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We actually had a really good, big harvest from our green bean plants. The problem, however, is we only had one. And it came at the end of August.

Most of this is our fault. First, because we planted them too late — in June after the peas were done. Second, because we forgot to check them after the first bowl.

We also attribute some of this to the weird weather this summer. It was cooler than most summers and we had a lot of rain in July.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans grew very well — some tendrils and leaves reached more than six feet tall and wrapped around our garage toward the tomatoes. But once they started to actually mature into beans, quite a few were bulging, which means they’re overly mature and could be tough (not good).

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

 

We made a delicious garlicky green bean sauté (recipe below) but wished we had more throughout the summer. On a positive note, the deer didn’t eat them like they have the past couple years.

So, what can be done better next year? We need to plant early! And check on them more often. I’d love to have a steady supply throughout the season.

Garlicky green beans

We had about a pound or so of the green beans, and this is an adaptation of a recipe I found. First, snap off the ends and de-string the beans. Then cut/trim to desired size.

Toss into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about three or four minutes. While those are cooking, add garlic to hot pan with oil. We used about four or five cloves of garlic.

Once the green beans are done, transfer from the boiling water to the pan with garlic and continue to sauté for another four or five minutes, stirring, until the green beans are crisp tender.

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Making salsa is a great way to use tomatoes from the garden.

Making salsa is a great way to use tomatoes from the garden.

We’re in the heart of winter here, and that makes me miss the long, wonderful days of summer. I wrote this post and recipe a while ago but realized I never shared it here.

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Right at the end of July and early August, we had more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. This is a perfect time to make a big batch of fresh salsa.

While I’m good with the jar salsa, there is nothing like when it’s fresh out of the garden with no cooking to muddle the flavors.

Here’s what you need:

• About two or three pounds of tomatoes, chopped. Ours were a mix of Roma and regular tomatoes (Brandywine and Celebrity are what we grew).

• A bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

• Hot peppers. We used about four jalapeños (two seeded, two with seeds) and two Anaheim peppers.

• One lime, for juice and zest

• Half of a medium onion, chopped

• Four cloves of garlic, minced

• Salt

Mix all the chopped vegetables and herbs together. Squeeze out the juice from both lime halves and add the zest from one half. Add a couple pinches of salt and mix again. Let sit overnight so the flavors mix. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Should make about six cups of salsa.

* To avoid the salsa being too watery, you can squeeze out some of the pulp & juice from the tomatoes before chopping. Add it back to the salsa until it’s desired consistency.

* As always, you can adjust to taste. To make it less spicy, remove the pepper seeds and ribs. Cilantro is necessary, but you can add more or less, depending on taste.

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I wrote this in November and forgot to post it. But instead of re-writing it, I’ve decided to put it on the blog anyway. We haven’t been keeping up with the in-bed composting as often as we planned, mostly because we haven’t been collecting kitchen scraps and our stash of leaves is soaked from the snow. 

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A couple weeks ago we did some major fall clean up in the garden. It’s always sad to rip everything out, but what wasn’t diseased was cut up and tossed into the compost bin.

We were able to save some of the herbs and preserve them for the winter (more on that later). As I mentioned in other posts, we have lots of beautiful trees on our street. In past years, we’ve shredded them and added the leaves to our garden beds to decompose over the winter. But I recently learned many of the pests that plague our garden – most notably the cucumber beetle – overwinter in leaf debris, so we’re switching it up.

I know it will be impossible to keep all the leaves out of the garden, but I don’t want big piles on each bed, so we’re trying in-bed composting. The basic concept is digging a big hole and adding your green material (plant debris, vegetable scraps, etc.) and brown material (dried leaves, shredded paper, etc.) and burying it. The idea is it will breakdown over the winter and add nutrients directly to the beds.

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It’s hard to think about gardening when temperatures are near zero with negative wind chills. We’re in Ohio and just got past the cold spell brought on by the “polar vortex.” But, that being said, we’re still thinking about the garden. There are two things I’m hoping happen with this deep freeze.

1. It kills any eggs/larva of the insects that destroyed many of our plants: squash vine borer, leaf hoppers, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Especially the last one because those were awful this year.

2. Our garlic survives. We bought some on a whim and planted them a little later than we should have. I really hope they had time to set some roots before it got too cold.

We have another goal this year: to post more often. I have quite a few recipes, stories, plans for next year and other things to share from the past season.

Finally, I’ve noticed a lot of views coming from Australia and New Zealand recently, which makes sense because of the opposite seasons. So I’d like to say welcome! I hope you enjoy what you find here, and it helps your garden in some way!

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Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it.

Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it, but it hasn’t grown much bigger than this.

As some of our space cleared from summer vegetables that stopped producing or died, we were really excited to plant our fall garden. Peas could go where the cucumber was, lettuce could take over the first bed, Brussels sprouts and broccoli could fill in wherever they’d fit. It was a great plan, or so we thought.

We should have known that when multiple sowings of lettuce, spinach and broccoli seed never sprouted that it was probably a bad sign. I assumed we hadn’t watered them enough, the seeds were bad, something. So we decided to try to start everything in pots and transplant where needed later.

This part worked wonderfully. We had lots of baby lettuce and almost a dozen Brussels sprouts plants.

The peas we planted in place started to sprout and grow. It looked promising.

But looking promising and being productive are two different things, and our fall garden excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

The lettuce transplants look great, but they aren’t any bigger than the day we put them in the raised beds. All the Brussels sprouts either wilted or had their leaves chewed by something. And the kale we tried to grow in a pot? Knocked over and spilled everywhere –probably as a result of the squirrels trying to bury acorns wherever they can.

While it was unfortunate we couldn’t keep the harvest going into the cooler months, we’ll try again next year. And we hope, with a little more planning, we’ll have a fantastic fall garden.

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Probably the last vegetables we'll get from the garden this year.

Probably the last vegetables we’ll get from the garden this year.

As the weather gets colder, our plants are on their way out. It’s a bit odd because there are new eggplant flowers and pepper flowers, but they won’t have enough time to mature. We have a few more grape tomatoes that might be ready before it gets too cold, but pretty much everything else is done. We tried to plant some fall vegetables, but that plan seems to have failed. More on that later.

Overall, it was a pretty successful year. Not the best, but it was way better than what we had last year, or even the year before. I’ll recap everything in later posts, plus share some more recipes we made when all our vegetables were thriving.

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A brief hiatus

I realize it’s been a long time since we’ve posted anything. Life has been a bit on the crazy side lately.

We haven’t forgotten about the blog, and there is still stuff happening in the garden as summer winds down. We’re also waiting to see how our fall vegetables progress.

We’ll share more recipes, tips and our experience soon. I promise!

Until then, happy gardening!

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