Dear Friend and Gardener: The Veg Garden Finally Grows



It is a pleasure to eat the fruit of one’s toil, if it be nothing more than a head of lettuce or an ear of corn.

Charles Dudley Warner



I am joining in with Dee Nash for her new virtual garden club called, Dear Friend and Gardener.  You garden-badge1-1-of-1can see the badge here and on my sidebar.  As Dee says about this new club:

Carol Michel, Mary Ann Newcomer and I are starting a virtual garden club for everyone growing their own food, flowers or herbs this summer. It’s a fun club. There are no rules except if you grab the badge, please link it back to this page. Here, I will list everyone joining us for our summer adventure of growing our food, flowers and herbs. You are welcome to post once a month if you want. We’d love to see what you’re growing.




When the end of May rolled around, the veg garden finally produced a bit…we were eating a few small radishes and a some homegrown lettuce, spinach and arugula.  Spring veggies so fresh the taste makes me swoon.  This first harvest was hardly what I would expect for the end of May given we had planted lots of greens, carrots, beets and peas more than 6 weeks before.  They were kept under cover due to our cold spring and the roaming critters that like salad fixin’s as much as we do.

In early June, the warm weather started to stay around more than a day a week and it became darn right hot.  The onions and potatoes we started in mid-May were taking off.  And I was finally able to bend a bit after surgery, so we planted the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant that was started inside in April.  Also cukes, watermelon, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, okra and beans were planted from seed each placed in the sun drenched soil lovingly.

But as mid-June arrived all that we were picking was a pea here and there, the rest of the radishes, lettuce and garlic scapes.  I don’t think I can remember a season where early veggies were not picked until July.  But that was this year.  The veg garden in July has peas growing strong and beets and carrots being picked with garlic and potatoes.  It seems anything goes or grows this year.

And I am loving it….this is the first year I have had a successful beet harvest even after the deer came through and ate half the tops.






Here is an overall view of the veg beds along the right hand side of the fence.  One is a berry bed that is buried in weeds and not visible toward the back.  The potatoes and onions are in bags and buckets in the lower right corner of the picture.  And the lower left has more peppers and eggplant that didn’t fit in the beds.  Rosemary is in pots as they will come in for winter.





This sea of potato foliage grew fast and healthy through June.





As the blue potato flowers bloomed, I knew it wouldn’t be long to start the harvest.





The foliage yellowed and faded after the flowers were gone, and I dumped one grow bag to see what we had beneath the soil.  You can see the wonderful blue potatoes that were unearthed.  In about a week, we will make these into homemade potato chips, or roasted potatoes or anything really.  These are one of the healthiest potatoes you can eat because they are so rich in antioxidants like blueberries.  And they taste so good.  We are going to harvest each of the remaining 5 bags every 2 weeks thereby letting the potatoes get bigger and staggering the harvest.

And the bags and buckets will be reused to grow Kale, salad greens and herbs for a continual harvest.





This bed grew the earliest greens, beets and carrots.  Here are the remnants of the lettuce, spinach, carrots, endive and arugula with swiss chard all the way in the back.  In the front of the bed growing up the A-frame trellises are Delicata squash and zucchini.




DSCN9930This is the swiss chard growing at the back of the bed under cover and away from the hungry jaws of the deer, woodchucks and rabbits.  This is the first year I have successfully grown chard.  There are three varieties including “Peppermint Stick” with striped ribs seen on the left.  The seeds were sent from Renee’s Garden to Garden Writer’s Association members to try.  I’ll let you know how they taste as we sautee the chard and make soup out of it soon.





On the other side of the bed were the beets and carrots already picked, and baby watermelons just beginning to grow up the trellis.  As the earlier veggies are picked, I have started more beets, carrots and radishes in hopes of a fall harvest.  These will grow under the shade of the watermelon that will grow up and over them and through the rest of the bed.  There is also some cinnamon basil growing here.  The clear plastic knives, at the bottom of the picture, are plant markers.




garlic bed

This is the garlic bed as it has been growing through the months.  It seems borage has heavily seeded itself from last year when one plant grew with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant here.  And the borage is trying to takeover the bed as so much is growing in the bed and in front of the bed.  The A-frame trellis in the upper right photo is to support pumpkins started a few weeks ago.  As the garlic is pulled, the pumpkins will take over the bed and surrounding gardens….I hope!  Oh yes that is a sunflower that is growing through the onions on the end of the bed.  It is self seeded from a plant growing nearby last year.





Here is our first harvest of the Tuscan garlic.  It seems we harvest it earlier every year.  In a month or so it will be cured and ready to eat.  I have a couple of later varieties totaling about 100 heads.  Can you tell we love garlic?  It will last us through early winter…..maybe.




pea bean bed

This is the mish mash bed, a little of everything.  Here are peas, beans, cukes on the north half.  Then 2 grape tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant on the south half.  The top right shows this bed early on.  All the plastic utensils are surrounding the beans.  I saw a post at Carol Michel’s blog showing how she was using plastic forks to protect her beans from rabbits.  Since I net mine to keep out the bigger critters, I needed a deterrent against the voles who last year burrowed into my bean bed and destroyed every last bean in their path.  I am hoping these will keep them from cutting a path of  destruction.  We will have to see what happens.





Pea blossoms are a welcome sight in spring, but mine waited until summer to really bloom.  But that allowed me to share fresh picked peas with my sister and brother-in-law who were visiting.




tomato bed

Last but not least is the main tomato bed.  I am growing 2 heirloom tomatoes and two hybrids.  I am again crossing my fingers that the heirlooms will not succumb to blight as they usually do.  But I am very stubborn and am determined to finally get some heirlooms to grow.  I wanted to use newspaper and grass clippings as mulch to help keep blight away, but I could barely get the tomatoes in the ground let alone mulch them so soon after surgery.

The bed was mulched and planted with 10 garlic bulbs last October.  Previously we grew peas and beans here as it is supposed to be great for the soil and the next crop that we rotate there.  Each corner was planted with one tomato.  Basil and marigolds were planted between each tomato to take the place of the garlic that will be harvested this week.  And yes that is another borage that seeded itself along with dill.





The tomatoes grew quickly and started sprouting flowers last week only 3 weeks after planting.  We were so excited until…..





…we awoke to this.  Yes this is what happens when a deer gets a taste for tomatoes.  This is only the second time we had a deer eat our tomato plants.  Luckily this plant is big enough to make a comeback but we will have to wait an 3 extra weeks before we get tomatoes…and yes we netted this bed for now.  She ate the top off another one too.  I recently had to chase her and boy is she brazen.  I literally was almost on top of her before she left.  She will be back as she has been wreaking havoc throughout my garden.


You can see we don’t grow tons of veggies, we grow a variety of many different veggies enough to last through the season but not much more.  We eat as we grow.  I will post another update next month.



What do you love to grow and eat?  


Join in with Dee this season as we share what we are growing in the virtual garden club.





In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it.
–  Frank McKinney Hubbard








Next up on the blog:  Monday will be time to show off the blooms in the garden for GBBD.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.  My most recent post is up already.   

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



48 Replies to “Dear Friend and Gardener: The Veg Garden Finally Grows”

  1. Man alive, Donna. I am so envious of your garden and all that you’re doing, in spite of the critters. Astird would swoon. I bow to anyone who grows their own fruit and veggies. BRAVA! I’m really proud of you, especially after your surgery. 🙂

    1. Aw I am blushing Ginnie, thanks…I really love growing veggies now and it has become part of my day to check the veggies, prune, weed and pick if we are lucky….

  2. Now is the period when harvesting the crops is the major job outside! It is difficult to eradicate tomato blight once it is in the soil or on your cages, what do you use to disinfect them?
    We have some fantastically flavourful tomatoes this year, il share them with you soon!

    1. We have replaced soil and we bleach wash the cages every season…The hybrids are also flavorful but not like purple or yellow…so sweet. The main reason I wanted to try this bed is that peas and beans have grown here for a few years adding so much to the soil which the tomatoes need. We shall see as they flower and fruit..that is when early blight and other fungal diseases seem to come out.

  3. I second Ginnie’s note–your garden looks fabulous! Here is my little patch, we have harvested six quarts of blueberries (trying to get at them before all the birds, who are up earlier than we are!), the smaller tomatoes are Just coming on, no harvest yet from the Italian Romano beans, but the beautiful lavender flowers are showing, the pumpkins and winter squash plants are HUGE with baby fruit forming. Herbs all doing well and tons of lemons on the tree. They love the heat wave that will greet the Blogger’s Fling this weekend.

    1. Thanks so much Susie…I can’t find my berry bed as the milkweed and blackberries invaded it…we have to rescue it soon and I hope we find a few blueberries. i think I am going to grow native highbush blueberries next year in a few spots. You are definitely about a month ahead of me…post some pics of your harvest Susie.

      I was hoping to make it to the Fling to meet bloggers and especially Portland bloggers but that obviously did not happen. Enjoy your harvest!!

  4. Donna,
    What a great post. Your garden looks so much better than mine and I have not had surgery!!!
    Question. What kind of soil mix do you put in the bags for growing the potatoes? I have a hard time coming up with space for potatoes and think the bags might be a good idea.
    Glad you are feeling better.
    Morristown, TN

    1. Thanks Ginger. I use an organic potting soil and sand mix in the bags for the potatoes. The mix is two 30 lb potting soil bags to one 50 lb bag of regular sand. We have had good luck with potatoes and if you have a longer growing season, and I suspect you do, you can even grow sweet potatoes in these bags. Good luck!

  5. Your gardens are doing great, Donna! You are growing a large number of vegetables. I’ve never grown potatoes. Maybe I’ll try it sometime. I grow radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, snow peas, green beans, tomatoes, and herbs. I have 17 tomato plants and that includes heirloom yellows Emmy and Gold Medal. I also have a “family heirloom” tomato with seed that has been saved and passed along for about 40 years. I too grow blueberries, as well as blackberries and raspberries. Since last year, the blackberries are trying to take over…you mentioned this, is this common? My blackberries are not wild, they were purchased. Have a great day, Donna!

    1. Beth you have a lot going on there too, and wow what a great family heirloom tomato to grow and pass along.

      My blackberry plant was a small purchased one that has grown wild in three years. I have to control them a bit or else it will be hard to hack through those thorny bushes. It seems blackberries have a tendency to take over easily…they sucker and grow into a large patch without much fuss.

  6. Wow, you are a pro, Donna! That’s quite a vegetable crop! I didn’t realize the blue potatoes are so good for us–I’ll have to eat more! And, yes, you must be a true garlic fan. I am, too, although I don’t grow it myself. Love it in just about everything!

    1. Thanks Beth but I have learned so much from the successes and especially the failures over the years not to mention many of the garden books I have been reading. I try not to stress over it anymore and it just seems to grow….of course it helps when the weather is warm and there is a good mix of sun and rain. 🙂

  7. Donna, this is really lovely to see so much of your veg garden, seasons are changing and we are harvesting more in July than June this year too and we had a mild spring and winter. Also possibly because June was crazy busy and I did not get enough time! We grow chard and love it both to eat and because it looks so lovely. I haven’t tried blue potatoes before, you inspire me to try. 🙂

    1. Blue potatoes are the best Julie and look great too…I hope to post a recipe for the chard…it is huge and looks so delicious..can’t wait to harvest it this weekend. Glad you enjoyed the veg garden.

  8. The brazen tomato-eating deer must know that you mean them no harm and must want to get on with eating their meal in peace. LOL Critters certainly can be frustrating! I lost all my strawberries to some unknown creature; probably birds. They come at the garden from all fronts don’t they! I am growing herbs and tomatoes this year and envy the variety of crops you are going to enjoy. Your garlic harvest is impressive too. I must plant some garlic this fall.

    1. She does know I am a pushover….You will fall in love with homegrown garlic Jennifer…so easy to grow and harvest!!

  9. Donna, it’s all looking so good in your veggie garden. I tried to grow Peppermint Stick, and the dang insects ate all of it before I realized. The only chard I’ve got is a yellow stemmed volunteer. I’ll eat it in a few days. You have lots growing, and you’re so good as succession planting. I have gold potatoes and red ones growing in my Smart Pots at the end of the potager. I look forward to seeing what’s beneath the soil. I will say the foliage has grown like gangbusters. Thanks for being in the club. I love seeing everyone’s gardens, veggie and flower. ~~Dee

    1. Thanks Dee. I think my chard and salad greens were so successful because I kept them covered all season so far. Kept the critters and insects out…I have learned to utilize space all season since it is a short season. Thanks for creating the virtual club Dee!

  10. It really is great your garden is producing. We have had a great year so far for gardening, rain and cooler temperatures. I don’t see you visiting GWGT, but I have been showing my garden as well, which you know I rarely do. What was really noticeable to me is all your neighbors gardens. They mow, mow, mow. Did your garden not entice them to make more garden beds? In my neighborhood, once I planted the front yard, the neighbors started to expand beds too. They even moved out into the medial strip and have the ends of each section of grass medium planted thickly with perennials. It is like catching a cold, once one gets it so does the rest nearby.

    1. No Donna my neighbors are content with a few shrubs and grass…no cold catching here. I am so far behind blog reading, but I will be catching up with you soon. I love seeing your garden in the different seasons.

  11. Aargh! Those deer! As I was taking my morning walk around the garden a couple of days ago, I came across a small fawn-size depression cleared of pine needles in the serenity garden, and next to it a collection of stems without any leaves that used to be Hosta ‘June.’

    1. Oh Jean how frustrating. I have to keep spraying to keep them away from hosta, lilies, daylilies, phlox and now sunflowers…we just saw twin fawns today in the meadow and I’ll bet there are more babes somewhere…I am sure they will be in the garden all winter chowing down.

    1. Thankfully the plants were a couple of feet high and they are already bouncing back…I had to net the bed which makes for fun weeding and picking.

    1. Jennifer, I just did that swoon this weekend as I pulled more garlic and onions…the smell of the bulbs mixed with the smell of soil was intoxicating….people don’t know what they are missing.

  12. You have a wonderful garden! It looks large enough to me! Nothing tastes better than home-grown produce. We are growing beans, tomatoes, a variety of herbs, sweet peppers and yellow squash. We have finished our harvest of potatoes, and I have a few onions still to pick. This was our first year to grow blueberries, and next year I will add more. We have two apple and two Asian persimmon trees. The summer garden is always a challenge. I look forward to the winter garden with its cooler temps and fewer pest and disease problems. We will grow swiss chard, spinach and collard greens through the winter.

  13. Oh I do envy you that winter garden…I have to have enough space to grow it all at once….wish we could grow apples but really they are difficult here without using chemicals and fighting the deer and birds. Your veg garden sounds yummy Deb.

  14. Argh! on the deer eating your tomato plants. I thought they don’t care for tomato plants, but I suppose I am wrong. We ate a cucumber from my garden today. That made me happy. I don’t grow a lot – quite a few herbs, but only cucumbers and tomatoes of vegetables.

    1. It seems deer especially like the younger tomatoes…once they get really big and almost woody I think they lose interest…there is nothing like fresh herbs and veggies from your own garden…the taste is indescribable Leora.

  15. Your post is very inspiring Donna. It must be so rewarding to grow your own food, not to mention it is always so fresh, and probably tastes incredible. That was my childhood, to eat out of my dad’s garden. He was a master veggie gardener.

    1. What wonderful childhood memories Denise..I have those too and yes I cannot resist growing and eating our own produce.

  16. Deer eat tomatoes?! That’s so unfair! Your vege patch looks mightily abundant Donna, a triumph given your surgery happened right in the middle of the busy season. Borage is a very effective self seeder, isn’t it! Interesting that everything is late. I’ve had problems with my beetroot bolting, lettuce, it has been so hot and dry, so I now have a lettuce gap which is ridiculous. But isn’t it wonderful, being able to eat produce grown in your own back garden? I really must try garlic this year.

    1. I love eating out of the garden all summer…you must grow garlic…it is so easy and so much better tasting…it has been a wonderful veg season given my surgery…I am pretty pleased with myself and of course Mother Nature for all her help…The hubby was a life saver too.

  17. Wow! What a productive veg garden Donna. Made my mouth water just reading it! Admittedly I don’t grow my own but we get plenty for fresh veg from my neighbour Jim – he grows all sorts. Those blue potatoes, or as we call them here in Scotland Tatties – look and sound wonderful. I might just drop him a hint 😉

    1. Angie what a great neighbor you have…I would definitely drop a hint to Jim to grow some blue potatoes!! 🙂

  18. Those are some really beautiful potatoes. I don’t normally grow tomatoes but might make an exception to grow those lovelies! The fact they are healthy is a bonus. Yum! I can think of a good way to take care of the deer-shotgun might work. That or an electric fence. They can surely wreak havoc and it is frustrating for sure. Good job on the veggies! You inspire me. I can’t wait to get mine going soon!

    1. Thanks Tina and you would love the blue potatoes…they have great blue flowers too. Good luck with your veggies…can’t use an electric fence in my suburban garden but that would keep them out…

  19. What a wonderful variety of vegetables. I’m inspired! I’ve never tried potatoes, but yours look so good I may need to next year. Too bad about all the critters. They really can wreak havoc literally overnight. You seem to have been able to come up with some good ways to keep most of the veggies safe. Good luck and enjoy!

    1. It is a double edged sword Stephi as we love the critters but we have to find ways to keep our food safe and keep the critters eating the clover. Do try going potatoes…it really is not hard at all especially in bags.

  20. Donna you have a fantastic lot of veg, and all when you are not in top form, despite your cold winters you do get heat in summer to make things grow I am becoming more and more convinced the reason so many plants including veg grow so slowly where I am is the lack of heat, our winter to summer temperatures are nearly the same,
    sorry about the deer, luckily they stay on the moor here but I know how trouble some they can be, especially once they know there is something nice to eat, I hope your tomatoes come through for you, Frances

    1. You are correct Frances that many veggies especially the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, onions, squashes, okra and melons I grow require sustained heat and especially nights in the 50s and 60s and days in the higher 70s and 80s. The tomatoes are growing back and those left alone by the deer are already putting out fruit. My peppers and eggplant are slow as are the melons and squash as I did not get those in before surgery…but I hope for a late summer harvest.

      I really couldn’t have done it without the help of my husband.

  21. Donna – so good to see all that you have growing this year. It has been a challenging year, hasn’t it? Sorry you have to deal with deer – we are surrounded by woods, but so far deer have never damaged the garden – I’m almost afraid to say that, for fear of jinxing us! Looking forward to following along all summer with you!

    1. Indeed it has been challenging Donalyn….you are lucky that deer have not damaged your garden. I am having fun seeing what is growing and how we will be cooking it. Next up is harvesting the chard. It will be fun finding great recipes to use it.

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