My Garden is growing quickly!

I’ve noticed a lot of explosive growth of many things in the garden this last week. My tomatoes seem to have doubled in size – I have tomato cages around them but I need to tie up some of the branches.  I have a bunch of cool flowers starting to bloom. I planted a mix of different kinds of zinnias all over, and some calendula and cosmos – they are starting to bloom.  I love the different colors mixed in with the huge amount of lush green in the garden.  My carrots and beets are sprouting now.  And my weeds are getting large – this week my chores will include getting rid of a lot of them in the spaces I haven’t weeded yet. I have a ton of purslane still, even after picking some and making pickles.  I bough some ranch dressing and some cucumbers and tomatoes (since my plants aren’t producing yet) and am planning on some purslane salads this week.  It’s actually pretty good – we had it on tacos instead of lettuce the other day, and that was quite delicious.  Some updated pictures of my growing garden are below.  Enjoy!

escaping nasturtium
Right next to the entrance to my garden I planted a nasturtium. It is now escaping the fence. It’s about 2-3 feet away from the fence.
nasturtium flowers
This one has bright red/orange flowers.
nasturtium on the run
Here is the same plant. It has tendrils going out in all directions – here it is crossing the pathway.
Here is one of the zinnias I planted. There are some reds and mixed colors too. I’m excited to see them all.
pumpkin plant
Here is one of my pumpkin plants – it too is escaping and climbing the fence. I planted it near the fence for that reason – it can climb the fence and save me space in the garden a little.
Here is one of the cosmos I planted. I haven’t grown these in years.
A calendula.
Here (in the middle of the bag, with some yellow flowers) is one of my cantaloupe plants. They seem to be doing better than my watermelon. They are surrounded by our new vegetable/weed purslane. There is another nasturium behind it.
mass of tomatos
My mess of tomato plants. I have both determinate and indeterminate varieties – the indeterminate are already branching a bunch, so I need to get in there and start tying stuff up.
tomatoes and greens
The greens area. Chard, spinach and kale. These are all getting large now too.
back of the garden
A view of the back of the garden. The sunflowers are getting bigger. I have a bunch along the back (north side) of the garden.
garden getting big
A view down the middle pathway. I like to take pictures from here to see the change through the summer.



Wildcrafting in the yard – Lamb’s Quarters

I discovered Lamb’s Quarters were edible last year.  I have seen them as weeds in my gardens throughout the years.  They are delicious, with a spinach-like flavor.  I liked them so much last year that I bought seeds for this year so I’d have more.  I didn’t end up needing to plant them. I have a ton growing all over my back garden plot this year.

Lamb's Quarters
Lamb’s Quarters

They typically grow in open spots in cultivated gardens.  They were brought over to the U.S. by European settlers many years ago and have naturalized – they are supposed to be found throughout the country now.  They are related to spinach.  They were very popular throughout Europe, and then in the 1600s Spinach was introduced from Asia;  People started growing spinach instead.  My guess is that they found the spinach a lot less labor intensive.  I like them but they do take awhile to get ready – I pull the leaves off the stems, rinse very well, and then steam them so they wilt, like you’d do with spinach.

Lamb's Quarters waiting for cleaning
Lamb’s Quarters waiting for cleaning.

While picking the leaves I tend to be selective, because bugs also like to eat them.  I don’t want to eat bugs.  That adds to the time-intensiveness of cleaning.  They cook down a lot, so if you harvest, pick double what you think you’ll need.

* As a caution, please always be 100% sure of what you are picking when eating wild plants. I first confirmed with several websites and pictures before eating these, just to make sure I was picking actual Lamb’s Quarters – better to be extra safe. I don’t believe there are any dangerous look-a-likes for these, but I may be wrong, depending on what part of the country or world you are in.

Wildcrafting in our yard – Wild Leeks

Wild Leeks
Wild Leeks – the longer leaved plants in this picture.

I found out from my mom last year that we had a patch of wild leeks (also called ramps) growing in the woods behind our house.  We have a ton of daffodil patches in our yard and the woods surrounding it, and last year I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.  I figured it out this year though because the leaves are quite different.  Our neighbor confirmed it for us because he pointed them out to my husband.  So I went and picked some, and looked them up online to make sure that they were, in fact, wild leeks.  It’s always a good idea to definitively confirm things before eating something that may not be what you think it is.

I picked some tonight to cook with dinner, and they are really good.  I had read that they taste kind of like a mix between onion and garlic.  I fried them up with some pork steaks we had, and they had a nice mild oniony-garlicky flavor to them.

In the picture above you can see, mixed in among the leeks, some little mottled/spotted leaves.  I’m not sure what they are.  If you read this blog and you know what these may be, please leave me a comment.  I don’t remember seeing them last year.  There are a ton of them and they don’t seem to be something that just has a disease, it appears to be the natural coloring of the plant.  Here is another picture of just the mottled leaves:

mystery spotted leaf plants
Mystery spotted leaf plants.

Like I said above, we have tons of daffodils, all different kinds, all over in our yard and woods. My mom planted different varieties over the years.  When my parents would divide them, they would throw the old plants in the woods, and the daffodils have just taken off.  It has a nice effect, especially this time of year when there’s a tiny bit of green and a whole lot of brown – there are splashes of yellow and white and cream (and mixtures of those) all over the place.  Here’s a nice yellow one:

A daffodil in our yard.
A daffodil in our yard.