My Garden, 2014

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden, August 3, 2014

Last year I tried planting a vegetable garden for the first time, and while it was a learning experience and a lot of work, overall I was happy with the results and enjoyed getting outside, maintaining it, and reaping the benefits. I got a decent amount of plum tomatoes and peppers, handfuls of herbs, and some zucchini and pattypan squash. This year, I was inspired to plant a garden again and went to nearby Volante Farms toward the end of May to get the best selection of tomatoes (by the time I'd decided to plant last year, plum tomatoes were just about the only variety left). I kept the tomatoes inside until June just in case of too-low overnight temperatures.

I decided to plant along the side of the house this year instead of in the backyard (because we had visions of trying to get our backyard into some kind of shape), so I had a little more room to work with but wanted to keep things simple. I picked out a variety of tomato plants, all of which would yield bite-size tomatoes (my love of mini foods extends to vegetables as well!) -- Sun Gold, Yellow Pear, Red Pear, Sweet 100, Sweet Gold, and Golden Sweet -- some cubanelle pepper plants, and some basil and thyme.

Tomatoes from Megan from Delicious Dishings's garden

I prepared the area with some gardening soil and then put my tiny plants in the ground, setting up a stake beside each one, which I would use when the plants got a bit bigger and needed some support. (I definitely underestimated just how much support they'd need!)

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden, June 7, 2014

Megan from Delicious Dishings' tomato plants, June 7, 2014Megan from Delicious Dishings' tomato plants, June 7, 2014

Megan from Delicious Dishings' tomato plants, June 7, 2014Megan from Delicious Dishings' pepper plants, June 7, 2014

I diligently watered and checked on my plants, usually rushing over after work each evening to see what was going on. On June 14, just a week after getting my plants in the ground, I spied a few tiny green tomatoes. The Sun Golds were first to come in, followed by the Golden Sweets (which turned out looking like miniature yellow plum tomatoes).

Megan from Delicious Dishings' tomato plants, June 14, 2014

Megan from Delicious Dishings' tomato plants, June 14, 2014

All the plants had grown a little bigger by then but nothing drastic.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden, June 14, 2014

Another week later, on June 29, I started to see a major difference. They were filling out so much. This is when I started pruning the tomato plants and trying to keep them under control.

Then on July 5, I found my first pepper growing.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' pepper plant, July 5, 2014

And so many more tomatoes! (These are Yellow Pears and Sun Golds.)

Megan from Delicious Dishings' Yellow Pear tomatoes, July 5, 2014

Megan from Delicious Dishings' Sun Gold tomatoes, July 5, 2014

And I was shocked to see that the plants were now up to the siding on the house. They'd come a long way from the little seedlings I'd put in the ground just a month earlier.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden, July 5, 2014

The very next day I started see signs of color on the tomatoes. And soon after that, I was finding fully ripe tomatoes. I even lost a couple of Sun Golds because I left them on the vine too long. I learned that they split if they stay on too long and get too much water, so I started picking them before they fully turned and let them ripen on the counter.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' Sun Gold tomatoes, starting to ripenMegan from Delicious Dishings' Sun Gold tomatoes

Around the same time, my first cubanelle pepper was ready to pick. (These peppers are awesome grilled or fried and we had this one with sausage and onions.)

Megan from Delicious Dishings' cubanelle pepper

Megan from Delicious Dishings' cubanelle pepper plants

My basil has also been growing like crazy. I've been cutting it often to use in dishes and turn into pesto.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' basil plants

Yesterday I went out to work on my tomato plants -- I actually had to get more stakes for them because they are so weighed down with tomatoes, and there were tons of happy bees out there flying from plant to plant.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden

I cut back lots of non-fruit-bearing branches and Jeff helped me re-stake and velcro a bunch of the plants and their crazy off-shoots. I'm kind of shocked at how well they're doing. I never considered myself someone with a green thumb.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden

The tomato plants are now up to window and most of them are taller than their stakes. I'm already trying to devise a better plan for next year. I might try cages or see if my dad can help me build some sort of tomato trellis that I can fasten them to.

Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden, August 3, 2014

While I started off finding a tomato here and there, lately I've been harvesting them by the handful.

Tomatoes from Megan from Delicious Dishings' garden

I've been throwing them in salads and using them in pasta dishes. I recently made a version of my pasta with summer squash, garlic, and basil, using Sun Gold tomatoes in place of the summer squash.

Caesar salad with tomatoes from the gardenPasta with Sun Gold tomatoes and garlic

And I made a fun colorful Caprese salad using all the varieties. I also roasted some of the tomatoes and did a farro bake with them, which I'll give you the recipe for in an upcoming post.

Caprese salad with tomatoes and basil from the garden

I think I have a little better handle on gardening and am enjoying it even more this year. Don't get me wrong… it's not easy, but it is fun in its own way There's something therapeutic about pruning tomato plants and pulling weeds. And I love that it gives me a reason to spend some time outside and makes me feel productive, especially when I'm piling up all my ripe tomatoes. The little tomatoes and peppers we've been getting taste amazing -- even more so when I think about how I grew them myself.

Tell me all about your garden!


dan said...

I used to have a garden every year but the pay few summers I haven't had any outside space. This looks awesome I'm pretty jealous!

Colleen said...

Wow, I am impressed! You've done an awesome job!!
And I LOVE that "lettuce be friends" plate. :) :)

Megan Ginsberg said...

Thanks! I'm kind of impressed I've been able to keep things alive!

Megan Ginsberg said...

Thank you! The plate is from Crate & Barrel. They have lots of different ones ("peas on earth," "just beet it," etc.). I love them.

Daisy said...

your garden is awesome!!! We did the same thing with tomato plants on the side of the house (at Bob's house.) we started with stakes and moved to cages. I think cages are key as they get bigger! I wish we did more varieties though.

Elizabeth said...

I love this post!! It's seriously so cool to see the progress. And loved that I got to try some of the bounty :) You should do a garden update in a few weeks!

Victoria said...

Your garden is lovely!! I definitely don't have a green thumb, but I'm intrigued to try this out myself at some point. I love the beautiful array of colors for your tomatoes, and I loved seeing all the pictures to see how they grew.

meghan said...

Your tomatoes are gorgeous! I also need to tie mine up; they are taller than I am and bending over! I am hoping to find time this week to plant a fall garden.

Sam Lucas said...

Kudos to you for getting such great produce from your first try as a vegetable gardener. Your tomatoes look adorable. I bet they tasted great, after you made them into such delicious looking meals. Thank you for sharing your garden adventures. All the best!

Sam Lucas @ Green Collar