Garden Bounty, Mutant Fruit, & More Advice Please

A couple of weeks ago I shared me and Scarlet’s little Backyard Farm with y’all, and you gave me some amazing tips. Now look at this bounty! Every day there’s just more and more goodness!

While I was in Wisconsin last week, I forgot to ask the hubs to pick the fruits, so I came home to the mutants below. I put my phone in there to give some perspective on their size. That zucchini was bigger than my arm. But it didn’t get too bitter and we ate it roasted with parmesan cheese.

I followed a bunch of your advice and wanted to say thanks.  There was also one HILARIOUS thing you guys didn’t catch! Let me tell you about it (and ask for your help one more time) after the jump…

More Backyard “Farm”

First of all, you were like GIRL GET THOSE TOMATOES OFF THE GROUND! so I did. Check this craziness, it took six giant stakes:

And someone reminded me to snip the suckers, so the plant would use more energy making tomatoes than leaves, so I did that too. And our bounty has grown:

One thing I found hilarious is that with all the feedback, no one caught this wildness. So I told you that we had planted cantaloupe seeds and they never sprouted, but then when I lifted up the tomato vines I found one underneath and screamed with joy. Then I showed you this picture of it:

Well, after we actually staked the tomato plant, I found this under there TOO!

SOOOoooo..that second one is looking like a definite cantaloupe to me. Which begs the question, what is the first one? There are lots of them. I think they might be watermelons?? We definitely did not plant any. Might the seeds have been accidentally mixed in the packet? What do you think? Either way, it’s pretty cool, and pretty funny that no one caught it.

A few more questions…
So I learned from the last set of comments that I should have planted my corn all together. Instead it is randomly spread across the yard as pictured. How do I make sure it grows corn? Or is it too late?

Did i pick this jalapeno too early? they had been this size for a few weeks so I thought it was picking time. thoughts?

Are these romaine lettuces ready to eat? Do I pick the whole head at once? Or just the outside leaves? Will they grow back?

And finally, I’ve got nasty snails everywhere. Do you see the baby one on this zucchini?

I don’t want to put any more salt in the soil. I also don’t want a cup of beer and dead snails laying around where Scarlet can play with it. Ideas?

Thanks everyone! It feels like a community garden! I wish I could share the bounty with you!

Leave a comment on this or any post this week helping me out, or just being sweet, or being really funny, or whatever, and you could win the Heather Ross double gauze pictured up there on the left!




Oh my – the pics of the zucchini made me laugh!!!
I grew up with my mom planting several plants each summer (and I developed a dislike for it. even now it takes quite a bit of will power to eat it!), and there were a few years where we would come back from a few days out of town and find that the zucchini had taken over the garden.
Several of those monsters found their way into the canal when Mom wasn't watching – they made awesome markers for "Pooh sticks"!
This recipe for crisp is a really great way to cook it and disguise the flavor if you want something sweet but are getting tired of zucchini bread: (


My mom would pull the whole chunk of lettuce, roots and all, and then immediately reseed. As long as you want to keep growing lettuce.


What a great garden you have!! I just started my very first little veggie garden this spring, and I'm only growing 3 things. We don't have any problems with snails so I can't really help you with your problem, sorry =( We don't have lettuces in the garden either, but my mom's garden has green onions, and she always told me to just cut the leaves above the bulbs because they will grow back. I'm guessing it'll be the same with your romaine? Enjoy your bountiful garden harvests!!

by night

To keep snails away from my plants, I put crushed egg shells, sand or hair around the ones I need to protect. It doens't help to get rid of these gluttons but it provides them from eating the plants I don't want them to eat as they can't slide on either of these 3 things. I also read rhubard leaves chopped in small pieces was a very good way to keep them away but I haven't tried that yet… as for your veggies, we're having a bad summer here in Belgium and all I had was 3 zucchini's so far… believe me I am jealous ;-))


i don't know so much about gardening, but you should definitely keep making those galettes! hello- those things are AMAZING!!! I made two last week…except my husband keeps saying "galette, the best a man can get" like Gillette….anyway, it's worth risking the lame jokes – I am in love with galettes!


Your garden is beautiful! We can't plant until mid-May here and then we were just busy every weekend. I finally planted 4 tomato plants in mid-June and called it a day.

For next year, may I suggest potatoes? It's SO fun 'cause you really have to get down there and get dirty digging them out!


I don't know anything about gardening but am happy to see that someone else is familiar with "Pooh Sticks" (lizibeth) That made my morning! Good luck with the garden Jaime.


i would suggest picking the individual leaves of the romaine so it continues to grow. you dont really need the whole at once right? its just fun to pluck the bigger outer layers and go back when you need more.

the small watermelon may be the cantaloupe or a pumpkin/squash. we had some of those one summer cuz my grandmother just randomly planted seeds from veggies we had been eating. gardening is such a wonderful surprise!


To avoid snails in your garden you have to collect egg shells. And not from boiled eggs. Crush them and put them on your earth. It is sharp and snails don't like that. Maybe cacao shells or regular shells work as well, but the egg shells is what I read the other day and just now remembered.


Okay Jaime, I myself am an amateur Gardener first time around. Unfortunately my garden is not doing nearly as well as yours as we've had torrential rains and flooding this year (in Saskatchewan) but I've gathered info from my wise neighbour who has, even in this weather, a nice garden. For Romaine you can do either. Pick the outside leaves and they will rejuvenate, or chop the whole sucker out. From what I've heard a great trick for romaine is plant your seeds a week apart, so they mature at different times. Each week you have a few nice heads of lettuce. The issue with only picking the outside edges is that if you get a hot streak the lettuce will shrivel up and die.

As for slugs and snails, there are lots of different things to try. Though beer can work I totally get where you're coming from. I know my daughter would round up the dishes of beer and bring them to me questioning why they're laying around the yard ;-D. A great one is crushing egg shells and sprinkling them around your plants. Make sure you clean them out or you'll get some mice stopping in for a snack.(eew, eew, ICK!) Although if they're all ready on your Veg it won't help with that but hey, why not keep the new ones off. (Ever considered getting chickens? Fresh eggs, and they eat snails!) Apparently copper also works for deterring slugs and snails. If you put copper wire around the base of your plants they wont cross the line. There are poison pellets, but I would rather have creepy crawlies than risk a kiddo eating one. My Grandma used to spray vinegar and water on them. She'd go out and spray all her leaves and veg. Vinegar is pretty cheap so worth a try. Sluggo is an organic snail repellent and a good 'all else fails' solution. Just found this website looks really good and explains what works, and even better, why they work. Good read and should solve your issue… Gosh I'm a blabber mouth. Good luck!


That is funny. I thought that plant looked like a watermelon when you pictured it before but I thought, "Jaime knows since she is the one who planted it and I have never grown cantelope to see what it looks like little." It'll be fun to see what it grows up to be. Also, I have heard that you can harvest your lettuce either way…by cutting off a few leaves on the outside or by cutting off the whole plant. It is recommended in the beginning to plant lettuce plants ever couple of weeks so that you'll have fresh lettuce for the whole season. One of these days we are actually going to plant a garden. I have wanted to do it for so long now.


I am not a gardener. With that said I think your baby watermelon is actually an immature cantaloupe. The indentations are the same and it looks like the green one is starting to develop the white grid on the outside. ???


Oh I wish we could "garden"! Instead, everything just dies out here in the Phx summer…except us…and a cactus. My mom had my daughter (2) water her real flower pots everytime we would come over. But the heat just killed them anyways no matter how much we watered…so my mom filled all the pots with silk flowers so my daughter still "waters the plants". She has no idea that Grandma is lying to her:) Maybe I can plant some veggies outside while she is sleeping and then we can "pick" them!


What are suckers and how do you snip them?
I once had cucumbers come out like that little "watermelon" you are growing. Apparently that is what happens when they are not pollinated properly.


Wow – great garden! How fun to find surprises. Our CSA cuts the entire romaine lettuce at the bottom so it's one bunch. Yours look plenty big!


Hi, I'm new to your blog, so I had to go back and read your previous backyard garden post. In this new post, you didn't mention eggplants, so I don't know if you're ever produced any… I'd like to share that my plants were flowering for months without any eggplants – the flowers just kept drying out and falling off. Then I learned that they need help pollenating, so you take a small paintbrush and rub the insides of the flowers. After I did that, a ton of eggplants started popping out. Thought I'd share that tip. I'm in Southern California too – Orange County… have you run across any good gardening blogs in the SoCal area, that ahem, know what they're doing (no offense)?


The lettuce looks ready to eat. You can pick the outer leaves if you want a small salad (and want the middle to keep growing) or cut the whole head if you're having a party or are super hungry for salad. I don't know much about the other things but I'm glad we don't have snails. Well, maybe snails are better than earwigs. I'm not really sure.


My favorite veggie is zucchini. Around my house we have all sorts of ways to eat it. We even eat it raw cut up in sticks like you would do with a cucumber. When they get really big they aren't as tender but there are lots of good things to do with them. Last night we had zucchini lasagna, you just replace the noodles with long slices from those overgrown zukes. You can also scoop out the seeds then "stuff them" with meat, cheese, tomato sauce, whatever you like, then bake them. One last yummy suggestion, last summer I made a chocolate zucchini cake. The recipe is in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain cookbook.

Thanks for letting me share!

p.s. I love zucchini so much we just named our new miniature donkey Zuki. ๐Ÿ™‚


omg, hilarity, i cannot wait to see what the green thing turns into – a melon, a cantaloupe, or a mutant unfertilized cucumber!
beth – the sucker on a tomato plant is a branch with just leaves that wont grow any fruit. if you look at the spot in between two branches and a little one is poking out from between the two, just clip it off with your fingers. it's useless.
i am going to make a salad for lunch.
emily- i would rather have sails then earwigs. shudder, gag, ear wigs make me feel like they are crawling around in my ears. snails dont gross me out unless i step on one. i am going to try the eggshells, seems like a baby safe yet (hopefully) effective idea.
ok, so what is a "pooh stick"?


oh elaine, my eggplant are growing and super fast – but thanks for the tip! i know that works for cucumber as well. i am wondering if there is a trick like that for the corn?
annaPK thanks for all the zucchini leads, i am having a majorly hard time keeping up and being original. havent made zucchini lasagna or relish yet, those are on the list along with the zucc crisp someone posted above!



The issue with having your corn planted together is to make sure that you get good pollination between the tassels and the silks that will grow into ears on the stalk. Corn has an "imperfect flower," which means the male and female parts are separated on the plant, so it takes a bit more breeze to get the pollen where it needs to go. To ensure that your plants get pollinated, wait until the tassels are out and you can see the pollen hanging off of it, then take a paper sack and place it over the tassel, shake, and the put the bag over the silks and shake again. This is actually how corn breeders do this in the greenhouse to make new crosses. It's like science and stuff!!

If you get poor pollination, you will have ears that are not completely filled out with kernels, since each silk has to be pollinated individually by a pollen grain.


Good luck.


What is a pooh stick…I'm assuming they are talking about a game that is played on one of the Winnie the Pooh movies…can't remember if it is the original or another. The characters each found a stick and dropped it upstream off the side of a bridge and then ran to the other side of the bridge to see which stick came out from under it first. The owner of that stick won the game. My son and I have played it a few times at our river here. I think Pooh thought it up and that is how it got the name. Sounds funny though.


Excellent harvest! Sorry I can't help with any of your questions, but glad I read the post, because I didn't know I was supposed to snip back the tomoatoes to get more fruit. Thanks!

Jaimie, Dustin, Logan and Holly

Wow! Beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no gardening tips, but you hae inspired me to plant us a little garden next summer…our backyard is tiny tiny tiny but i'm going to transform a little corner for some veggies because fresh carrots and zucchini cooked in butter with basil are the best ever!



I am growing cantaloupe too. I think the green thing is cantaloupe, that is how mine looked when they were babies. I thought they were watermelons (because I had also planted watermelon), but then the rhine started to get roughened up like cantaloupes and it turned into a cantaloupe. I had been telling my girls they were watermelons for at least a week…now they are confused.

As for corn, I have one token stalk in my yard (no idea why I only have one, I am thinking they are usually sold in 6 packs…oh well, I have one) and it has three ears of corn on it.

Cole and Mindy Smith

So I haven't read all of your comments, but the small fruit that you have is actually what a canteloupe looks like before it turns white and stuff! So you are sittin pretty! Also, you can pick the whole plant of lettuce, but then you have to plant it again. If you want it to keep growing from the same plant, you can just cut off the leaves, and they will continue to grow. Hope some of this hasn't been said before! Good luck. I really LOVE your blog! Never comment, but really love it. THanks for sharing all your knowledge.

Cole and Mindy Smith

Oh…one more thing. About the Corn…if you don't plant corn all together, it doesn't have a chance to pollinate, so it won't grow. So you might just have to wait until next year for that one!


We had to resort to the Sluggo this year, as the slugs have been sooo bad. We did try the egg shels first though. One neighbor suggested diatomaceous earth for the slug invasion.

Our garden has had some struggles this year. Our sqaush and cucumbers sprouts melted in the heavy rains. Our corn didn't get knee high until August 4th! We have many blooms on our 12 tomato plant, but only one tomato (an heirloom!. Our peas are the only plant that is producing, we are eating a lot of peas! This is our first year with a real garden and we were unprepared for so many things. But it has been a blast to pick a veg that we have grown from seed and to watch our 3 year old daughter excitement at new growth or harvest time.


I will have to read all of the gardening advice you're referring to! I tried last year to grow my garden in pots so that I could move it during the day to follow the sun. That was weird. The tomatoes did alright and so did my little peppers but my vines *hated* it. I got lots and lots of different squashes and melons and they all died.

Anyhow! I read that if you put egg shells around your plants that the snails can't get past them ๐Ÿ™‚


Looks like you are already inundated with advice, but for what it's worth here's my ten cents: I always just pluck the outside leaves of lettuces so I have a steady supply. I also reckon that you have a small stunted cantaloupe (which I think is what we call a rockmelon) rather than a watermelon, but time will tell! Good luck! I am very jealous as we are without a garden right now.


Awesome! We made the entire garden a pumpkin patch with a few sugar snap peas (my favorite!). I am jealous-I should have grown more produce…but I am so excited for pumpkins!!


Sooo…I've got nothing for you, but your garden looks rad. Mine is a total experiment and I'm loving all of your questions and the answers that you've received. Off to snip those tomatoes!

Penny Pinching Parent

Your garden is so beautiful! What a neat thing to share with your little one… we sadly live where there's mostly shade, but we try!

Tip for the snails and/or slugs… coffee grinds. We have lots of hosta and this has been the only thing to work. We just sprinkle them around the gardens.

We don't drink coffee & Starbucks free grind go quick, so we just buy a big super cheap can at the store. We haven't seen any since we started this… plus, the plants seem to really like it, they are doing great. I have a 3 year old, so safety was super important and like you said, some of the other options like beer can be sorta yucky.


i think the melons start out smooth then get ridgey. when in doubt, compare the leaves on the vines with each other. also, watermelon leaves look like oak leaves, with lots of fingers and they don't look like the leaves on that melon vine picture. i had a melon grow out of the compost pile last year and it was SWEET when i finally ate it, in september or so — it took a while to get big enough to harvest.


i love that you asked all those questions cause i have all those too. but really i'm bitter cause i live in wisconsin (madison) and lo and behold one of my fave bloggers was somewhere in my state and i didn't get to take her and that cute little one for some ice cream or coffee!


I learned something from you about snipping the tomato leaves. Good idea! Awesome. I love the gardening tips.

Your jalapeno looks ready to me.

I don't know that mysterious melon is. All I know is that I didn't plant pumpkins last year. I planted three squash plants and got two squash plants and a pumpkin plant that grew 6 nice large pumpkins. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mixing seeds happens.


Dear Zucchini,

I'm over you.

We had a good run — you, me, the food processor. But I'm ready to move on. Please just leave me alone.


P.S. Don't worry. I'll come crawling back next spring. You know I always do.


Hey! I'm growing a garden as well and I'm curious, what are you going to do with your zucchini blossoms?! I have a TON! and a TON of zucchini already!

Stephanie Culligan

Egg shells for snails works great, and is good for the soil too. Rinse them off after using the egg so it doesn't smell funky, and crush them and sprinkle around the plants you are protecting. I've heard of rhubarb leaves also, but never tried it as I have a toddler your child's age and rhubarb leaves are poisonous. I've heard of copper wire too… anyone had luck with that?

Zo๋ Yule

I have to second all the advice regarding the lettuce – if you want, you can pick-and-come-again, or, chop the lot if you need a whole one. If you just pick the outer leaves, the plant will eventually "bolt" i.e. send out a flower spike and, hopefully, seed, which you can collect and plant next year! Also, lettuce tend to do better in cooler weather, so you could keep them going for ages. Sarah's spot on with the corn pollination too – you have to give it a helping hand. Keep an eye on the tassles on the top of the plant – you will see the "dusty" pollen appear. Watch out for any inclement weather around this time – it can wash away all the pollen making life even more difficult. You could put a plastic bag over it for a few hours if it looks like rain. I know nothing about dealing with snails, though it sounds like lots of other people have – the coffee grounds is one I've heard before. In the tropics you pretty much have to learn to live with pestilential plagues!! I love that you are discovering the joys of gardening with your kids, even if you haven't grown up gardening yourself, your kids will be so thankful for it as they get older, and you get to share it with them as they do!


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