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show me a garden that’s bursting into life


So, this year I planted my garden much later than I usually do. I had planned to do it May Long, but was up to my eyeballs in design work. I didn’t get my head above water till the end of June, at which point I planted slowly because I was completely burned out and planting seemed an insurmountable task, even though my garden really isn’t that big.

I didn’t bother with carrots, red onions, or green onions this year. By the time I had everything else planted, I just didn’t care any more. I’ll save the seeds for next year. I did plant yellow onions, but the row is overgrown with weeds I don’t feel like pulling. Next year when I plant them, I’m covering the seeds right away with mulch rather than waiting till they’re up to cover them. They’re strong, they’ll make it.

I’d planted seedlings inside: cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and zucchinis. The cucumbers, pumpkins, and zucchinis all tanked. Two peppers survived, and, surprisingly, most of the tomatoes survived. I put the tomatoes in pots and put them in the yard, assuming they’d die like everything else. They did not. At this moment, every one of them has little tomatoes growing.


I plan to plant only peppers and tomatoes indoors next year. The others are just not worth it and will be planted directly into the soil. One of the main reasons my seedlings don’t thrive is because we do not have any south-facing windows and therefore they get direct sunlight only a couple hours a day. I bought a couple cucumber seedlings but they’re barely doing anything. I’m hoping for home-grown pickles this year but I’m not keeping my hopes up.

I didn’t bother buying a zucchini plant since I still have a crap-ton of zucchini in my deep-freeze, but I did buy a pumpkin plant after I planted seeds straight into the soil and they didn’t seem to be coming up. Noah’s a huge pumpkin fan, so I just had to plant them. It turned out that one of the seeds did come up and so I have two different kinds. One for pies, and one that produces pumpkins that can be up to 100 pounds.

pie pumpkins
gigantic pumpkins

Other things that tanked? My kale and my potatoes. Because my garden apparently doesn’t want me to have home-grown boerenkool this year. My kale was eaten by some sort of bug I couldn’t see, and my potatoes were eaten by potato beetles.

potato beetle

I was told last year that marigolds kept potato beetles away, but even the potato plants that were entwined with marigolds got potato beetles. I don’t even know if I’m going to bother next year unless I have a fool-proof cure. I picked the beetles off and they came back. I cut down all my potato plants and burned them, and the beetles came back. The plants grew back and I picked off the potato beetles daily and they still became too much to handle. I’m going to dig them all up to make room for the pumpkin vines that are taking over everywhere. The husband of a friend of mine is a … whatever it’s called when someone knows all about things that grow. He said that they’ll keep coming back and are impossible to get rid of. So I’m hoping for a miracle.

A new-to-me item I planted this year is tomatillos. My Mexican friends grew them last year so this year when I was buying seedlings and saw them, I picked one up. I have no idea what they taste like, but I’ve already been given recipe ideas and I’m stoked to try them.

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you missed it, the method of gardening I use is called Back to Eden. My friend Jessica introduced me to it four (?) years ago and I’ve used it for the past three years. I really love it. It’s hard in the first stages, as seeds need to be planted in the soil and then covered when they’re up, but after everything is up and covered, it’s very low-maintenance. Very little weeding, very little watering. It’s fantastic. If you’re interested, you should watch their film. (It’s free.) I’ve seen it three or four times already and I’ll likely watch it again before next spring.

One of the benefits is that weeds are extremely easy to pull out. No digging, no leftover roots. (Ok, sometimes there are leftover roots, but not often.)


The two things that have been growing well aside from pumpkins and tomatoes are corn and beans.

child of the corn

The corn is only about a foot and a half tall but the beans have come up wonderfully and have already been producing. I picked a big bowl of them yesterday evening.


I’m planning to turn them into pickled dilly beans this evening. Dill grows wild in my garden, the only weed I like. I’m hoping some is still around when (if?) my cucumbers are ready to be picked. I have garlic growing, but it’s not quite ready to be harvested. I checked one out the other day, but it was much too small.

I’m excited for what is to be harvested, and hope some things exceed my expectations. I also hope I can plant earlier next year. Like, before July. I take a walk through the garden every morning to see what has produced or what has grown. It’s one of the highlights of my day.

It’s supposed to “feel like” 39°C/102°F this afternoon and I could not be more stoked. Here’s hoping heat is what is needed to make the slower plants grow. Give me heat waves or give me death!

title: chasing cars by snow patrol

Categories: the garden project

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jane Friday, August 15, 2014, 11:58 am

    Hey Jen: I love your garden!!
    My experience re onion from seed: they have never grown but I get good results from the onion sets from William Dam.
    Potato bug: Had them once, picked numerous times but DID get rid of them….none in future years. We are isolated from other people’s gardens though.
    Squash and cucumber starts: always tank on me. I even have to plant cucumbers three times outside but eventually early June and surrounded by snail bait they are growing!! Squash – as we have a short season usually fails but last year was wonderful – planted mid june.

  • Sarah Thursday, August 21, 2014, 5:02 am

    I’m always surprised / horrified how big the potato beetles are. I’m very glad I’ve never faced them in person!