Carrots, Sunflowers, and Purple Mashed Potatoes

We’ve been busy in the garden.  I am starting to get carrots now – I had planted seed tapes this spring, with tons of carrots. My double dug beds are supposed to allow you to cram things in, so I had seed tapes next to each other and carrot seeds spaced about 3 inches between (so I wouldn’t have to thin.)  Because of our lack of early summer rain, the seed tapes didn’t do so well. I got several carrots, but they are spaced way far between – I planted about 140 with the seed tapes and I think there are maybe 20 or so that have done anything – but they are HUGE.  I had a couple that were popping out of the ground, so I picked them – they were mostly dark purple and 11-12 inches long.  I had planted a mixed blend (old seeds I had on hand), plus these dark purple carrots called Black Nebula, and some yellow and orange carrots.

Some of our first carrots. The purple ones are Black Nebula (I got from Baker Creek Seeds) – they are purple all the way through. I grew a different purple kind last year but only the outside was purple – with an orange center. These are nice, they just taste like normal carrots. (I couldn’t tell a difference, anyway.)
Here you can see these purple ones have a lot of hairy little roots – those washed right off luckily.
I was making mashed potatoes and decided to see if one of the Black Nebula carrots could color them. I cut one carrot up and boiled it with the potatoes in a pot – the water turned all black, and when mashed, we got purple mashed potatoes!
I have a ton of sunflowers and was thinking it would be nice if I had some other colors besides yellow. I forgot I had planted a mixed seed bag – we had a couple of red ones open this weekend. Here is one (with the yellows).
Here is another one – this one is more orange colored.
More yellow – these sunflowers are all about 7-8 feet, I am estimating.

The garden is doing well, but we are getting into fall and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting some yucky weather later this month.  (They talked about a snow/rain mix at the end of September. Yuck. I hope they are wrong). Hopefully I’ll get all my vegetables to ripen before we have to worry about frost or snow.

Harvesting the garden…

This year’s garden is starting to wind down. Our growing season is not typically very long. I’m hoping we’ll hold off on getting a frost for another month, but a lot of plants are done producing anyway. I pulled out our yellow squash, and picked most of the tomatoes. There are a few straggler tomatoes left on the vines. My son harvested about 8 ears of corn from his 10 or so plants.  We still have a few things waiting to be picked, like beets, kale, chard, eggplants, and zucchini. Take a peek at our recent harvest:

I grew five varieties of tomatoes this year: Early Girl, Druzba, a Blue type, Cherry (very tiny) and some Romas. We got a good crop of them this year.
My first attempt at canning tomatoes! I think it went alright. The half pint jars were a little small, I have realized. I will do pint jars for the next batch I can.
My canning book talks about picking tomatoes green and letting them ripen on the counter, maybe so they all ripen at the same time? We picked most of what was left. I keep worrying about frost anyway, so this way I don’t have to rush out and cover anything.
One of the last yellow squash we picked. We got a whole lot of these. I had three plants, which was too many for us this year. We froze a lot of this.
One of my sunflowers from our back yard. This was several days ago, when it was still standing tall, before we got days and days of rain…
Here it is today… looking very sad.
The watermelon has not grown a whole lot. I think it’s supposed to have stripes as well. It’s still hanging in there. I will let it sit as long as possible and see if we get an edible melon.
Our tiny pumpkins. The plants are done for this year. I really like these, and will grown them again next year, along with a little bit bigger variety.
A tiny eggplant. These plants grew wonderfully, but didn’t flower until late August. Now they have tiny fruits on them. They are not ripe yet. Hopefully they will get bigger and ripen before we get a freeze.
Our Kale, still going strong. I’m going to attempt to leave these, and see if they will come back in spring. I have heard that Kale (and Chard!) will grow as perennials. We will see if they come back in spring. I have been cutting, using/freezing, and then waiting for more to grow, like cut-and-come-again style. We have a lot of kale frozen for winter.
Here’s my garden today. It’s still very green but there is not much in terms of vegetables left.

A peek in the garden – Early September

We’ve been having some hot days lately, and last night we had a crazy thunderstorm.  This morning my yard is very wet – I had plans for some yardwork jobs, but it’s just too wet.  My garden is still going strong.  I’ve been getting some nice corn cobs, despite the early visit from some raccoons.

The garden, early September.
The garden, early September.

I had a few tomatoes fall off the vines while I was picking suckers, and my son also decided to pick a few that were starting to ripen.  I didn’t realize I grew an orange tomato, but I did grow a couple new varieties so I guess this one was orange.

We have these tomatoes in the window to ripen.
We have these tomatoes in the window to ripen.

I’m growing indeterminate varieties – I had been cutting off suckers and new flowers, but I got impatient.  We don’t have the longest growing season, and I don’t want a repeat of last year – because of frost warnings we had to pull all the tomatoes in so they could ripen inside (none started to ripen on the vine last year).  Luckily we’ve had a lot more heat this year.  I went at my tomato plants last week and cut off the tops of the plants, extra leaves that were shading the fruit, and any extra branches that didn’t have fruit on them. That has seemed to help speed things along.

My tomatoes waiting to ripen.
My tomatoes waiting to ripen. This is after I went to town trimming them.
Here is one that my son didn't pick!
Here is one that my son didn’t pick! This one looks like it will be red (the picture makes it look orange).

I also have a bunch of tomatillos – they are still small, but they are getting there. Last year I grew some but I added them really late, and they didn’t start forming fruit till mid September. These ones have been growing for about a month now.

Tomatillos.  I have lots of hummingbirds that like these flowers as well, so they are helping to pollinate them.
Tomatillos. I have lots of hummingbirds that like these flowers as well, so they are helping to pollinate them.

I am attempting artichokes this year – I read that they can be grown as an annual.  I haven’t seen any sign of any fruit, and really didn’t know what to expect. This morning I found this:

A tiny artichoke!
A tiny artichoke!

I looked on another plant and have at least one other one forming as well.  Very exciting, even if they are very tiny.

Another tiny artichoke.
Another tiny artichoke.

I’m growing Evening Primrose this year, I didn’t realize they’d take so long to bloom.  They started this week:

My evening Primrose.
My evening Primrose.

Here are some marigolds that I planted, they are doing extremely well, but they are really easy to grow:


My sunflowers are going strong. The bees and hummingbirds are enjoying them now.  They should start going to seed soon, and then we’ll have the chickadees and other birds, and chipmunks and squirrels, eating them.

My sunflowers - some are about 8-9 feet tall now.
My sunflowers – some are about 8-9 feet tall now.


I love sunflowers. They are my favorite flower – I even chose them as my wedding flowers.  I have about 7 or 8 sunflower plants that are growing very well.  Last week, one of them bloomed.

My first sunflower bloom of the season (sorry for the fuzzy picture).
My first sunflower bloom of the season (sorry for the fuzzy picture).

The funny thing about this one, is that it is not very tall:

Here is a picture of the above sunflower, along with my son to show the scale. My son is just under 4 ft tall.
Here is a picture of the above sunflower, along with my son to show the scale. My son is just under 4 ft tall. I think this bloom was about 2 to 2.5 feet off the ground.

This morning I woke up to find this flower bloomed:

My tall orange sunflower. This one is taller than me, it's maybe about 6 ft tall.
My tall orange sunflower. This one is taller than me, it’s maybe about 6 ft tall.

I planted a bunch of different kinds: some orange, some lemon yellow, and some giant mammoth sunflowers.   The rest of the plants are on their way, they all have flower heads forming. It will be interesting to see what they all look like when they bloom.