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2019 Garden: Beets, Garlic, & a Surprise Crop

02. July 2019

My garden is off to a great start this year. I planted new varieties plus beets and sweet potatoes for the first time. There's always something new to learn when gardening. And always room to improve.

Garden 2019: Chioggia & Early Wonder Beets |


I harvested beets! And just look at my lovely bouquet :) I’m a first time beet gardener, and I was a bit worried my plants were doomed. I had a run in with beet leaf miners for the first time. The good news is that they only affected the leaves on the first batch of beets I planted in containers. The beets in my raised garden bed were not bothered by these gross bugs. So I was able to harvest a handful of beet greens to sauté with bacon grease, onions, and apple cider vinegar. Oh, and those stems are edible too! I chop them up and soften with onions, then wilt the leaves. 

Garden 2019: Chioggia & Early Wonder Beets |

My husband despises the smell of beets because they are earthy. These beets didn’t smell too bad though, maybe because they were still young. I had only eaten pickled beets before, but since I just harvested a handful, I decided to roast them instead. I roasted the beets with carrots in maple syrup and was a bit nervous of my husband’s reaction. His verdict: The beets tasted like carrots roasted in maple syrup!!! I’m WINNING! Mwahahaha.

Garden 2019: Chioggia & Early Wonder Beets |

I planted two varieties: Early Wonder is really dark red. Chioggia looks very pretty, although much whiter than photos I’ve seen. 


Garden 2019: Tuna Fish Joe with Beets |

Tuna Fish Joe was NOT impressed with my beets. Meh. He also does not like the rectangle (iPhone).


Garden 2019: Sweet Potatoes |

Sweet Potatoes

My sweet potatoes also got off to a rough start. They didn’t look great when they arrived in the mail, but they sprung back to life. And then they were half eaten by rabbits. Oh well. They are going strong now again. WOOT. The runners are going a bit crazy. I fertilized them with bone meal, and I am doing weekly waterings with banana peel fertilizer. This is my first time growing sweet potatoes too, so I’m hoping for large tubers. I may have overcrowded the pots a little. Typical Alison. Overcrowding may lead to smaller sweet potatoes, but I won’t find out for a while because this is a longer season crop. I'll keep you posted.


Garden 2019: Garlic Harvest |


My garlic got off to a rough start too. Like really rough, half of it didn’t come up! While my garlic crop was sparse, what I did harvest was pretty darn impressive. The bulbs are three times larger than last year's garlic. So what made the difference? I added lots of compost and manure to this year’s soil. Plus I fertilized with bone meal and did weekly waterings with banana peel fertilizer. It may have helped that I bought new varieties from a different supplier too. I planted Early Italian and Transylvania soft neck varieties. Unfortunately, none of the Spanish Roja hardneck I planted came up. I was bummed because it was supposed to be “easy to peel”, so I was anticipating geeking out over easy to peel garlic. That’s me, the dork who's excited by easy peelin’ garlic. But hey, who isn’t?

Speaking of peeling garlic easily, have you seen this nifty garlic peeling hack? Yeah, I tried that. I didn’t stab myself in the hand, but I did tear a hunk out of a garlic clove leaving the skin intact. It was worth a try though.

  Garden 2019: Garlic Comparison |

This year's garlic is on the left, compared to the tiny bulbs I grew last year.


Garden 2019: Red Swan Green Beans |


Beans grow like weeds and are one of the easiest plants for me. The Red Swan Bush Bean is a very pretty color. I also planted Black Turtle Bean to shell. This is my first time growing a bean just for shelling, but you can also eat the green beans from this variety too.


Garden 2019: Mushroom Basket Tomato |


I have planted a lot of different tomatoes in my gardening life. I have never planted a tomato that looks like this weirdo mushroom basket plant. Seriously, check this thing out. I have several other mushroom basket tomatoes, and they look like normal plants, so I don’t think it’s the variety. In the photo below, you can see the mutated and dwarfish mushroom basket next to a normal looking one. Both plants were started from seed and transplanted at the same time. They were also the same size when transplanted. I'll be interested to see how this funky mater turns out.

Garden 2019: Mushroom Basket Tomato |

It may be suffering from tomato leaf curl as well. I have never actually had leaf curl before. This can be caused by hot weather, which we’ve had. Insects such as aphids can also cause leaf curl, although I don’t see any bugs. None of the other tomato plants look like this one, so it’s an anomaly for sure.

Garden 2019: Catfacing on Black Krim Tomatoes |

The first tomato of the year will come from Black Krim. This is my FAVORITE tomato ever. It always outperforms every other variety I plant. And they are usually really good looking tomatoes that often just have minor scarring. This first tomato is cat-faced. Meow! Yes, in case you ever get a funky-looking mater, this deformity is in fact called catfacing. It’s completely harmless and still edible. Just cut away any of the deep scar tissue.

While this disorder hasn’t been researched thoroughly, there are few things thought to cause it. Cold temperatures during flowering and extreme fluctuations in day and night temperatures increases catfacing. We did have weird weather in Ohio with temperatures going below 50 degrees after flowering. If blossoms are damaged, perhaps by insects, the disorder is also possible. Pruning and high nitrogen levels may exacerbate catfacing too. This is more common with tomatoes early in the season.


Garden 2019: Barese Swiss Chard |

Swiss Chard

I sowed 2 different varieties of Swiss Chard seed this year at the SAME time. I was totally sold on the marketing for this new variety called Barese Swiss Chard. The description claimed it was "faster growing." And before you gasp, ooooh and awwww at this pic, the "FASTER" growing swiss chard is on the LEFT in this photo. Overall, Chard always seems to grow slow for me.  But this variety takes the cake and didn't live up to the hype. Hurry up already. 


Garden 2019: Lunix Lettuce |


I'm in love with this new variety called Lunix Lettuce. It's a really dark burgundy color, but sometimes a few leaves are bright red. I planted this in a container, and it's growing completely vertical so far too, so it's easy to harvest. I get excited by non-green lettuce. And yes, it tastes like lettuce. Most varieties tend to taste the same to me, but there are a few spicier varieties out there.


Garden 2019: Corn |

Surprise, I Have Corn!

I didn’t plant this, but the squirrels did. That was corny, HA! But seriously, someone in our neighborhood has been feeding squirrels corn. We’ve found dried and partially eaten corn cobs all over our yard and in flower pots. It appears that corn is the easiest thing in the world to grow. I planted corn years ago, but didn't have luck. It got corn smut, yuck. At the time, I had no idea what the funky, bulbous looking junk on my corn was. It was freaky, so I ripped it out. Years later, the grand old internets told me all about smut (corn smut, that is).

Apparently, corn smut is an edible delicacy. In Mexico, it goes by the name of huitlacoche and is eaten in tacos. While American farmers do everything to eradicate it, there’s a corn smut underground where people grow it for consumption. Weird. But cool weird. It’s described as tasting mushroomy, which makes sense because smut is a fungus. I’m not expecting much from the few sporadically spaced random stalks of corn in my yard. But if I’m lucky, maybe they’ll have smut!


Garden 2019: Tuna Fish Joe by Tomatoes |

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How is your garden growing this year? What have you harvested?

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