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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