Garden Update June 2020

Hello, and welcome to another one of my garden updates. My last update was for May, and this one is for June. (Sorry it’s a bit later than the last one.) My garden has grown so fast, it’s shocking! I’ve gotten some radishes and lettuce off my plants, and this weekend I was able to get some cucumbers off my plants too.

This last month I’ve learned some valuable lessons. First, and I mentioned it in my last post, it is so important to space radishes. I tried to get them high density, just it just grew into a mess, and it took about 2 weeks longer to get any. Also, the two pictures below of harvested radishes is all the radishes I was able to harvest out of that mess. I had several radishes break under the soil and begin to rot, and I had many many more that produced no bulb due to overcrowding.

Second, I’ve discovered that cucumbers are a handful! I’ve been trying to grow them vertically, tying them to a tomato cage. And, though that works, They don’t climb naturally well, so I find myself every 1-2 days in the garden directing and tying off my cucumber plants. I also trimmed off some of the lower leaves off my cucumbers. They were turning yellow and dying, and they were also restricting air flow and making it hard to see any low hanging cucumbers.

Third, I learned all spacing needs to be respected more. I planted my green beans and cucumbers about 18 inches apart, and you’d swear they are star-crossed lovers. I go out into my garden everyday, and I always see these two plants reaching for one another, and being less than an inch from becoming a tangled mess I don’t look forward to dealing with. However, my other bed of lettuce, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and onions aren’t having any crowding issues. My Swiss chard didn’t come up. I believe I waited too long to plant. I also planted another segment of lettuce, and that also didn’t come up, I’m assuming same problem. My onions in that bed have appeared to stop growing. They are tinier than the other bed despite being planted earlier. They tops have also begun to fall over on several in that bed, leading me to believe pour drainage is likely a problem. I have several tomatoes that are nice and big, however none have begun to turn red yet. I also have one that a bug got into, but that’s not bad.

Fourth, I’ve learned good soil and drainage is important. As I just mentioned, my one bed isn’t holding onions, and I’m positive that if it isn’t holding onto moisture too much, the soil is likely not giving them enough nutrients. This bed was filled with mostly decomposed mulch, so the soil isn’t as good as my other bed. Besides that, the fabric bags we filled using soil from my in-law’s house, and their soil has a very high clay content. Because of this, in the hot June/July weather, I have to go and water them about every other day, when I see the leaves really wilting.

I’ve gotten everything planted and going. Some things aren’t growing as well as others, but I’m learning. We got a peach tree about 2 weeks ago and got that into the ground. I also left a few radishes to go to seed, and I have 2 onion sets going to seed now.

Ive also fertilized my soil about 3 times. I’ve been using Miracle Grow plant food for vegetables. Between that, watering regularly, and all the warm weather, my veggies have grown so fast!

May 24

May 29

June 9

June 18

June 21

June 24

Cucumber Pasta Salad

This cucumber salad recipe is light and refreshing. By letting the cucumber and onion sit in the vinegar, they get to absorb some of the tartness. However, paired with the pasta and other dressings, you end up with a flavorful and balanced side. It’s also very easy to make and you can easily double or triple it for your next cookout! It even tastes great the next day. I used 1 cup diced cucumbers, 1/4 cup shallots/onion, and 2 cups uncooked rotini.

  1. Dice up 2 small cucumbers, and 2 shallots. Add 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, stir and set aside.
  2. Bring water in a large sauce pan to a boil. Add 16 oz rotini and cook for 15 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Add pasta to cucumbers and onion. Add 1 1/4 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, and 2 Tbsp Italian dressing. Stir and serve.

One-pan Cheeseburger Mac From Boxed Mac and Cheese

If you’ve been following me for a while, this recipe may seem familiar. I made this about three months ago, however I had altered it since then. I’ve been able to alter the recipe and make this dish a one pan meal! I’ve also doubled my boxed mac and cheese to help distribute the meat better and to make a dish that would be great for a big family. For my original recipe, you can click here.

This is a homemade version of hamburger helper that just needs boxed mac and cheese. When cooking, you can choose to drain off the fat or not. Fats do add some flavor to dishes, however this dish doesn’t need that flavor to make a tasty dish. I also used 1/2 of a frozen diced onion. I just find it easier to dice and freeze my onions in bulk. I used a standard beef bouillon, but you can also use 4 cups low sodium stock in place of some water or powdered bouillon. And finally, I used Weis brand mac & cheese. You can try other types like Kraft or shells, but that’s what I had on hand. Remember to taste your food before serving, and add additional garlic, mustard powder, or ketchup as you desire.

  1. In a large dutch oven, brown and break up one pound of ground beef. Dice up 1/2 cup of onion and cook until translucent. Drain off any excess fat if you desire.
  2. Add 7 cups of water and 4 beef bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 2 boxes of mac and cheese pasta. Stir regularly. Boil 3-4 minutes longer than recommended by the box, until most water has boiled off.
  3. Add your cheese packets and any other ingredients instructed by the box. Stir. Add 8 Tbsp ketchup, 3 Tbsp mustard, and 2 Tbsp garlic powder. Combine together and serve. Makes 9 adult portions. If you desire, excess can be frozen. To reheat, add a splash of milk and microwave 1-2 minutes, or 5-7 minutes if frozen.

Oriental Pork with White Rice

This oriental dish is made with ground pork and is full of traditional flavors. Using oyster sauce and soy sauce, this dish is mostly savory with some sweet flavors. I added onion for an additional flavor. You could also add any other vegetables such as bok choy, peas, broccoli, Swiss chard, or radish. Best served with a side of rice, this dish is full of flavor and very filling. The recipe I made makes 5 adult sized meals.

  1. Place 1/2 pound ground pork into a large sauce pan, and heat over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil. Brown pork and break it up. Add 1 small diced onion (1/2 cup), and cook till translucent.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp oyster sauce and 1 Tbsp soy sauce, cook till dark brown. Add 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 dash red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp ground ginger. Stir.
  3. Add 1 cup water. Simmer until most water is evaporated. Serve with white rice.

Planting My Garden, May 2020

It’s finally time for me to plant. I spent hours researching plants, finding out what can and cannot work together, researching gardening techniques and styles. I’ve watched days worth of YouTube videos by different gardeners, and I was waiting for now. Memorial day weekend is plating time where I’m from. Before then, there is a constant risk of frost or even snow. I planted my onions, some Parris island lettuce, and my radishes about 2 weeks ago, and they got snow and frost. But, after Wednesday night, we are out of the frost zone! I planted another 1/3 of my lettuce row with seeds, I planted 4 Swiss chard seeds, I planted 5 indeterminate tomato vines, and Josh and I made stakes that are 1 in x 1 in x 6 1/2 foot for my tomatoes. We plated 5 clusters of cucumbers, and added cages around them, because we hope to grow them vertically, and finally, Josh made a trellis for me using chicken wire, and I plated green bean pole beans along the front of that. Our beds are 8 ft by 4 ft.

I did a lot of research leading up to this. Different staking methods, high density spacing, harvest conditions and seeding conditions. I grew some plants from seeds, however, I also purchased many plants. I’ve never really gardened before. Josh grew up with a garden, but I’ve only grown the occasional cherry tomato. I have house plants, but even they are hard for me to manage all winter. I’m hopeful. I put lots of time into this project and I’ve learned so much about these plants. I know I will be disappointed when something doesn’t work, but I’m hopeful, and I hope to share lots of canning posts this summer on here and Instagram.

Things I did differently

According to my plans, it says beets, but it was always radishes. I just say beets sometimes, I don’t know why. The other thing I’ve done differently was how I planted the beans. I wasn’t sure if I was getting a trellis, so I planned for a teepee. Instead I planted the beans 4 inches from the edge of the bed with about 6 inch spacing between them. I still fit 12 plants along the 6 foot of trellis Josh put up. Finally, I haven’t planted my carrots yet. I am currently using their pots to hold a few other plants I still have. I plant to plant my decorative plants soon. I also am thinking of keeping my early crop of Romaine in the pot. The white hanging pot has changed from onions to cat grass, and the 2 other pots in that photo are large cucumbers. Of which, the reason I didn’t plant the carrots is we need for dirt for out fabric pots, and I plan to fill 2 more for my 2 large cucumber plants. This will mean 4 fabric bags of plants.

If I could do things different

I guess I would make the raised beds slightly narrower. Because, I get quite the ab workout leaning into the center of the bed from the side. I would also plant all my onions together, and plant them at the outer edge of the beds. On my cucumber bed, I planted a row of radishes against the edge of the bed. They are doing fine, but I won’t be able to plant anything in it’s spot when I harvest in less than a month. I would also actually follow spacing for the radishes, instead of planning to plant high density like the lettuce.