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Fall is a busy time for me in the garden.  However, you will usually find me in other people’s gardens helping them achieve their goal of a beautiful, low-maintenance garden. I did manage to get my cool-season vegetable gardens planted.  I planted my favorites, which include carrots, cauliflower, garlic, a variety of leaf lettuces and radishes.

 
 
I included broccoli in my list of vegetables this year, despite the fact that I have yet to grow a healthy head of broccoli (the broccoli in the photo above is from my mother’s garden).
 
Every year, I grow beautiful cauliflower while my broccoli decides to produce very few flowering stalks.  At the end of the season when I look at my less than stellar broccoli harvest – I promise myself that I won’t try again.
 
But, after 6 months pass, I am always tempted to try again hoping that this year will be different.
 
With the exception of carrots and radishes, I planted all of my other vegetables from transplants.  Normally, I almost always use seed, (with the exception of broccoli and cauliflower, which do better when grown from transplants) but I knew that I wouldn’t have time to come out and thin excess plants later.
 
 
This smaller vegetable garden is closer to my kitchen and so I put in vegetables that I would harvest more frequently throughout the season in this area.  Leafy greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and kale all went in here.
 
The larger garden is a bit further away and so it was planted with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, garlic and radishes, which are harvested once.
 
My artichoke plant from next year died back to the ground in the summer, (which is normal by the way) and is now growing again.



In addition to my artichoke, my bell pepper plant is also a holdover from last year’s garden.  Actually, it is 2 years old.  Although pepper plants can die from freezing temperatures, I protect mine when the temps dip below freezing, so they are qutie large and produce a lot of peppers much to the delight of my husband and children who like to eat the bell peppers raw.



I also dice them and freeze them for using in my favorite Mexican rice recipe.

I’ve already had to spray my leafy greens with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) to deal with the caterpillars that had started to eat holes in the leaves.  It worked great, but I will need to reapply every once in a while. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.
 
 
Nasturtiums are coming up again from seed in the gardens.  I just let them go to seed each year and they always come back.  I use nasturtiums in my vegetable gardens because they repel bad bugs.  Besides, they look pretty, don’t you think?
 
 
Nasturtiums aren’t the only flowers in my vegetable gardens – marigolds are also great at keeping damaging insects at bay.  This year, I planted a marigold at the end of each row of vegetables.
 
I love how their orange flowers brighten up the garden in the middle of winter.
 
Marigolds and nasturtiums are just a few of the flowers who actually help vegetables.  For more information on other plants to include in your vegetable garden you can visit my previous post, “Even Vegetables Need Friends”.
 
 
I am having a problem in one of my vegetable gardens that began this past summer – spurge!  I have come to truly hate this creeping weed and it has decided to move from the nearby landscape areas into my vegetable garden.
 
It got pretty bad last summer and we ripped it all out.  To help combat it, we added 4 inches of compost/manure, which did help to smother some of the weeds.  But, some are still coming up.  So, I go out every week and spray them with my homemade weed killer, taking care not to spray my vegetables by accident.
 
You may see homemade weed killers that list salt as one of the ingredients.  DON’T add salt to weed killers – especially if you live in the desert Southwest.  Our soil and water already has a lot of salts in them and adding more is not good for your plants – in fact, too much salt can kill them.
 
Homemade weed killer made from vinegar and soap works just fine on most weeds, except for the really tough ones.
 
Have you planted a vegetable garden this year?  What are you growing?
 
 

Earlier this week, I shared with you the four vegetables that I am growing for the first time this year.  I will be sure to share with you how they do as the season progresses.


In addition to my experimenting with new vegetables, I am also growing some favorite cool-season vegetables…


My favorite cool-season vegetable crop is leaf lettuce.  I love nothing better then being able to step outside to snip off a few leaves to make a dinner salad.  

Once you have tasted fresh lettuce from the garden, there is no going back.  Bagged lettuce is a poor replacement.

About 1/3 of my three vegetable gardens are taken up with beautiful leaf lettuce.  I like to grow different varieties of leaf lettuce including Romaine, Buttercrunch, Great Lakes and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce.

I usually grow lettuce from seed because it is so easy.  It needs temps below 80 degrees to germinate, so October is a good time to plant it.

**Don’t plant all your lettuce at once.  Stagger your planting dates by 2 – 3 weeks, so that when your first crop of lettuce is finished (bolting), then you will have more coming up.  Because lettuce can be planted throughout the fall, winter and early spring, you can enjoy lettuce until April, if you stagger your planting dates.  This is what experienced vegetable gardeners do to prolong their harvest.   


Isn’t this cauliflower beautiful?  I grew this one two years ago and made the mistake of not planting any last winter.  I’ll never make that mistake again.

I love cauliflower and cut the crown into small 1/4 inch pieces that we sprinkle over our salad – it looks like crumbled cheese and my kids like it.

Cauliflower can be hard to grow from seed, so I use transplants.

**Stagger the planting of your cauliflower as well, so that it does not all ripen at once.  For example: I plant 3 cauliflower transplants every 2 weeks until the end of November.


I do not like cooked spinach.  But, I do like putting it in salads or on a sandwich.  

I have grown spinach from seed and from transplants.  It lasts all winter and into spring.


Carrots are a mainstay of any cool-season garden.  Because they are a root vegetable, they need to be planted from seed.

**My first year vegetable gardening, I planted all of my carrots at once and was rewarded with an ENORMOUS harvest.  We couldn’t eat that many carrots.  So, don’t plant all your carrots at once.  I recommend planting some every month through February, so you will always have some to enjoy, fresh from the garden.


This is the only photo I have of radishes in my garden.  I must remember to take one when they are a bit more developed.

Radishes are the easiest vegetable to grow from seed.  They come up fast – 3 days after planting the seeds, which makes them perfect for kids to grow.

**Stagger your planting of radishes, just as I recommended for carrots for a continual harvest.


I have a confession to make…

I seem to have problems growing broccoli.  I’m not sure why and after each disappointing season, I resolve NOT to grow it again.  But, I am trying again this year.

The photo above, is not my broccoli – it my mother’s 😉

**I have only a few broccoli planted now and will plant more through November, for a longer harvest.


I always plant garlic in October.  I haven’t gotten to it yet, but plan to next week.

Last spring, I was happy with my larger then expected garlic harvest.

The last vegetable on my list is onions, which I will plant from onion sets this month as well.

I promise to keep you updated with how my garden grows throughout the season.  

I would love to hear about what you are planting and/or what your favorite vegetables to grow are.

I must admit that it has taken me longer then I thought to get over the flu.  It must be my age, but it seems like getting over being sick just sucks out any energy I have.

The other day, I walked by my son’s room and noticed that he was being really quiet….

He had fallen asleep on the floor, playing with the little plastic weapons from his Star Wars figurines. 
Please disregard the messy room – but Saturday is room cleaning day and I took this photo on Thursday 😉
Sometimes, I feel like falling asleep on the floor.
I have been getting busy with consults because the weather is cooling off and people are starting to venture outside again.  
I have found time to do a little light pruning of my roses.
Okay, I know that my roses look rather ugly – but all roses that grow in our area go through an ‘ugly’ stage in summer.

While we are very lucky that we have two growing seasons for roses (spring and fall) – roses are not fans of our hot, dry summers.  

Their leaves get sunburned and if any roses form, they are small and dry out quickly.  This is normal.  Roses go somewhat dormant during summer and just exist until the cooler weather of fall arrives.

So once September arrives, it’s time to prune your roses back by 1/4 of their total size.  Then add the rose fertilizer of your choice, mixed with compost.  I make 6 – 8 holes around each of my roses, about 6″ deep and pour the fertilizer/compost mixture into them and then water deeply.

I only have three roses bushes, so this only took about 15 minutes to do it all.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was driving home from a consult, I noticed a home that had raised vegetable garden beds in their front yard.


I can only imagine how much they grow.  I have two vegetable gardens in the back garden.  Our HOA won’t allow me to put any in the front 😉
Last year at this time, I had all my vegetable seeds planted by September 5th.
This year I have done nothing yet.

Thankfully, there is a window for planting that extends from September through October for most cool-season vegetables.

My plan is to get it all done by next weekend.  I made sure that my husband had time in his schedule to help me add the compost and manure and then I’ll get my seeds planted.

How about you?  Have you planted your vegetables yet?

Last week, I spent some time checking the vegetables my cool-season vegetable garden.  

I was looking to see how they were growing and if any were ready to harvest.  I’ve also learned (the hard way) that it’s important to check for any insect damage so you can treat it early – I got hit bad by spider mites last summer because I wasn’t paying attention.

I have been checking up on my cauliflower plants lately.  Seven days ago, the largest one looked like this…

Today, it looked like this…
Okay, this photo doesn’t really show how big it is, so I put my hand next to it to show the scale…
 
Now, compare this photo with the first one and you can see how big it grew in just one week!
My son, Kai and I harvested this large cauliflower by simply pulling the entire plant out of the ground.   
It was quite heavy.
Of course, you can simply cut the cauliflower, but you have to pull the plant out sooner or later.  We chose sooner.
It was at least twice as large as the cauliflower in my local supermarket.  The photo really doesn’t show that though, but this bowl is very wide salad bowl.
I’ve really never noticed how pretty the cauliflower florets are before, have you?
We used some of the cauliflower in our dinner salad, which also included Romaine lettuce and carrots from our garden as well.
Our cauliflower is so huge, I will have to figure out other ways to serve it.
My son’s favorite is smothering it with ranch salad dressing.
I have three other cauliflower plants in the garden.  I may have to give some to my mother, since I don’t know how we will be able to eat it all.
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Cauliflower is a cool-season vegetable, which does best when planted from transplants and not seed.  I have had no problems with growing mine at all – no insect problems, etc.
What is important for growing cauliflower is fertile soil and regular irrigation.
How about you?  Do you grow cauliflower?
Do you have any cauliflower recipes to share?