Thursday, July 30, 2020

July's Garden (2020)

The garden is in - four words that strike panic and stress in the heart of every gardener.  I am overwhelmed. The garden has produced three times more than in past years.  I have finally gotten it right.  In a later post after I finish with my experiments, I will share the new things I have learned which have been so successful.  For now, I am trying to keep from drowning in produce.  Whether it is behind the easy chair in the living room, under both kitchen rocking chairs, in the pantry or refrigerator, food is piled up waiting for my attention.

In the garden, the small temporary fence around the side and back has been a smashing success.  It can't be seen because of the Purple Hull Peas vining up the side but it has kept predators out or made them a trapped target if they foolishly ventured inside.  At the end of the row is a cucumber plant. Usually by this time of the year, cucumbers are beginning to die from either mildew, wilt, or beetles.  Not this year, I have learned how to win.  This plant is still alive and is growing up the shepherd's cook and down the fence row.

The first row which held sugar beets is almost empty and is being used as a compost dump.  This area still has a good layer of hay so a fall crop of potatoes will be put here.

The second row has different kinds of beans and vining winter squash going down the sides.  The weird purple stalk is a Scarlet Kale which is taking forever to bolt and make seeds.

The third-row has Detroit red beets that are being picked before being overrun by a Tahitian Butternut squash at this end of the row.  They can grow faster than I can run and it will soon take over the whole row.  However, they store all winter and are delicious so this fault is overlooked.

Only the larger beets have been pulled making growing room for the smaller ones.

At the far end of the row is a yellow zucchini plant still alive and healthy. For the first time in my life, I have grown a summer squash without it being destroyed by a squash vine borer!  I now appreciate the joke about people leaving their house lights on so their gardening neighbors can't leave zucchini on their porch after dark.

To prove my success is not a fluke, there is also a yellow crookneck summer squash still alive.

It has been growing a while so this shows the long stem without any borers.   

The center of the garden has more beans with each end of the row covered in cucumbers and melons.

This was the potato row.  All have been dug, the stems piled up to compost and the hay moved to the paths.  The far end of the row is a watermelon beside sprouting seedlings from the seed bag of assorted unknowns.

Below are the dead potato vines at dawn on July 14th right before we dug them.  

The potatoes grew along the surface of the soil and more hay was supposed to be added as they progressed.  However, we haven't been able to get more hay so this caused some to develop a green tint caused by sunlight which is unhealthy to eat.  Those have been saved and will be used as seed potatoes. Except for that problem, using hay worked.  

They were extremely easy to harvest - I sat on a stool, pointed to a spot, and Reese (who was home on vacation) did all the digging.  The total weight was 75 pounds!  A definite success.  We had a taste test and homegrown won unanimously versus storebought.  

My climate zone can support two crops each year so I am going to do this again.  Those that are already sprouting will be planted and instead of hay, grass clippings will be used.

The next two rows to the left of the potatoes previously held the assorted unknowns and Chinese vegetables.  Most have been eaten and all that is left are odds and ends - melons, cucumbers, celery, and a few bean plants.  This month I will start the winter seedlings and this will be the winter hoop house area.

At the end of the last three rows are different varieties of watermelons.  They need room to spread and then right before cold weather, each will be trimmed back so winter seedlings can be squeezed between the vines.

At the very end beside the field is a row of tomatoes.  All were purchased early in the spring from different nurseries and were unknown to me. The tall PVC pipes are an improvision to raise the height of the fence because some of the tomatoes have grown out of control.

The backside of the fence shows the row of Purple Hull Peas plus other tomatoes which have barely made it to the top of the fence.  Gardening - always full of surprises.

Moving to the back of the garden to the area in front of the shed is the crazy trellis.  The dead-looking plants on the right tied to the pole are bolting Swiss Chard.  The seeds are almost ready.  Below on the ground are spreading sweet potatoes and the lima beans are almost touching over the top.  

Surrounded by lima bean vines on the garden or left side of the crazy trellis is spaghetti squash.  It is changing color from white to yellow so maybe it is ready?

In the back of the garden is three rows of tomatoes with cucumbers under the front row.  

The middle row has a Honeyboat Deletica winter squash on either end spreading toward the middle.  It has been years since I grew it and remembered it as being a smaller plant.  Looks like it might take over the back area.

Behind the third row close to the backwoods is okra with a vining squash underneath.  The okra is short because it was late being planted.  It is deep shade in the back and I didn't expect anything to even grow in this spot.

In the far back corner, the old chicken door trellis has peppers around the bottom and Red Rice pole beans going over the top.  This creates a deep shady spot on the inside where lettuce seeds have been planted.  The white bucket is full of water so it is easy to keep the seedlings wet.

Lettuce can't bear heat but maybe it can thrive in this spot.

More Lima beans are on the trellis in the back corner.  No such thing as too many Lima beans.

Almost finished with the garden tour.  Growing out of the new compost pile in the back corner and traveling down the field fence is an unknown winter squash. 

It is exhausting, but the rewards are worth it especially come winter when my freezer and cabinets are full of delicious food.

Last Year's July Garden (2019)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Today's Blooms, July 15, 2020

Today's temperature hit 97 degrees (F) so the garden has only been enjoyed after sunrise or through the windows of an air-conditioned house.  It has become a wee bit wild.

For the first time ever, there has been plenty of rain at just the right time.  Not once have I drug out the garden hose to water.  I am getting spoiled by our new weather pattern.

When the smoker grill broke, I saw potential for a new life rather than sending it to the dump.  It was recycled into flower pots.

A surprise sprang up in the middle of the front sidewalk.  Evidently, a Tahitian Butternut Squash seed dropped out of the compost bucket, landed in a thin crack, sprouted, and was ignored.  When it formed a tiny squash, I realized it was my favorite variety so everyone was instructed to avoid it.  (Scooter was instructed to stop watering it.) UPS and friends have learned to walk around. Its determination to live is inspiring.  

This is what I really want to share.  Finally, after years of dreaming, last week I finished the rock garden in front of the swing.  There are still more plants to be added but the hard part of moving rocks and adding soil has been done.  It feels good seeing flowers instead of a pile of weeds when I look out the windows.

July has been a colorful month in the garden.  A little bit of rain makes a little bit of difference, a lot of rain makes a huge difference.