Garden Update: Positivity Edition

It has been a weird and wet summer, and my garden didn’t produce much. But let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

The indigo is doing well. I’ve got two different species, apparently. I’m using one for eco printing on fabric and the other for vat dyeing — yarn probably. It will be my first indigo dye vat. This was not the plan. It’s how I’m rolling with what is.

Sweet Woodruff

My sweet woodruff is doing well. If it survives the winter, I will be good for May Wine again next year. The soapwort is alive but struggling to get established. The hops are scrappy. I have no doubt they will be dominant up the back part of the garden next year, which is great because it’s clay and nothing grows back there.

Sweet Genovese Basil

The basil and Anaheim chilis have stolen the show this year. I’ve made pesto, ingredients below:

  • Fresh basil leaves, washed
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Kosher salt

I don’t have a recipe. I made it “by guess and by gosh” like my Grandma. (By guess I made it and by gosh you’d better eat it!) I don’t really care if anyone else eats it, though. More for me!

Making my own pesto allows me to eliminate ALL THE THINGS I can’t have, and make substitutions: nutritional yeast for Parmesan, sunflower and pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. My recipe is basically to keep adding things to the food processor until it looks right and tastes good. Helpful, right?

I love Anaheim chilis. I started growing them when I lived in San Diego. Bob made enchilada pie yesterday with the first batch. We’re not sure if we will dry the rest, or use them in another recipe. We probably have enough to do both. I’ll let those remaining on the plants turn red so we can dry them.

I’m thinking about next year’s garden already. Here’s my plan:

  1. A good end of season weeding in the fall. (It’s a jungle out there.)
  2. Plant some greens in the mini greenhouse again this fall. They did well last year.
  3. Let the plants that are doing well reseed themselves wherever they want. (I don’t have any hybrids right now.)
  4. Try again next year with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers from the nursery.

The thing about getting plants from the local nursery is they are not only hardier than the seedlings I grow myself, they are also better suited to our planting zone. I usually buy my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange because they’re heirloom varieties, but I’m learning they don’t all grow well here.

How is your garden this year? Are you getting much of a harvest? Are you planning next year’s garden yet?

14 thoughts on “Garden Update: Positivity Edition

  1. Oh wow Alissa … I think your yard I’d fantastic! The indigo is beautiful and so is everything else. I will be harvest jalapeños soon and poblanos towards the end of the month. I miss having sweet woodruff in my yard but it’s just too hot here for it. I’m heading to the nursery this weekend to pick up my veggies and herbs for fall planting. Can’t wait!

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  2. Everything looks so green and healthy! I used to have Sweet Woodruff, too. But I tore it out to make way for some winter pansies one year. I thought it would comeback, but it never did. 😥 I miss its gentle sweet scent. It can be dried and is lovely to add to other dried herbs in sachets to keep the moths away from your woolens. and yarn.

    I was just reading how good hops are for us human beings. In addition to antioxidants and such, they are soothing to jangled nerves and can help one with a good night’s sleep.

    Interesting how similar your indigo looks to my Periwinkle (Vica Minor). I wonder if Periwinkle would be of use with dyeing fibers? Periwinkle develops ground vines, But is relatively easy to control if you stay on top of it each year. I hit mine withthe lawn mower around the edges in the early spring. It is hardy as the dickens here in the Pac. NW.

    I like your grandmas rule of thumb on developing recipes! Heck, if I like it, It is good!
    Like Richard Feynman said, ‘What do you care what other people think?’. That’s the title of one of his books, which might be rather timely reading while NASA tries to send another launch to the moon.

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  3. I love Sweet Woodruff – it was a staple back east but it doesn’t do well here (I think it’s too dry). This year was a mixed bag for me. Cukes and peas didn’t happen at all. Beans were meh. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers all did fine. A lot of my herbs bolted but will see what next year brings. It’s always a weird growing season here with late season snow/very cold weather, and then dry for 2+ months which isn’t conducive to make a lot of things thrive.

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  4. I don’t have a garden—yet—but I’m planning an herb garden for when we move into our new place. I’ll have a small area where I can grow herbs, so I’m planning on basil, chives, and maybe some well-secluded mint at the moment. Other ideas come and go, and we’ll see what sticks. I’m inspired by how well your basil did! Looks great.

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  5. Your garden looks luscious and the pesto looks yummy. Being on a liquid diet everything looks good to me! LOL! I used to have big gardens and canned and everything when there were 6 of us but now it’s just me. It’s a different growing climate in AR as opposed to Iowa where I was from. Lots of critters here so I grow in containers. I grew tomatoes, banana peppers and lots of herbs…..none of which I can have now and my neighbor doesn’t want. It’s so sad to see them all go to waste.
    Your plants for dyeing are so interesting…now that is something I could plant!

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  6. My “garden” is a single Sungold tomato plant – and it has done well. I was getting a handful almost daily – until the chipmunk found it this week. There are still a few out if reach of the critter, but it’s slowing down as days shorten. I used to do more of a garden, but I was never home when it needed picking or attention. I have lots of friends with gardens, so currently have cukes, zucchini, tomatoes that overflowed from other’s gardens.

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  7. Our garden was so weird this year. We had tomatoes for fresh eating and drying and I got some cucumbers for pickles, but the broccoli and cauliflower was a zero. We have lots of squash I hope and we will have poblanos if it doesn’t freeze too early, but it was a tough year for gardening!

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  8. I love making pesto with my basil (and then I freeze it in cubes) and I never thought of nutritional yeast as an alternative to parmesan – great idea!
    Oh my goodness I feel like I learned something big – I did not know Indigo comes from a plant and that you can grow it! Perhaps you can do a post on how you process the leaves and then use it as a dye some day (if you like, I am not trying to request specific posts, ha!)

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