How many of us failed to have the optimum, drop dead gorgeous, high yielding garden this year??? It had to be someone other than me!!! Well thank goodness the summer is slowly fading away and I have another chance at growing some goodness in my garden. The deer enjoyed every single squash blossom they could – that was all of them. Amenia barked at them from inside, but they knew she could not get to them. I think they used my backyard veggie corner as a place to pause before venturing in some other neighbors yard. I am not giving up however.
I stopped at the Wentworth Nursery, Inc. in Prince Frederick, Maryland as I wandered the Maryland countryside yesterday (http://www.WentworthNursery.com). This is a beautiful and tastefully appointed garden center that offers gorgeously healthy butterfly bushes, butterfly boxes, Blossoms Bee Habitat, Bee Balm, Hummingbird feeders and of course Butterfly weed, among other things. I think they are serious about getting their clientele excited about gardening for birds, bees and butterflies!!! (I have to go back and get a Blossoms Bee Habitat…they were quite cool!!) Of course, I can’t pass a garden center twice and I am glad I take this rule seriously.
When I think of a second season in my edible garden, I think about the things I really want to have as a part of my diet. I LOVE beets, so I picked up a packet of ‘Bulls Blood’ beet seedlings – just to get a head start. I can share these with my Dad. Despite the name, I love the sweet roots, if harvested small and the beautiful burgundy leaves can be harvested for salad greens as well.
I also picked up a pack of Pak Choi. This cultivar is called ‘Toy Chop’…topping out at 5 inches tall, it is quick-growing and requires minimal cooking time. I am dreaming of this in my stir fry now with some nantes carrots, mushrooms ..mmmm….
I had to pick up a few all time favorites like ‘Vates” Kale, Collards and ‘Jade Cross’ Brussel Sprouts. What would my winter be without these necessary comfort foods? When the frost hits the leaves of the mature plants, I will be the hit of my neighborhood. I hope the Brussel sprouts will be the highlight of my Christmas dinner…they will be good and sweet by then for sure.
Cooler temps allow the edible garden to take on a new face. Utilizing seeds of Corn salad, mache, Tyee F1 spinach, gourmet blend beets, Italian Lacinto Kale, Speckled Butterhead Lettuce, Healthy Kale Mix and of course Paris Market Mix Baby Mesclun Salad (just to name a few), can add excitement while you count the weekends of leaf raking that will soon be upon us.
Try something new. Consider utilizing portable containers for your salad greens particularly. There is nothing more visibly refreshing than a pot of salad greens in all hues and textures mixed with some pansies in window boxes or in a recycled planter. Root Pouch makes a beautiful portable planter from recycled plastic water bottles. They feel like felt and come in different sizes and garden neutral colors. The other advantage of containers is their portability. If the weather gets too bad, I can move these into the unheated greenhouse, garden room or cool sun room during the winter months.
I also use the Smart Pot for my larger greens like Chard and the taller Bok Choi. I grew celery in a smaller Smart Pot and it was quite productive. Grow celery if you can. It will change the way you think of celery. Grown at home, you will never look at celery the same way again in the grocery store!! With a smear of chunky peanut butter….well, I meant to freeze some, but it never made it to that process.
Fertilizing is important, particularly for those plants that are quickly harvested. Last year I used Annie Haven Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea. It is truly Awesome Annie!!! I purchased a gift pak (for me, of course) and I sparingly used it because I could not believe how beautiful my veggies looked, how scrumptious they tasted and how effortlessly they grew NATURALLY!!! I think I will have to order some more to get me through this second season.
Are you ready for your second season?? Have you ordered your garlic and shallots yet??? I will be ordering mine from Southern Seed Exchange, as they have yet to fail me for tasteful shallots and garlic!!! For those if us who no longer have to invest in school clothing for the little ones, invest in your health and create something beautiful as well as edible for your second season in the garden.
BTW – if you know of a child or family in need donate a backpack, school supplies and then teach them how to garden. It is the right thing to do!!!