July Garden Update
Shoot. Looks like I totally forgot about the June garden update. Guess we’ll just have to jump right into the full fledged thing with only the May update for reference (things have changed a little…a lot…you know how the season rolls).
To catch us up a little, here’s the garden on June 17. Notice anything different? The ground cover is Blue Star Creeper from Stepables, a ground cover specialty company that I first ran into over a decade ago when I worked in a plant nursery in Atlanta. When we planned out the garden, I knew that I would want to replace the grass in that part of the yard with a ground cover that was hardy enough to walk on and that wouldn’t sprout up like grass into the garden box. The Blue Star Creeper fit the bill and now we’re just waiting for it to spread and do its thing.
The other change is the cattle fencing trellis. If you follow my Garden Board on Pinterest, you might have noticed a link I posted months ago to a Garden Web thread featuring various cattle fencing trellises. They seemed like the perfect solution for peas and beans and cucumbers and other vines, so I immediately added making one to our to-do list. One trip to the local Tractor Supply with a truck later, we had an easy-to-assemble trellis that fit perfectly between our larger & smaller beds.
As far as the plants went, they were all still fairly small and I was pretty worried about the health of the peppers and eggplants and okra especially. The tomatoes seemed to do ok, but those three plants refused to grow at all (which has changed by now, mid-July, thankfully). I think our cooler spring held back some of the plants. The spinach and kale was going hog-wild though!
Other notable June news was the harvesting of this year’s garlic. Turns out I planted the cloves waaay too close together. So we have about 20 heads of the tiniest garlic you’ve ever met. I cured it per these instructions and haven’t used any yet, but I’ll let you all know how it is when I do!
But, July! Can’t believe it’s already July 15–this summer is flying by and I’m having a had time catching up.
First things first, though (and I can’t believe I haven’t brought this up yet)–if you don’t have a pair of gardening shoes and you’re in the market, give Bogs boots a try. I’m madly in love with my pair (mid-height) and they make everything from weeding in the mud to not getting eaten alive by fire ants a breeze. Plus I never track mud in the house. I really liked the boots I borrowed for 2010′s Farmcation, and while they’re a different brand, the Bogs boots live up to the high expectations I held for them. Seriously, they’re the best tool I have. (And I’m not getting paid to say that.)
But the garden, that’s what we’re here for. Yup, this is what the garden looks like right now.
Holy cow, right? Everything is taking off like there’s no tomorrow.
The peppers-eggplants-okra are still smaller than I’d like them to be (with my late start and all), but they’re growing bigger every day. And the nasturtiums are really happy. Gayla was right, just let those suckers do their own thing. No help needed.
Over in the greens bed, there are zucchinis, kale, lettuce, sorrel, carrots, basil, and the cucumbers (along with some zinnias for color, love color in vegetable beds!). The spinach, unfortunately, wasn’t harvested before we went on vacation and it bolted while we were gone. So no spinach for Casa G. Really annoyed about that. Guess I know to harvest it as soon as it gets slightly hot next year.
The cucumbers are loving the trellis (I do tie them to it when needed with this great foam padded plant wire), and about one zillion tiny cukes are growing on the vines. They’re almost too cute to eat. Can’t wait to pickle them though!
In the tomato bed, plenty of green tomatoes to go around but only one or two cherry tomatoes from the Matt’s Wild Cherry plants. At this stage, the tomato plants seem a lot happier than they were last year, but I’m holding my breath since end rot was a big problem with last year’s crop. I’m hoping to baby these ones through, but you never know with the wild weather we’ve had lately.
The most disturbing plants, though, are the butternut squash plants. I only planted two but I had no idea what we were in store for. They’ve taken over all walking space between beds and have even crossed our sidewalk to the grass. And there are at least 20 butternuts growing to-date with more flowers and more pollination daily. If most of them make it through the summer to harvest, we will be swimming in orange butternut goodness this winter. (If the plant doesn’t eat us up first, that is…)
Over on the far side of the tomato bed, bean vines are crawling up the trellis–Kentucky Wonder and Jacob’s Cattle (Trout) beans, I think. Don’t hold me to that as I can’t find my seed order for some reason. Finally have some coming in though!
Another oddity in the tomato bed is the Lemon Sculpture Geranium, a plant I picked up at a nursery because it looked strange, wasn’t labeled beyond the name, and smelled lemony. These are all valid reasons for buying a plant, right? It was on the herb table at the greenhouse, so I assumed it was, but it turns out that it’s actually a geranium bred to act like a bonsai. Weird. It’s apparently trade marked and patented by Richter’s, a grower, so very random and cool that I was able to find one, but I’m a little disappointed that I don’t think it’s particularly edible. If anyone has experience with one, let me know!
Oh, and isn’t this photo of tomato flowers and today’s thunderstorm creepy-cool?
All in all, the garden seems to be shaping up nicely this year (the greenhouses I made with the plastic sheeting really helped early on, I think) and I’ finally able to harvest bits and pieces of it! I can’t wait to cook up some of that kale this week, maybe make a salad or two with it (definitely going to be in smoothies for breakfast). As for the peppers and etc. in the one box, I still have my fingers crossed that they’ll produce something by the end of summer, but we’ve still got a ways to go here.
How’s everyone else’s garden coming along? I’m already finding myself dreaming up ways to expand for next year–onion and garlic beds are a must. Everything I’ve read is true–gardening becomes completely addicting, even more so now that I’m not super stressed out with writing a thesis and working full time while trying to grow my own food. Would love to hear about what’s going on with you guys!