The squirrels are beating us to the tomatoes this year – Daisy hasn’t yet found her voice to scare them away as well as Betsy beagle did, but considering how far she’s come in every other way, we’ll overlook it. Without a beagle chasing unwanted visitors off, it’s become wildlife central out there, with rabbits keeping the sweet potato greens from running outside of their raised bed and an entire charm of hummingbirds fluttering about all day, stopping to rest on top of the cages around the pepper plants. The hummingbirds are next to impossible to capture with a camera but of course that doesn’t stop me from trying. All of the animals seem to be getting quite comfortable with us out there, which I suppose has its pluses and minuses.
Despite the lack of tomatoes, the garden is still quite productive. I picked a gallon of okra and jalapenos each last week and the crisper drawer in the fridge has been full of cucumbers for weeks now. I’m both running out of fridge space for jars of my favorite quick pickle (despite having fried pickles in the dinner rotation regularly) while also getting tired of making them. Thankfully, I found this cucumber salad that is stupid good and I basically make it every other night and have for weeks, so you should make it immediately. It’s actually quite nice on rice with blistered shishito peppers and marinated tofu with a little mayo/siracha sauce on top.
The summer squash harvest has been decent – just enough to keep us in squash without getting sick of it. Even had a few that slipped through the radar that were the right excuse to make Aunt Loretta’s Chocolate Zucchini cake which is one of those recipes that feels like you can only make them with the inevitable surprise logs that zucchini lends itself to in the garden. It’s the perfect breakfast cake, because it’s got a vegetable in it, so it’s healthy, yes?
My zinnia obsession continues, as I planted some really interesting varieties this year. As they go gangbusters, I find myself taking even more pictures of them than usual. My Instagram account is completely and totally unapologetically a zinnia appreciation account, as usual for this time of year. My perennial beds have been glorious too, particularly the joe pye weed, black and brown eyed susans. We have some sunflowers and a few volunteer tithonias, otherwise known as Mexican sunflowers too. The by the road flower garden is looking quite nice if I do say so myself.
There are still collards from last spring to be had and an impressive crop of volunteer Malabar spinach. All the peppers I planted seem to be taking off although this year hasn’t been as good of a year for peppers as last year was. Spring’s alternating cool & wet with blazing hot has dragged itself into summer which isn’t great but the tomatillo, which is absolutely huge and loaded in blooms, seems to somewhat agree with it, as does the okra. There’s also a Thai basil plant that is impressively big. The garden looks lush (well, with the exception of the cucumbers which are nearing the end of their life and I’m really okay with that.) and is completely busting out of its boundaries, but it’s August and that’s exactly what it should be doing.
I read somewhere that the whole point of a garden is to feed something, so anything that feasts off your garden is a success. It would seem our garden is feeding us, the neighborhood squirrels, a herd of rabbits, a treasury of goldfinches, a charm of hummingbirds, in addition to the usual bees and variety of butterflies. The tomatoes may be a bust for us, but considering how many creatures (including us) are making multiple meals a day out of it, this year’s garden is low key pretty good.