The Garden in Review

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Well it’s been a long hot busy garden season, but the end is coming closer.  The nights are starting to cool off to the 60’s and the days are seeing fewer 100+ temps and more 80’s and lower 90’s (hey that’s actually considered cool in Arizona!).  All in all I’d have to say that the garden was pretty successful this year.  I started most of my seeds indoors under lights, then moved them out to the greenhouse as they got a bit bigger.  I did about three batches like this, starting the plants that took longest to mature first.  Some plants, like the zucchini and squash, I started in the greenhouse in the spring as temps warmed up a bit more.  I had a really good success rate and only lost a few seedlings- a big improvement over last year.

seedlings tomatoes peppers eggplant seedlings peppers

I think it really helped give the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants a jump start by starting the seeds indoors a bit earlier than usual.  By the time I put them out in the greenhouse they were already strong and healthy and able to handle the temperature variations.  I also took extra care to harden off all the seedlings before planting them in the garden.

hardening off peppers and cantaloupe

For the first day or so I set them outside in a sheltered spot for just a few hours, gradually working up to all day in full sun.  By the time Sal tilled the garden they were ready for the conditions they’d be living in 😉

newly planted tomatoes 2015

Sal cut the bottoms off of plastic pots and I put these over the newly planted tomatoes and peppers to give them additional protection from the wind and keep them a bit warmer.  It also made it very easy to water directly at the roots of each plant and protected them from crawling bugs.  None of the seedlings suffered from transplant shock or wind damage this season, and I think these pots had a lot to do with that.

back garden lettuce (2)

The lettuce in the back garden did really well and didn’t even begin to bolt until mid-July, which is just amazing considering the kind of heat we’ve had.  Of course I’ll be saving seeds from this batch!  The rapini did well too, but once the intense heat hit it quickly went to seed.  Last week I planted another crop which should go through fall.  Rapini definitely seems to prefer cooler temps.  I’m also trying collard greens for the first time.  I love trying new things and seeing just what I can do with them 😉

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And by July this is what the big garden looked like!  Down the center I have the butternut squash, which should give us a nice harvest in another month or so.  In spite of squash bugs and cucumber beetles the plants managed to do pretty well.  I did spray them with Neem on a regular basis, along with hand picking as many bugs as I could, and I think that really helped.

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And here you can see the carrots at the end and the onions next to them.  I just harvested the last of the red onions and they’re drying in the garage.  I harvested the yellow onions a week earlier and they’re down in the root cellar now.

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And the Japanese eggplant have done extremely well.  I just made a big batch of eggplant croquettes which turned out really well.  I’ve started harvesting peppers in the last week and they’re coming on strong now.  I’ve been harvesting tomatoes for some time now and have already made two batches of sauce.  And of course I now have my little garden helper, Dewey Dude, to keep me company while I’m working out there 😉

dewey in garden 2

Some things are coming to the end, like the zucchini and yellow squash, while others, like the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are just hitting their stride.  I’m already thinking about the fall garden though.  I’d like to plant some broccoli and Brussels sprouts along with some more kale in the next few weeks.  And by October it’ll be time to plant the garlic in the greenhouse again.

So you can see why I don’t have much time to blog about the garden- I’m too busy working in it!  I love being able to plant, grow, harvest, and cook with all these delicious veggies and herbs though.  It’s certainly worth the hard work and sweat that goes into gardening.  And speaking of cooking it’s about time I get some lunch on the table 😉

~Michelle of CreativeCritters
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