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Kalyn's Kitchen

Warm Weather At Last – 2008 Garden Update #4

Healthy Tomato PlantIn late April when I posted my last Garden Update, I was excited to have vegetables planted so early in the season. Turns out I was overly optimistic about the weather, and I lost five of my tomatoes, plus a few cucumbers, squash, and peppers. About three-fourths of the plants did survive the freezing weather though, so I’ll probably continue to be an early-season planter, especially since my garden has a fence on three sides and this is the first year I’ve ever had major frost damage. The healthy celebrity tomato plant above didn’t seem bothered at all by the 26 degree temperatures, even though a plant right next to one this was completely dead.

I think there’s no danger of more frost with the very hot temperatures we’ve been having, so most of the vegetables are looking pretty happy now. I haven’t managed to get mulch around the raised beds yet so ignore the weeds that are starting to pop up! I’m probably going to invest in cocoa shell mulch, because I can’t resist the idea of the garden smelling like chocolate. Anyone have experience with this? I’ve heard that it not only smells good and looks nice, but also deters snails, which have been a problem for me in the past. If you have any recommendations for different types of mulch, I’d love to hear them in the comments after you check out the rest of the garden.

The Roma tomatoes had lots of frost-damaged leaves, but they all seem to have survived and are recovering. After replanting to replace the frozen plants, the tomato varieties I now have are Romas (4), Celebrity (2), Marglobe, Moscow, Mr. Stripey (2) and Brandywine.

This was early morning, and it’s kind of a fuzzy photo, but I hope you can tell the herbs are all happy, and I’ve already used rosemary, tarragon, parsley, and sage. In these two herb beds and along my fence I now have 2 types of sage, 3 types of oregano, 2 types of parsley, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, thyme, dill, fennel, summer savory, mint, and lots of basil. I also planted 2 rows of green onions in the herb beds, but there are only a couple of tiny sprouts showing so far.

Bed #1 has 2 Poblano peppers, 2 Tomatillos, and 4 burpless cucumbers (which I’m growing in tomato cages so they don’t over-run the other plants.) These beds are 4 feet by 10 feet, so they’re longer than they look in these photos.

Bed #2 has 2 bush cucumbers, 2 bell peppers, 2 white eggplant, and 2 black beauty eggplant. The cucumber on the left (front) isn’t happy though. I have no idea why, but I find cucumbers to be one of the hardest plants to get going every spring.

I’m excited about growing some things from seed, although I’ve used way too much seed and they all need to be thinned (I can’t quite bring myself to do it yet!) From the front, I have short rows of radishes, chard, rainbow chard, chard, red kale, radishes, red kale, arugula, spinach, watermelon radish, romaine lettuce, and spinach. Some of these are early season crops which will get pulled out to make room for the other plants to get bigger. I’m completely new at this so I may have made some mistakes in choosing how to arrange the plants!

The fourth bed has straightneck squash, zucchini, and 8-ball zucchini. Along my back fence I have 2 plants of the Really Big Squash I was so happy with last year, and along the east side of the beds I have 2 spaghetti squash plants. The west end has a huge compost pile, which I’m hoping to make better use of next year if I can manage to keep it turned well enough that it makes good compost.

Finally, I’m very excited to be growing fennel, a completely new plant for me, and also something I’ve never cooked. I’ve eaten it and have no idea why it’s never managed to land in my grocery cart, but I’m looking forward to trying it.

To see all my garden updates from 2006 and 2007, plus 2008 garden updates to date, use the tab for  Gardening.  No gardening for me today, since there’s been a lot of gardening but not much cooking going on around here, and I’m heading off to the kitchen!
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    27 Comments on “Warm Weather At Last – 2008 Garden Update #4”

  1. I use cocoa mulch on my flower beds in the front yard because it deters the cats. But as elise said, the smell fades fast, so I also get used grinds from our local cofee shop (starbucks will also give them to you for free) to spread over the mulch. The cats hate it on their paws so they avoid the beds. It may also help to deter snails. And your beds will smell like mocha!! LOL.

  2. Tuff-Stuff, thanks for the recipe. I’m posting it for others to see. For myself, I don’t eat potatoes or sugar, so I’ll have to think about how I can adapt this using other ingredients.

  3. Here’s a great fennel recipe.

    Ingredients: Potatoes (5), Fennel (2), Leeks (2), Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, Salt/Pepper, Sugar.

    Cut up the potatoes and fennel bulbs and blanche them in boiling water. Drain then throw them on a baking sheet. Cut up the leeks and sprinkle them on the potatoes and fennel. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the lot with a pinch of sugar as well as salt/pepper to taste. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour on 375 degrees (F). Delicious!

  4. I found your blog looking for recipes for tomatoes and I love it. I have spent the last hour just browsing all the neat stuff. Love the garden! So orginized. My wife and I just planted on Saturday. Im glad we waited it has been a cold spring here in Utah. We planted 67 plants this year for just my wife and I. I dont know what im going to do with them all.

  5. We’ve used cocoa mulch and luckily, our dogs never got to it. They prefer to eat all the fallen fruit!
    Your garden is looking so good now Kalyn, everything seems to be coming up well.
    We had problems with tomatoes too and realized that we were just over watering them. No frost here in CA, but they did get a fungus, which we treated immediately. They’re looking very good now.
    We put up our Garden Tour video! Come check out our garden! 🙂

  6. Elise, thanks for the tip about the cocoa shell mulch. If the weather cooperates, I plan to work on that this weekend. Very jealous to hear you are already getting zucchini! And yes, walls of water next year for sure!

  7. Hi Kalyn,
    So glad to get the update on your garden! I put down some cocoa shell mulch a few weeks ago and love it. You do need to spread it out in a pretty thin layer though, as it will tend to become moldy inside if the layer is too thick. After a few weeks you don’t smell the chocolate anymore, and the mulch gets even darker in color. I’ve also been planting marigolds in and around the plants. Supposedly they keep a lot of bugs away, though for some reason the ants have taken a liking to my zucchini plant. The zuke is already producing at least one a day, can you believe that? Next year remember – Walls of Water. They work!