Alliums to Zinnias: a journey of two New Jersey Gardeners

Veggies in the garden
June 24, 2015, 7:12 pm
Filed under: garden, vegetables | Tags: , ,

The tomato plants are shooting up and the first Indigo tomatoes are ripening. Zucchini flowers are warning that a glut is on the way. And the walking onions bend and twist as their seeds mature and create another generation.

Indigo tomato

zucchini june 2015

walking onion june 2015

Mid-June in the garden

I’m looking out the window and seeing rabbits in a neighbor’s yard. Just don’t let me see the groundhog! We have at least two, and they have done enough damage in the raised beds.

Still, tomato plants are generally thriving, and I’m hopeful we’ll have some early ones in time for the Fourth of July. Zucchini and potato plants are shooting up. My favorite flower, rose campion, is blooming, as is another favorite, red-hot poker (a little late, I think, but then spring was late and started off cool). And I’m excited about this new red-yellow Rudbeckia that blooms much earlier than the traditional yellow black-eyed Susan. I’m guessing it comes from one of two places where I plucked a flower head and then planted it. I’m hoping it spreads like crazy.

Here’s a look at some of what’s blooming in the garden just a few days before the official start of summer:

Yellow and red Rudbeckia

What a beaut!

red hot pokers

Rose campions are in lots of places:

Rose campion

Rose campion and coreopsis

Rose campion, coreopsis and tiger day lilies

Day lilies above and below:

red daylily

Hope this spreads too

stella d'oro daylilies

The first of the many coneflowers to come:


A faded allium:


A new addition to the hosta collection:

hosta late may new kind

Greens from the garden
December 7, 2014, 5:01 pm
Filed under: fall, garden, vegetables | Tags: , ,

It’s Dec. 6. We had a dusting of snow just before Thanksgiving — thankfully it didn’t stick. This week will be the last time the township collects leaves and yard debris until March, so we did our best to send them off with a few big piles (and that’s after the really big pile of leaves turning into compost behind the forsythia at the back of the yard).

But what’s still growing in the cold frame?

Baby greens.

dec 6 2014 003

Red, white and blue in the garden
July 4, 2014, 12:16 pm
Filed under: garden | Tags: , ,

red white and blue

There’s plenty of red (bee balm) and white (daisies) — and if you look closely, you might find a speck of blue-ish nepeta walker’s low tucked in there. Well, it’s there, if not in the photo.

Or if you prefer it all spread out, also across the garden:



white daisies



Happy Fourth of July!

The hosta of my desire
July 2, 2014, 7:08 am
Filed under: garden | Tags:

hostasGiven that our property backs onto woodland and deer are a nuisance throughout the neighborhood, it’s strange that I would even be talking about hostas. After all, they are supposed to be deer candy.

But somehow the ones around us either don’t have a sweet tooth or — more likely — don’t want to venture up against the house, where the hostas are, figuring it’s easier to munch at the neighbors. We generally do pretty well with them. The most damage may come from having many that are in a spot that gets a decent amount of sun that end up with burned leaves.

We have the usual solid green-leaf variety (plenty of those!) and some that are green-and-white striped. Then there are some blues, a brighter green, one that’s more of a green-gray, at least early in the year. We have some with tiny leaves, and some that are oversized. In the last year or so, I got a tiny bit of a blue one with a lime-green stripe down the middle that my sisters are already eyeing once it gets big enough to divide. And there’s a green one that has a golden yellow trim that probably would be even more visible if I’d give it a shadier spot.

But this is the one I really want: a pale yellow variety with green in the middle. I spotted it on a trip that took us to northern Pennsylvania, and would it pop among the greens and blues!

yellow-green hosta

I figure I have a few choices: always travel with a trowel and sneak a piece of what catches my eye when no one is looking in the middle of the night, offer to divide the plant in exchange for a piece, or just ask everyone I know if they have it. Of all the options, No. 3 is clearly the best.

Consider yourself asked.

Bountiful harvest
June 29, 2014, 7:13 pm
Filed under: flood, garden, vegetables | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been horribly neglectful of this blog (how else do I explain that April post published at the end of June?). But it’s shaping up to be a fabulous season in the garden.

We’ve been harvesting oversized leaves of Swiss chard and sauteeing them in a cast-iron skillet, often on the grill. We’ve started topping pizza with kale. And the garlic scapes have been converted into garlic-scape pesto that then get smeared onto our grilled pizza. In fact, we did a great job feeding a group of friends last night with food we’ve grown, topped off with items from an area farmers market and the guests’ more routine contributions.

Coming soon will be tomatoes — there already are green ones on some plants, plus plenty of yellow flowers. That makes me happy! And I figure the first two homegrown zucchini will be ready for picking later this week. We have three plants this year — there could be a lot of zucchini bread in addition to a steady stream of grilled zucchini slices. Perhaps it’s time to learn about zucchini “pasta”.

Tonight’s pizza, made with homemade dough, sauce canned last year, garlic-scape pesto and garden kale plus store-bought cheese and grilled outside. Delicious!

pizza 001

And just  small peek at the garden now:

kale plus chard



The garden in April
April 10, 2014, 6:29 pm
Filed under: flowers, garden, indoors, seeds, spring, vegetables | Tags: ,

((Apologies — this was written in April and then never published))

DaffodilsNo joke: Our first daffodil bloomed this year on April Fool’s Day.

As I look back at previous years, I realize just how late that is. I’ve blogged about the first blooming in early March one year, mid-March another year. But this was a brutal winter, with snow on the ground until mid-March (end of March before the last was gone from some parking-lot mounds or super-shady bits of the neighborhood), and even after that, we’d be teased with a wonderfully sunny spring day that would be followed by freezing temperatures and at least the threat of flakes.

But with April, we seem to finally be getting warmer temperatures. And today I can’t count the number that are in bloom. A couple of hundred for sure, I’d say, though almost exclusively two varieties: All bright yellow with a big trumpet or a very pale yellow with a bright yellow trumpet. The clumps are getting bigger, too, which means I need to put dividing daffodils and mixing them up more as I replant on the spring to-do list. (I’ll never find them if I wait until fall).

The forsythia is also running late. It looks like it could burst out tomorrow, though.

As for the seedlings in the basement, we have nowhere near a 100% germination rate. That’s probably a good thing, given how many seeds I planted! Though I’d have like a bit more variety than what we have. As it is, we’ve already transplanted 18 tomato seedlings out of seed-starter mix, including six Brandywines and even more of Sophie’s Choice, an extra-early determinate heirloom from Canada that apparently delivers relatively large, flavorful tomatoes. Determinate means all the flowers come at once, rather than continuing all summer, but I will be thrilled if we are eating garden tomatoes before the Fourth of July.

We also have some Blondkopfchen heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes and a couple of Ananas Noir heirlooms, which I think will be mostly green with more red at the base and then more green inside. If nothing else, they will add some interesting contrast to a plate of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.

Clearly I’ll be giving plenty of these away (this year’s bed has room for eight plants, though maybe I can get away with two Sophie Choice plants elsewhere, or in containers, to say nothing of the neighbor’s raised bed…), but hopefully I’ll also be able to swap for a different variety or two.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers