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)


  1. Your garden looks beautiful!!

  2. So much wonderful food going on in your garden! It is exhausting some days. I've got a canner full of tomatoes at the moment. It's easy to see why it was often a group effort in days gone by to put food up. It's definitely hard work, but at least there are good rewards.

    1. Yesterday I shelled peas. There is no way to do it without flipping them everywhere and then they roll all over the floor. I just walked in their and my feet crunched. Scooter is good at keeping the floor clean but he won't eat Lima beans or peas. I must sweep. Sigh.

    2. "There". I walked in "THERE", not "their!" I know better.

  3. I am in awe! Totally stunned at the lushness and productivity!
    I was thinking of trying a Fall planting of potatoes, but unsure about when to plant. I know I need to wait until this intense Summer heat is past, but don't want to wait too long in case Winter comes early. I am just south of you in North Mississippi. Any suggestions you have will be appreciated.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Lea, this is my first time successfully planting potatoes so I am new at this. Previously, they would not get larger than a ping pong ball because of my clay soil. The hay made all the difference. I have checked the internet for planting dates and it seems August is the month for my zone 7a. I plan on waiting about two more weeks in hopes more will sprout. I only have a handful right now that I could use. Others will probably sprout and I will try planting them later to see how they do.

  4. Oh my goodness! All that staying at home and working in the garden to relieve stress has paid off big time! I love seeing the big beets and I got to buy some new potatoes this past week and put them in the crockpot with a roast yesterday. They were so sweet! I would come with a basket if I could visit you this week. I'm sure you'd fill it up for me. Let me see...what do I need most! lol Fresh veggies are SO healthy. I am amazed at your garden this year. Take care! Don't work too hard!

    1. Don't bring a basket, bring a barrel. I would definitely fill it up and also put you to work in the garden picking or in the kitchen canning! You could choose which place you would want to be. Running out the front door would not be an option - it would be locked.

  5. So much delicious food! You did a great job. Potatoes look amazing. I have problems with potato beetles every year.

    1. I didn't have any problems with them but this was the first time I have planted more than one. Maybe they won't find my garden? I suppose that is too good to be true.

  6. Potato beetles eat leaves. We pick them by hand. You are lucky that they didn't find your garden.

    1. "Yet", they haven't found it yet. They probably will now that I am planting potatoes.

  7. Amazing garden! I would love to be able to plant in-ground, but I have to have raised beds because of my clay soil. You must have great soil, even with amendments. I didn't plant anything related to squash and cucumbers this year to try to get rid of squash bugs. I miss lemon cucumbers. I like to grow winter squash to cook and freeze. I don't like summer squash.

    1. Oh Lisa, I have horrible soil. It is hard clay, full of rocks and boulders plus I am beside woods and fields which are full of insects and windblown seeds. We have lived here for 16 years and I have spent the whole time trying to improve the soil. Grass clippings and leaves are raked up, every weed I pull is composted, last winter when we had horses, I would walk through the field picking up (while wearing gloves) horse manure, bales of old hay have been added, the list is endless. If it rots, it goes in my garden. I keep plastic bowls all around the garden to hold the rocks I find whenever I dig a hole. (They keep the driveway graveled.) No, my soil is horrible but I have worked hard improving it and it has paid off. Healthy, delicious food for my family is my reward.

      Don't give up on your soil. Keep composting and eventually you will be glad you did.

    2. When I saw the first picture, my thought was "Green, green is Tennessee". This song was also popular in Germany. Long time ago, but I still remember and I like it.
      You are a lucky gardener. All the efforts and hours of hard work were worthwhile. So you
      are rewarded with all these healthy vegetables for now and for the winter months. And of course so much money is saved this way. Vegetables you would buy could never be as fresh
      or have better quality. I also liked the potato pictures showing Reese who helped you.
      Your potatoes are another great success. In the meanwhile I hope that you will find some
      time to take a rest sitting on the rocking chair without damaging all the good food under
      the chair. (Because it is stored somewhere or in jars or in the freezer)

    3. I have never heard of "Green, Green, Tennessee" so I searched for it on YouTube. The words are in German so I can't understand them but the tune is familiar. I do like the tune.

      I suppose I should explain why I am storing food everywhere. The laundry room is too humid from the dryer and the basement is down a flight of steps and too hard to be climbing repeatedly. If I have it under my feet, I check it daily and then process it before it goes bad. I added to my work load today. I bought 70 ears of corn from the Amish. It is on the back deck because it was wormy. Tomorrow it will be shucked and silked by Bill and then I will be canning it...after my dreaded dental appointment.

      I do prefer the hard work of summer to the cold, dark days of winter.

  8. Oh, my, I just love these have sure put in the work. But like you, there is nothing like it. Such a good feeling to grow your own stuff. And isn't it hard to believe the difference in the taste even of home gown potatoes and store bought?

  9. I love your garden posts! Do you mind sharing where you found your Butternut seeds? I am in Chattanooga, the same garden zone you are in, and I would love to try this variety! I did successfully grow four Speghetti squash this year, from seeds out of one I bought at the grocery store! Go me!

  10. I love your garden posts! Do you mind sharing where you found your Butternut seeds? I am in Chattanooga, the same garden zone you are in, and I would love to try this variety! I did successfully grow four Speghetti squash this year, from seeds out of one I bought at the grocery store! Go me!

    1. I got them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They are a wonderful company.
      They will do great for you as long as you give them plenty of room to spread along the ground. We harvested our first spaghetti squash this month. It was delicious. Now I wish I had planted more. I always wish I had planted more of everything...when I am not exhausted from working in the garden.