My friends, welcome to the backyard!
June came and went quickly. We travelled, worked, and spent weekends tidying up the yard. Slav was busy at fertilizing, watering, and mowing the lawn, while I took care of the flower beds and planted the veggie garden. We managed to keep the backyard pretty neat this year, so I figured I will show you how far we’ve come.
Climbing roses and fruit trees
After the hellebore blooms in Spring we finally entered the rose season. The climbing roses “awakening” I planted back in 2018 started covering the back fence.
Also planted in 2018 are the fruit trees. The two cherry trees have not given us any fruit yet. I heard that it takes 5-9 years for cherry trees to bear fruits. For now we enjoy the healthy leaves and the privacy they provide.
The apple tree we planted in 2018 bore exactly two apples this year. LOL. There should have been more had we not had snow in the middle of May. These are honey crisp apples which are hubby’s favorite.
The nectarine and the peach tree planted in 2018 had died due to frost. So we planted another apple tree and a winter-hardy pear in their place. These two tree was purchased from Jung Seed and I can tell from the get-go that they were super healthy and much more robust. Just look at how many apples the new apple tree (transparent) bore this year:
Can you believe that we just planted it last Spring? The pear tree also has grown tall.
Speaking of newly planted trees, my baby ginkgo is going strong! It is supposed to grow slowly during its first ten years, but I can see how happy it is judging by the leaves and new branches. It also grew much taller than when it was first planted.
Peppers and tomatoes
We had a cold, cold spring which really shows in the vegetable garden. All the heat-loving vegetables, such as peppers, aubergine, and okra are embarrassingly small. I actually intended to grow more peppers this year, and seeded lots of different varieties. But most of the pepper seedlings died during the crazy May snow storm and the ones survived have grown very slowly.
Pepper (my biggest one)
Thankfully we still have lots of tomato plants. Oh the tomatoes! We ate so much fresh on sandwiches and salads and Slav made several big patches of tomato sauce, which we enjoyed all winter long on pizza and pasta dishes. This year I seeded even more and different varieties. The dedicated tomato bed can only contain half of the seedlings I raised, so I planted the rest in other vegetable beds wherever there was space.
Some of them are dotted among the asparagus ferns,
and the rest were planted in the pepper bed which was rather empty anyway….
Did you notice the size differences between tomato seedlings planted in different beds? They are all from the same batch of seedlings! The ones planted very closely in the tomato bed are relatively small:
On the other hand, the ones planted in between the asparagus ferns grew a lot bigger. It seems to be true that more space you give a crop, bigger it gets.
I am looking forward to a good tomato year and we cannot wait! Especially given that other crops like peppers and cucumbers did not seem to be growing well.
The garlics and bean tunnel
One crop that did not get affected by the Spring weather is the garlic. ~140 garlic cloves were planted last Fall, and all of them sprouted.
After enjoying scapes in June, we are ready to harvest the garlic heads in a couple weeks.
I planted the garlics under the bean tunnel this season, and seeded noodle beans and cantaloupes in between. The beans have come up looking slender.
I love how elegant these string beans look when climbing up. I actually do not know if they are green or red noodle beans, so it will be a surprise in July!
Also these beds I planted lettuces and mustard greens. We have been using the leaves in burgers, soups, and for stir fry in June. Several rabbits visit often and I can tell that they enjoyed some leave too. 🙂
The cold Spring weather was bad for some but good for others, including the rhubarb I raised from seeds last Spring. They were tiny and scrappy last season, but all three of them came back strooong this year. We have harvested a bunch of stalks and made several delicious pies. Rhubarb is hubby’s another favorite.
Squashes and pumpkins
Last year we grew way too many yellow squashes and green zucchinis. It was nice to watch the plants grow, but honestly, it was a pain to consume that many. So this year, I only grew one plant each. The goal for my edible gardening this season is to only grow what we can/like to eat.
As of the pumpkins, I raised mostly butternut squashes and small Kabocha pumpkins. Not only they are our favorite to eat, they also store very well in our heated house.
I planted all the butternut squashes along the edge of the veggie beds, and concentrated all the Kabochas in the small side yard north to our house. I think they like the slopes there:
The rest of the sloped side yard was planted with ornamental pumpkins. I am raising six different pumpkins and gourds here, which can be used for Fall decorations. A couple plants each will be enough for us and all of our neighbors. I felt proud seeing every front porch on my street decorated with my pumpkins.
I used to scratch my head over how to use this sloped side yard. After last season, I know the answer: a pumpkin patch! Rambling vines love the sloped yard and their big leaves shade the soil in summer. I cannot think of a better use for this space.
The hazelnut trees I planted in 2019 have grown to 8 feet tall. They have flowered profusely this Spring, but I have not seen any nuts yet. How many year does it take for hazelnut to produce? Anyone knows?
Melons and cantaloupes
Another goal of mine this year is to grow more watermelons and cantaloupes. Last year I grew very few, and the fruits were so sweet and fragrant. So this season, I dedicated the mulched area along the back fence to melons:
The melon plants remained small since planted. These seedlings needs a long time to put down good roots and they really need consistent heat to grow. I think the biggest lesson gardening has taught me is the art of patience. A Chinese proverb says, “Planning extensively and execute slowly. Patience and accuracy leads to steady progress”. I see it in gardening and try to apply it to my work every day.
The herb garden
The herb garden was the first flower bed we planted. It has been the most robust flower bed in our yard. And this year is no exception:
I raised this little basil plant from seeds this Spring. Hopefully the July heat will help it grow better:
One new plant I added this year to the herb garden is this Bay Laurel. We use bay leaves a lot in soups during cooler months. It makes sense to have our own plant and dry the leaves ourselves.
As usual, Dill has been popping up everywhere.
The berry garden
I planted berries heavily as part of my edible garden. Nothing beats getting up the morning, walk around in my pjs with a cup of warm tea, and enjoy fresh berries of the plants. We had a good month of strawberries and service berries, and now come in season are raspberries and blackberries.
Pies are made and smoothies are drunk. We felt such healthy peeps now!
So, here is the backyard! I cannot believe how many trees, flowers, and different edible plants we have now in this small backyard, especially considering that four season ago, this was just a big lawn with a few half-dead trees! You have come a looong way, my backyard!
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