Dear Friend and Gardener: Late Summer Harvest


What gardener has not felt the subtle, slow shift as the inner world aligns itself with the outer, occurring in the midst of even the humblest task, thinning carrots or mulching melons?  

Patricia Monaghan



I have been feeling soulful this summer as I tended my veg garden.  Maybe because it was all I could do, and it was enough to weed, plant, pick and eat of the harvest.  It wasn’t a big harvest, but it was just right for us this summer.  Some successes, some failures and some surprises.  And I don’t feel bad about the failures because I learn so much more from them.

I am joining in with Dee Nash for her new virtual garden club called, Dear Friend and Gardener.  You can 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.



And I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  




DSCN3487A great surprise was our tomatoes.  I grew 6 different varieties.  All planted in mid June, which is late, so they did not produce until late August.  The hybrid grape and cherry were still growing into late September until we pulled them due to the frost.  Even the heirlooms did fine.  And the tomatoes that our beastly deer ate, grew back and produced a bit.





While we would have loved a bigger harvest, we were happy to get what we did.  And I made roasted tomatoes.  Some we froze and some we ate right away.  We also fried some green tomatoes.





And the best recipe we tried was from my blogger friend Kathy Sturr who writes at Violet Fern.  Kathy is also a gifted artist and here is here wonderful watercolor recipe that was included at They Draw and Cook.  Super easy to make and oh so delicious.  You can see it cooking in the mosaic above in the last picture.  We froze some and ate some with pasta.  I look forward to some delicious surprises this winter when we thaw out the tomatoes we canned.

Also a big success was all the basil that grew.  The cinnamon (as pictured in the first picture in the post) and Italian basil made about 10 batches of pesto.  And we also froze some whole basil leaves and some chopped basil in ice cube trays with olive oil.  I couldn’t get over the huge size of the basil in the squash and tomato beds.  Some reaching 2 feet tall.





Also successful were the squashes.  Our zucchini was not overly producing.  Just enough to eat weekly and we even made zucchini cakes much like potato latkes.  The Delicata squash were few as they were overwhelmed by the summer squash.  So we will make sure there is more room between the summer and winter squashes in the future so they can produce even more next year.  





Other successes, early on in the garden, were the potatoes, onions, garlic, okra, beets, carrots, lettuces, radishes, Swiss chard and peas.






We had a couple of peppers, a few beans and cukes enough to make 2 jars of dill pickles.  The voles took the okra and beans eventually, and the cool weather, we had this summer, took the peppers and cukes.   You can see the purple stems of the okra growing behind the flowering hibiscus before the voles mowed them down.  The eggplant were planted in June and never had enough warm weather to set up and flower.  





Other failures were the watermelons and pumpkins.  Watermelon seed grew and flowered, but only produced one (finally growing) as the basil grew so big this year they grew right into the melons and kept the melon flowers hidden from the pollinators.  Once we removed the basil, and had a stretch of warm to hot weather in late September, the melons flowered and we now have one we hope will grow fast and make for a yummy fall treat.  What a surprise.

And I finally learned how to pollinate the watermelons by hand as it is a bit tricky so I can help them along next year if I need to.

The pumpkins were started too late and they did not produce.  But a volunteer plant that grew in front of the bed has produced one pumpkin.  That was another great surprise.




In A Vase On Monday

Part of the harvest this summer has been the flowers in the garden.  And I continue to find wonderful flowers and foliage to add to vases and grace our indoor living space.  

I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her meme, In a Vase on Monday today.  I am also linking in with Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.  

So this week what has been catching my eye that I would love to add to a couple of vases.  Asters of all sizes and colors are everywhere.  And yellow helianthus is making a buzz too.  I also saw some seedheads of Queen Anne’s Lace nearby that I really liked.  I have used QAL in several vases… from blooms, to foliage to seeds….. and I find it is spectacular in an arrangement.  Lastly I saw the bright pink of the sedum blooming and that was a must have for a vase.  

So here are the vases this week:



Vase one is filled with white and purple asters, helianthus and QAL seedheads.  As soon as I brought it outside, the bees were back buzzing around it.




helianthus vase

A few more views close up and from afar.





The second vase is filled with pinky and almost white tall asters, both colors naturally occurring here.  And the sedum flowers really do add some pop.




sedum vase

A few more views of the sedum vase.

So there you have some fun, frilly and fall vases all part of the harvest from my garden.  They almost look like I found them growing together in my garden bed and plucked them for a vase…and in the case of vase one I did!




A true kitchen garden opens your senses in new and inspiring ways, both in the garden and in the kitchen.  ~Ellen Ecker Ogden





Visit my new blog: 

new blog logo

I wanted to thank all the wonderful people who have been visiting me at my new blog, Living From Happiness.  It is a blog that celebrates life, lessons, change, challenges and creativity.

I have been posting for two months now on Sundays and Thursdays.I do hope you will join me there to read my musings about life, some original poetry and photography.

There will be a new post again this Thursday.



Next up on the blog:  Wednesday
I will have another Wildlife post.  And Monday will be time for another Garden Journal as I review the September garden.  

I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.


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.






  1. Leora says:

    I love how you talk about your failures! And here I thought I was the only one who doesn’t have successes … actually, that’s what I like about gardening, sometimes I get successes! I don’t tell anyone about the failures. The helianthus are beautiful. Your sedum is just the right color – I’ve watched mine go from light to darker.

    • Donna says:

      Leora, I have grown to love my failures because I learn so much more from them and I can turn them into successes the next year. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow says:

    It looks and sounds as if you had more success than failures. You mentioned cinnamon basil…I purchased one plant and never paid attention to the variety but it smells a bit like clove ! 🙂

    Lovely flower arrangements …just beautiful.

  3. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    What a wonderful harvest Donna! I didn’t make pesto as planned this weekend but very soon. Just love pesto. You are so brave to attempt to grow melons in our climate! I never have luck with cucumbers but think I will with cucamelons – I have them growing right now but I planted them way too late. The plants look healthy and this crop will get extra attention next year – I’m looking forward to those cute little melons. And of course, my freezer is stocked with Summer in a Jar! Thank you, Donna. I so hope you enjoy.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks for the Summer In A Jar Kathy…we can’t wait to eat it this winter….actually I only grow pickling cukes and they grow quite easily with radishes I let go to flower. And the melons actually grew great too. They are baby watermelons so they stay the size of a honeydew melon. I think they would grow fine for you too. I grow them up a trellis to save room. Enjoy making your pesto.

  4. Snap says:

    I really enjoyed this trip through your garden. You had wonderful success. I would have been happy with just the tomatoes. Lovely images. Happy Mosaic Monday.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Snap…when I first started veg gardening I was happy with getting tomatoes to grow. Then it became an addiction and we gradually have added veggies to grow and try. Now we look forward to each harvest with so much gratitude.

  5. Annette says:

    Well, we all experience successes and failures, Donna, but as long as we enjoy successes it ain’t bad, is it! Lovely harvest and I absolutely love vase one – and I bet the insects too. Have a great week 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Annette…I actually am grateful for the failures too as they help me to grow as a gardener and I learn so much from them too. Glad you enjoyed the vases as much as the pollinators.

  6. DeniseinVA says:

    Hi Donna, I am always so impressed with what you grow in your garden and your posts are always so interesting and beautifully written, with the most wonderful photographs. Thank you also for linking with Today’s Flowers which is a great joy for me. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Judith. I have gradually added veggies to our garden and we learn so much every year from the failures. In some ways they are so much more interesting to me as a gardener because of the challenge. So glad you enjoyed the post and flowers.

  7. Christina says:

    Great some things cropped well for you, your very late spring made it difficult I know. Love this weeks vase, are they the Jerusalem Artichokes I’ve been using? They really look like it, if so you have another crop hidden under ground if you care to dig them up.

    • Donna says:

      Actually my helianthus is not the Jerusalem artichoke but I wish they were. I was pleased with the harvest given the late spring and late planting by me. And of course I learn so much from those failures. Glad you enjoyed the vases too Christina.

  8. thesalemgarden says:

    Everything is beautiful, especially the asters. Every year at this time I think about adding some to my garden for next year, maybe I’ll finally get to it! I had a similar experience with my pumpkins and watermelon this year, just one small fruit from each.

    • Donna says:

      I think our growing season was odd for some veggies and fruits this year…and I hope you get to add the asters as they are such a treat.

    • Donna says:

      I say it is a success every year when I get even one tomato Shirley…and I have enjoyed harvesting my flowers for the vases…glad you enjoyed them.

  9. Beth says:

    Donna, Love vase 2 – those are my colors! I enjoyed hearing about your successes in the potager. It is a good feeling to have homegrown produce to enjoy and to share. Have a great week!

  10. Alison says:

    What a great harvest! I’ve had plenty of failures in the past too, they are always a learning experience. Sometimes it’s hard to know what made the successes so successful.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Alison. It is just luck I think with some successes, but I have been following some tried and true plant combinations and seeds and I think that has led to more successes.

  11. Lorrie says:

    Gardens are funny things: some things grow well one year and not the next. Our squashes were not successful this year, but the tomatoes did well. We got one small pumpkin and I still have beets and carrots in the ground (we can keep them there most of the winter). Your tomatoes look wonderful. There’s nothing like a freshly grown tomato, ripe from the vine. So sweet and delicious.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Lorrie. We look forward to tomatoes the most. And I agree it is so different from one year to the next with veggies. Your harvest sounds wonderful too.

  12. Cathy says:

    What a joyfully exuberant vase that first one is – and a great blend of colours in the second. I love them both! ps another great quotation at the start

    • Donna says:

      That quote was perfect I thought…veg gardening is like meditation. Glad you enjoyed the 2 vases this week Cathy. I am already eyeing a few surprise rebloomers for next week.

  13. susan says:

    I LOVE your photo composites. I think what you have described may be one reason some folks dislike gardening–the uncertainty of it all. Being in close touch with nature means we must allow for not being in charge!

    • Donna says:

      I agree. You have to let go of certainty and embrace the challenge of veg gardening which is why I have grown to love it…it is an obsession now. Glad you enjoyed the photos Susie.

  14. Kris P says:

    Both your vases are beautiful, Donna – I always love the combination of asters and, well, anything. But I’m especially impressed by your vegetable garden production. Your tomatoes look fabulous! And how did you manage to keep the zucchini from over-achieving?

  15. Angie says:

    It’s been great to read of your success and failures Donna – it’s good to learn from our failures. You’ve had a great harvest and of course surprises. I hope that melon ripens for you. The thought of it is making my mouth water!
    Gorgeous vases too – lovely and fresh.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Angie…I am watching my little melon faithfully…if we had warmer nights it would have a better shot. But I still count it as half a success.

  16. Eileen says:

    Your veggies all look wonderful and the dishes your prepared sound yummy! I love tomatoes any way! Love the flowers and arrangements! I would say your garden has been a success! Enjoy your week!

  17. Sallie (FullTime-Life) says:

    Oh my gosh you had a wonderful garden; way more successes than failures. I don’t garden at all any more, but I love looking at other people’s hard work (and am old enough not to even feel guilty ;>))….. we love going to farmstands and farm markets here in Oregon (where we usually spend the summer, this year being an exception) and in Florida where we are nowadays in the winter (and which is garden season there). Rambling away just to say I loved this post, it made my mouth water and gave me some ideas for things to pick up at the farm next visit . And I’m checking out the recipe you linked. Thank you.

  18. Cathy says:

    I especially love your pink vase this week Donna! The photo montages are really effective. Glad you had a lot of successful crops… the surprises make up for the failures I think! 🙂

  19. Julie says:

    I really loved both your vases this week Donna – so different and yet both so much part of the end of summer season. I also really enjoyed your review of your vegetable growing – a few disappointments but on the whole you must be really happy with your successes!

    • Donna says:

      Yes Julie lots of wonderful flowers and veggies this year. So glad you stopped by. I have grown to be more interested in the disappointments if that makes sense. I love to learn and I do when crops fail.

  20. Susie says:

    Your seasonal vases are beautiful Donna and your vegetables make my mouth water, especially those lovely tomatoes. I’ve been a bit “soulful” too this summer. Getting out in the garden seems to be a good recipe for it.

    • Donna says:

      It is a wonderful tonic, the garden….I think we have had so much fun making yummy dishes from the harvest this year….glad you enjoyed the post Susie.

  21. debsgarden says:

    Your veggie garden had some great success! Your tomatoes look perfect! I admit I was surprised to hear of you (ahem) yankees eating fried green tomatoes, a dish as southern as sweet tea and collard greens. It is one of my dear hubby’s favorite dishes. My own tomatoes did well, and some are still producing. One volunteer came up late in the squash bed and just now has tiny tomatoes. I have no idea what sort it is, obviously a seed that survived its trip through the compost bin. My peppers also were a flop, riddled with disease from the beginning, despite my nursing abilities. I should have given up immediately and planted new ones.

    • Donna says:

      Actually Italians have been eating fried green tomatoes for a very long time especially here up North 🙂

      Deb, a southern dish we made and love is fried okra….I look forward to it every summer now. I hope your veg garden keeps producing you lucky gardener.

  22. Beth @ PlantPostings says:

    What pretty arrangements! Your harvest is impressive, I think! I have such a small area of sun (and it’s diminishing more), so any vegetable harvest is welcome. Aren’t fresh Tomatoes from the garden the best?! I didn’t plant Peppers, but it wasn’t a good year for them here in Wisconsin, either. Just not quite hot enough–which is very unusual for our summers. It sure was comfortable, though. 😉

    • Donna says:

      Definitely not a good summer for peppers Beth…but boy I didn’t miss the oppressive heat. I used to have mostly shade in my old garden and how I wanted a veg garden…so I understand wanting any harvest especially those tomatoes.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Donna, lovely post … the photos of the tomatoes had my mouth watering. Interesting to read about your failures as well as successes … makes me feel not so bad about my failures too. Of course, I came to see your vase and discovered two, both beautifully colourful arrangements. I see your asters are flowering already … mine are still in the bud stage and I can’t wait for them to break into bloom.

    • Donna says:

      My asters took a long time to flower too Elizabeth…so take heart yours will be ready soon for a vase…glad I had your mouth watering too!!

  24. Pattie @ Olla-Podrida says:

    I love garden posts. Everything looks so beautiful and inviting. I had some great successes this year, and failures as well. My attempt to grow artichokes in a very large pot yielded a plant the likes of “Little Shop of Horrors,” but no fruit, alas.

    • Donna says:

      Oh how funny Pattie. I have had plants like that too. But the artichoke grew so now to make it fruit like my peppers. I wish it was warm enough to grow avocados here.

  25. nicole says:

    What a joy to see all of your successes in the garden! Look at those tomatoes! Harvesting your own food just makes life great! Lovely photos here Donna! Nicole xo

  26. Ginnie says:

    Every time I come visit you here, Donna, you knock my socks off! Seriously. These pictures and collages are a feast for sore eyes. I have nothing but utmost esteem for all the magic your hands and expertise have wrought in your space of the world. Congratulations. I can just see you now dreaming up what you’ll do next year! 🙂

    • Donna says:

      You are correct Ginnie…the plan is almost formed for next year’s veg garden. I am pleased you really loved the post….and you are too kind in your compliments. How I wish I could share the harvest with you and Astrid.

  27. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    Love your vases again Donna, and I am envious of your success with basil, no pesto for me this year, or rather, I will be making it with parsley instead! Great looking tomatoes too, in had an average year with mine, its all a cycle of learning, success and failure often as much to do with seasonal variation as anything! For instance this year my beans and peas have been amazing, but my salads went to seed so quickly and the replacements got munched!

    • Donna says:

      I do love parsley pesto too. Now if I can grow more of that next year. It is funny how some things grow or don’t grow. I often wonder what I would do if my whole garden produced. I wonder if we could eat it all!!

  28. Jennifer says:

    Though you had some problems, it sounds as though your veggie garden was quite prosperous. I am particularly curious about your basil harvest probably because mine was a disaster. How do you keep insects like earwigs from turning your basil into swiss cheese? Mine was full of holes!

    • Donna says:

      Jennifer, I let my basil grow between tomatoes and other veggies. It seems to keep them well and I did have some covered in one bed as the other plants in the bed needed to be covered.

  29. Alexa T says:

    I see only success… And I love the tomatoes and your pic with the pan of tomato sauce… Do you love to store them in jars for winter? not sure if I said it ok in english,,, anyway – everything looks great in your post! Lovely to have a garden and to cultivate your own vegetables and grow yourself beautiful blooms… So: Have a sunny october and keep going on gardening…

    • Donna says:

      How nice of you to say so Alexa and you said it all perfectly. We do store some things in jars for winter….you have a lovely October too and I will keep gardening for as long as I can before the ground freezes.

      • Alexa T says:

        Oh, thank you for wishes and lovely comments!! I was afraid that my english is so poor, not being my native language… and in my posts, I cannot say that it is ok in every way I’m expressing… Regarding gardening: In balcony I have some plants and now due to your post I discover their names: sedum…the little pink blooms that bloomed in late september till november sometimes!! I was so glad to find out this… and made some more research in this aspect to find some info (to me is “norocel” that means lucky or sedum telephium in latin)!! Thank you kindly for your reply and visits, too! Have a sunny october day!

  30. Jason says:

    What a wonderful edibles garden you’ve grown this year. I’m especially jealous of your tomatoes, ours barely produced at all in our cool, rainy summer.

    • Donna says:

      I was surprised as well Jason as we had some cool days and very wet weather. Most of the harvest came in late August and then we had the frost in mid September which stopped production…but I will take a small harvest of tomatoes anyday.

  31. Island Threads says:

    a lovely lot of veg Donna, I know some didn’t come through but I think that seems to be the way it goes, I am trying to look at my success and failures as a glass half full and not half empty, some is better than none, I’m interested in your comments about some plants not growing due to lack of heat, as we don’t get any real heat here I have been learning more about veg that grows in lower temps, I’ve never tried fried green tomatoes though I often hear about them maybe as I have some green tomatoes I should try some, Frances

    • Donna says:

      I agree about the successes and failures Frances….glass half full. You should give the fried green tomatoes a try. Some folks also pickle them or roast them.

  32. Diana says:

    Hello, Donna! so good to “see” you. It has been a hot dry summer here and the garden has produced rather nicely, but it’s time to wind down. I keep saying to dh “this is the last fritters I’m making”, but a few zucchini continue to come on. 😉 So he gets another batch. What can I say?

    We are praying for rain here_only an inch last month and still nothing forecast for the next 10 days; temps 83 today while Chicago gets rain and snow mixed. My sister in PA talks about the great ‘without humidity’ days and I tell her to send it back. 🙂

    Enjoy your fall and your beautiful garden. Looks like you had a nice harvest.

    • Donna says:

      Wonderful to hear from you Diana…we have had the no humidity warm sunny days for 2 weeks and now we have cool wet weather…love to send you some. Most of my garden is done except for the zukes…they are hanging on here too. I’ll take anything still growing including the carrots that will be harvested in a couple of weeks as we plant the garlic. Wishing you a wonderful gardening month!!

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