Garden Fridays: The “Brown & Crispy” Edition

by Shawnda on August 30, 2013

in Garden

Black Beauty Eggplant

Please lower your head in a moment of silence for:
2 blueberry bushes [sob]
1 San Marzano tomato
1 Juliet tomato
16 green bean bushes
20+ strawberry plants [sob]
2 pots of basil

And may your prayers or good thoughts be sent to the grapefruit tree, you know – the one with more grapefruit (12) than leaves.

I will be winning no pro-am gardening competitions this year.

What hasn’t shriveled to a crisp in this drought? The eggplant. And the red and yellow bell peppers. And the poblano. Not coincidentally, those are also the newest items on my “I don’t care if I never see another one in my entire life again” list.

How are your gardens doing? Hopefully you have fared better than I have!



Garden Fridays: Figs and a Reboot

by Shawnda on July 12, 2013

in Garden

It’s mid July and that means two things: it’s seventh-circle-of-hell hot and it’s time for Garden 2.0!

The most wonderful things to come out of the garden this last month were the figs. No question. We got our first real crop from our small fig tree and it was fabulous. This happened more than once:

Fresh figs, honey, and brie

But sadly, it was short-lived. Backyard fig season was over within 2-3 weeks.

Also extremely wonderful: San Marzano tomatoes. I have 3 quarts of pizza sauce in the freezer and fridge. 12 cups! Do you know how many tomatoes it takes to make 12 cups of pizza sauce? I stopped counting… but it was a crazy bunch.

San Marzano Tomatoes

Everything else is barely creeping along, thanks to being at the mercy of me and my water hose. We’ve had one small sprinkling of rain in the last 6 weeks. If you’ve got a spare rainy day just lying around, I’ll take it!

Still Alive
Eggplant, it’s a survivor. I don’t know what it was about that plant. It only recently started growing after being in the ground and 4-inches tall for ~4 months. But we’ve gotten our first flowers and should see our first eggplant soon.

Red and Yellow Bell Peppers are doing fabulously. The yellow bell pepper is especially happy after the cantaloupe vine was trimmed back off the netting – more sunlight!

Jalapeno – moved it to the prime position previously occupied by the 3-year-old serrano “tree.” It’s is much happier now.

Strawberries – done producing for the year but now comes the tricky part: keeping them alive during nearly-triple-digits and drought.

Red grape – Nothing this year so far.

Basil – I am temporarily over pesto and caprese everything. I aggressively cut back the basil so I have a bit of a reprieve.

Garden tomatoes

Tomatoes! A new San Marzano and a new mystery tomato plant. I can tell it’s not a vining plant, but that’s about it. I also started some clippings in a glass of water to root and those will go in the ground shortly. Long live summer tomato sauce!

Green beans – the spring plants got spindly and crispy so I pulled them and am planting the rest of the seeds in the ground this weekend.

Butternut squash – ’tis the season!

In Limbo
2 San Marzano and the Juliet tomatoes were aggressively pruned… and now look aggressively almost dead. They might not make it. But I’ll deal with the month-long lull between tomato crops if it means my back yard is temporarily free of those disgusting leaf-footed stink bugs. They are my nemesis. Even more so now that one tried to fly into my mouth. Luckily, my lips were pursed in preparation of releasing a very angry “Mommy word” and no damage was done to either party.

Tomatillos – I will never even try again. The plants are gigantic and took over far more valuable garden real estate than they produced tomatillos. Never again.

Cantaloupe – produced a handful of cantaloupe and then died.

Serrano – after 3 years, we pulled the serrano in favor of getting the more-desirable jalapeno more light. Because you know what makes a better stuffed pepper? Jalapenos.



Hello, Summer!

by Shawnda on June 16, 2013

in Fruit,Garden


We spent the last 8 days on the funnest, most awesome vacation we’ve ever taken. Eating Mickey Mouse-shaped Ice Cream Sandwiches like it was my job (and it kinda was), princess-ing all the things, princessing them some more, and riding roller coasters.

13 family members under one large roof. And there wasn’t a single argument, much less a stabbing. Successful. Epically so.

What I wasn’t doing? Certainly not thinking about my garden! But I didn’t have to – my friend Kelly garden-sat for us. She was paid in all the produce she could pick.

9+ lbs of Juliet and San Marzano tomatoes, alone, I hear.

The first thing I did this morning was fill one of those large, city-issued garbage cans full of prunings from the tomatillo and tomato plants, and then I spotted a beautiful golden globe peaking out from under the green canopy.

A cantaloupe.


My knife slid through the chilled fruit like it was butter. It was absolutely a perfect welcome home.

Well, perfect right after a sprinkling of salt. Fess up – who else salts their watermelon and cantaloupe?