Garden of Eatin’

After having rain for what feels like every day for a month here in the Pittsburgh region, my raised bed gardens have literally exploded into a barely manageable Jungle of Eden.  Every year I say I will cut back on the amount of plants I shove into my raised beds.  Every year I can’t bring myself to NOT plant every seedling that I grow.  I desperately need to make some local gardening friends who will take my seedlings.

This is my raised bed garden on May 23rd.  All of these plants were grown from seed.

From left to right:  Thyme, Bean Purple Teepee Beans, 2 Rutgers Tomato Plants, 2 Marigold Plants, 2 Al-Kuffa Tomato Plants, Black Carrot Seeds, Cosmic Carrot Seeds, and more Thyme.

This is my raised bed on July 13th:

"Determinate" tomato plants have grown taller than me.
“Determinate” tomato plants have grown taller than me!

The wood contraption is to help support my tomato plants (trees).  Both Rugters and Al-Kuffa were supposed to be “dwarf” determinate plants, but they are huge.  Even my Marigold plants are like bushes.  I only have green tomatoes so far… hopefully they’ll turn red soon.  With determinate plants, they will most likely all ripen at the same time.  There will be a shit-ton of tomatoes as long as they don’t get some freaky fungus from all the rain.

Al-Kuffa Tomato Clusters
More Al-Kuffa Tomato Clusters


Rutgers Tomatoes


I love purple beans because their bright color make them very easy to harvest.  Purple beans turn green when they are cooked.  Oooooh soooo many magical beans…

My carrots are getting a bit smothered by my tomatoes, but this happened in my garden last year, and they came back with a vengeance once everything else died.  Let me clarify… I’m talking carrots the size of my calf.  So, I’m trying the same technique this year: direct sow, smother with other plants, MONSTER CARROT TAKE OVER.  They are starting to pop up through my thyme.

Ok, so now onto my other raised bed.  This was my bed as of May 25th.

Left to right: Marigold, garlic, peppers, and Snow Peas and Desiree Garden Peas

This is my raised bed as of July 13th:

I want to camp out in here.

I think I really need to chop off or kill the marigold plant on the far left.  I have no idea why it is so freaking huge.

With the hopes of producing some big, fat, juicy garlic bulbs, I harvested some of my garlic scapes a few weeks back (and I left some on as an experiment).  I meant to write a blog on it, but neglected to do so.  Some say cutting the scape (the long curly cue part with the flower head filled with garlic bulbils) forces the plant to exert its energy on growing the garlic bulb underground instead of the flower up top.  My garlic stalks have a much thicker girth than the ones I had last year!  I chopped up the garlic scapes and used them in a stir fry.  They were surprisingly very, very mild tasting.

Since the leaves are starting to die, I might be digging my garlic bulbs up soon!

Now onto my specific pepper plants.  I am very excited because my peppers did not do so hot last year.  It has been VERY humid here the last couple months, so maybe they are basking in the hot, sticky heat.  They still have some color changing metamorphosis to go through, but they are growing big and abundantly!

These are my Santa Fe Grande Hot Peppers


My Polish Ostra-Cyklon Paprika Peppers


My Polish Marta Polka Peppers


Black Hungarian Peppers


Tequila Sunrise Peppers: These peppers are really cool because they grow upright towards the sun!  And of course who wouldn’t want to grow these peppers while enjoying a Tequila Sunrise.  (my next blog: Drunk Gardening)


And of course my snow peas have made some progress since my last blog.

And I did end up growing some Desiree Purple Snap Peas (but unfortunately they don’t taste as good to me, maybe a bit too fibrous and chewy, but they sure look pretty):

My peas reached the top of my trellis!


Desiree Garden Pea


The Divine Snow Pea


And randomly in honor of the Furry Convention being here in Pittsburgh, this is a sneaky pic I took while dining at a nice restaurant downtown this past weekend.  This furry had such a cute little tail!  Hopefully I won’t catch any furries in my garden or I will have to use my Critter Control. 😉

Even though times have been a little tough for me lately, it has been so nice to have my own little Garden of Eatin’.

Let it snow

… with Snow Peas!

The tease of backyard garden veggies is finally over! I was so happy to see the first vegetables of spring make an appearance in my garden bed. Even though I’m a little disappointed they aren’t the purple Desiree peas, my Oregon Sugar Pod snow peas are really taking off! These peas are particularly awesome because with each cluster there are usually 2 peas to pick. Double the pleasure, double the fun. 😉


I think my trellis is helping to control the vine jungle a little bit, although some of the vines appear to have a mind of their own. Hopefully the trellis will also make it a bit easier to spot the peas. The pods should be picked when they are still flat and are about 4” long, but I had some mutant ones that were hidden last year that I picked well after they were “ideal” and they still tasted great!



Hard to believe in less than month how far my snow peas have come! Nature is awesome.  I think the plants are supposed to grow to be about three feet tall, so we have a little ways to go.


So far I only see white flowers.  If any of the Desiree garden peas germinated, those plants will have deep pink flowers.

20150608_184850 20150608_184928

Even though I am SO pumped about producing the first edible fruit of my gardens, the actual first garden fresh munchies of spring are often not fruits at all, but other parts of the plants.

A lot of Asian recipes use pea shoots which are the tips of the pea plants including the stalk, small upper leaves, blossoms, and curly tendrils. I was thinking about chopping off some of the tops of my plants and throwing them in a stir fry. They supposedly have a delicate pea flavor, but this would be the first time I have tried to cook with them. If they are anything like bean sprouts, I’m sure I will love them. I am a bean sprout addict.

Speaking of eating a plant at various points during its life cycle… next up, I will be harvesting another example of an edible bonus plant body part – garlic scapes!  Gotta love this time of year!


Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Snap, crackle, pop

One of my absolute favorite crops that I grew last year was the Oregon Sugar Pod II Bush Snow Peas.  I bought them on a whim and had never grown them before.  They were an early and vigorous producer and the pods were humongous, super sweet, and very crunchy!  I pack my lunch every day for work and these snow peas were an awesome (and healthy) snack all summer long last year.  I just ate them raw or dipped them in a little ranch dressing or hummus.   I also used the snow peas in spicy Hunan stir fry or just sautéed them with (homegrown) garlic as a side dish.  Delish!  Below is a picture of some of my prime specimens from last year:


This year, I wanted to once again grow the Oregon Sugar Pod, but I thought I’d try growing PURPLE snow peas called Desiree that I bought off Amazon.  As a side  note, I LOVE PURPLE VEGGIES!!  The purple pigment contains Anthocyanin which has been shown to aid in healthy aging (no wonder I look so young and vibrant), to prevent cancer, and to protect against cardiovascular disease.  BUT purple veggies also just look so darn cool.  My goal is to one day have an all purple vegetable garden.  But anyways…

The Desiree peas packaging seemed a bit sketchy that I got in the mail from Amazon, so I don’t have super high hopes for purple peas, but it’s worth a shot.  I think I should have bought them off Baker Creek which describes them as: “Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers Garden Pea – Stunning violet-blue pods are produced on lovely little bush plants that do not require staking. The delicious peas are perfect for soups and stews, or pick small and these can be used as a snow pea. A great addition from Holland.”

I decided to try soaking the peas for a few hours to help soften the seed skin for faster germination.  I also planted Purple Teepee Bush Beans from Baker Creek in my other raised bed.


Even though I was happy with my snow pea crop last year, it was a bit of a viney hot mess.  I read that trellised peas produce a higher yield (read: trellis = MORE MONSTER SNOW PEAS).  So loosely based off this website, – I now have a trellis made of leftover wood and flexible twist tie garden wire (which I never even knew existed!).  I went into the hardware store in town (probably with a look of deer in headlights) and said, “I don’t know what I’m looking for, but this is what I want to do…”  And the worker was like, “oh, you need ‘flexible garden wire’, here you go.”  I think that may have been my first good experience at a hardware and/or home improvement store ever!  The trellis is screwed into my raised bed, but it can easily be unscrewed and moved for crop rotation.


I directly sowed the seeds in mid-April and planted them approximately 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart.  My peas germinated after about 3 weeks.  They took longer this year due to a late April cold snap here in da ‘burgh (trust me, I was freaking out that they weren’t popping up, but they powered through).  I usually put 2 seeds per hole to ensure germination across the row, so I have no idea if any of these baby plants are Purple Peas (fingers crossed).


Below are my peas today and the vines are starting to grab onto the trellis (with maybe just a little bit of coaxing by me).


Can’t wait to snap them directly off the vine, crack them in half, and pop them into my mouth!