Recent VEGarden Posts

Perennials

Spring is in full swing! Mother Nature hasn’t yet made up her mind – one week it’s highs of 80, and tonight we’re expecting another freeze. But most of my garden is planted (tomatoes and peppers are still waiting in the laundry room for warmer nights), and we’ve been scoping out the perennials. Above: Cedar and River among a sea of comfrey, dandelions, sea kale, and goumi berries in Chris’s half of the garden. We’ve harvested asparagus, chives, green onions, various greens, and sea kale so far this year. The rhubarb is already flowering, but we aren’t big on sweets and haven’t yet picked it. My perennial beds are full with flowers and herbs. We have volunteer sunflowers, dill, and...
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Strawberries

When we put in our perennial concrete beds, I picked up a 12 pack of everbearing strawberries on clearance at Menard’s. It took a couple of years for them to take off, but we were quite pleased with the results. So, I ended up ordering two new varieties from Territorial Seeds: Seascape Strawberries (everbearing), and Rainier (June bearing). We now have two full beds of strawberries, plus my original first bed of the mystery variety from Menard’s: And, we have two full non-beds of runners. The Rainier berries have completely overtaken parts of the garden. In fact, they are nearly as thick¬†outside the beds than they are inside the bed, where they should be. I’ve found strawberries to be pretty...
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2016 Planting Begins!

It’s official! Garden planting for 2016 has begun. We’re gambling against the 10-day forecast, and hoping to stay free of a hard frost. We put in peas back in March, and they are already doing quite well: We also put in radishes, which have come up. This afternoon, Cedar and I decided to finish of an entire bed in my garden. I asked him to pick seeds, and he did…it’s a good three weeks too soon to plant most of these things, but if the weather stays mild then who knows? Maybe we’ll have some early crops. But hey, they’re just seeds and we have more seeds in bins than we will ever use, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt....
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2015 at VEGarden

This post comes an entire year late. 2016 is the year we start keeping track of our gardening again… I’ve made some aesthetic updates to the site, and have plans to start better organizing the varieties of vegetables we have grown in the past, and are growing this year – especially tomatoes and peppers. It’s hard to post a review of an entire year in one post, but I’ll give a general overview in pictures. Some of these we touch on more throughout the coming year. Especially strawberries and mushrooms – I feel as though I may need to start a separate website devoted entirely to those two things.

2014 at VEGarden

We’re still here! This has been quite the busy year with a toddler, home improvement projects, and ongoing life changes. But we’re still gardening, and still slowly transforming the yard into our own little orchard. I’ll try to post a more detailed update – but pictures speak a thousand words, so for now I’ll just leave you with some photos of our garden (and new little gardener!) this year. I planted a lot of artisan tomato varieties this year, so I’ll get to updating that section of our website soon too. Thanks for reading – I hope your 2014 growing season is going well!

Grapes

…three weeks later. These are grapes from back in August. August 21st, actually (before my last update, even!). We’ve been a bit busy…lots of social events. Also, I have been trying to get my candles made for the September 21st opening of the Eveland Family Farm. So far I’m still quite behind. Chris tried to make some grape jam out of these. He used a recipe without pectin, and sadly boiled it one minute past the jam stage into the candy stage. Fortunately, we have quite a few left that are ripening up now so maybe we’ll give that another try. In good news (which you don’t know is good news because I haven’t posted an update about it), our...
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Fresh Garden Lasagna

Before I start this post, I have two things to point out: This is the first time I have made this recipe, and it is still baking. Photos and content are all being posted from my phone. This is kind of a test…I mean, what’s the point of having this fancy camera phone with a huge monthly data plan if I can’t update our blog from it? Yesterday morning we spent about 8 minutes picking veggies in the garden before we gave up (it was 90 decrees and rising!) and came in. Here’s what we ended up with in that short time: On order to clear off counter space, I decided dinner tonight would consist of mostly these things. Hence,...
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Thirteen Striped Gopher

Technically, they are called thirteen-lined ground squirrels. But we always called them striped gophers growing up. And now we know who made all of the holes in our yard.

Garden Visitor

A few weeks ago, a small orange cat peeked out from the weeds across the street when we were coming home from a walk. Soon, he became more and more friendly. I’ve seen him follow bikers down the road for a while, and he always pops out to say hello when we walk by. I assume the cat belongs to our neighbors, as that’s where he comes from and I have seen him hanging out in the driveway with them. We call him “Outside Niko” because we have an indoor orange cat named Niko. Funny, because when we moved in we had an “Outside Kallie” who I believe also belonged to the same family. Outside Kallie was old though, and...
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Fresh Zucchini Salad

This is a great way to use your zucchini when it is small, before it turns into monster zucchinis. Chris found this recipe online somewhere (I’ll see if I can track that down for a credit!) and modified it slightly to his taste. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy! Fresh Zucchini Salad 1 pound small zucchini (under 5″ long) 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil 2 Tbsp. Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, etc.) 2 cloves of garlic, diced Generous amount of fresh basil, chopped (the more, the better! We used purple basil for added color) 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered A couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half 1 can of chick peas or other beans (optional) Salt...
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Heirloom Tomatoes

I was looking through some pictures of our tomato plants in August, 2006 when we still lived in Morris. We used to grow some nice looking vines! Since we moved to the Great Anoka Sand Plain, though, we have been struck with blight every year. It is so bad that mid-July I end up stripping nearly all of the leaves off of the tomato plants each year. The fruit still comes out okay, but I know we would have a much better crop if we could just get the blight under control. I say this every year, but next year may be the one that we skip the heirloom tomatoes and only plant blight-resistant hybrid varieties. Our Marvel Striped Tomatoes...
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The Obligatory Giant Zucchini Post

If you have a garden, you are familiar with this scenario. Late in the spring, you start to get the fresh veggie fever. One of the easiest plants to grow is zucchini – so you put some in. You vaguely recall regretting the overplanting of zucchini you did the year before. Completely disregaring the 24 cups of shredded zucchini still filling up half of your freezer, you put in three times more zucchini than a family of 12 would ever need. You dream of soon picking that reliable producer, and completely forget how incredibly sick of zucchini you are going to be come mid-August. And the zucchini produces. And you pick it, and you eat it. And inevitably, one or...
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Somerset Seedless Grapes

Three years after planting grapes on our fence, they are starting to produce! We have dozens of little bunches ready to be picked. The best variety we planted for eating are these Somerset Seedless grapes: They are (almost) truly seedless, though there are some traces of seeds in them, but nothing that needs to be discarded. Quite sweet and also tart. Most of the other grapes have three or four seeds each, and given the size of them (quite a bit smaller than your conventional grocery store grape), that makes eating them difficult. I think we’ll try to make some jelly with the grapes from this year. Hopefully in a few years we will have enough to attempt a batch...
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Cabbage Patch Kid

Cedar and I spent much of the day yesterday discovering new things in the garden. I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of him with the cabbage.

The Garden Grows

Things got off to a late start. First, we had a baby. He is almost 8 months old now, and really enjoys “helping” out in the garden. I’m sure he’ll be digging on his own in no time: Then we had a late spring. It’s hard to get much done when you get a 12″ snowfall two weeks after you were hoping to plant your peas and carrots! But, the garden is (miraculously) taking care of itself this year. I’ve really only spent about 4 hours – total – weeding this summer, and didn’t even have the time to put down mulch. So I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out, considering. The beans are flowering, and should be...
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Zucchini Blossoms

Summer is in full swing, and as anticipated, the zucchini is too: We have a few giant fruits out there, and need to start doing some serious baking! But right now, we are trying to pick the smallest zucchini we can find, with blossoms still in-tact. It’s time to start culling before it gets way out of control! A couple nights ago we had a pasta with fried zucchini blossoms. Simply slice the blossoms in half, remove the stamen or pistil, and fry. They add a nice bit of color, and the taste is quite mild. We’re going to try battering and frying them next. Chris made a zucchini salad with sliced baby zucchini last night for dinner. It had...
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Hot Peppers

Last year, right before the first frost, we pulled all of the pepper plants out, dried the fruit, and ground up the hot (and sweet) peppers in a coffee grinder. We ended up with four 4-ounce jars of hot pepper: two extra-hot, one medium (or, rather, fairly hot), and one fairly mild. It took about two months to finish off the extra-hot jars. So this year I put in an entire row of hot peppers. Unfortunately, they didn’t all make it and I ended up purchasing more at Gordon’s Greenhouse this spring. I’m still not sure that we will have enough at the end of this year, but the hot peppers are now starting to ripen for us to use...
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Funky Grape Vine Growth

I have been searching Google and Goole Images for a while, and cannot figure out what this is: I just saw it yesterday. It’s growing on the stem of one of the grapes planted on our chain link fence. Here’s another shot: It is very similar to the seed pods that grow on bur cucumbers (a related vine). I haven’t seen seed pods like this on grapes before, so I’m thinking it’s some kind of gall (growth), maybe caused by an injury. (And it definitely is growing on the grape vine, not a weed mixed in!) I don’t know what kind of grape this is, unfortunately. We put in more than 100 vines from Great River Vineyard, and alternated varieties...
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Black Swallowtail Butterfly

One of may favorite things about our garden is the different critters it attracts. Here are some pictures of a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar that I hung out with for a while yesterday: He’s very similar in looks to the Monarch Caterpillar (photos here and here) that I followed for a few days last year. Apparently, the black swallowtail caterpillar is fond of dill, which the garden has in plenty:

Nichols Plum – Fruit Drop

This is kind of sad. Three years ago, we started a fruit guild in our yard, in which we planted one Nichols Plum Tree. We got one fruit from it the first year, and didn’t expect anything the second year. The third year, we had hot March that triggered early blooming on the tree, only to be followed by a late freeze that killed off all of the plum flowers. But this year. This year, our Nichols Plum has more than quadrupled in size. It is the largest tree in our fruit guild, and it was absolutely loaded with fruit in May. Here’s the tree (on the right): And then the plums started to drop. From what I read, this...
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