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This is a more general “veggie reviews”. Not going over specific kids of veggies, but just what veggies I will and will not plan on growing next year in the garden. Might help you if you’ve got a similar garden situation. For reference, my garden is 4 raised beds and one rocky, in-ground bed about the size of a raised bed. The in-ground bed hasn’t gotten a lot of water this year as we’ve had a drought (I give it some sprinkler time as needed), but the raised beds are watered by a soaker hose daily. I of course of have pictures of all of these plants, but don’t feel like searching for them! Use the search box at left to find out more about what I’ve done with each of these throughout the year.

Grew this year: royal burgundy, pencil pod, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, a couple others
No. As much as I absolutely LOVE fresh beans from the garden, I don’t think I’m going to grow them again next year, other than maybe a plant or two to snack on fresh beans from while outside. I haven’t had great results from the beans I’ve planted. They look scraggly and I don’t catch the beans until they’ve gone hard, or the beans are skinny and don’t taste great (heat, maybe?). And in order to really have enough beans to occasionally use as a side dish, I’d really have to have a whole bed of beans. Beans are readily available from local farmers, both Amish and non, so I think I’ll just get my beans from them next year. The ones I most frequently snack on, dragon tongue and royal burgundy, I may grow a plant or two of.

Grew this year: Wando and another variety I forget. They tasted and performed the same.
Yes! I so enjoyed growing my own peas this spring, and because they’re just a spring crop, you pull them and they don’t take up space the whole summer. Next year I will plant more peas and plan better where they go (to account for them being replaced with something else), but I will for sure grow them again.

Grew this year: tonda di parigi, danvers half long
Yes! I lost about half of my carrots this year because hornworms ate the foliage off of all the ones in my raised bed, so they stopped growing. Consequently, I didn’t get any of the little round tonda di parigi carrots I was so excited about! The carrots I planted in a large pot and kept in a more shaded area did very well, though, so I plan on doing that next year and using raised bed space for something else.

radishRadishes and beets
Grew this year: early scarlet globe radish, detroit dark red beet
Yes! I am also going to try to grow these again in the fall, and will be more conscious of sowing more next year in succession, so I get more than one crop. Both were very easy to grow, weren’t bothered by pests, and tasted great. Plus they are another spring crop like the peas that you get to plant something else in after they’re done (again, I will plan better for that next year). May try some more varieties of each next year.

Grew this year: sweet banana, cayenne, jalapeno, marconi, chili, habanero, fish, sweet red cherry
Yes! Though I’m not a fan of peppers on their own, I LOVE making my own salsa over the summer and these guys are a key ingredient. Unfortunately, I lost ALL the peppers I’d started from seed this year in the Great Plant Fry of 2010, so all the peppers I have were from a plant exchange or purchased as seedlings. Botanical Interests is having a free shipping deal this weekend (friend them on facebook for details), so I am planning on making a small purchase, and peppers are in the mix.

Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

Grew this year: Di cicco and Long Island Improved
Ask me after the fall. Cabbage worms ate the hell out of them in the spring, then it got too hot too fast, so I pulled them and gave up.

Ground Cherries
Grew this year: Whatever kind @snarkyvegan gave me?
Yes! I’ve really enjoyed these weird little plants. I’ve already made a sauce that I used on turkey and last night on my portobello burger (hubby had jalapeno jack burgers) and very delicious bread that I need to share the recipe for. I’m going to try to save some seeds, but if not I’ll purchase more. These are tasty and there’s no way I’d find them if I didn’t grow them myself.

Grew this year: Black Beauty
Maybe. I’m not a big zuc fan and hubby doesn’t like them. I just bought these because Lowe’s was having a sale. They’re not producing like crazy (yet?), prob because they’re in the old garden and haven’t gotten a lot of water.

Grew this year: whatever Lowe’s had
Nope. Just like the beans, you have to plant too many to get anything worthwhile. I’ve gotten 3 so far and ended up composting them bc what do you do with 3 okra? Also the only thing I ever do with them is fry them, so frozen or random local is fine.

Grew this year: the seed that came with the compost
Maybe. I grew this one on accident and it’s kind of fun. Only one pumpkin on there and I don’t see more blooms, but again it’s in the garden that hasn’t gotten any water. I like my little pumpkin, but I don’t think it’ll make it to Halloween 😦

Grew this year: luffa from Botanical Interests
Maybe. I was SO SUPER EXCITED about this, but the dang thing still hasn’t fruited! I don’t get it. I had just grand plans for Christmas presents! So we’ll see. I’m giving you a chance, luffa.

lemon spacemaster
Grew this year: spacemaster and lemon
Yes! I adore cucumbers and the ones in the raised bed are producing like crazy. The lemon isn’t doing as well, so next year I’ll make sure to plant all cucumbers in a raised bed with plenty of room for climbing.

Grew this year: Baby greens mesclun mix from Botanical Interests, black seeded simpson lettuce
Yes! But next year I’ll plan it better. This is something else that gets pulled when it gets too hot, and this year it got so hot so quick I really only got one harvest before it started to bolt and get bitter. Next year I will plant earlier and more in succession to get more harvests, and I will also plan for them being pulled up by planting them in the bed with the other spring crops.

Grew this year: Black from Tula, Eva purple ball, speckled roman, better boy, early girl, sungold, russian rose
Let’s not be silly. Of course! I lost a bunch in the plant fry, but I lucked out and still ended up with a nice selection between stores, family, and plant exchanges. I’ll be doing separate reviews of some of these, but tomatoes will definitely get at least one bed in the garden next year as well.


A couple months ago I was contacted by Allsop Home and Garden to see if I wanted to check out some plant tags for them. Allsop is a pretty cool company – all family owned and all the products they sell they design themselves. Their solar lighting is really gorgeous, as are their plant tags.


my usual plant tag style

I was intrigued by the plant tags because it says that if you use a gel pen (it originally said ballpoint, but they changed it to gel), they are washable and you can re-use them year after year! For some reason I can NEVER find a grease pencil that works well or is sharpened (suggestions welcome), so I just usually end up using a permanent marker that fades mostly by the end of the year and I re-mark it (I just mark my annual veggies). Not the best system, so I was intrigued by these super cute tags. At $15.99 they are a bit pricey, but worth it to me if they are re-usable AND renameable.

When I got them, first off I was REALLY impressed by the packaging! It’s freaking adorable and TOTALLY gift-worthy.

The pieces themselves also feel very sturdy. The plastic is actually kind of rubbery and bendy, but doesn’t feel like it will crack. The metal stakes are very strong – I couldn’t bend them with my hands at all. I brought home a gel pen from work, matched the pictures to the “feel” of my tomatoes (ie pink thing for Russian Rose, yellow thing for Sungold), and filled them out. I may just have a crap gel pen, but I did have to kind of write over the words twice to get it to any level of darkness. Very cute, though!
Allsop tags

allsop tags


So…how have they held up? Well, I put them up on 5/2/10. They have held up very well in my opinion! I will say that they have yellowed a bit (a bit more since this pic, which is a few weeks old), but they are still sturdy and look cute.

allsop tags

yellowed a little

I wanted to leave the writing on a while before attempting to wipe off the writing, so I did that a few weeks ago after I took the above pic. It suggests you use water, soapy water, or water with some alcohol. I figured I’d take the best of all 3 and used a clorox wipe. Unfortunately, even after a bit of scrubbing and fingernail scraping, it still looked exactly like the photo above and didn’t wipe off. I should have taken it in and tried again with soapy water, but I didn’t. I will try that at the end of the season and hope it works because I probably won’t grow all these same varieties next year and definitely want to reuse them. It may also be the fault of my aforementioned crappy gel pen (though the pen was definitely a gel pen as required). Not sure.

So…would I buy them again? I think I would definitely buy them as a gift for a gardener. They are adorable and very well packaged – very gift-worthy. For myself? Though they are pricey, if they worked with the wipe-off factor I would consider getting another pack for my veggies. I am going to give the wipe-off test a more intensive try in the fall and will re-evaluate.

All in all though, Allsop is a very cool company with some unique products that you should definitely check out!

Disclaimer: I received this item from Allsop Home and Garden to review, good or bad. I receive nothing in return for posting a good review versus a bad one – these opinions are my own and are an honest review of the product mentioned above. I read reviews extensively before purchasing almost anything, so I’m happy to review things so others can do the same. Let me know if you find this review helpful!

I am always moving plants. It took several moves over a couple years, but I think I am finally satisfied with the layout of the front garden.

There is a small (still growing!) yellow and gold euonymous in the center of each garden, with daylilies clumped on either side. Several gaillardia are in the front, and helenium and rudbeckia are scattered throughout the back. There’s carnation-type dianthus at either end. It’s certainly come a long way through the years. Annuals go on either side of the steps (pansies are still in and need to be replaced with marigolds). There is also a jessamine on a cone-shaped trellis (what are those called?) on the left corner, butting up into the triangle garden.

Those evergreens in the pots are what used to be planted on either side of the doorway. All the shrubs in the first photo are now in the “side garden,” along with 2 azaleas (now in pots in front of one of the raised beds) that were so small when we moved in that I thought they might be weeds!

May 2007

This is what it looked like in May 2007 when we moved in. Ick!

May 2008

In May 2008, things were starting to take shape. But I had no idea how big those daylilies would get!

May 2009

May 2009, just after everything was moved to its current configuration.

May 2010

Today, May 2010

What do you think? Improvement? (Apologies for the shadows in the last pic. Meant to go take another, then got distracted!) Later this week, see my indecisiveness with the triangle garden. It’s so bad it’s good.

This past Saturday my mom and I went to one plant sale/exchange and another plant sale. Both at local historical plantation/mansions (one right down the street from me!). I had been planning to participate this year, so I started extra veggies ans divided some perennials. Some of the perennials I gave to a friend who just bought a new house and is working on “curb appeal,” but some I kept for the exchange.

For the friend:

  • 3 daylilies
  • bee balm
  • hosta
  • black-eyed susan
  • mini hollyhock
  • also some tomatoes and a pepper from the exchange (I got 6-packs)

What I took to the exchange:

  • oregano
  • maxibel bush bean
  • lemon cucumber
  • sungold tomato (I took the SMALL ones for some reason. I had bigger ones I should have taken)
  • lemon and lime basil
  • broccoli
  • white hot habanero

A lot of this stuff is smaller than I’d hoped it would be. And I have more (I have some really nice looking sungold tomatoes that I felt the need to keep even though I have nowhere to put them…?) that I still need to share.

What I got (traded unless otherwise indicated – some given away before photo…and I only spent $11.50 for purchases!):

  • chocolate mint (purchased)
  • 6 marconi peppers
  • 1 fish pepper (purchased – 50¢)
  • 4 chili peppers
  • 6 eva purple ball tomatoes
  • mystery threadleaf coreopsis
  • 2 mouse ear hostas
  • 3 emerald hostas
  • marjoram IN TERRA COTTA POT!! (with a slight crack)
  • cuban oregano (purchased)
  • creeping jenny (purchased)
  • bright green sedum (purchased)

It’s funny because at the exchange, they always say “people aren’t taking enough!”. I hope all my stuff that I brought found a home. I know several things had been taken when we left. I could have taken more, and next year I will keep that in mind. Though I glanced at things last year and was invited to take stuff even though I didn’t bring any trades, I didn’t look too hard. They have things divided up pretty well (veggies and herbs, perennials, annuals, trees). I had to ask about the marjoram in the pot because I couldn’t believe I could take both, but they said it was a donation.

When we were getting to the end of the line, a woman pulled up with a wheelbarrow of hostas and my mom’s eyes lit up! 🙂 She had been wanting some, so she took several. I took a mouse ear hosta and I had to give it back for a second because the lady didn’t want to donate the pot it was in. My mom didn’t know that they brought it to me a second later, so she grabbed me another one and now we both have one! Mine is living happily in a pot on top of the rain barrel. I got some black tomatoes (Eva Purple Ball) to replace some of the black ones that I lost during the Great Plant Fry. They had a ton of tomatoes. Some just germinated, some large like the ones I got. And all for free! Such a great deal. I’ll definitely be participating again next year and leaving some more garden space for tomatoes (lots of cool kinds too, not just all Better Boy!).

I’m actually future-posting all this week, because I’m not at home, I’m on Hatteras Island! My garden is in the capable hands of my aunt for part of the week and my parents for the end of the week. Hopefully some goodies will be ready for me when I get back! (hint: see this week’s Wordless Wednesday)





A few words: Happy 37th Anniversary to my parents! I love you both!

I am currently blogging from my deck (and future-posting to Monday morning) – which would be a lot more peaceful if my neighbor wasn’t doing some sort of work on his car that requires a lot of engine revving. Ugh. Anyway – I skipped dance tonight because I just wasn’t feeling it and figured I’d make a nice dinner for the hubs. Which of course means that he is getting home late tonight. Dear readers, do not take your local deputies for granted! Anyway…so I will blog to you all while the carrots wait and the cornbread mix is stuck in the fridge.

The raised beds are all planted! There are a few pepper plants I’m waiting on that my mom kindly got me today to replace the ones lost in the Great Plant Fry of 2010. Luckily, yesterday my mom called and said that my Uncle Wally had dropped off some tomatoes, and she brought me a few plants. I bought my uncle (who is also my godfather) a couple packets of heirloom tomato seeds with his xmas present because he’s a farmer (literally – he made his living as a tobacco farmer for many, many years. Now he’s retired but he and a friend grow a bunch of stuff each year for themselves and the local produce auctions. His sweet potatoes are outstanding.) So he totally saved the day! One of the varieties is Black from Tula (they may all be that, or some may be cherry lemon – they’re unmarked) – one of the varieties I also bought for myself that I was very upset at losing (a couple very questionable ones survived.


It was windy. And yes, I use the stupid popcorns as container mulch sometimes.

So I will eventually either pot those up or plant them in place of some of the cooler season crops (peas, broccoli, radishes, etc). Annoyed that the pic is blurry. My camera is doing weird things lately, and it had set this as a vertical pic, so when I flip it the focus is off.

Here are the raised beds, all planted up!

bed 1

Bed #1

Bed #1: Speckled roman tomato (mine from seed), early girl tomato (Amish), 2x better boy tomato (local greenhouse), 2x sungold tomato (mine from seed). Also some marigolds (the single flower kind – might add some more) and 2 pots of mint on the edges. And a box of perennials I divided that I am giving away/trading. I love those triangle tomato cages. They look neat, are sturdier that the standard ones, and fold flat for storage. I will eventually add a big fat bamboo stalk (free from friends) for extra support.

bed 2

Bed #2

Bed #2: 2x Peachy mama peppers (mine from seed saved from CSA), sweet cherry pepper (Lowe’s), awaiting cayenne, jalapeno, and habanero peppers my mom got me from a local greenhouse to replace the ones I fried, one half row of danvers half long carrots and one and a half rows of tonda di parigi carrots – which I think are finally showing a little progress? And to the right, radishes and beets. In the pots are Salvia (finally found it at Lowe’s!!) and strawberries.

bed 3

Bed #3

Bed #3: Peas! Peas might just be my most favorite veggie, so I’m excited about these. Little Marvel and I don’t remember the name of the other kind. Note: The ones I advance started by 2 weeks are the same size as the ones I direct sowed. Just direct sow peas! I have turned over tomato cages and bent the ends together, then pinned them down into the dirt with landscaping ties for the peas to grow on. Doesn’t look half bad, I think. Then long island improved brussels sprouts and some kind of broccoli – winter sowed both of those. Then 2 rows of various kinds of beans: golden wax, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, etc. Flanked by 2 decorative pots – daises and derby and daisies and alyssum.

bed 4

Bed #4

Bed #4: Luffa, lemon cucumber, spacemaster cucumber, mesclun mix, lavewa spinach, one purple orach spinach, and black seeded simpson lettuce. I still have to add some twine or something to the bamboo for the stuff to climb on. I’ll probably also get some marigolds or something to add some color to this bed. In front are 2 azaleas in pots (just getting ready to bloom), some sweet peas slowly growing, and 2 giant pots of oregano that I want to divide and plant in smaller pots (it’s taking up a good tomato-sized pot!). Plus some lovely black plastic to hopefully kill some weeds so we can fill in that spot with more driveway rocks. Over on the left are some assorted trees from the Arbor Day foundation (my mom got them for me – leaving them in pots until they get bigger) a small pot of cilantro (which I don’t like, but I grew it last year and it came back) and a pot the size of the large oregano pot with danvers half long carrots (seem to be doing well – better than the direct-sowed ones at this point). This last bed butts up against the side garden, which is the garden that extends down after the right side of the…

old garden

...Old Veggie Garden

And last but not least, the old veggie garden! (Wow, I need to weed the driveway over there!). The evergreen rosemary and perennial sage are still there (the lemon verbena kicked the bucket). From the right I have sowed seeds for dill (in the back), lemon basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, sweet basil. Then I have the mystery “came with the compost” squash? or zucchini? or cucumber?, one lemon cucumber (from seed), 3 okras (Lowe’s) and one zucchini (Lowe’s). Also a bunch of marigolds that either self-seeded from mine last year or came with the compost. I’m letting most of them be and will see what happens (there are lots in the raise beds, too). Over on the right, some strawberries.

No Herbal Almanac today, since I’m outside. So….what does your veggie garden look like right now?

Things I want/need to blog about…I think this makes it official that I have to, right?

That’s a lot of posts. Hold me to it, people!!

It’s been really nice to have my Aunt Debra in North Carolina as one of my blog readers. She’s always had a gorgeous yard (I’ve always loved the NC pine needles as mulch thing!), and she’s shared lots of great stories about my grandparents since she learned that I’m a gardener now. I unfortunately never got the chance to meet my Grandaddy Batts, a career Navy man. I lost my Granny Batts to Alzheimer’s when I was in 9th grade.


Grandaddy Batts and Granny on his last day in the Navy

My dad’s side of the family is fun for me, because I have lots of cousins my age. Actually, 4 of us were all born within a few months of each other in the summer of 1983 – my Granny always said it must have been one cold winter 🙂


Aunt Deb, my (beautiful!) mommy, Aunt Tereca, Aunt Kathy

1983 babies

I'm the big fatty!

So anyway…Aunt Deb has been sharing garden stories with me, and I love it! Since I lost all of my grandparents young, I love hearing the stories about them that I missed when I was younger and not concerned with it.

Over email, I was talking with her about “heirloom plants” – ones that have been passed down from family members over the years. I have some lemon balm that belonged to my Mom Mom (my mother’s mother). I remember she had it planted by their garden shed, and I used to love to pick leaves from it and crush them between my fingers to smell the lemon. I thought it was such a cool plant, and was glad that my mom had some of it still that she could share with me. I also have lots of daylilies from my mom and several irises that came from a friend of my mom’s who recently passed away.

I also have some Lily of the Valley that came from my Granny. My mom and aunt both have some of this. I’ve tried to take seedlings of the cypress vine/hummingbird plant that belonged to her as well – but mine never seem to work! (I’m going to try to start it from seed this year.) My mom has shared seedlings of that plant with her sister though, so it’s a cross-family plant!

Apparently my Grandaddy was a gardener. My aunt shared:

“Your Granddaddy Batts loved a good garden and would be so proud that you are planting “veggies”. He would be very impressed and would say, “pretty work”. I may have told you before that I used to think it so strange when a rain would come along and he would open the den door and sit a lawn chair in the doorway, beer in hand, and watch it rain. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized he was doing this after a really dry spell and I guess it was so refreshing to watch the earth come back to life. I guess he was “watching his garden grow”.

I’m glad to keep the green thumb going. My Mom Mom and Pop Pop were both gardeners (I’ll have to share some stories about them as well), so I think of them a lot when I’m in the garden.

Aunt Deb shared this story about a Gardenia when I was having trouble with having pruned mine at the wrong time last year. (With her wonderful dog Scout, who we lost last year, pictured – click to see it bigger.)


My great grandmother's gardenia at my aunt's house

Aunt Paulette [my dad’s eldest sister] was here one summer and we went over to visit an aunt and decided to go by our Mom’s homeplace. This would have been your Great-Granny Smith. It is very overgrown there but we talked about the gardenia bushes that Granny had close to her living room window so that it would smell good coming in the house on a summer day.  We crawled all around just to check and see if it could possibly still be there.  Lo, and behold, there was a sprig of it still there.  The ground was very, very dry and we did not have anything to dig it up with.  We found a little stick and starting trying to dig.  Their roots are pretty much on top of the ground; another reason I was surprised that it was still living since the ground was so dry.  Anyway, we got the sprig up and I planted it close to my back door.  And it has flourished!  It did not bloom much last year, but I had cut it way back at one point.  I’m sure you have learned and could tell me a thing or two about when trimming a flowering bush back that you usually cut off the blooms for the next season.  Anyway, I hope it will bloom better next summer.  It smells good enough to eat!!  And it reminds me of being at my Granny’s. My sweet Scout used to love to lay under this bush on a really hot day.  It was close to the house and the pine straw kept the soil cool.  She would dig around it a bit and take a good nap.  The stuff in front is lemon balm. [Hey! Lemon balm!]

Hopefully I will get a chance to visit the NC family this summer. With all of us grown up now, we just don’t get down there as often as we’d like. I also want to meet Aunt Deb’s new puppy, Joy, who was recently named “Pet of the Week” at the prestigious local newspaper, compliments of the adorable photo below!



Thanks so much for sharing, Aunt Deb! Sending some “sugar” your way 🙂

I was going to post a bunch of pics of the new raised beds, then I realized it’s time for bloom day. What with all the work on the veggie beds, I haven’t been taking many pics of blooms. The candy-striped creeping phlox is blooming, the pansies are blooming again, the primrose pictured in last week’s Wordless Wednesday, and there is one crocus that has bloomed so far. I don’t even have a good pic of that, but one is below (it kinda got smushed with all the rain the past few days, too). Still waiting on daffodils and tulips.

And now…the raised beds! Hubby did most of the work while I was at work last week, and he even took pics. Here are the specs:
-2×10 boards of pressure treated lumber (we did our research – it’s safe.)
-Just to be extra safe, we lined each one with heavy plastic on the inside
-4 beds that are each 8ftx4ft
-paths in between will be 2ft wide with a bit of wiggle room – we’ll put stepping stones and some gravel in there



(See BEFORE from another view here.)

...2 sides built....

one built!

...moving along...

...wrapping with plastic...

While hubby was digging the rest of the holes (we had to re-level everything etc – we are feeling super old and sore right now), I decided to rake up the “side garden.” At first I was just going to toss the leaves into the woods (our composter was full), but then I thought hey, they’re already partially rotted. Why don’t I toss them into the bottom of the raised beds to add a little something before we get the dirt and compost? So I did. Brilliant!


Now all we have to do is schedule the topsoil and compost delivery (we thought we could pick it up, but the trailer we were going to borrow isn’t nearly big enough), buy rocks and stepping stones for the paths, and PLANT! Should be able to get all that done in the next week or two. One of these beds is probably about the same size as my old/other veggie garden (which I will maybe use for herbs now? Undecided…)- so I’m getting a LOT more space!

And later on, we took apart the composter and emptied it and I put that compost on top of the old veggie garden (didn’t take any pics). It was mostly potting soil, and I need to break things up smaller when putting them in from now on (I made a pile off to the side that I’ll use for larger stuff). But there is some other goodness in there – partially broken down eggshells, and I couldn’t see hardly any identifiable pieces of food, and lots when in over the summer so that means it all broke down. This year I vow to be better at composting!


@jennahw on twitter!


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