So I practically have a turn key operation going at this point. Basically I go out and harvest when necessary. I didn't think it could be this easy, but so far it is! Granted I have been lucky that I haven't had to deal with major issues such as pests or plant diseases. That helps an awful lot in being able to keep my garden organic.
The one plant that wasn't working out at all was my Phooi Leaf (spinach-like plant for those that missed that post). According to everything I have read online about it, it is supposed to be very similar to spinach. I disagree. It doesn't have that nice, delicate, bitter taste. All it has is an overwhelming taste of chlorophyll. I wasn't too impressed with it the few times I cooked with it, and to boot, it attracted Japanese beetles. When I realized this, I promptly tore it out of the garden. It is a perennial so I didn't want to see it again next year.
The celery hasn't been doing so well because I planted it too close to the tomatoes and they have grown so big that they have blocked all the sunlight. I could have pruned back the tomatoes, but I like them way more than the celery so I decided to let them win out. The brussel sprouts have yet to yield anything, but stupid me didn't realize they were cold weather plants when I planted them. The plants themselves are looking huge and fabulous. Maybe there is hope for them yet in about a month when the weather is much cooler -- we will see -- Everything has been a great learning experience and I should have a much better planned garden next year.
Today I went out to harvest because I haven't done so in about a week which is way too long. I started with one large bowl and then realized I was going to need several more:
Nom nom nom tomato!
Notice the quick little hands in the upper right hand corner swiping another tomato.
I don't always have a harvest this big. A more typical harvest is this once or twice a week:
I have learned that Baby Boo REALLY likes tomatoes. She kept stealing them and ate 4 whole ones just this morning:
No joke, she ate 4 tomatoes!
So what have we been doing with all this wonderful fresh produce. . . besides letting my daughter inhale it all?
Well, for one, I have been using a lot for cooking and salads - that one's a no brainer. I keep a decent amount of fresh mozzarella on hand and we have been eating lots of caprese salads. They are amazingly delicious. Here is one made with my favorite purple heirloom tomatoes and 3 varieties of basil:
Little Dude adores this salad.
It never lasts long when he is around.
The kids eat lots of fresh veggies of course. They love chomping on sweet peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
I have given several bowls of veggies to family and friends too. I really make an effort to make sure that nothing is going to waste.
A good friend of mine who also is into gardening, has done some pickling and jarring this year. I give her a bunch of veggies, she does her thing with them, and she keeps a few jars and gives me some too. I have had pickled banana peppers, regular pickles, and soon jarred salsa. She gave me some rhubarb, orange, and jalapeno jam too, though those where from her garden not mine (except for the oranges of course - this is Minnesota not Florida). I think next year I want to do some canning/jarring myself. I would love to make my own spaghetti sauce.
It is clear that this garden venture has been massively rewarding and I will be doing it again every summer for years to come. If I had a bigger back yard, and if we were in our long term home I would expand and make a couple more raised beds. But I do have plenty for now at least and I am so glad I dove in head first.