I am happy to report that my veggie garden is thriving. This is my fourth year growing an edible garden in my raised bed as well as containers. The growing season in zone 6a New England is definitely short, so July is a whirlwind of harvesting. I am also enjoying some winged encounters of the pollinator kind. I created a designated butterfly garden this past spring and filled it with plants and flowers for my fluttery friends to feast upon. This marks week number ten in The Growing Now Garden Tour hosted by the great Beth Billstrom of More Than Oregano.
I feel like every year one vegetable seems to stand out in the veggie garden. This single vegetable tends grow the strongest, have an abundant harvesting season and will show a minimal amount of problems. My first year was the year of the corn. My second year was the year of the cucumber. My third was the year of the tomato, and this year has been the year of the peas. I feel like with each season that passes, I learn so much about different vegetables and what makes them grow successfully. I spent a good amount of time picking a huge amount of peas earlier this month. This year, I grew Early Perfection Peas and Sugar Snap Peas. They took off like crazy and grew up my large wooden trellis. Just when I thought I'd picked them all, I would find at least ten more pods I missed! I love snacking on Sugar Snap Peas while I'm out in the garden, they hardly ever make it inside the house. My favorite thing about peas is they are extremely easy to grow from seed. If you are a seed newbie, I highly recommend planting some. I find they do best with direct sow, and I really enjoy observing how quickly they grow.
Now that summer is in full swing, it is tomato season! My favorite time of the year, I refer to it as Christmas in my garden. Who needs Santa when you have tomato plants that are ready to be picked? Last year, I grew around ten different varieties of tomatoes. This year, I narrowed it down to five.
My intense passion for snacking in the garden causes me to choose at least one variety of cherry tomato each year. This year, I settled on the Husky Cherry Tomato. I love how these tomatoes are small enough to pop in your mouth while pruning and weeding. This variety never fails to impress.
Every year I like to try something new, so this year I picked The Green Zebra Tomato. I am waiting for them to turn a golden color before harvesting. I have yet to taste them, but I am eager to try them! I can happily report that while none are quite ready to be picked, the yield for only two plants is incredible! I am very impressed with the amount of tomatoes growing on these plants. I am hoping to taste the zing these tomatoes are famous for within the next few weeks.
This is my second year growing the Bush Goliath. I am very happy with the flavor and the size of this sweet tomato. This determinant plant tends to produce well for me late July. The only drawback is because of the large size, they can be heavy causing them fall off the vine before fully ripe. Nothing a few days on a windowsill can't fix!
A dragonfly resting on my garden bed. I see them on my garden posts, my shiny tomato cages as well as resting atop my daylilies.
Due to a limited amount of space, I decided to grow just one variety this year. Not to worry though, this is my favorite variety! I also switched from a regular old trellis to a bean teepee. I am super happy with the results.
Scarlet Emperor Beans always put on a show with vivid red flowers on thick, climbing vines. Last year, I grew these beans on a tall trellis. This year, I decided to give building a bean teepee a try and I am so glad I did. I feel like the teepee supports the vines much better than the trellis along with keeping the surrounding garden tidy. During summer rain storms and heavy winds, I have had no trouble! I saved last years seeds, so I am proud to say this is generation number two of this plant.
This year my garden has produced a prolific amount of peas. I have decided to freeze some, as well as eat some of these fresh. If anyone has any good recipes that include peas, please feel free to share with me in the comments of this post as well as on twitter!
Herbs & Flowers
I love to keep a variety of flowers and herbs around my veggies as companion plants. I let most of my herbs flower in my veggie garden for pollinators. I then have my designated kitchen herb garden in my CedarCraft planter for eating.
This year, I wanted to change it up a bit. I swapped buying a bunch of nasturtium seeds for zinnia seeds. I adore nasturtiums, everyone should plant some of these helpful flowers especially if you have a vegetable garden. I just really wanted to experience the beauty of the zinnia flower this year!
I am a sucker for sweet pea flowers. Last year, I had to wait until September to see them bloom. This year, I made sure to soak my seeds before planting to speed up germination. I also planted them as early as possible right after the last frost date. A few varieties I chose this year are High Scent, Jet Set and Galaxy Mix.
I planted this oregano three years ago. Having it right next to my tomato plants really attracts the pollinators. As it grows tall, it uses the outsides of my tomato cages as support. I really enjoy watching it flower and so do the honeybees. The blooms are white and very delicate. Oregano makes a great companion plant for garden crops like broccoli and cabbage. The first year I planted it, it was a companion plant for my broccoli. I also use it as a companion plant for my cucumbers to keep the cucumber beetles at bay. This perennial herb is one of my favorites!
This year I created my very first butterfly garden. I decided to start with some milkweed and add more plants after they became well established. I have various pollinator friendly plants spread all throughout my yard, but have been wanting an official area. This fall, I will be planting different varieties of milkweed seeds for next season.
Bee enjoying the perks of my newly bloomed swamp milkweed. It is both a host and nectar source for monarch butterflies. It is a native perennial to North America, and both of my plants have taken off very well for only the first year of growth. This plant blooms in June and July. Excited to see these plants come back year after year. Learn more about this plant here.
Don't forget to head on over to check out this weeks featured garden post by Laura Flanders at Colorado Backyard Gardener. Her amazing garden transformation will make you swoon. Anyone is welcome to share garden photos on twitter with the hashtag #GROWNOW2015. Wishing you all abundant harvests and a wonderful growing season!
In case you missed it - In The June Garden