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Garden Update

6 Nov

I promised it wouldn’t be another 3 months before my next garden update, didn’t I? ūüėČ

I wanted to share the exciting news about my new babies!

First, baby pumpkin:

I hand-pollenated this sucker last week and I'm SO pleased to see it growing!

And then there’s my baby watermelons.¬† Assuming they continue to grow as they should, we’ll have watermelons in December or January!

I just realized I should have put a quarter, or a ruler, or something in the photo so you could have some perspective. This is about 4 1/2 inches long right now.

And this one's smaller - just under 3 inches long right now!

And then there’s my back yard.¬† This is my tomato bed.¬† As you can see, it’s very different than it was.¬† In the back you’ll see the Sungold plant – it’s my original plant that I’ve had since the springtime, but I cut it way back.¬† I harvested my first two fruit off it this week, and I’m hoping that the recent spat of hot, hot, hot weather helps promote some more fruit set!¬† You’ll see a Paul Robson tomato plant, too, that I harvested three fruit from last week.¬† The eggplant is still next to¬†the house, too.

Here are my brussels sprouts and a¬†pot of lettuce¬†– I hope that the hot weather hasn’t messed these cold-weather veggies¬†up!

And here’s our artichoke plant, growing right back up around this year’s first plant (that obviously is dry and dead).

Yes, that’s a lot of grass and weeds.¬† They kind of took over with all the rain we had in October.¬† Oh well, we did our best!¬† We’ve also got arugula, broccoli, and another couple of tomatoes, beets, and the leftover eggplants and peppers (still producing, as is the okra).¬† This year’s garden has given us so very much gorgeous produce; it’s totally worth the work and expense! ūüôā

Garden Update!

27 Oct

I’m so bad.

I haven’t blogged about my garden in THREE MONTHS.

Not only three months, but the most awesomely exciting three months my little garden saw for the entire year.

THREE MONTHS!

And I’m going to try to distill it down to an update that doesn’t have you scrolling for days.

I said “try”, ok? ūüėČ

Unfortunately I’m looking through my photos and realizing I should have taken so many more.¬† Where are the pictures of the last of the cucumbers?¬† Or of the artichoke shoots springing out of the ground next to the dead stalks, like little phoenixes?¬† (For the record, the reason the dead stalks are still sitting in my garden is because they were too hard to cut with my little cutter and I couldn’t find the saw, and now they’re just too close to the new plants).¬† Or the brand new plants I just brought in, or the old ones that have suddenly sprung forth new life…¬† Or all the basil plants I spent hours pulling last week because they were just too huge and overgrown and blossomy?

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

First things first!

My 24 pound watermelon!

We harvested most of our watermelons during August.  The first two were 24 and 18 pounds, respectively.  We had a little party to celebrate, and crack them open:

My Daddy cutting into the melon

STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL yellow flesh on the melon. My mom was worried to taste it at first, thinking it might be strange, but it was SO sweet and good!!!!!

I distributed slices of this melon to my neighbors and my grandmother and great aunt and uncle.

The following week my husband was walking into the house when he noticed a big CRACK in the third melon in the yard Рit had split right open under its own weight!  It was around 20 pounds as well, and surprisingly perfect (we were afraid the flesh would be mushy and overripe, and also that bugs might have infested it, but we cut off the split and the rest of the melon was wonderful).

It cracked open! Oops!

The fourth melon (the one you can just barely see in the background of this photo) didn’t fare so well – it, too, split open, but by the time we noticed it, it had rotted (it was quite a bit smaller than the rest and I’m not sure how long it was sitting there, split, before I threw it in the trash).¬† I saved the seeds – hopefully we’ll be able to grow more melons next year!¬† There a little more to come about the melons, but I’ll come back to that in a bit…

This is how my pumpkins looked in August, the day I harvested my first two melons:

Ripening pumpkin

Ripening pumpkin

Yes, that’s powdery mildew you see in the photos.¬† No, I haven’t taken care of it yet.¬† I keep meaning to spray milk solution on it (thanks Dana!) but I haven’t had a chance to just do it.¬† The plants seem to be fighting back pretty well, though, so I’m not super concerned – I think it’s just an occupational hazard of a small garden and a lot of dew.¬† That’s also a good deal of grass poking up in the photos – we seem to have lost the battle against the crabgrass, especially with all the rain we’ve been getting this season.¬† We don’t have time to pull it all so we just have decided to ignore it as best we can.¬† It’s not pretty, but so far it doesn’t seem to be choking our vegetables.

By the end of September, my pumpkins had fully ripened.

Ripe pumpkins!

I finally cut them off the plant about two weeks ago, partially because I didn’t really know what to do with them, and partially because they just looked so pretty.¬† But I thought perhaps it would promote further growth of the plant if I took them off, and I didn’t want any neighborhood kids to get any ideas just before Halloween!

Our smaller pumpkin, weighing in at 16 pounds. It's so pretty and perfect!

Our larger pumpkin, weighing in at 20 pounds. This was the one farthest from our front door. It's easily one of the most beautiful pumpkins I've seen!

My husband wants to carve these guys up on Sunday, but I’m 99% sure I want to save them and cook with them.¬† They’re Magic Lantern type, which is supposed to be just fine for eating…¬† But maybe I’ll break down and let him carve one of them? ūüôā

We had a lot of comments over the last two weeks – “You harvested your pumpkins?” – from passers-by.¬† It makes me so happy that we brought smiles to the faces of random neighborhood-goers.

The same day that we harvested the pumpkins, we harvested a BUNCH of butternut squash.¬† These squash came off of two plants I grew from seed, so I’m especially proud of them (my pumpkins were from transplants).¬† The squash in this photo were literally taken right from the ground and lined up, so there are some dirt smears and wood chips on them, but you can see the variation in size and shape – I loved that we harvested a single-serving size and one big enough for a family of four at the same time!

We harvested nine butternut squash of different sizes that day too!

We also grabbed the very last, tiny (in comparison to the others) watermelon out of the yard.¬† I’m not sure if it’s good – we still have yet to cut into it (we should do that tonight!) – but it looks and sounds pretty…¬† What a strange harvest!¬† I love San Diego!

Yes, these were all harvested the same day: 2 pumpkins, 9 butternut squash, a watermelon, 2 eggplants, and a pepper

That night I made a butternut squash soup for dinner, with sage browned butter drizzled on top.

YUM

I really don’t have a recipe for this – basically I roasted the squash in the oven, peeled and cut it, and pureed and simmered it with broth.¬† I finished it with a little cream and then served it with the sage browned butter (basically just sage leaves from the garden cooked in butter until the butter solids turned color and the sage was crispy).¬† The photo is a little dark but it was SO good.

Now for the things I don’t have photos of…

I pulled up all the dead cucumber plants, and the dead tomatillo, and two of the dead tomatoes.¬† I pruned back the Sungold plant like crazy (I was going to pull it but noticed a ton of green shoots with little blossoms and so I left it).¬† I also cut off a few shoots and stuck them in water to root.¬† It looks like they may have been successful, and I’ll plant one this weekend (and hopefully bring the other to my parents).

I’ve planted brussels sprouts, two more kale, another few tomatoes (early varieties, the first of which has a red fruit just waiting to be picked tonight!), and some more lettuce.¬† I also have broccoli waiting to be planted, and some more beets (I actually need to pull the beets I planted during the summer and plant these new ones in their place).¬† We’re still getting okra and eggplant, even though we’ve been having unseasonably high rains and unseasonably low temperatures.

And we have a baby watermelon!¬† It’s about 4 inches long right now, and perhaps 3 inches across.¬† The plant seems to be thriving with the rain and so far it’s growing well.¬† I hope that it continues to – wouldn’t it be a trip to have a home-grown fresh watermelon in December or January?

We also have two baby pumpkins – sure enough, the plant started blooming like crazy shortly after I cut off the ripe fruit, and had its first female blooms this week.¬† One of the female blooms was (hopefully) fertilized on Monday while I was at work.¬† This morning I noticed another one as I was walking to my car, so I quickly pulled a male flower and hand-fertilized it.¬† Hopefully we’ll have fresh pumpkins in December or January too!

I’ll try to take photos of the watermelon and pumpkin babies, and maybe of the back yard too…¬† And hopefully share sooner than 3 months next time!

 

A Big Gardening Week

24 Jul

Wow…¬† What an awesome week for my garden!

First, the food…

Saturday we had dinner with my parents, sister, and grandmother.¬† I brought over a ton of produce – artichokes, squash, squash flowers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers, as well as rosemary we used in cooking chicken – and we had a feast.¬† We boiled the artichokes with garlic, onion, and herbs, grilled the squash alongside chicken and polenta squares¬†(my sister’s express request for her pre-birthday dinner), had a big salad, and made the year’s first batch of fried squash flowers.¬† A few years ago, the last time I actually had a garden, we made a batch or two of them, but since we haven’t had readily-available blossoms since ’07, these were a really exciting and fun treat.¬† Obviously not something you’d make daily (because, um, they’re fried) but totally worth the messy stove.

Thursday night we had ratatouille, with our first creamy eggplant (everything but the onion and garlic were garden-harvested).

Yesterday I made tomato sauce with five big Black Krum tomatoes, and dinner last night was carnitas burritos with veggies, with a filling made from our first tomatillo harvest and some of our peppers.¬† I also made another set of pickles, since I’ve taken a dozen cucumbers out of the garden in the last week!¬†

Now on to the garden itself…

The Black Krum¬†and Isis tomatoes have produced their first ripe fruits.¬† There are ripening fruits on the Kellogg’s Breakfast and Camp Joy plants too, and Sungold has produced about¬†7 pounds of beautifully ripe cherry-sized tomatoes over the last month and a half!

The bean vines are going nuts – I’ve harvested about three pounds of big beautiful green beans!¬† Likewise, most of the pepper plants are full of fruit.¬† And the cucumber plants together have produced something like 15 pounds of cucumbers.¬† Likewise, the artichoke plant is producing consistently – we’ve gotten a dozen chokes from the two plants that have flowered, and, with tons of little ones sprouting on the sides now, plan to eat these for a while.¬† Interestingly we seem to have a far smaller problem with pincher bugs this year in our chokes – I wonder whether it has anything to do with the physical barrier (the weed cloth) we put down.

The first butternut squash didn’t actually set – but over the last two weeks we’ve seen more female flowers on that plant than I’ve ever seen before.¬† Luckily, since it wasn’t producing any male flowers to pollenate them, I was able to use the summer squash plants in the backyard to pollenate.¬† I wasn’t sure it would work, but it did – and we’ve got nine baby butternuts on the plant right now!¬† You can see that both pumpkin plants in the bed next to the butternut squash seem to be doing well – there’s actually a baby fruit on the smallest (middle) plant.¬† The tall plant across from the squash appears to be a bush variety (it’s called Magic Lantern but I don’t recall seeing anything about it being a bush rather than a vine) of pumpkin.

Baby butternut!

You can see my "bush" pumpkin here... This photo is actually a couple of days old, though, because the butternut squash has encroached on the pumpkins' space already!

Last week I got curious about the watermelons in the front yard and brought out my antique kitchen scale.¬† I tried to be as careful as possible, and gravity was working against me¬†(the watermelon kept trying to roll downhill!) but I weighed the largest melon at about 13 pounds.¬† I haven’t seen any signs of it being ripe yet – I’m hoping I don’t miss them!

My biggest watermelon! ~13 pounds!

The Jack Be Little pumpkin is already getting really big.¬† I caged it this week (right after I took this photo) in hopes that when it sends out tendrils it’ll climb up the cage rather than out all over my patio.¬† Considering that it only ever sprouted over 4th of July weekend, I’m impressed with the size of this little guy.¬† Can’t wait for my mini pumpkins!

Jack Be Little pumpkins! Took me three tries to get this to grow from seed but now they're happy as clams!

The potted Sugar Baby watermelon (grown from a seed, just like my Jack Be Little) has set its first fruit.¬† I made a little “sling” out of a piece of panty hose to keep it supported (hush now, it’s not meant to look pretty!).¬† Hopefully this will help it to stay on the plant long enough to ripen!

My homemade watermelon sling!

My sunflowers are getting tall – currently they’re about waist-high on me.¬† They’re supposed to be an heirloom variety with several different blooms of various sizes and shades.¬† Can’t wait to see what colors the¬†blossoms are!¬† I’m hoping I can figure out how to properly harvest the seeds from these guys without bugs laying their eggs inside.¬† Last time I grew sunflowers (big giant yellow ones, taller than the house), I let the heads dry on the stem, and when we tried to harvest the seeds they were overrun by larvae.¬† Ick!

Sunflowers are waist-high!

Two weeks ago the heat was so crazy that my lettuce all bolted.¬† This week I pulled it up and planted some new things¬†– asparagus peas (which I’ve never tried, but the teeny red flowers were so pretty I had to get them), more beets (I harvested my last two earlier this week) and two mystery plants that were on a table of mixed vegetables at the nursery with no tags and no like plants.¬† I think one is celeriac and the other is kale.¬† Of course since they just went in the ground it’ll be a little bit before I can truly see.¬† (sorry, no photos yet of my mystery plants or asparagus peas!)

My harvest for yesterday was so colorful and gorgeous!

Harvest! Several Black Krum tomatoes, plus some Isis tomatoes and more Sungolds, an artichoke, two small creamy eggplants, some cucumbers and peppers, our first tomatillos, and an okra!

I’ve also harvested squash and beans this week, along with another eggplant and several more tomatoes.¬† We’re really getting into the summer season here and my garden is thriving!

Squash and Cucumbers and Tomatoes, Oh My!

13 Jul

I got back last night from two days away with friends.¬† Today I was feeling hung over (the sleep kind of hangover, not the drunk kind of hangover – we only slept about 2 1/2 hours the night before last, as we were making custom tee-shirts for our friend’s Disneyland birthday) and it was 80+ degrees at my house (no air conditioning, and yes I’m aware that on the East Coast it’s been far warmer for the last week, but here it’s been in the low 60s…¬† so it was a huge temperature jump and my body really didn’t like it).¬† So I didn’t really get off the couch until a half hour or so ago.

I knew my poor plants desperately needed to be watered (although my husband was home, the garden really is my baby… I think if I gave him specific instructions he’d have remembered, but watering was not something he’d have done on his own), but I was completely gobsmacked when I walked out the back door.

First, the not-so-good news.¬† The Black Seeded Simpson lettuce has pretty much all gone to seed.¬† I cut two stalks off that had fallen over onto my Swiss Chard and we’re having salad for dinner; I’m thinking¬†I have another three or four days at most before I really have to yank them out.¬†

Lettuce is all about ready to be pulled out

Sadly, mildew has attacked my tomatoes with a vengeance – I thought I’d been successful in cutting off all the diseased leaves, but I think last week’s bout of cold damp weather really hit them hard.¬† I sprayed them with a baking soda solution this evening and I’m hoping that they’ll continue to do okay.¬† And some little critter apparently has made my garden his home, digging a small hole through the weed cover and into the ground.¬† When I’m done with my watering, hubby plans to put the hose down there and see what comes out – I’m a little scared to do so, though, since it’s definitely a smaller hole than¬†a gopher would make (so I’m thinking it may be reptilian).

I don't want to see what comes out when my hubby puts the hose down this hole...

Now for the good news.

This is tonight’s harvest:

HARVEST!

Yes, that’s all from tonight – and I made sure before I left on Sunday that anything that was ripe was pulled.¬† So this has all ripened over the last two days.¬† Two large white scallop squash, two large green cucumbers, five small lemon cucumbers, a bunch of large green beans, at least a pound of very ripe Sungold tomatoes, the third ripe Tequila Sunrise pepper, and two very exciting additions: our first two ripe Cubanelle peppers and our first Black Krum (I realize it’s probably not 100% ripe, but I was too excited to wait to pull it – there’s another one that’s nearly ripe on the plant, and I’ll wait for a couple of days to pick it).

HUGE harvest.  So very exciting!

We also have our very first eggplant growing:

Eggplant!

And our first butternut squash!

Baby butternut squash!

The watermelons are looking good, too – they’re getting gigantic…¬† I keep looking for signs that one of them has ripened, but so far no dice.

Watermelon vines!

And it looks like we’ll have to call an Artichoke Party at my parents’ house this weekend (every year when there are a ton of artichokes and I don’t know what to do with them we have a sort of impromptu party with my parents and my sister and my grandmother, who all love them¬†as much as we do – we make some sort of protein and maybe grill up some polenta and boil a ton of artichokes and eat them until we can’t eat any more).¬† Two big ones are on the plants, with a ton of smaller ones.¬† YUM.

Artichokes!

We also have three purple bell peppers on the plant, and they’re getting bigger by the day.¬† Can’t wait to stuff them!

Bell pepper

And the Jack Be Little pumpkin sent up its first true leaves!

Pumpkin leaves

The sunflowers are getting tall too!

Sunflowers!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make my dinner…¬† Salad straight from the garden!

I Love My Garden!

2 Jul

It’s time for another round of garden photos…¬† It’s crazy how much it’s grown just in the last couple of weeks!¬† Unfortunately these photos aren’t winning any awards, but you get the idea…

The tomato plants grew much, much faster than anticipated, and, despite being caged, were taking over and invading the walkway and each others’ space, so I bought some sturdy 5′ stakes and tied them up.¬† I’ve read that crowding the stems can contribute to disease, but as you can see there were already some spots on the stalks before I tied them up; this will at least allow me to access them better and the fruit won’t droop.¬† Also, I’ve had success in the past brewing a garlic “tea” to spray my plants with; it helps slow the growth of disease without the use of chemicals.¬† If you look really closely you might be able to catch a glimpse of some of the beanstalks behind the last tomato plant; I have to say I didn’t expect the growth the tomatoes experienced in such a short time frame, so the beans aren’t doing quite as well as I’d hoped.¬† Still, there are a few tiny beanlets on the vines, and several flowers.¬† I’ll just need to be super careful getting to them!

The tallest tomato branches are now taller than me... And FULL of fruit. CRAZY!

The pepper plants are all starting to mature peppers; you can see the pretty orange Tequila Sunrise in the background, along with the Purple Bell plant in the foreground.¬† Something I wasn’t aware of when I harvested my first bell pepper earlier in the month is that this particular strain of bell peppers evidently has fruit that turn purple and then mature; the first pepper I picked was green on the inside, and very very bitter.¬† Since then I’ve seen three small peppers turn a dark aubergine; they’ve all continued to get larger, so here’s hoping the next one I pick will be tasty!¬† You might also notice the lemon cucumber behind the Tequila Sunrise.¬† It’s getting HUGE and setting fruit like crazy.¬† The last time I grew lemon cucumbers (and Isis tomatoes, for that matter), the plant barely grew at all and only set a handful of fruit.¬† Now it’s bursting!

Peppers and cucumbers and tomatillos, oh my!

The squash bed is full of life, too.¬† The largest artichoke plant has a TON of small chokes on it, and I just saw my first choke on the second plant today.¬†¬†The biggest squash plant has leaves more than a FOOT across!¬† We also just harvested the first patty pan squash – you might be able to just see it in the photo.¬† The malabar spinach is climbing its trellis and there are a ton of small flowers on it.¬† Truthfully I haven’t harvested any spinach; I think I’m just too interested in what it’s going to do next!

What you can't see are all the teeny tiny artichokes on the biggest plant!

The front of the house is coming along nicely; the big plant on the left is¬†a butternut squash, grown from seed planted in May.¬† Unfortunately none of the pumpkin seeds I attempted to grow took root (although I did¬†plant seeds – again – for¬†Jack Be Little pumpkins in a big pot in the back yard last week, so we’ll see if those sprout), so I finally broke down and bought a Magic Lantern and a Casper.¬† That’s the white one in the middle.¬† I know that the vines will eventually intertwine and it’s a slightly small space for three winter squash, but I love the look of a big mess of vines (the watermelons look fantastic!).

The front yard; from left to right, butternut squash, Casper white pumpkin, and Magic Lantern pumpkin

And the watermelons?¬† Best idea we ever had.¬† Every night we hear people walking by commenting on how big they’re getting – and several of our neighbors have commented to us that they love looking at them!¬† The yard is green and pretty – the vines are taking up almost the whole side – and there are currently four little melons growing like crazy.¬† Literally every time we go outside it seems like one of the melons has grown an inch or more.¬† I am hopeful that the biggest one will be ripe in time for our July 4th dinner with friends, but since I’ve never had luck growing watermelon before I’m not really sure I’ll be able to tell!¬† The last watermelon I planted ended up with a single softball-sized fruit that rotted and split open instead of ripening, so I’ve already succeeded with these two!

Pretty melons!

Like I said, we’re having friends over this weekend, to eat in our garden.¬† And eat from the garden; we’ve got pickles from my first-ever batch this week, and we’ll have a salad, complete with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and chive flowers (YUMMY), even if nothing else is ready yet.¬† So exciting!

Today’s harvest: 5 lemon cucumbers (the two largest went to our former neighbors and friends, B & D), a beautiful white patty pan summer squash (these taste similar to zucchini but are actually a little milder, to my taste…¬† I’d never had one before I met my husband but his grandfather used to grow them and they’re¬†a favorite in his family), two artichokes, and a couple of little orange Sungold tomatoes.¬† I’ve been hoarding these so that we have enough of them for Sunday’s dinner!

Harvest time!

Harvest!

22 Jun

Updated at 10:10 am; hopefully the photos are showing up correctly now and not smushing together…¬† Sorry if it posts twice on your reader!

I harvested my first big haul from our garden this past weekend; I filled up my jumbo 6 quart vintage tupperware bowl to overflowing with lettuce¬†– twice.¬† Some of our nine heads of Red Leaf Romaine and Black-Seeded Simpson were two feet across!¬† I also harvested several tiny yellow tomatoes from our Sungold plant and a couple of handfuls of basil.¬† I’ve previously pulled a few sprigs of parsley and some thyme and chives off their respective plants, and we had a few strawberries (I don’t know that they like their pot very much, unfortunately).

However,¬†yesterday was our first real “harvest”, with a quantity of different yummy produce straight from the back yard.

First, photos of the yard as it is right now.¬† You’ll remember that this is how my tomatoes used to look:

The tomato bed a MONTH ago

 Today, it looks like this:

This is the same bed, one month later.

¬†I know it’s from a different angle and you can see the hedge my landlord butchered (and the house next door – oops!) in the lower photo…¬† But you can see what my neighbor meant about the elves coming in the middle of the night to make things grow.¬† It’s like a jungle!¬† The rest of the old photos of the garden can be found here; but there are a few more new ones:

The pepper bed isn't quite as dramatic as the tomato bed, but you can see that there's a ton of fruit on the plants! Pretty soon there will be sunflowers popping up by the fence in back - they're already almost a foot high!

Look at how big those artichokes have gotten! The middle squash is getting pretty huge too, and the spinach in the back is vining up the trellis!

¬†As you can see, our combination of weed control fabric and wood chip mulch hasn’t worked to completely keep the yard grass-free.¬† Unfortunately the grass in this yard is just too darn persistent.¬† But we have far less grass right now than we would have, if we hadn’t prepared the beds as we did.¬† And since we snaked soaker hoses underneath the fabric, we’re able to water deeply at all hours of the day.¬† Obviously the plants like the garden setup!

Now, on to my harvest:

Yum!

Yes, that’s all from yesterday.¬† A huge yellow beet (planted back in April; later this year I plan to plant more for this winter), our first artichoke of the season, another strawberry, one more yellow tomato, some Thai basil, a squash flower, and our first “ripe” pepper (purple bell) and cucumbers (two small pickling-type and one lemon cucumber… mmmm, my favorite!).¬†

We had a nice salad at dinner and used as much of the produce as we could.¬† Everything tasted incredible except for the pepper, which must have turned color too early or something.¬† It tasted really bitter.¬† I’ve never had the best luck with bell peppers, which is why out of 9 pepper plants I only planted a single bell (the rest are the longer, thinner chile-type peppers, although most of them are very very very mild).

I’m also eagerly anticipating our first okra (already set on the plant), our first beans (the blossoms of which are about to burst open any day), our first squash (hopefully already set) and our first watermelon (growing in the front yard right now!):

This melon is about 3 inches long, definitely long enough for me to know that it's been fertilized, since the first few shriveled up at one inch, but still tiny!

Garden Update!

17 Jun

I came back from my trip earlier this week; when I walked outside, I almost shrieked.¬† The tomato¬†bushes that were two feet wide by three feet tall with a few blossoms on them when I left were sprawling four foot-by-four-foot tomato trees laden with fruit.¬† The previously-anemic basil plants next to my back door were bursting with leaves and flowers.¬† The chard and the butternut squash grew several inches.¬† The watermelon is taking over its half of the front yard.¬†¬†Our oldest artichoke plant has several buds on it.¬† The lettuce plants, little more than a few scraggly leaves when I got on the plane, each have several dozen leaves on them – and most are bigger than a man’s hand.

Every pepper plant, all but one tomato plant, and several cucumbers have set fruit.¬† The squash have all flowered (although it doesn’t look like any fruit took on the squash plants or the watermelons, which means they probably flowered when it was just too cold), as have both eggplants.¬† The okra look a little sad, but the sunflowers a few feet away went from tiny little shoots to proper seedlings.¬† And the beans, the tallest of which was about a foot when we left, are now climbing up the fence and even the gutter, higher than my head.

As my neighbor who watered for us commented, it’s as if the elves came one night.¬† Or we’re living at a vortex.¬† Something awesome happened, though, because suddenly the garden is just full of life.¬† We’ve harvested the first golden tomatoes from our Sungold plant, juicy tangy sweet things unlike any tomato you can buy, even at a Farmer’s Market.¬† And tomorrow night we’re planning a pesto from all the basil flowers I picked.

Now I’m off to buy a pumpkin seedling (because sadly our seeds never sprouted).¬† I’ll try to share photos soon!

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