It is the end of June and there have been all sorts of changes in my garden already.
There’s been beetles, squash bugs, moles, bolting lettuce, cabbage worms, and spotted tomato leaves……..
Let the battles begin!
From a distance, it looks great. Once you get inside, you’ll notice my garden has plenty of problems. When someone seems to have the perfect garden without any issues I jump to one of 3 conclusions.
- They’re a liar.
- They’re using chemicals.
- They know something magical I don’t know and they need to come fix my garden.
We have been enjoying many fresh foods already.
I’ll give you a tour of what’s thriving………… and what’s not ……….
After all, if nothing else, this blog is going to be real.
The squash is the size of a Volkswagen.
It is full of blooms and several bright, yellow squash have made an appearance. I found one squash bug. Which means there are 300 more that I have not seen. I squashed him & am looking forward to killing all his friends.
The sweet peppers are coming on strong. There’s dozens of peppers, but they haven’t begun to change color yet. These will be red, orange and yellow. Sweet, crisp, wonderful.
Here’s the bell pepper plants.
We have picked a couple. I love to freeze these and use them year round. Go here to see how I do it. Peppers are easy to grow.
The green bean plants are amazing. Green beans are also easy to grow.
All the beans are hiding under the leaves. There is some pressure canning in my near future!
Here’s a tip on green beans – pick the beans while they are young and small. When they get large they don’t taste as nice and get stringy. My experience is that even the ‘string-less’ variety will get strings if you leave them on the plant long enough.
The asparagus is done giving me spears for the year. Once the weather turns hot, it is time to let those spears fern into giant bushes. This will feed the roots and the crown in the ground so next spring you will have even more spears to eat.
In fall, these ferns will turn brown and I will cut them all off at ground level for the winter. To learn more about my asparagus go here.
Cucumbers! I have had a horrible time with my cucumbers this year. I have been visited by a little friend (a mole) who has been eating all my seeds. Since I have always planted my seeds in the ground in my garden where they will grow into big plants, the mole is giving me all sorts of indigestion.
I had to start my seeds in containers & transplant them in the garden after they sprouted. It’s a little more work & I would much rather just stick seeds in the ground. Since I am tired of providing mole food, I went the transplant route.
We’ve eaten several cucumbers. I prefer to eat them when they are still on the small side. They are crisp, juicy and sweet. I don’t like the huge ones. Too many big seeds and they taste bitter to me.
Tomatoes. Well, from this vantage point the tomatoes look great. To see how I plant them go here.
What I will confess is that I didn’t get them tied up soon enough. The branches got too big and ended up laying on the ground – which is against the law in tomato growing land. Once the vines touch the ground they will be plagued with spots and brown leaves for the rest of the growing season.
Don’t be like me. Tie up your tomatoes early and often. Or you will too have brown spots.
Another confession with my tomato plants was my bright idea to grow sunflowers in the middle of the tomatoes.
Why would anyone plant sunflowers in the middle of the tomato row?
Here’s what went through my brain:
- Sunflowers are pretty. Won’t they look cute sticking out the top of my tomatoes!
- Sunflowers are tall and strong & will give my tomato plants some added stability.
- Vacant land available! When the tomato plants were small there was a HUGE amount of empty real-estate between the rows. Now that the tomato plants are almost as tall as I am, the vacant land has disappeared. I always forget how big tomato plants get.
Since the sunflowers are 6 feet tall at this point I’m kinda stuck with them where they are.
Why the sunflowers were a bad idea:
They are preventing air from circulating between all the tomato plants. This is causing some dampness and creating potential for fungus and icky stuff.
Live and learn. No sunflowers between the tomatoes.
Speaking of tomatoes. I save the strings year round from our square hay bales to tie up my tomatoes.
Recycle. Reuse. Re-purpose. No garden twine needed here.
Now let’s look at my disasters. Wee!
The lettuce bolted. When your lettuce plant turns into a Christmas tree, it has bolted. Another sign of bolting is the white, milky substance that oozes out of the plant when you pick it. Bolting happens when the plant is fully mature (it is preparing to send out seeds) and the bolting process is accelerated when the weather gets hot.
The bolting has come as no surprise since it has been unusually hot here lately. Once lettuce “bolts” it is extremely bitter and inedible unless you are a rabbit or a pig. They don’t seem to mind.
There is a simple solution to the bolting lettuce problem. Yipee!
Start a new row of seeds! Apparently, my mole only likes cucumber, squash and pumpkin seeds. The lettuce, spinach, radishes and turnips are coming up fine.
I start new rows of radishes and lettuce throughout spring, summer and fall. It’s easy to recover from a failed crop – just put in another row. To see how I grow lettuce from seed go here.
Kale. Mental note to self: Kale might be in the cabbage family. Maybe.
To learn why I am not growing cabbage, broccoli or Brussels sprouts this year go here.
This is the first year the cabbage-worm army has destroyed my kale. I guess since there was nothing else for them to eat – they ate Kale. I think the rest of us can relate. Does anyone really want to eat kale?
I blasted all the disgusting little, green worms off the kale and into the chickens direction. Then I cut off all the skeletal leaves. I’m hoping the kale will recover and give me more salad this fall.
Sugar Snap Peas. We did enjoy plenty of peas this spring. It was about time to rip them out anyhow.
I loaded them up in my giant wheelbarrow……
and gave them to my wittle piggies. They were very grateful.
Clean slate. Sugar Snap Pea land is now a dessert.
Oh how I love an empty, fresh garden bed ready for planting. It’s just bursting with possibilities and potential for life.
I planted some cucumber (seedlings) in here to climb the trellis.
Garlic. At first glance, my garlic looks like an epic failure; however, it is not! This is exactly what garlic does when it is time to pull it up and cure it. When the stalks turn brown and begin to fall over – get it out of the ground and put it somewhere dry and hot to cure.
After curing a couple weeks, just braid & hang. You will have fresh garlic for the next year! To read more about how I grow garlic go here.
That’s about it for the confessions, failures and food going on in the garden this month.
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Keep fighting the good fight!