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Kitchen Garden Bloom Day 08/2013

Mint blossoms

Mint has been in bloom for over a month in my small kitchen garden. This mint spontaneously appeared several years ago in a container I’d planted with thyme. The thyme has long since died, but the mint seems indestructible.

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day once again, and I’m celebrating along with many other bloggers whose posts you can find over at May Dreams Gardens. I’ve been away nearly all summer, but occasional visits home, some oversight from my wife, and fair weather have combined to keep my garden healthy.

I’ve already harvested plenty of great food—lettuces, peas, rhubarb, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beans, onions, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and a variety of herbs—and things are coming on strong! Photos tell the story.

Oregano blossoms

Oregano blossoms in my small kitchen garden are fizzling out, but they put on quite a show this season. The oregano grew long, straight, vaguely woody stems in contrast to the creeping ground cover my oregano has typically been. This may have to do with variety: I used to have just one type of oregano, but this year three varieties are growing strong; I’ve been cutting the stalks back mercilessly so they don’t overshadow adjacent thyme plants.

Cilantro blossoms and ripening coriander

Cilantro has been in bloom continuously for nearly two months—though the earliest blooming plants have dropped seeds which are likely to sprout within a week or so. Cilantro seeds are coriander, and the ones in this photo are a few weeks from drying and being ready for harvest. I usually just let them go so they reseed the herb garden. Cilantro that sprouts late in the year winters over nicely and is one of the earliest plants to produce in spring.

Horehound blossoms and leaf

I was so happy to find horehound plants while browsing at a large plant sale this spring. I’d never thought to grow horehound, but I’ve always loved the candy and the plants have a lot of character. I’m told they don’t spread the way mint does but that they tend to drop lots of enthusiastic seeds, so there’s a good chance I’ll have many horehound plants in the spring. The slip of a plant I bought in the spring is nearly large enough now to qualify as a shrub.

Cucumber blossom

I’ve harvested just a few cucumbers, but the plants are the liveliest part of my garden. With hundreds of flowers in bloom each morning, pollinators descend on the plants assuring there will be a harvest. This is a female flower; you can see a tiny cucumber from which the petals emerge. Seven to 14 days from now that will be a full-grown cucumber ready for pickling. I planted two varieties of pickling cucumbers and it looks as though I’ll harvest enough within the week to can a batch of spicy bread & butter pickles.

Fairy Tale Pumpkin (winter squash) blossom

Longtime readers of my blog know that I’m a great fan of winter squash. This blossom is from a variety I’m trying for my first time this season: Fairytale pumpkins. A mature fairytale pumpkin looks like the pumpkin Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned into a carriage. I bought one at a farmers’ market in the fall, and a single hill is completely dominating one end of my planting bed. So far it hasn’t produced any fruiting flowers.

Indigo Rose Tomato blossom

This isn’t the most spectacular tomato blossom photo I’ve published, but I like that you can see deep purple tomatoes in the background. These are Indigo Rose tomatoes which are purple from the stem to about ¾ of the way to the blossom end. Indigo Rose were the earliest plants to set fruit, but other varieties ripened more quickly. A ripe Indigo Rose is gorgeous, but all the purple is in the skin; peel the tomato and its insides are pinkish-red exactly like any red tomato. For me, the flavor isn’t special; it’s a bit “earthy” and pleasant, but not compelling enough that I’d plant Indigo Rose next year. After four years of messing around with “black” tomatoes, I’ll gravitate to Black Krim when I want dark tomato segments for my salads and canning jars.

Chili pepper blossom

My pepper plants are getting serious about making peppers. Already there is an abundance of purple jalapenos, and many sweet Italian peppers are lengthening and plumping out. A few orange bells are ready to harvest, but many plants are just putting out their first blossoms. I mapped my pepper patch so I’d know what to expect from each plant, but I took the map to Ithaca and left it. So, I don’t know what will emerge from this blossom, but the blossom is gorgeous. Candidates include Orange Bell, Sweet Italian, Cali Wonder Bell, Hungarian Banana, and Poblano. Time will tell.


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