Suburban Jungle

Our community garden plots are growing like crazy! In the last month, our various beans have started producing flowers and pods, our tomato plants have developed loads of little green fruits, our last row of pea plants has given us several pounds of shell peas, and the corn is tasseling, with at least one ear starting to develop.

Chickpea plants with fuzzy green pods—they look ready to pick, but when I tried it, most of what I got was very underdeveloped. The pods are like tiny little balloons, full of air, which makes it hard to know when a full-sized chickpea is nestled inside. I am giving the rest of the pods plenty of time, though! We didn’t know what the plants would look like when we planted them, but they turned out to be kind of sparse looking bushes that don’t need too much external support.

We planted a full row of lima beans, but only ended up with about 6 plants after resowing with a second packet. These three plants were the first to come up, and they have started flowering and putting out big flat pods. Next to them you can see our very sad Walla Walla onions; for some reason none of the onion sets we bought have done much in the way of growing. Anyone know what we did wrong? I thought these would give us a surefire harvest.

Our Rio Zape bean plants are looking gangly but finally starting to develop beans, which can be eaten either green or shelled when mature, and of course they can also be dried like the ones I purchased last fall.

Just noticed this one a few days ago, to my great delight. That skinny little spike sticking out between the flowers is a purple hull pea! There are just two so far, but the ants really seem to like these blossoms; I am hoping they won’t affect anything.

I tied up my tomato plants again this week, which means they are averaging about 3 feet tall, with some branches pushing 4 feet already. I had to take a photo of a Marvel stripe developing, as I have been documenting these since I saved the seeds last autumn.

Our corn is only 4-5 feet tall from root to tassel, but they seem to be doing great, with multi-colored tassels.

Our second plot, with a row of black-eyed peas in the front, followed by various brassicas, delicata squash and honeydew melon, some very prolific zucchini, 3 purple potato plants, and a second wall of tomatoes.

Only one of our cabbage starts from seed survived long enough to transplant into the garden, but it has gotten huge this month. All the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower I transplanted are doing great, and the broccoli is smaller (as it was planted and transplanted last) but hanging in there.

This is one of the three purple potatoes from the grocery store that I decided to plant on a whim. They are growing nicely and have all started to bloom. I had never seen potato foliage before this year, and will be very curious to see whether we get a decent yield at the end of the season.


This wild sunflower is growing right on the corner of our plot, and was so pretty that we couldn’t bring ourselves to rip it out like a weed. Behind it you can see the two rows of tomatoes we put in this plot, reaching up to the 3-foot mark. We planted so many tomatoes that I decided to trellis them with a Florida weave technique, looping figure-eights of twine between each plant and pole. I just put in the second round of weaving this past week, and so far it seems to be working pretty well to support the plants and keep them from sprawling in the aisles.

The mosquitoes really came out in force in July, not to mention the afternoon thunderstorm pattern, so it has gotten difficult to find a good time of day to get out there and work. This week I had to go smack during the mid-day heat, slathering my skin with sunscreen and bugspray, and I still ended up with a little bit of a sunburn and several new bites. But it feels good to get out there in our suburban jungle, fighting back weeds and admiring our handiwork!

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