I’m pretty sure there’s fiber in icecream

Many people wax poetic on the joys of homegrown produce.  The flavor, the nutrients, the connection with the earth…. all good things and all good for you (and deep down inside I agree) but on the shallow outside I’d still rather reach for a donut or chocolate bar rather than a carrot stick.  Vegetables just don’t make my heart go pitter pat.

Because of that the vegetable garden always walks a fine line between productivity and extinction.  I love the look of vegetables bursting from the soil, but the newly dug beds and open ground are just too tempting to keep free of flowers.  At this time of year it’s more of a flower harvest.

volunteer sunflower

Oddly enough a sunflower has come up in exactly the same spot as one grew last year. It’s the perfect spot actually, and I’m glad to have it!

The season starts innocently enough, and with a strong will I turn under all the persicaria and daisies and whatever else tries to sneak in.  I need room for delicious lettuce seedlings and broccoli transplants and the flowers just throw off my industrially neat rows.  Things go downhill from there.

dahlia tanjoh

Dahlias always seem to grow best in a vegetable plot and when you’ve got one or two extra roots it seems perfectly logical to sneak them in between the chard. This is dahlia “Tanjoh” which I barely noticed last year as it suffered under the shade of a wayward sunflower.

Harvest time is always a problem.  If the broccoli is ready it needs to be picked, and there are only so many broccoli-cheese omelets you can reasonably fit into a weekend.  Things go to seed and I’m strangely amused to see weeds such as lettuce, pumpkins, and chard popping up the next year.

broccoli bolting

When you lose control the broccoli turns into a froth of yellow blooms and green rattail seedpods. Several of these plants were self-sown seedlings which just showed up from last year’s patch.

One of the sore points this summer was how often the sweet corn needed watering in our pancake-thin topsoil.  It seemed like every other day I’d look out there and see dry curled leaves begging for a little moisture.  Shockingly enough even after giving up in disgust the patch managed to produce a few deliciously sweet and flavorful ears.

freshly picked sweet corn

A space, water and fertilizer hog, freshly picked sweet corn is still worth the trouble (I guess). But it’s a tough argument when the supermarket has 6 perfect ears for $2.50 and mine probably cost me that much just for the seeds!

Another producer was a trellis of pole beans (which called it a year after being blown over in August).  Beans are nice on a trellis, but the kids appreciate “love in a Puffs” much more than bean salad.

love in a puff and cypress vine

The pale green balloons of love in a puff (Cardiospermum halicacabum) with the ferny green leaves and red flowers of cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit). Both conveniently reseeded here at the base of the trellis from last year, something to keep in mind if you don’t like volunteer plants.

The kids share the love by picking the puffs and having a puff-fight but the real reason behind the name is found inside the puff on each of the vine’s black seeds.

love in a puff seeds

A white heart forms on each seed, a kind of ‘belly button’ from where the seed was attached to the plant. Glad my hands were clean for this one 🙂

There is plenty of ‘real’ harvest that comes from the patch.  Tomatoes never fail, even the fussier heirlooms, and here is a huge cluster of “Kellogg’s Breakfast”.  In a rare second appearance in a single blog post (I hate having myself show up in any pictures), I left my hand in there to show just how big the fruits are.  2 lbs, 14 oz for the pair in case you’re interested.

Kellogg's Breakfast tomato

Kellogg’s Breakfast tomato

When I finished planting the tomatoes I couldn’t resist adding a border of “Moldavian” marigolds (from Nan at Hayefield) and a few stray salvia and leftover zinnia seedlings.  Might as well since the other side of the bed is edged in hellebore seedlings.

zinnias, marigolds, and blue salvia

A vegetable garden is the perfect place for bunches of annuals that might not find a place in the rest of the garden. The brownish orange of these “Moldova” marigolds might be hard to fit in somewhere else.

And did I mention I like phlox?  When you’re faced with a few new ones to plant and you’ve given absolutely no forethought to where they’ll go the vegetable garden makes everything better again.

phlox kirmeslander

Just coming into bloom now, phlox “Kirmeslander” seems almost too summery a color for the autumn-golds and yellows which are starting to appear.

With the season winding down one would think the vegetable patch would be safe, but fall is actually the most dangerous time of year for vegetable space.  After you pull up a dead, mildewed patch of zucchini the vacant spot almost begs for a few tulips or daffodils which you can’t find a space for elsewhere.  No worries though, I’m sure they’ll die down before I need the room for peppers!

Oh and I think the colchicums look nice blooming between the sweet corn stalks 🙂

27 comments on “I’m pretty sure there’s fiber in icecream

  1. Cathy says:

    Thise tomatoes are enormous! Hope they tasted good too. I avoided the dilemma and didn’t plant any veg this year – just more flowers. Since my veg garden consists of containers I just couldn’t face all the watering, especially after such a measly harvest I had last year too.Thanks for the laugh. You know you can put a lot of veg in cake, don’t you? (Beetroot, zucchini, pumpkin…..) 😉

  2. Those are fantastic looking tomatoes. I too am guilty of flowers in the vegetable patch. There’s a clematis trellis in there, as well as volunteer cleome and sunflowers, zinnias, four-o’clocks, and marigolds. The zinnias and sunflowers have to be grown behind the fence because of the woodchucks. No excuse for the others! Truth is, I’m not fond of most veggies, either, but a pot of freshly picked, very thin French green beans is SOOOO much more appealing than its frozen counterpart!

    Once those beans get pulled up, it will be time to plant the tulips in there! (Again, behind the fence, to protect them from Chuck, and Bambi, and their squirrel friends, too!)

  3. Christina says:

    I smiled the whole time I was reading this post, Frank! I am one of those people who gain almost more satisfaction from producing vegetables than from the garden itself, Although as you know some of the vegetable beds are being converted to cut flower beds, which are just as rewarding. With all those annuals in the veg beds there really is no excuse not to pick some for the house!

    • bittster says:

      I can joke about it but I would never stop growing vegetables. To be able to bring something edible out of the earth is amazing to me…. but sometimes I just can’t get past the amazing part and get to the picking and cleaning and cooking part!
      Plus the kids love picking, and I’m always happy to see them out there excited and exploring. It may be a little annoying when they pick all the green peppers, but there will always be more, and we’re fortunate not to need every single last bit of produce.

  4. Pauline says:

    Some flowers popped up in my veggie beds this year, I certainly didn’t plant them, but they looked so nice that they stayed. I will have to look for the variety of marigolds that you have, my daughter in law comes from Moldova and I am sure they would remind her of home!

    • bittster says:

      It’s so hard to pull a healthy little flower seedling, but you can’t save everything…. but you can save one or two 🙂
      The story which came with the seed was that they were brought home in a sock from a visit to Moldova. I don’t know if it’s true but it’s a great story!

  5. Everything is just so gorgeous and neat and tidy!! WOW. Breathtaking. I love that phlox too, you’re right it does seem almost too summery. You have given me an idea about planting tulips in the vegetable garden– i wonder if they really will be finished before i need to plant peppers!?

    • bittster says:

      The tulips will be finished blooming in time for tomatoes and peppers, but if you’re waiting for the foliage to die and saving the bulbs you might end up planting your peppers a week or two later…. ask me how I know this 🙂
      Neat and tidy are not the words I hear a lot when it comes to the garden, but I’ll take it! (even if it is mostly due to photo editing and good camera angle)

      • Well that is your artistic right you know and it’s ok- Looks darn perfect to me. Thanks for the info about the bulbs… Maybe if i buy less expensive ones I won’t care about taking them out before the foliage die- or i could plan my garden a year ahead – but lets be serious that’s never going to happen. 🙂

      • bittster says:

        Good thinking! Sometimes I think my best tulips have been the end of year sacks I picked up at the box store, the cheapest of the cheap!… and as far as planning goes, I’m lucky to even have anything planted let alone think it out carefully 🙂

      • I am going to do this. It will be like prepaying for a couple of bouquets of tulips I figure. Makes TOTAL cents$!

      • bittster says:

        It’s so easy to justify plants, especially when you put it into a budget that includes dinner, clothes, or filling the gas tank… the price almost disappears!

  6. Wow, that is a monster tomato! I think I may have already told you I am not an enthusiastic vegetable gardener, though I do like having fresh herbs. My “edibles bed” is now mostly sunflowers, zinnias, and tithonia.

    • bittster says:

      As you can see, my edibles beds are also losing ground. Flowers seem a lot more fun, and don’t make you feel all kinds of guilt when the bloom passes and you never got around to cutting it!

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Frank, your garden is beautiful–perhaps just the right balance of veggies and flowers. I haven’t tried vegetables in a long time, but can relate to seeing open space and wanting to fill it in. The love in a puff is very cool–haven’t seen that before.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, maybe I get a little over critical at this time of year… I bet I wouldn’t miss many of the vegetables if they weren’t there. I’d be fine with just a couple pots of lettuce.

  8. Chloris says:

    I wish I could grow tomatoes like that and I just love those Love in a Puff thingies, I’ ve never seen them before. You have so many lovely flowers still in bloom too.

    • bittster says:

      The rain really brought things back to life, now I’m hoping for a nice long autumn.
      Plus my procrastination in the spring means most of the plantings are still young and fresh now!

  9. I really like the pale yellow color of broccoli flowers. Have you every grown Scabiosa ochroleuca? Same color.

    • bittster says:

      I like the look of that scabiosa but never tried it. I always assumed they would be too delicate for my garden, maybe I need to give it a try!
      I was looking at the broccoli today and realized I will have a TON of seed if I let them all go. Maybe I can start a broccoli farm 🙂

  10. Annette says:

    Well, your out-of-control-beds looks fab to me, Frank. I agree, Dahlias love veg beds and look so well in between…I look forward to growing them again next year. I love “love in a puff”! What a name… wonder if I can get seeds around here.

    • bittster says:

      Love in a puff shouldn’t be too hard to find, I almost think some people may consider it a weed!
      The out of control look is perfect for this time of year (I think!) Seed heads, tall grasses, browning perennials, it all seems to fit the season and I try to enjoy it as much as I can before starting any cleanup.

      • Annette says:

        Do you clean up before winter? I always leave it until late winter/early spring as there’s so much to treasure.

      • bittster says:

        I usually only remove the sloppy dead such as annuals and such, the rest of the stalks and seed heads stay all winter unless it’s a spot with very early bloomers. I also like to have something interesting to hold the snow and frost!

  11. Paula says:

    Looks great bittster…so cheery and fun. I like your writing..could read it all day. You could write professionally..get published 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Ha ha, thanks Paula! That’s so nice to hear. I’m sometimes surprised to read what comes out, it seems so much more organized than what’s in my head.
      ….but it worries me when people tell me the stories make them laugh. This is my life and it really is this full of ideas gone wrong, stupid accidents, and plenty of plain old dumb luck!! Good thing I can laugh at it all 🙂
      Now about you putting together your own blog……..

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