Garden Snapshot

The best time of year to really appreciate the full spread of a vegetable garden is early fall. Planted seeds have germinated through into beautiful lush green plants which burst with abundance. Trellised beans, towering kale, and upright beet leaved stand ready to feed. In the pictured kitchen garden below, a large tomatillo plant dominates a whole six square feet of the center garden, flanked by kale, pole beans, and bush beans across the path. There is a lone leek seeding in its final push to leave a future generation for the next year’s planting.

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Looking back at the garden from the opposite side in below’s photo, you can still see the tomatillo towering in the upper right, and a row of kale just below holds the bank. In the foreground, a pollinator and edible flower edge garden draws a strong boarder around the inner kitchen vegetables. Here there are a fed seed plants, like the yellowing beans, and foxglove. Nasturtium and bee balm is still flowering out for salads, with comfrey ready to be chopped and dropped to amend the soil. A native currant transplanted fro the wild is taking hold in the lower right of this outer bed, perhaps next year we’ll have currants and their sweet pink blossoms in spring.

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The kitchen garden has come a long way from it’s first year, providing veggies through the spring, summer, and fall now without much effort. This fall, I’ll be doing a complete overhaul of this bed and it’s set up and function. Chickens will be let in to root out pest bugs and the eggs of other dormant insects which begin to establish if not addressed. I’ll also be digging out many of the strawberries, moving them to better places on the land where a trailing plant with such tenacity won’t impede the vegetables, but still produce yummy ground fruit.

In the herb spiral, plants have had a full year to establish, filling out and flowering through the warmer months to feed a growing swarm of pollinators. In this arrangement, you have french time in the lowest ring of the bed (far right center). Following up the spiral, there it spearmint, then a succulent to add late summer flowers, next in line is a lavender, then catnip, flanked on the other side by another lavender (I’ve had two flower harvests off this plant already). Next in the climb is another succulent which the bees loved while it was in flower. Chives add another purple blossom to the mix, they also need several chop and drop services during the summer. At the top of this tower you’ll find rosemary, one of the most stimulating aromas in this herb spiral.

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There is probably going to be a lot of struggle for space in this spiral as the annuals continue to grow. I plan to take out both succulents, encouraging their establishment at the base of this circular bed, leaving more room in the rich soil for the herbs. The mints, (bot catnip and spearmint) will be gut out and transplanted to outer beds once they are a little bigger. For now, it’s great to see how this bed has filled in, producing plenty of culinary flavors for the kitchen.

The keyhole garden bed is also flourishing. Three lavender plants dominate, with a new horseradish plant rooting in to add some spice. The mints all need to be dug out, leaving more space for other herb roots to stretch. There was a lot of borage in this bed at the start of the summer, most of them were transferred to other beds where it will keep reseeding and adding bee butter to the greater garden spaces. Seed from the curly parsley was also gathered in hopes of reseeding this wonderful herb next year.

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This year, the rock garden area was not in use as much as the summer before. It was a busy year at Leafhopper, and the summer was so hopping, there were not often opportunities to just sit and enjoy an evening, mainly because evenings were cool enough to work in, as the summer days were blazing this year. With fall bringing cooler weather, I hope to spend more time enjoying this special herb area before it gets too cold and wet.

In the raised beds, where garlic once stood, now corn towers and giant pumpkins grow ever larger in the rich earth. The peach tree is off the hook, needing a major cut back and reshaping this winter for sure. Other herbs that have been slowly establishing in the bed that wraps around to the renter’s kitchen offers great culinary support to any meal with sage, oregano, and french parsley. A corn flower hides under the fruit tree and snap dragons draw in beneficial insects with a splash of scarlet color.

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In the front yard garden, there is still quite a bit of space where grass needs to be mulched over and replanted. The cloche is doing well, though not replanted enough this year. It’s center location has not been a draw of access for me as I work around the house and steps are being made to improve the entire space to make watering easier and to draw in the eye with clearly defined spaces. The upper most bed in this space was planted with a small corn species which did not thrive very well. I do not think it was a lack of water that stunted this corn, but perhaps the soil should be amended again. This variety was also sewn later in the summer. What has thrived here most vigorously are the hops. Now with wet weather setting in, I worry that the harvest might go moldy before sun dries out the flowers enough for harvest. Last year’s crop was bottled last month, tasting fantastically hoppy and rich. The nose alone brought back the sweet smell of early fall and ripe hop taste lingers on the pallet with every sip.

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Overall the gardens this year have been very productive, and the fridge is packed with produce already. Carrots are still a challenge, but the farm will make vast soil improvements this year with special attention places on root crops. Potatoes also vanished from the planting spots allocated last spring, and I fear a vole has established its own harvest schedule ahead of mine. New raised beds with steel mesh lines bottoms will keep voles out in future garden expansions. Perhaps one of those plots will hold a treasure of spuds next year. In the mean time, there is a lot of harvest ready on the vine and more canning to come.

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