Ah, Summer. I love it so much.
There's so much to do, and by the time the first freeze comes around I'm definitely ready for a break, but I do love being outside with the sun on my back and my hands in the dirt.
This year has been my favorite gardening year to date.
Most of my plants have done really well so far, which makes me SO happy. All that hard work is paying off!
Spinach and kale were the first to come off. The first harvest was enough to make a big, tasty salad and put one gallon bag of the mix in the freezer for smoothies.
I was able to get a few more pickings off, but then the aphids decided to help themselves and basically destroyed the helpless little plants. I've since pulled them out and I'm planning on planting another round in a few weeks for a fall harvest.
The second crop ready to harvest were my radishes. I have to say, I was pretty excited about these little guys. Every article I read about them raved about how "easy they are to grow" and how "you just can't go wrong with radishes".
Well, mine totally flopped. Big time.
First, the aphids attacked the leaves, then some kind of little white worm attacked the roots. It was an infestation. And it was pretty sad. (Don't let the picture fool you! As soon as I started slicing the radishes open, I discovered all the worms.)
But, like I always say (or have learned the hard way), gardening is all about trial and error.
Another thing I've been having trouble with are the tomatoes. Not the little ones like the cherry and pear (can anything destroy those?!), but the Roma and Beefsteak. They're sensitive little buggars.
Last year I battled with the blossom rot. This year, it's this thing called Verticillium wilt. The leaves turn yellow and kind of curly, and the tomatoes get all wrinkly and shriveled (yuck!). My husband told me lots of farmers around our area are having problems with it this year, and, unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it.
The good this is that I planted quite a few tomato plants because I wanted to do some canning. A few of them have survived this long, so I'm hoping for the best!
Also, we got a kitten! We were down to one cat (and she basically hated us), so we decided to get another one. Now, all of a sudden, they're best buddies and our old cat adores us. Life is good.
(Don't tell him I told you, but Ryan pretends that he doesn't like cats, but he actually does and they love him too. It's pretty adorable.)
Anyway, we've had him for almost two weeks and he still doesn't have a name. We're terrible cat-parents.
But back to canning. I've been trying my hand at it! My goal is to make the most of my garden this year, and not waste any of its bountiful produce!
So far I've made Spiced Apricot Butter, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, and one jar of pickled okra. That's not including the 7 gallons of black cap raspberries and 5 gallons of apricots in my freezer, plus the bucket of cucumbers in my laundry room that is waiting to be turned into more pickles.
I think it's safe to say we'll have enough pickles to last us a while.
I'll be honest though, making a batch of jam or pickles is quite intimidating to me, which is why it took me a few years to get started. However, the thought of having "garden-fresh" produce all winter long is such good motivation!
Plus, in this day and age I can have my mom, mother-in-law, and grandmas on speed dial in case of emergency, so that helps too.
I'm planning on doing a post later in the year about the canning and preserving I've done this year. I can't wait to tell you about it! Also, if you have any advice to share, I'd love to hear it. I need all the help I can get!
So what about you, friend? How is your garden doing this year?