Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hey, I can grow food!

This is the most productive year my veggie garden has ever had.
Three Sisters garden
'Three Sisters' bed in front, potato patch in back

I've been cultivating this plot of land since 2005 and all the hard work is really starting to pay off. Over the past month, I've harvested pounds and pounds of potatoes,
'Kennebec' white potatoes

'German Johnson' tomatoes

'Tatume' squash
'Tatume' squash. The large ones are firm like spaghetti squash, the small ones are tender like zucchini.

green beans,
green beans and squash
'Blue Lake' bush beans and 'Tatume' squash

'Inchelium Red' and 'Lorz Italian' garlic

'Boston' and 'lemon' cucumbers

and beets. Or rather, beet.
giant Chioggia beet
Yep, that is one giant Chioggia beet.

I even had a measurable corn harvest. The ears were small but numerous, with well-formed kernels at the base and a fresh, corn taste. The tips of the ears had poorly formed kernels, bugs (aphids, ear worms) and/or corn fungus, so I cut off the tips and we ate the good part.
'Stowell's Evergreen' white corn

We've been eating fresh vegetables from our garden nearly every night.  I made homemade tomato sauce, and I even pickled that big old woody beet (it's marvelous). 
canned beets
Get the recipe at 

I can't say growing my own food is less expensive than market-bought. Over the past 9 years, I've spent hundreds of dollars on compost and garden soil, a drip irrigation system, tools, hoops and trellises, shade cloth and frost cloth. But now that the garden is established, my costs are going down. I do buy seed, transplants, and organic nitrogen fertilizer, as well as a few bags of compost each season (my small bin only makes enough compost to top off one bed).

Mulching the beds keeps water use down; pine straw is my favorite because it lasts a long time. Someday soon I'd like to install a large rainwater collection tank.
muskmelon seedling
Muskmelon seedling mulched with pine straw

I'm working on lowering my seed costs by saving some of my own.
seed saving
'German Johnson' heirloom tomato seeds

To me, there's few things more satisfying than harvesting fresh homegrown food right out of my own backyard. Others find it's too much toil and trouble and prefer to leave all that work to the farmers. Where do you stand?

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. What a great harvest. Congratulations! I live in the area and so I have an inkling of the difficulty of the challenge you have overcome. I am all about being a local-vore: what's not to like?

    1. Nothing more local than the backyard!

  2. That is one ginormous beet. I notice you didn't follow protocol and clip off the tops to only the strongest one - perhaps that's why it made a beet as big as your head.

    I, too, have been having a great year with the garden...of course, I mostly only grow tomatoes and peppers. And the winter garden was dismal. I think I should try to save some seeds from the blueberries tomato (my favorite this year)

    1. I know it's important to thin seedlings, but I didn't know I had to give the beets a haircut! I left it in the ground way too long, also. Blueberry tomato sounds neat!

  3. You have had a great year and should be justifiably proud. Don't you have bugs over there! My toms. are badly scarred by those darned leaf footeds and stink bus. Even so they taste great this year.

    1. I do have bugs - I have to plant enough for them and me. I'm seeing bug damage on big tomatoes this week (and bird damage as well). Agree they still taste great!

  4. Holy cow! So productive. :)

  5. That is great!
    I have to say I'm jealous of all the great garden harvests I've been seeing. Mine is the worse one here yet.
    Maybe I started too late.
    Glad yours is finally paying off.

  6. I usually start too late. I'm jealous of your figs and your succulent pots! Hope that makes us even. :)

  7. I loved your "farm" photos, Caroline, especially those of you! Congrats on all the yummy, homegrown food.

  8. If I had more room, I'd grow more veggies. Your beet is stupendous! Very impressive! Every thing looks so tasty. :o)