Some recent rains in this very dry summer have the garden looking lush and producing well! Below you can see one of the newer “neighborhoods” planted this year, including one of nine hazelnut trees, a gooseberry bush, three hostas, nasturtiums, kalette, kale, comfrey, calendula, zephirine rose, and blackeyed peas. The dead looking matter around the base of the hazel is cut down comfrey, which adds nutrients back to the soil to help this tree thrive:
This area was originally a mass of tree stumps and so many dandelions that it was constantly going to seed. In 2014, I put out large swaths of landscape cloth and covered it with mulch. The only thing growing there was my old garden tower, but as the mulch and repeated layers of mulch broke down, I noticed extremely dark, rich soil there. Not planting anything seemed like a waste of good yard space, plus I have a view of that area from my writing office.
The difference in growth between this area and the new yard in front of the blue house is striking, as this original yard has been sprayed twice yearly for 3.5 years with a farm grade fish emulsion and soil conditioner a friend of mine invented, whereas the other yard has only gotten two treatments and began with crappy soil. The gooseberry above (bottom left corner) was planted at the same time as the one in front of the blue house, but is three times as full! That gives me hope for the blue house yard, which just needs more TLC to catch up to its neighbor.
Above, you can also see a row of dwarf apple trees and some of the backyard gardens. Here’s a closer look at those:
Zinnias have finally made a strong, regular appearance, shown here with various chards, cabbage, tomato, French sorrel, nasturtium, borage and calendula. Behind them you can see our two pokeweed sentinels by the back gate, more comfrey and borage, and just a hint of blueberry bushes and raspberries to the upper left:
Cushaw squash has begun its journey to the sun. These are the extremely drought tolerant vines that produced five toddler sized squash last summer with me completely ignoring them. You can see one of those below, alongside Egyptian walking (all over the place) onions, sea kale, tomato, eggplant, more borage, and kohlrabi, with rhubarb in the back and another triple tiered bed to the upper right containing various peppers, Thai basil and a volunteer melon of some sort:
I’ve been harvesting, freezing, juicing, making falafel white scallop squash “fries” in the convection oven, and today marks the first pickles of 2016:
(No, I did not juice that entire homegrown beet! I used about a third, and that pile of homegrown produce (except three stalks of celery) made 1.5 pints of green juice. Mmmm, so fresh! The white scallop squash “fries” helped me use up some falafel mix that needed to go. I just tossed strips with a bit of olive oil and the mix, then baked at 400 and finished with a broiler until crispy. They went really well with a homemade vegan ranch dressing over salad greens, fresh tomato and a cucumber.)
The squirrel planted giant sunflowers out back have reached at least ten feet! You can see them below with the white scallop squash plant (bottom) and the “ideal companion plant” borage, which has pretty much taken over here. The bees love it, so I’m getting loads of pollination this year:
Despite the enormous sunflower, the three Brussels sprout plants growing under it appear to enjoy my neglect:
The echinacea by our front door is in full bloom…
…and every morning begins with me opening the curtains and calling out, “Hello, morning glories! You’re looking glorious!”
Wishing you abundant beauty and deliciousness!