And now the news you have all been waiting for…

It is time for another garden update. I have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news. Four of our six tomato plants are sick, and aphids may have finished off our watermelon plants. There, I’ve said it, and now the grieving process can begin. The good news is somewhat more plentiful. Our peas and beans are growing like gang busters. The lettuce, after a sickly start, has taken off. The spinach is delicious. My herbs are doing wonderfully; both the basil and the cilantro, which were initially not doing so well, seem to have taken hold and they are bushing out nicely. We already have more mint than we could possibly use. (Of course, mint is like zucchini; to plant it is to guarantee that you will have more than you can use.) The peppers are doing nicely. Our other two tomato plants are thriving. The carrots are finally making some headway and the nasturtiums look great. Our compost pile has already yielded several cubic feet of rich, black humus, which I dug into the bean beds. We have decided to give up on our onions and sunflowers (squirrels ate all the seeds), which means that we have one small, unused bed that we need to get planted quickly. Suggestions?

And on Wednesday as I was out running, I saw my first fire flies of the summer. Life is good (but hot) in Virginia.

49 comments for “And now the news you have all been waiting for…

  1. BTW, except for the sick tomato plants, it appears your garden is thriving. And I can’t remember what the heck nasturtiums are, though I know my parents planted them in our yard years ago.

  2. Cucumber to help round out your salad (complete with Nasturtium petals, though I’m sure you knew that), Swiss Chard as an alternative/complement to the Spinach, Marigolds for a natural insect repellant (plus they look nice too) and live Ladybugs to feast upon your aphid population.


  3. Just a thought… Mustard plants don’t need a very long growing season and if you have just a small area it would be a great way to bring Alma’s “faith is like a mustard seed” to life for your son.

  4. My good news is that my father’s enormous garden and orchard is thriving, and we’re moving near him in August.

  5. Do not buy ladybugs for your garden. Lady bugs know where they hatched and within twenty four hours return to their home. Diotimacious earth works well for killing aphids, as the shards from ground microscopic shells work their way into the joints of the aphids and amputate them. This also keeps away the ants which enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the aphids.

    Plant flowers in the empty space. The idea that gardens must be practical is a mormon disease.

  6. Ah, I love having fresh basil. We tried growing cilantro indoors as well, and it promptly died.

  7. Hot peppers are fun. Or green beans, or string beans of various sorts. Radishes are also a popular choice.

    But in general, I’ll agree with Jim and say that you go with cucumbers.

  8. We already have some healthy cucumbers growing next to the compost pile. We were thinking of putting in acord squash or perhaps another bed of carrots.

  9. I would put in sugar snap peas. Nothing beats fresh sugar snap peas, especially now that my garden is yielding a nice harvest of these divine creations.

  10. Your garden sounds awesome. I am not a gardener, so I can’t tell you what to plant, but I can tell you that cilantro is the nastiest thing on the face of the planet, and that you should pull that up immediately because you are just adding to the sickness in society.

    Chop up a little cilantro for your salsa? You might as well grate a bar of soap into your tomatoes and onions. Shudder…….

  11. Them’s fightin words, WIZ. You go ahead and censor your salsa. As for me and my house, we will enjoy God’s gift to Mexican and Thai food :)

  12. Me too, Adam and Ben. I’m totally willing to come out swinging for this one. All hail cilantro.

    (And Ben, I’ve been able to grow cilantro indoors, but only on a very, very sunny windowsill.)

  13. Oops. I misread, and now find that Adam and I are at odds on this one. Dang. I thought we were finding common ground.

  14. Did you know that parsley, left to its own devices by a neglectful gardener, will grow a stalk as thick and woody as bamboo?

    Also, squirrels love peaches. Leave you peach tree unattended for a second, and those bushy-tailed rats will strip it clean…

  15. All squirrels should be shot. They ate every last crocus bulb I planted last fall, and instead of a bed full of glorious flowers heralding spring, we had those nasty vermin feasting on the fruits of MY labor, and a bed full of dirt come early spring.

    Other little known facts abour parsley–a raw piece of parsley cah freshen your breath!

    I love our garden. I hate the bugs, though. We’ve used some pesticide to try and save our squash and our melons, so we’ll see. So much for organic gardening. As one neighbor gardener said, “We’re not that interested in organic farming, we’re interested in eating! And if we don’t do something about the bugs, we won’t be eating anything at all!”

    Well said.

  16. Nate, I vote for spaghetti squash. The chef here at my work cafeteria sure knows how to make it taste good with the perfect al dente texture.

  17. Mark-

    We actually already have spaghetti squash in, and that’s what the aphids and cucumber beetles are feasting on. We’re trying to save what plants we can, so come fall we can enjoy that good al dente texture!

  18. HELP! Does anyone know a good site where I can find out what kind of bug is killing my “ghost fingers” Graptopetalum plant (cactus famliy)? This is my first try at a house plant and I’m feeling vulnerable that its dying on me (how dare it!) – any suggestions would be helpful – I tried to find gardening blogs but didn’t come up with anything useful!!

  19. Heather, neem oil spray (available at any good nursery in the organic section) takes care of cucumber beetles. We found out about it after our zinnias were decimated by them a couple years ago. I’m extremely envious of your vegetable garden. I’ve been wanting to plant one forever, but I’m clueless about it all. I do have herbs and strawberries growing in a back flowerbed, though.

  20. Plant a bed of jalapenos. then when the peppers are green, pluck them off and puree them in your blender. The take the pureed jalapeno, add some water to make a green solution, and then use that solution to water your remaining plants, and also the soil in all your planting beds. In most cases, the chemicals that make the jalapenos so darned hot also act as a natural insect repellant. That is what I saw folks doing while I was growing up in semi-rural, tropical India, where pesticides were not available, and there were plenty of tropical insects and varmints of all kinds, hungry and ready to munch up anything in sight!!!!

  21. Kaimi (#11): I’ve never eaten kimchi with turnips in it, and I’ve eaten a lot of kimchi, both as to quantity and as to variety. I think you mean oriental radishes.

    El Wiz and Adam (# 13, 16): It is difficult, no impossible, for me to imagine anyone with a good tongue and nostrils not liking cilantro!

    Justin H (#17): You got the stuff to grow?! I thought only magicians could do that. I’ve never had any success at all. It gets about 12-18 inches high and goes to seed, no matter what.

    Cort McMurray (#19): Parsley will get large and woody, but you can keep cutting its leaves and using them. And it only gets that way its second year. Then it goes to seed and plants new parsley. Buy one parsley plant and you have parsley for the rest of your life.

    Heather (#20): If you do shoot the squirrels, remember that they make mighty good eating.

    This year, because we are leaving town for a long trip on late August, we’ve planted only basil and tomatoes. I almost regret the trip because I will, at best, see only a few of the tomatoes. But my kids will enjoy them after I’m gone–a dress rehearsal for their inheritance. On the other hand, the herb garden is going to town. If you’ve got any nifty ideas for things to do with tarragon, I’m up for reading them. And, does anyone know whether I can add the leaves of my scented geranium to a salad? They certainly smell good enough to eat.

  22. Jim F. (and Ben): It’s been several years, but it seems to me that the cilantro grew well as long as we kept cutting the leaves to use. (It’s been a long while, so I can’t remember entirely if that was the trick, but I do remember enjoying cilantro-laden salsas, salad dressings, and carne asada all summer long.)

  23. Nate- while we’re on the subject of your home life, how’s the math coming?

  24. I don’t know about the others, but as Mr. Greenwoods personal chef I can say he doesn’t like Cilantro because he considers it “cheap heat.” Cilantro in salsa instead of habenero’s and jalapeno’s does not meet with approval. Cilantro stuffed inside a chicken with a whole head of garlic sliced down the middle, a quartered onion and half a lime, does meet with his approval. Tasty, spicy, but not cheap heat.

  25. But, Mrs. Greenwood, why is the “cilantro or heat” an exclusive or? I agree that it is crazy to substitute cilantro for habenero’s or jalapeno’s or any other pepper, but the salsa’s I eat don’t engage in such adulteration. Cilantro instead of peppers in salsa wouldn’t give you “cheep heat,” it would give you no heat at all.

    –Your chicken recipe sounds excellent! I think I’ll give it a try.

  26. Mr. Jim F
    It isn’t ‘cilantro or jalapeno’s’ to me, it’s only ‘or’ to Adam.
    I don’t understand it . . .

    Bad childhood memories of hole in the wall New Mexican restaurants?

    I just wanted to emphasize that he does eat cilantro, he just doesn’t eat it when it’s meant to be hot.

  27. Good point.

    I think we should call the recipe:
    Cheep Heat Chicken’s not Cheap.

  28. Good point.

    I think we should call the recipe:
    Cheep Heat Chicken’s not Cheap.

  29. Mrs. Greenwood,

    Two things:

    First, I love that fact that you will address yourself by that, almost archaic, title “Mrs.”.

    Second, cilantro isn’t about heat. It’s about “sabor”. A pinch of cilantro can make all the difference in elevating a salsa from “really good” to “excellent”.

  30. Jim,

    I feel a little like I’m bringing a knife to a gunfight, but I’m relatively sure that I _have_ had turnip kimchi. And a quick google search for the terms “turnip kimchi” brings up a lot of pages. Such as these links: . .

    For what it’s worth, when I visited Korea we spent most of our time in the north-eastern part of South Korea. We stayed in Wonju for a while, and visited another place on a pretty mountain range, called (as I recall) chong-son.

    And at some point — probably in Wonju — I definitely tried turnip kimchi. It was tasty.

  31. No need to worry about the knife versus the gun. The translation of “sunmu” is “turnip,” but the vegetable in question isn’t anything that I think Westerners would recognize as a turnip. It is a small version of the large daikon, which is usually referred to as a radish, though that, too, is misleading. When you wrote “turnip,” I had in mind Western turnips. So, we are both right: there is no such thing as turnip kimchee, though there is turnip kimchi–it depends on how you identify the Korean vegetables.

  32. LOL. It was the “there is no such thing as turnip kimchee, though there is turnip kimchi” line that really got me. You should, someday, have a final exam in one of your classes that just says, “There is no such thing as turnip kimchee, though there is turnip kimchi. Discuss”

  33. Daikon (大根). As you can see, the “dai” of “daikon” is the character for large. Therefore, saying “large daikon” is a little like saying “SAT test.” Ah, well, when the Korean speakers learn the celestial language, all such troubles will be behind us.

  34. Re: Chad too’s reference to Alma’s statement that ‘faith is like a mustard seed”. It was Jesus who taught what one might do if his faith were even as a mustard seed. (Matt. 17:20, Luke 17:6) Alma’s lecture on the “seed” of faith never mentioned mustard.

  35. Allison – thanks for the referral, hopefully someone can help my dying plant there!

  36. I’ll second the fact that there is such a thing a turnip kimchee, though I’m not sure it meets Jim F’s definition of turnip kimchee. I never took any courses in philosophy, so I am very undermanned at T&S.

    In any event, turnip kimchee is my wife’s favorite kind. Traditionalist that I am, I prefer the standard cabbage.

  37. Mark B (#45): Since both the Koreans and the Japanese borrow the “tae” (“dai”) character from the Chinese, of course it means “big” in both languages. Since there are various sizes of daikon and “daikon” is a name, it isn’t contradicotry to speak of large or small daikon. “large” and “small” are relative terms for comparing the kinds of daikon.

    The question is whether the larger daikon and its smaller cousin belong to the Brassica family (turnips) or to the Raphanus family (radishes). I’ve always believed that daikon and their smaller, round cousins are part of the latter rather than the former. Wikipedia seems to agree with me (, but neither of us is a real botanist, so perhaps we are wrong. My judgment is based on taste and mouthfeel rather than botany: they taste and feel more like radishes than turnips, but I can see why someone might refer to them as turnips. Both “turnip” and “radish” are, obviously translations rather than exact mappings of English onto Korean/Japanese/Chinese.

    alamojag (#48) I don’t think that cabbage kimchi is any more traditional than radish/turnip kimchi. Though I’m quite fond of both, I too like the latter better than the former.

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