Garden Journal - July 19, 2016
Garden - Back

Garden - Back

More plants in back you can't see in the first picture. (Chairs are to protect plants from the flying basketball from the neighbor's games in their driveway.)

More plants in back you can't see in the first picture. (Chairs are to protect plants from the flying basketball from the neighbor's games in their driveway.)

The Garden Beds along the side - WAY overgrown

The Garden Beds along the side - WAY overgrown

I'm just going to come right out and say that I'm feeling a little garden envy these days. I think the beginning of the "summer harvest" time feels this way for me. I am so excited for what's growing in my garden. Everything feels great, and then.....I see pictures of what other people in my zone are harvesting in their small gardens and I can't help but think, "How did they get eggplant so soon? Mine are just starting to show signs of fruit." or "How come they have a barrel of cucumbers, but I've only had a few?" Stupid, right? Truth is, I'm so excited to see other people gardening and growing their own food. Ehhh... I think I'm just an impatient person when it comes to gardening. I've got to work on that.

This is the beginning of the peak season for most things I'm growing. I've had some smaller cherry (Sun Gold) tomatoes in the last few weeks, but got my first big "Jersey-Sized" tomato - one of my Caiman tomatoes. Sliced it up with some mozzarella and basil from the garden....Yum. I have a few Monica tomatoes ripening, so within the next week or so, I'll be taking those in too.

First big tomato - Caiman Tomato

First big tomato - Caiman Tomato

What's visibly growing in the garden now:

  • Sweet Banana Peppers
  • Lady Bell Peppers
  • Sunflowers, Marigolds and Nasturtium
  • Eggplant (just the beginnings)
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Beans
  • Peas
My VERY first tomatoes of the season - Sun Gold tomatoes

My VERY first tomatoes of the season - Sun Gold tomatoes

What's NOT doing well?

  • The two yellow squash I harvested actually were a little tough. I tried baking them and it just didn't work well. So, I have a few more squash growing. I'll try to make sure they pollinate well with hand-pollination to get good fruit.
  • Lettuce - it's starting to bolt. So, I planted some new lettuce from seed tape. Will see how that goes. Squirrels often dig up loose seeds I plant so I'm hoping this will help.
  • Cucumbers - My plants are totally overgrown (see the video), but I've gotten three Jackson cucumbers, good for pickling. So far, just made refrigerator pickles with them. (Haven't tasted them yet...)
  • One of my Caiman tomatoes had blossom end rot. I plucked it off and fed the soil with some calcium in the form of eggshells. The others growing on that plant look OK for now, so I hope they're OK.
  • The potatoes seem to have gotten really scraggly. I think some white flies got to them, but it's also sort of natural for them to get this way too. I went through this last year, as you can see from my "Potato Harvest Day" post last year. Still optimistic I'll get a great harvest.

This is the first season I'm growing flowers, which is working out really well. I'm particularly happy with my sunflowers. As you may have seen earlier, I had a VERY bad slug problem. They were demolishing the sunflower leaves. I took care of them with some beer and eggshells and thankfully, the plants recovered.

I also started composting! I've wanted to do this for a while and finally got down to doing it. I assembled a tumbler and have a pail in the kitchen to collect scraps. I can't believe how much "waste" I'm reusing now that will be returned to the soil.

Well, that's it for now. Hoping I'll be able to report an abundant harvest in my next entry!

The compost tumbler I assembled and put out back.

The compost tumbler I assembled and put out back.

The kitchen pail for scraps.

The kitchen pail for scraps.

Loving the sunflowers that are attracting pollinators 

Loving the sunflowers that are attracting pollinators 

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