After a long day of working in the garden, I think my favorite part is seeing what ended up in my basket that day. It’s like a little present to yourself, and probably what’s going to be for dinner that night. This was our first year ever growing a veggie garden, and I made sure to document it along the way. I took photos of all my harvest baskets, the small ones and the overflowing ones, so that I could see all we have harvested this year. Of course we still have loads of squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans and pumpkins to pick. But our corn and potato harvest is done and over with. And I’m waiting for the day I can say the same about the green beans. The more you pick them, the more they produce. It’s gotten so overwhelming. I am picking about 6 pints every other day right now. It started with 3, but the pole beans just keep growing.
We planted this beautiful hedge of wildflowers this year and that’s where I chose to take most of my harvest basket photos. It’s right outside the garden and it did so well for our very first year. I plan on harvesting all the flower seeds so we can replant next year and make an even bigger flower space.
What We Planted This Year
Let’s talk about all that we planted in our vegetable garden this year. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really plan this out. We were so late getting the actual garden structure in, that I had to chaos plant. I didn’t pay attention to companion plants. I had no idea what size the plants would even grow to be. We ended up getting the garden in about 3 weeks behind everyone else, and honestly it was a blessing. Here in Michigan, we got an extreme heat early on. It took out many of our neighbors gardens, as the plants were too small to handle that kind of heat. We were able to skip the heat by planting late, and we’ll just have a later harvest season than everyone else. My plants all grew to maturity, and are producing quite the bounty. So I can’t really complain.
We planted sweet corn, pole and bush beans, all varieties of tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, potatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, flowers, pumpkins, cucumbers, and zucchini. I think next year I”ll go lighter on the squash. We are not huge squash eaters, and I planted way too many. We are going to have squash to last us all winter. My grandma kindly offered to let me store my squash in her basement so I don’t have to preserve it all right away. We have a cellar, and it’s not ideal for storing food like that. It is great for canning storage, however.
I of course had to include a flower basket. These were collected for drying in my flower press, hence the missing stems. And whatever I didn’t use, I let dry to collect the seeds from. I haven’t had to buy fresh flowers all summer, because I can simply step outside and cut my own as I need them. We always have a fresh flower bouquet sitting on our kitchen table and it brings me so much happiness.
I ordered my flower seeds from Eden Brothers this year and we will be reusing them in the future. Our flowers were absolutely beautiful and so many people complimented them. I’ve never grown sunflowers until this year, and we’ll definitely be adding more next year. Maybe even a sunflower field!
Our Largest Harvest
Our largest harvest so far, is this one right here. This day I had an hour to pick while baby girl napped. I headed out because the night before, Nathan had told me the sweet corn was ready. We had been gone for 5 days on vacation, and the garden had gone crazy. I tried to pick as many beans as I could before the sun set, but when I went out in the morning, I realized I had missed so many. 12 pints of beans were canned this day. We ended up with about 160 ears of corn. And plan on planting about 8x that next garden season. I plan on canning it all, and working through that this week. I will just shuck about 12 ears at a time and work on it as I can. With the husk on, they should last a while in our basement while I find time to preserve them. If you’ve never had canned corn, it really is the cream of the crop. We prefer it that way, and my husband says it’s the best corn he’s ever had. Of course, you can also blanch and freeze it, but that takes up precious freezer space. And we need to keep that for our meat harvesting season, which starts in October.
The pumpkin patch is also producing many pumpkins, and I’ve slowly been picking those as I want them to decorate with. We planted both mini and large orange pumpkins, and I just think the mini ones are so precious. They’re perfect for tabletop or mantle decor, or sometimes I just throw them in a pretty vintage bowl on my kitchen table. The kids also love them and Ryan gets so excited when it’s time to pick one. She comes out to the garden with me every day, and it’s been so cool to see her start to learn about plants. She can easily tell you what each plant in the garden is and probably how to harvest it too. And she helped me the other night as the sun went down picking beans. And when I dropped a few ears of corn in the driveway, came running in to let me know I had forgotten a few.
I was really nervous about my pepper plants. I grew all of them from seed in my basement in a growing tent. They took FOREVER to germinate. And I thought none of them would actually come up. They did. And they were so small. Even when it was time to plant them in the garden, they were just tiny little things. Have patience when it comes to gardening. With lots of sun and water, they grew and grew. We are going to have a bountiful pepper harvest this year. Because we area few weeks behind other gardeners, we’ve had a slow harvest. But every plant is filled to the brim with peppers, and each day I go out and pick more.
I plan on using the chile peppers to can as green chiles. We buy these canned at the grocer often for our homemade queso recipe and some soups, so why not have them on hand for free. They will be canned in 1/4 pint jars because you don’t need much when cooking with them. You can wait until they ripen to red, but if you pick then while they are green, they are much more mild.
I even tried my hand at some herbs this year. I grew them last year and they did great. But I had no idea what to do with them and didn’t save much. This year I was determined to actually use them. I clip them often and dehydrate them for cooking with later. I’m still new to the herb game, so I’m learning all their uses. And it still seems a bit overwhelming to me.
I hope this helps you gain some confidence when it comes to gardening. I used to have a black thumb and started with indoor plants. We were constantly replacing them as they died. Once I mastered that, I decided it was time to move outdoors. When I didn’t kill my patio plants, the idea of a veggie garden started. I am so proud of everything I’ve learned this year and how I’ve provided for our family. We will be eating real food this winter, and when winter hits, it will finally be time for mama to relax and enjoy her bounty.