Carol from May Dreams Gardens (Zone 5), Mary Ann from Idaho Gardener (Zone 6) and I enjoy reading books like Dear Friend and Gardener and The 3,000 Mile Garden: An Exchange of Letters Between Two Eccentric Gourmet Gardeners, so we decided to create our own 1,000 mile garden project. This gardening season, we’ll be exchanging letters with each other about our vegetable gardens, and we’re now in week nine. We hope you’ll enjoy our travels around three different hardiness zones. I garden in Zone 7.
This week I want to talk about flowers. I can almost hear you two laughing and saying “Don’t you always want to talk about flowers?” True, but in connection with our vegetable gardens, I want to show my edible flowers. They are still very, very small, but soon, I’ll have Nasturtiums like ‘Black Velvet‘ and ‘Princess of India‘ blooming. I’m also growing Calendula ‘Zeolights’ and a Bewitched Blend of violas. All are edible, up and growing, and I’ll enjoy their beauty in the garden and in salads throughout the summer. I wanted to mention that before using flowers for salads make sure they are edible. Although many are, some, like Digitalis purpurea, are poisonous. You don’t want to end up a case study for Amy Stewart’s book, Wicked Plants, do you? Also, the flowers you’re growing or using (from a friend’s garden perhaps) should be grown organically. If you don’t want pesticides on your veggies, you don’t want them on your edible flowers either. So, don’t feed your roses systemic pesticides and fungicides and don’t spray them if you’re going to have them bordering your vegetable garden. By the way, roses are also edible and taste very good. In fact, rose water is used throughout the Middle East in desserts. I have a good friend whose family is originally from Lebanon, and she makes a cookie which has rose water as one of the ingredients.
Speaking of, HH asked me the other day how that organic gardening thing was going? I told him it was going great, but that growing vegetables organically was something I’d done for years. It was the rest of the roses which were going off drugs this year. More about that later.
I planted a few more tomato plants. I know. I’m insane. I bought a few here and there and placed them in the garden because I’ve been afraid my tomatoes started from seed were just too wimpy. However, with all the rain we’ve had in the last two weeks, the tomato plants I started seem to be recovering. I was fortunate the hot, dry weather didn’t hit in late April this year.
I planted the green beans including ‘Lazy Housewife,’ but before I could get the squash in, the skies opened up and rained for days and days. My rain guage shows 2.5 inches which would be for the last two days and part of this a.m. Good rainfall for Oklahoma. About the same time the rain started falling, I began coughing. No, I don’t have swine flu, thank God. Three of us have bronchitis, and ASW and I are taking antibiotics. I am better today, but still not well. I’ll let the garden dry out and give myself time to heal before the squash go in.
On a more entertaining matter, we ate our first salad from the garden two nights ago. I went out in the sprinkling rain and cut a lot of the Well Read Blend, along with the ‘Black Seeded Simpson.’ I also took cuttings from the chard. In a week or two, all of the lettuces will have recovered and will be ready for another haircut. Although the lettuces will bolt or become bitter with the hot weather, the chard will grow throughout summer. As it gets larger, it will need to be cooked instead of eaten raw though. The spinach is still too small to harvest, but it’s coming along on the other side of the garden.
My BFF’s daughter, Annie, was over to spend the night with Bear, and we talked about each type of lettuce and/or vegetable I’d picked. I gave them to her and Bear piece by piece so that they could taste them individually. Neither one of them likes salad dressing, so after the taste test, they just piled some on their plate next to their pizza. Everyone agreed the salad tasted heavenly and better than even the mesclun mixes from the store. I also picked radishes which Bear loves, but Annie said “no thanks.” I sliced organic baby carrots and an organic ‘Enterprise’ apple into the salad and left the green onions out to make it more kid friendly.
I sent my seeds and recipe to my swapping buddy this week. I chose a pickling cucumber and some dill seeds. I’d planned to send a recipe for dill pickles, but then decided I like bread and butter pickles so much better, so I sent that. I still sent the dill because it is an important larval food source for the Swallowtail butterflies. I hope they have that type of butterfly in Oregon, but if not, dill is still a great nectar source, and it looks pretty in the garden with its ferny foliage.
Love you all. Until next week, I remain . . .