Garden Grow: Summer update from my backyard

If you popped ’round to visit me, it wouldn’t be long before we wandered into the back yard and over to the garden. It has the ability to draw you in, to sit on its edge and breathe in the deep scent of its basil.

Welcome to a brief visual tour of my garden. It’s nourished, but neglected, wild, yet still yielding. Every year is a learning experience, with mistakes and triumphs both recorded by hand in a little journal. I don’t consider myself a gardener, but my love for tender new lettuce leaves, sweet baby carrots, and fresh herbs in abundance drives me to plant every spring.

Here’s where those seeds took me this year.

Danny’s handmade raised beds have weathered nicely, and are a good fit for our rustic back yard. They are watered from our rain barrels, and thanks to their two feet of loose, well-drained soil, the plants are growing like crazy. Especially the tomatoes. They have no manners, and encroach on everything around them.

I’ve snipped this basil back several times and it continues to thrive, for which I am delighted. One can never have too much fresh basilic, as far as I am concerned, and so I whip it into pesto, tear in onto summer pizza, and arrange in on cucumber basil bites for a snack.

Believe it or not, our cats – Cassis (black) and Coco (white) – keep the squirrels out of the garden. Just yesterday I even saw Coco stalking a round old groundhog who thought he’d stop in for a salad. Whether we can accredit it to the cats or not, we’ve had very little trouble from rodents this year.

I’m partial to oak leaf lettuces, with their graceful, long and tender leaves. I plant it in batches, 3 weeks apart, so that the staggered plantings yield fresh lettuce all summer long.

Tomatoes got a late start, so most of them still look like this – green. Still, with the heat and warm rain we’ve been having, I expect to see some color pop any day now. These plants have been the bane of my existence, though. They are loving their surroundings and seem a foot taller every time I inspect them, not to mention spread their long arms simply everywhere.

I’m hoping for a good harvest, or else their real estate might hold a root crop next year. Speaking of beets and carrots, they also were late to be planted, and aren’t producing yet.

Zucchini is flourishing, flowering, but not producing yet. I’m getting a tad impatient for these, especially with the best ever zucchini bread recipe in my arsenal. Come on!

Mateo was disappointed that my rainbow chard did not, in fact, grow in every color of the rainbow. It looks pretty, I think, but he was a little disgusted that there was no blue, or purple.

We enjoyed this chard sauteed slightly, and added to summer pizza with black olive tapenade, feta cheese, and new onions. All of it grilled, of course.

Garlic, onions, potatoes, beets and carrots are still growing under the damp soil, but I am happy with a small harvest like the one above every couple of days. I feel rich, just having fresh mint for my mojitos, ample herbs for cooking, and salad greens galore.

Last, but not least, I have an eclectic potted garden on the back patio that consists of mostly herbs and a few flowers. There are also three colorful pots, each containing a bell pepper plant. When my mother was here, she dug them up from my raised beds (not enough sun) and transplanted them into pots on the sunniest part of the deck. Naturally, they’ve all got flowers on the way now.

So that’s it. I’d love to hear what you think and any tips you might have to offer (why are my zucchinis flowering, but not yielding any fruit?) Don’t forget that you can plan for your fall garden and if you need any inspiration, there’s always my Garden Grow Pinterest board.

How does your garden grow? What are you eating from the earth?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Your garden looks great! I have had a heck of a year with squash bugs, so I only have one little zucchini plant left, and it is one that I planted in a pot. Most of my tomatoes seem to be stunted as well. However, I am having an amazing year with peppers. I am getting several green peppers each day, as well as a lot of jalapenos. I use them for my home canned salsa, so the jalapenos are going into the freezer until my tomatoes start to ripen. I’m hoping to improve the garden next year with raised beds and perhaps figuring out those floating row covers…

  2. Hi, Aimee
    I really don’t have not one tip, everything here looks just amazing. No need to change anything. 🙂

  3. Have you read the book Carrots Love Tomatoes? It’s a wonderful book about which plants thrive when planted together. Lots of great information, although it did not benefit my garden (too many trees!)

  4. We just did herbs this year and I somehow managed to kill our parsley. 🙁 But our oregano, thyme, chives and mint are doing very well. Plus lots of people from church are passing along their extra fruits and vegetables to us.

  5. Cry… 🙁 I cant wait till summer to overhaul my vegie patch and have buckets of fresh greens. I’m hanging out for zucchini too! 🙂

  6. What a gorgeous garden! I can’t wait to have one of my own…

  7. I can’t wait to try your zucchini bread recipe. We are starting to be overrun by zucchini and kale, and have enjoyed two beautiful cabbage from the garden. Your boxes are beautiful.

  8. Brian @ A Thought For Food says

    Are you trying to make me jealous? Because it worked. This all looks so fabulous!

  9. Our garden is just about gone with all this heat we’ve had this summer. I need to gather everything I can and then just clear it out for fall planting. Yours on the other hand looks amazing!

  10. You may already know this, but if you are picking all of the male blossoms from your zucchini plants, the female (squash producing) blossoms can’t be fertilized and won’t fruit. The male blossoms appear first, and the female ones come later, so you may just not have any yet. Other than that bit of info, I don’t have any advice for you – your garden looks fantastic!

  11. Beautiful garden! Wish I could pop by to visit. 🙂 I’m just growing herbs and some tomatoes (all container gardening for me at this point). One of my tomato plants is giving me lots of delicious little tomatoes, but I think the other plant is dying!

  12. You may need more nitrogen in your soil in order to produce zucchinis.

  13. My buttercrunch bolted up in the heat and a couple of blueberry bushes withered in the drought, but everything else looks like its on its way to a decent harvest…teeny watermelons, flowers that will become zucchini and cucumbers, a few green beans showing up, tomato plants growing strong, green peppers coming along. Yours is looking wonderful!

  14. Margaret says

    I don’t know how much rain you’ve got in Montreal, but I’m about an hour to the west, and the parched conditions in eastern Ontario have stunted all our plants. We’ve got a few tomatoes that have turned red, but they are tiny due to the lack of rain. Our cukes have only now started to produce some tiny cukes, but are full of flowers, so there’s still hope for your zucchini!

  15. Your garden looks beautiful! I love the raised beds, especially, and am envious of your basil plants 😉

    We are growing romaine lettuce and spinach for the first time this year. The seed packet said “baby” romaine, but the plants are huge! We’ve had such an abundant crop that we’ve begun donating bags once a week to a local food bank. The only trouble we’ve had so far are pocket-gophers: they ate the roots off a cucumber plant and I think they have been nibbling on our sugar-snap pea plants too. Luckily, they haven’t touched the carrots.

    Zucchini plants are pretty hardy and grow in many different climates; I wonder if the problem is linked to the chemical composition of your soil? Just a thought.

  16. Thanks for sharing updates from your garden! We seem to have the same problem with zucchini plants some years. Usually at least half of our plants yield only the type of flower that doesn’t fruit. You can tell almost immediately when only ‘male’ flowers develop. I don’t really know what determines this but I would love to find out! Share it with us if you ever do 🙂
    I do have some useful information about how to control the ‘branching’ of the tomato plant you mentioned, which often results in too much energy put into growing the plant and not enough to the tomatoes themselves. It is too late now of course, but NEXT YEAR (seems to be my moto in gardening) you can remove the ‘suckers’ that appear in between the main stem and then branches. I have attached a link with a good picture. Maybe you have already done this and are still getting unruly tomatoes but I thought I’d share just in case! Good luck with the rest of the season 😀

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  18. We’re eating lots of garden tomatoes, but with the drought in the U.S Midwest, the peppers were lost, and a few other things. Still hanging onto hot peppers (for salsa), and herbs that are practically drying themselves before I have a chance to pick them. Your photos of your garden are inspiring – thank you!

  19. We have some beautiful swiss chard too, but my husband is not impressed by the colors, like Mateo, in this case because he\’s color blind. I\’ve read some reasons for having zucchini flowers but no fruit are not having enough sunlight, very hot temperatures for many days above 85 deg and watering male flowers in the early morning from overhead washes away pollen & prevents pollination. The male flowers are only open for pollination from just before dawn to about mid-morning so its best not to water them (overhead with a sprinkler or hose) during that time.

  20. How lovely!
    I hope to have a rain bucket next year. How frequently do you water? I can’t seem to find a good time table for it. I try watering in the evening and then I switched to the mornings. Is there a better time to water?

  21. Aimee, you’re raised beds look gorgeous! I could stare at beautiful gardens all day long. I love what you’ve done!

  22. My tomatoes look just like yours. We had a “restart” after the dog decided he liked my organic fertilizer and dug up ALL MY PLANTS! Thankfully, everything is in pots, so I’ve been able to put them up on tables to keep the paws away. I think I took our crazy wet spring for granted and haven’t been giving my garden enough water now that summer has finally arrived. Maybe a September harvest.

  23. Your garden looks beautiful!
    I am living vicariously through all the lovely northern hemisphere garden blogs while it is freezing cold and very wet down here in Australia. I’m dreaming of spring planting when things are hopefully a little less muddy!

  24. You have a beautiful garden and plenty of veggies. I have my small garden as well. In fact, last week I harvested my tomatoes already. I love organic veggies so I didn’t put any pesticides and chemicals on it.

  25. What wonderful cats you have! Our garden is doing well but we had to trap and release groundhogs and have many deer and chipmunks trying to get the veggies!

  26. You have a beautiful garden all your veggies are healthy. I admired you for having this awesome garden. All your plants on your garden grow well. If ever that I have this garden I love to visit and see these abundant veggies.

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