Backyard Garden Update

If you read my former post about being a reluctant gardener, you might like to know how my enthusiasm for spring planting turned out by August. Suffice to say I’m considering a perennial garden next year.

Success! First picking of heirloom tomatoes in August

Success! August, first picking of heirloom tomatoes. As a tribute to my mother who fed our family from her gardens for years, I photographed the tomatoes in one of her glass dishes.


8 bulbs planted in the fall successfully produced curly and tasty “scapes” which I chopped into scrambled eggs. I learned to pick the garlic bulbs out of the ground after the curly scapes straighten out. One bizarre bulb was not divided into separate sections, but one large round hunk of garlic that was easy to peel and chop. Now if I could just clone that one. I fine-chopped it into cold cucumber mint soup. The rest of the bulbs, although tasty were rather small, but that might have something to say about the soil quality.


I planted dill, parsley and basil (which my sister gave me from seeds grown in May in her indoor greenhouse). They straggled up a few inches in June, but disappeared when my husband thought they were weeds between the other plants and chopped them out with a hoe. I don’t need to tell you how the conversation went about that incident. The neighbours had to shut their windows.


Just about ready to pick in late August, in fact one is ready to pick and might not live on the vine by the end of today.  I was sure I bought red peppers too, but I don’t see a sign of them, although given time, the green ones may turn red and perhaps I didn’t buy green ones at all. Lesson: write down exactly what I bought to avoid confusion later.


Only one of my nephew’s from-seed heirloom tomatoes made it, and they are my first harvest this week (photographed above). I planted Cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and Beefsteak tomatoes, too – and in hindsight, they were too close together. They quickly overwhelmed the wire cages and have since been tied to the fence for support. This would have been okay if my husband hadn’t thought we needed more tomatoes and planted 2 more varieties in the same area. Let’s face it, when they are 3″ high, you can’t imagine your luck at having so many plants survive in a strangled mass looking for sunshine. I don’t need to tell you how the conversation went about the extra tomato plants. All sorts of sarcastic shots like, “when were you a farmer?


Success. In May, I doled out the fragile seeds about 2 cm from the surface. I was sure the rainstorm the next day had scattered the seeds. But sweet nature delivered a lovely row of green onions that lasted for 2 weeks of August harvesting. I chopped them into just about everything but desserts.


My green-thumb sister gave me swiss chard seeds. I carefully laid the seeds in a row, worrying again about the deluge of rain that came the next day. For a few weeks I watched a tipsy row of plants rise up, and finally bloom into orange flowers! To my sister’s credit, there were actually two 2 swiss chard plants that grew among the mix up of flowers seeds.  I culled them and chopped dark green leaves into the fry pan or steamer as an extra vegetable. Hubby wanted to tear out the flowers, but I liked them. They’ve been blooming for weeks and make a simple table bouquet.


In May I purchased 9 slim bamboo poles, forming 3 triangle structures for the beans to grow up. It was thrilling when the beans I’d planted around the bottom of the poles sprouted about 3 – 4 inches. The next day, I found them nibbled down to zilch. I’ve never seen a rabbit in our neighbourhood, but there is at least one.  The triangular stark bamboo structures look very nice beside the orange flowers. I don’t need to tell you how the conversation went when I defended the aesthetics to my hubby.

I can see we’re going to have peppers and tomatoes for weeks, which is satisfying enough for our first attempt with vegetables. I had to learn the principles of home gardening by making a few mistakes.

8 responses to this post.

  1. I’m so impressed, Mary! The only thing I planted this year was Cottage ‘n Country Grass, a blend specific to this Zone 5 of fescues and rye grasses, that do not require mowing and can be walked on. I had a similar fright with a deluge the day after sowing.


  2. Yay! Another food grower in the fold! It’s a commitment but worth it, wouldn’t you agree? And the standards are low because most of us haven’t a clue what we’re doing. You did exceptionally well… (:

    I love that you honoured your mum… I think of mine often when I’m scuffling about among the beans and blackberries. Would so welcome her advice now. Can’t say that was always the case…


    • I experimented with slicing the “way too many” tomatoes from the garden and placing them on an oiled tray and slow-baking for 3 hours (250). Storing in a jar with olive oil. We’ll see.


  3. I enjoyed your post, Mary, the hard-earned wisdom and the humour — and not being much of a gardener myself, I could relate. I laughed, but picked up some tips as well. The tomatoes look delectable in that special bowl. Enjoy.


    • Like me, you are probably amazed that you don’t have the gardening gene that was strong in the former generation. We can’t be good at everything.


  4. Sounds like you did a fine job. Great post…happy harvesting!


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