What’s Happening in the Garden? June Update

In June, the garden really starts rocking. See what warm weather veggies are taking off and which cool weather vegetable need to be taken out.

Our vegetable garden has really taken off in the last month, and the kids, especially Cricket, have had a ball taking care of it.

We had a few setbacks. Judy Hopps, the rabbit living under our deck, paid our tomatoes a visit one night and snipped off all the leaves.

Rabbit damage to garden Tomatoes

This was a hard blow because I grow paste tomatoes exclusively for canning my homemade pizza sauce at the end of the year, and most big box stores only sell slicing and cherry tomatoes. My husband called all over town to find a nursery that sells paste tomatoes and surprised me with them one afternoon after work. That’s love!

They new tomato plants are growing well. They’re getting tall and all of them have produced flowers.

garden tomato flowers

Some of them already have green tomatoes!

garden green tomatoes

We re-planted the strawberries this year to a different spot in hopes of containing their aggressive spreading a bit more easily. I hope the paper mulch I put down will keep them under better control. They got super invasive the last two years! We’ve already had a delicious round of berries, and we’re hoping the next crop comes in soon.

Spring Square Foot Garden strawberries

Cricket discovered pickled okra this year, so she decided that we had to plant some of that. I’ve never grown okra before, so it should be interesting to see what comes up. I remember as a kid having to avoid the okra in my dad’s garden because of how spiny it is.

Square Foot Garden Okra


Check out this huge pepper!

garden pepper sweet sunset

I kid you not, this beauty is 10 inches long! It looks like a hot pepper, but it’s really sweet. It’s almost ready to harvest. Once it blushes, I’ll pick it. I can’t wait to taste it!

We also grew broccoli. Briefly. Until the caterpillars got into it. I have never been able to grow brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.). The worms here are just too bad.

broccoli caterpillars garden pest

I ended up just pulling it out, chopping it up, and composting it. At least it will give back to the garden in that way.

By far, our most exciting crop has been the sweet corn! I had always thought that it was impossible to grow corn in a small space, but I decided that since we had an empty bed due to crop rotation, that we could give it a try.

square foot garden corn

Since I planted it, it has really grown!

square foot garden corn 2

I had some problems with the stalks getting yellow, but a good dose of Miracle Grow vegetable fertilizer seems to have solved that!

I can’t wait to eat fresh, warm from the sun, sweet corn this year! It truly is a family favorite!

Of course, I’ve also included some plants for the butterflies. This is echinacea purpurea, a Missouri native I got last year at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House plant sale.

garden echinacea pollinator

Echinacea (also called Coneflower according to my mother) is not only great for butterflies, but in the winter, the dried seed heads provide an important food source for hungry birds!

I love growing food for my family, and I love teaching the girls where their food comes from. This garden season has been the most fun yet!


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Because of the work I do for Monsanto, I got the chance to take home some of the vegetable plants and seeds in my garden. I was not asked to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Exploring Farmer’s Markets with Kids

I love, love, love going to the farmer’s markets here in California.  I love wandering around and seeing all of the fresh fruits and veggies.  I love getting to taste samples of things.  I love the delicious tamales they sell there.  I love the people-watching, especially the free hugs guy and the poetry guy.  Most of all, though, I love going with my daughter.

At 3 years old, she’s so full of natural curiosity.  She enjoys the sensory experience of the market just as much as I do.  We hold hands and just wander around.  I let her take the lead.  We look at the strange things like the purple carrots and the fancy mushrooms.  I involve her directly in the shopping in a way that just isn’t possible at the grocery store.  I let her taste the samples and pick which item she wants.  We talk about the colors, the smells, the tastes.  We talk about where the food comes from and why we eat certain things.  There is something magical about experiencing a farmer’s market with a kid.  I heartily recommend it.

This morning, the Grasshopper and I went to our local farmer’s market for fun and to see what interesting things we could find for the long weekend.  We each came home with our own treasures.  I chose swiss chard, fresh white cheddar cheese (pasteurized so I can eat it!), fresh focaccia bread, and a Texas sweet onion.  Is it a Texas 1015 bred by Texas A&M?  WHOOP!  The fellow I bought it from wasn’t sure, but if it’s a Texas bred onion, that sounds good to me!  The Grasshopper got to choose some treasures of her own as well: raisins and a bag of Rainier cherries that we will have to help her to eat in a careful way to avoid choking on pits.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not a serious Farmer’s Market shopper.  For my family, it’s more about the experience than the shopping.  Most of our food comes from the big store up the road, but there are some things I’ve found that I just prefer getting at the market.

I always get my honey there.  I eat local honey to help with my allergies, and at the market I can talk to the apiarist (beekeeper) to find out just what “local” means.  In this case, it means just up the road from my house!  I’ve even been able to find honey specific to my allergies.  Since I’m allergic to flowering weeds, I go for a wildflower honey as opposed to an orange or lemon honey.

I also like to treat my family with good cheese from the market.  It’s more expensive, so we eat it as a treat.  I also like to get onions there.  The fresher the onion, the milder the flavor.  They just taste better.

Berries are also a good bet from the market.  Strawberries at the grocery store always seem to be just on the verge of getting furry.  The fresh berries from the market keep a little longer so there’s not as much pressure to eat them same day.

So if you haven’t been or if it’s just been a while, head out to your local farmer’s market.  See what’s there.  Explore the colors, the flavors, and the people.  You won’t regret it!

If you are a regular farmer’s market attendee, what are your favorite things to get there?  What kinds of things do you enjoy exploring?