July Garden Update

After the rainiest June in Chicago, everything green basically exploded in my garden, though that did present a challenge for my tomatoes. This picture is actually 3 weeks old at this point, but it’s still quite a change from my the last one I shared from the beginning of June! I’ll update with a photo of the garden currently tonight.

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Herbs
Oh my god, the herbs. Turns out my massive chive harvest was a sign of things to come. Between my garden plot and the pots on my porch, I’ve been eating incredibly well-flavored food the past two months. I have tons of everything: thyme, parsley, all the basils (even the Thai basil I broke nearly down to the ground during planting recovered somewhat), oregano, rosemary, cilantro, mint, even the borage.

So far I’ve: dried (oregano), frozen in ice cube trays (thyme, chives, borage), steeped in simple syrup (mints and lemon verbena), mashed into herb butter (mix of parsley, chives, thyme) or pesto (basil), added to salads (parsley, basil, chives) and stashed the rest (oh yes, there was still more) in baggies in the fridge.
So many herbs! Borage2015-07-20 19.13.48-1 Lemon balm and tomatillo The lemon verbena I planted in the ground did much better than the one in a pot, so noted for next year. My tiny bay plant keeps putting out new leaves too! I can’t wait for it to get big enough that I can start drying and storing them. I haven’t used as much of the epazote as I thought I would, but it does look pretty.

Peppers and tomatillos
These are both growing like crazy! I wasn’t sure how the peppers would do considering I only managed one measly pepper last year but hey, turns out doing good things for my soil does good things for my plants. I’m also really happy with how the peppers do in pots. Tomatillos have done incredibly well both years, I can’t wait to see how the yellow variety I planted taste. Growing things Pepper, thyme Tomatoes
My trials and tribulations of growing tomatoes probably deserves its own post. I will never stop growing them, but man they are fussy little beasts. Everybody was doing great up until a few weeks ago when they started getting spots on the leaves and turning yellow. Turns out the tomatoes were not as big a fan of all the rain as my herbs were.

I picked off the bad leaves, gave them a good spray with some organic something the garden center suggested, and that seemed to solve the spot problem, but not the yellowing. A friend suggested they just looked hungry and to give them a good boost of fertilizing to the roots and leaves and that seemed to perk everyone up. They’re still looking a little scraggly, but they all have tomatoes growing, so I’ll take what I can get! (And then I discovered one of my tomatoes has aphids. Argh!)

At least the weather is finally turning into real summer, so I hope they’ll all be as happy about that as I am.

4 tomatoes, 1 pepper
Porch tomatoes are very happy!
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June 30, half plot of tomatoes and herbs. Oh, did I mention I planted a second half-sized plot because I have no self control when heirloom plants are $1 at the farmers market?
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…And three weeks later. Trying to head off the issues my other tomatoes had, and using a trellising idea I saw in Henry VIII’s vegetable garden at Hampton Court!

My dad laughs and says he never had this many problems in all his years with our backyard garden, but I pointed out a) growing in a big city plot is like a preschool and bugs (literally and figuratively) get passed around like crazy, and b) when you’re growing 30 tomato plants, it’s much less of a crisis when one or two crap out than when you have 6 tomato plants (though I just counted, and between all my pots and my garden plot-and-a-half I actually have nearly 20. Good thing my basil is doing well, I see a lot of caprese salad in my future.)

Lettuces and greens
The funniest thing happened with my lettuce this year. I let some languish so long last year that it went to seed and I was greeted by two baby lettuces already growing when I got my garden again this year. Those turned into the best big, beautiful lettuce heads I’ve grown. I think I’m going to try planting some lettuce seeds at the end of the season and see what happens next spring.

And for the second year in a row, I’ve not harvested a single leaf from my kale. I’m cutting myself off from kale next year. My chard is still trying though!

Garden friends
My borage brings all the bees to the yard (credit where it’s due, I totally stole that line from a friend). This bee was huge!!

LettuceRadishes
I love my little French breakfast radishes, they always do well. I give up on purple radishes, though. They get beautiful greens, but no real radish. Oh well! We’ll see how my watermelon radishes turn out this fall.

Peas
I started peas relatively late, but they did/are doing great (the birds seem to think so too, as I discovered in two piles if empty peapods next to my trellis last week). Still not really enough at any one time to do more than snack on, but that’s fine with me!

Soon to be a real live pepper
Happy garden

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3 thoughts on “July Garden Update

  1. Oh wow! These fresh herbs are stunninggg! I want to plant some more herbs, but they’ll have to be in planter boxes since I don’t have a gardening area. Chives sounds delicious. Do they take much room to grow?

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    1. Thanks! I actually have a bunch of herbs in pots on my porch, though I only have chives in the garden. I imagine they’d do great! Most herbs will take as space as you can give them, though the ones that have done the best for me in pots have been basil, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, and the mints (they get their own pots so they don’t take over everything).

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  2. Pretty amazing plot you have! One thing I’ve been doing for my tomatoes is to work in some crunched-up eggshells around the base of the plant – supposedly it helps stave off blossom-end rot when the soil has been overly soggy. (I’ve also been pretty ruthlessly pinching off new suckers, so the existing foliage and fruit have a fighting chance for the next few months!) Hopefully yours will perk up with the heat & fertilizer dose. 🙂

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