (poblano) plants, which I grew from seed. They barely budged in growth and they had leaves spotted yellow. They should be much bigger by now and I've declared this "The Year of Pepper Success" (after years of "Pepper Failure") in the garden. So, I hung my head in shame and marched on over to one of the local nurseries and bought four ancho pepper plants. Tearing out my old plants tore out my heart....but gardening involves lots of failure. It's just the nature of things, I suppose.

See the latest garden tour in the video below.

This phase of the gardening season is filled with so much anticipation and a little anxiety. It feels good to see how things are starting to grow and bloom and bear fruit, but in the back of my mind I know that my garden is only as good as my ability to handle the next garden pest or disease. Being observant and acting quickly to address issues can be the difference between a mediocre harvest and a great one.

A couple of issues in the garden came up recently - leaf miners and slugs. The leaf miners have been digging tunnels in my beets, sorrel and nasturtium leaves. They're nasty. I wrote a post about how to get rid of them. They're pretty persistent though, and I still have them to some degree in my nasturtium. 

The slugs were having a ball with my basil, sunflowers and a couple of pepper plants. Just chewing and chewing holes. What did I do? I got them drunk and threw up barricades of eggshells. Thankfully, it worked! I haven't seen them since I did this, and I hope to not see them return.

I'm happy that in both cases, I was able to use organic/natural methods to deter pests. It's an important part of producing food. For me, if I can't do it this way, I don't want to do it at all.


Garden Highlights

  • Caiman, Monica and Sun Gold tomatoes have fruit on them.
  • My sad-looking lettuce that I grew from seed indoors is actually flourishing. I've had a couple of harvests of that and my beet microgreens so far.
  • Bell peppers are starting to show signs of fruit.
  • I replaced my previous ancho peppers with new transplants and while I was at it, made an impulse buy of banana pepper plants.
  • The celery root that I grew from seed and wasn't hopeful about because they were so small for so long are looking fabulous.
  • Leaf miner and slugs have been plaguing me, but I'm managing the issues.
  • Cucumbers are really looking good. Please let this be the year my cucumbers are successful!!
  • Squash is blooming - mostly with male flowers. Hoping some of the ladies start to show up to the party so we can have some great zucchini and yellow squash soon.

Tour the garden as it looks on June 15th

Potatoes growing in sacks

Potatoes growing in sacks

Raised beds are coming along.

Raised beds are coming along.

That's it for now. Happy Gardening! Let me know how your garden is growing.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine