Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Garden Update: New Raised Beds and What's Growing this Summer

A few weeks ago, I took two days off work to build four raised garden beds that would become our annual kitchen garden. I'll write more about my process of building these raised beds, but in the mean time, I wanted to share how our garden renovation is progressing.

These first few photos were taken a few weeks ago, the weekend I built the beds. It was such a transformation of our yard and it felt so amazing to finally plant the starts I had been growing for the last few months. Here are just three trays (I had five more to go!) that I started planting that first weekend.

Despite planting almost 100 plants as well as at least as many bean, lettuce, and radish seeds, the beds still look empty. It's really amazing what you can fit into a raised bed with square foot gardening. Still so much more to come. 

And here's what the garden looked like this past weekend, only four weeks later! It's breathtaking how much can change in a short time. Beyond a few succession plantings of cilantro, radishes, heading lettuce, and bush beans, it's these little folks and me for the rest of the season. And now for some close ups of my adolescent sprouts.

Here twists one of my bean seedlings, up and up it's support. This here is a purple podded pole bean--it's a new variety for this year--I'm very excited for some beautiful, delicious, purple beans! Hopefully they are as tasty as they are beautiful.

Every year, I always grow a summer squash; it always one of my most productive plants (hello zucchini bread!) This year, with more space, I'm growing two and planning to freeze the extra. As there is really only so much zucchini bread you can bring to work and still be liked. This happy plant is a Cocozella Di Napoli Squash. It's just about to start producing-like-wow, so I'm very excited for some early summer squash.

Planted in the shadow of the to be larger plants is my rainbow chard. I love the pink chard's slightly salty flavor. 

With added space, I have room this year to try out some plants I've never grown and see how it goes. This is a Purple Tomatillo--I figured, if I'm going to try something new, go purple, or go home, right? At least in the heirloom seed world.

Last summer, I finally won the battle with my husband that eggplant can indeed be delicious through the guiles of tasty Japanese eggplant. This year, I planted four varieties. Yes. That's right, four varieties. And two plants of each. So we may be swimming in squash and eggplant this year. But isn't the foliage beautiful? The purple veins in eggplant get me every time.

For another something different this year, I planted two varieties of Okra. Okra can be slimy and gross, but if cooked right, it can be positively delicious. I think I'm up for the challenge and winning another vegetable debate with my husband. Plus, the butter yellow Okra blossoms are gorgeous. This here is Jing Orange Okra--the final Okra is orange rather than the traditional green. What fun.

I also plant amaranth this year--coupled with sunflowers (also growing!), these blooms make beautiful summer arrangements and the leaves (taste like spinach when sautéed) as well as the seeds are edible. This plant is Loves Lies Bleeding and is just about to bloom.

And now for my craziest plant of all this year: Goosberry. I've never seen, to my knowledge, a gooseberry and am very excited to try it this season.

Here's the full list of all that I'm growing


Purple Podded Pole Bean
Emirate Fillet Pole Bean
Chinese Red Noodle Bean (pole)
Cantare Bean (bush)
Beurre De Rocquencourt Bush Wax Bean
Dragon Tongue Bush Bean


Reisetomate Tomato
Lilian's Yellow
Dona Tomato
Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry Tomato
Dr. Wyche's Yellow Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Purple Bumble Bee Tomato

Other Tomato like plants

Tomatillo Purple
Cape Gooseberry


Telegraph Improved Cucumber
Tendergreen Burpless Cucumber
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber
Muncher Cucumber

Summer Squash

Crookneck-Early Golden Summer Squash
Cocozella Di Napoli Squash


Petit Gris de Rennes Melon
Crispy Melon (seed came free with my Baker Creek Seed order-figured, why not?)


Jing Orange Okra
Burmese Okra


Charming baby eggplant
Farmer's long eggplant
Asian bride eggplant
Ping Tung eggplant


California wonder pepper (red bell pepper)
Shoshito pepper
Banana pepper

Annual Herbs

Basil - Genovese
Basil - Dark Purple Opal
Basil - Sweet Thai
Cilantro, Slo-Bolt
Parsley - Italian large leaf

Salad fixings

Lettuce, Garden Babies
Lettuce, Red romaine
Radish, Early Scarlet Globe
Radish, English Breakfast


Dino Kale
Broccoli Rabe
Rainbow chard
Tronchuda Kale
Savoy Cabbage


Sunflower, Chocolate Cherry
Sunflower, Organic, Mammoth
Sunflower, Van Gogh
Poppy, Heirloom Pepperbox
Poppy, Mother of Pearl
Poppy, Danish Flag
Amaranth, Love-Lies-Bleeding

And when you put it in a long list like that, man it seems like I've been busy. So very excited for so much delicious food to come. So far, I've been feasting on greens, herbs, radishes, and two very baby summer squash.

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