Garden Update II

So far, the best part about having a garden has been the smells. Every time I pass by those cinder blocks, I brush my hand over the basil leaves or the tomato vines or the oregano plant, and in just that quick motion, the smells from the leaves get trapped in my palms — it’s amazing. In one second I smell as though I’ve been toiling in the weeds for hours.

I suppose once my garden actually begins producing food consistently, however, eating will become more rewarding than smelling. Thus far, we have eaten a fair amount of zucchini and a ton of Swiss chard. The tomatoes, both the cherry and the heirloom, as you can see, have finally started growing. So have the hot peppers. Soon, just as we had hoped, Ben and I will be able whip up pico de gallo at a moment’s notice. Except that we are currently out of cilantro. Our two plants, unfortunately, took a terrible turn.

Also, until I see the tomatoes turn red, I will not be completely excited. Two summers ago, back in Philadelphia, our two tomato plants produced hundreds of tomatoes but they never turned red. I’ve never prepared so many fried green tomatoes in my life. Which are delicious, but not what I want to eat every night for dinner, you know?

To see the complete transformation, click here: Cinder-Block Garden How-To, and here: Garden Update.

Hot Pepper Plant

Summer Squash


Swiss chard, grown from seed.

Cherry Tomatoes

Bowl of Goodies

View from above — quite a transformation from April 24.


  1. Emily says

    Hmmm, keep re-seeding your cilantro every few weeks and you’ll have a good supply. Also- I wonder if your tomatoes never turned red due to lack of light?

  2. ali says

    thanks Emily, I’ll try that.

    light may have been the issue with the tomatoes. When I picked them and let them sit inside for a couple of days, they would eventually turn red. It was very strange. We couldn’t figure it out.

  3. Amy says

    Littlest Al, you’re quite the greenthumb! I can’t wait to see you and Ben up in San Francisco!!

  4. Tim says

    I’m in awe of your beautiful garden! My garden area is tiny and doesn’t get a lot of sun, but I have managed to get some fresh herbs to thrive. Great blog in general, by the way!

  5. L Fraser says

    I’m bouncing around on the blog with insomnia and ran across the ‘tomatoes won’t turn red’ paragraph….typically, when you have tomatoes that won’t finish ripening it’s because of the night and day temps being too high. I’ve had this issue the last two summers here in Towanda because around the time the tomatoes would usually be ripening the temps were running in the low 100s during the day and only dropping into the 80s at night. It helps to mulch the plants during times like this to cool the soil temps enough for the fruit to ripen. Also, because the plants had so many fruit on them that may have contributed to the problem. You can pick some fruit green, stop fertilizing which just leads to more foliar (leaf) growth and mulch the plants. All of those may help the remaining fruit ripen. Are you doing any gardening this year?

    • says

      Laurie Laurie — you have insomnia, too? I actually read your comment shortly after you posted it as I tend to have a little insomnia as well. Sorry for this delayed response! It’s been a busy few days with family and visitors, etc. Thank you so much for your thoughts on the green tomatoes. I am sure the temperature was the biggest issue, and I was not good at mulching, which was highly recommended in that cinderblock garden ebook that I had downloaded. I should have paid more attention to that detail. I think, the plants did have too much fruit on them as well, which I need to be better at realizing while it is happening. Laurie, I really want to garden this year, but I have failed for two years in a row. The Virginia summer is quite hot as well, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse — you seem to be finding ways to beat the heat. I’m thinking I should start small, with maybe just a few crops, and really focus on those, and if I have success, that might inspire me to try more in following years. What are you thoughts on this?

  6. L Fraser says

    I emailed you with some gardening thoughts…I think that starting small is a great idea….what options do you have for spaces and what are you thinking of starting with?

    • says

      Laurie — Thank you thank you for this comment and for your very helpful email. I will respond soon — maybe during an insomnia spell tomorrow morning — and then I will report the results back here so others can hear your thoughts, too. You are too kind. Hugs.

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