Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July Garden Goals

I staggered through June, watching the weeds thrive on the abundant rain and falling further and further behind in my garden work as I lived for my next nap.

Babies are worth any sacrifice, but I was sure glad to find a surge of energy at my second trimester. I'm now loving my garden, instead of getting discouraged every time I even think of it.

The endless rain the past month has made everything thrive. And even if that includes weeds - it is a joy to see lush abundance. I love walking out and picking my supper - deciding between broccoli, cabbage, green beans, peppers, zucchini, beets, egg plant, or onions.

While harvesting and weeding are obvious tasks this month, I've learned in past years that this month is the time to prepare for the fall garden. Especially if I plan to start my own broccoli plants, I must get them started early this month. This year, I decided that I'll just buy plants toward the end of the month and save myself the bother of starting my own.

I'll also plant a second planting of some vegetables for fall, including green beans and beets.

This is our lower garden patch - planted wholly in potatoes this year. I think it is the loveliest patch we've ever had - the rows are indiscernible as the vegetation has filled the whole plot. I've been scratching the dirt away from the plant stems and pulling out potatoes bigger than my outstretched fingers and hand. I love new potatoes and am enjoying the dozens of ways to eat potatoes.

This is an end view of our second garden patch. In the foreground is the new strawberry rows.

Walking alongside this garden you can see a better view of the (weedy) strawberries. Beside them is the carrots. The groundhogs discovered the carrots a few weeks ago. I surrounded them with a makeshift fence - which worked for two weeks - then it was back to dining. I threw a row cover over the end where they seemed to be hitting the worse and so far, they seem to be avoiding it, for now.

Next is my very weedy onion patch. Since I took this photo, I have pulled out the onions. I would have liked to let them get a little larger but they seemed to be starting to rot - maybe because of all our rain? I plan to clear this area of weeds and plant fall broccoli and cabbage here.

Next is a row of zinnas - just for fun - then the green beans, which were also being harvested by the groundhogs. I put bird netting over them in hopes of discouraging them. It is only partly working. They are keeping the tops trimmed off the one end of the beans but thankfully not doing too much damage.

A view from the other side of this same bean row.

Beside the green beans is a new planting of beets and basil. My first basil planting was accidentally hoed under. I'm hoping this basil grows fast enough that it is ready for harvest when I'm making pizza sauce. In the back is the squash plants. To the right is the broccoli which is still giving some small side shoots.

The squash are growing so large and thick that they are nearly impossible to pick. They are almost smothering the beets in the row beside them. I tried growing some yellow beets this year. They taste just like red beets but don't have that bright color that stains everything they touch. I love them cooked with a little butter and salt.

To the left and right is the tomatoes and down the middle is peppers and eggplant.

The peppers are unusually tall this year. I'm not sure if it is the variety - or the weather.

Every year I have trouble with flea beetles in the egg plant. Last year they turned the leaves to lace and I only harvested a few egg plant before they quit producing. This year the flea beetles started early. In desperation I sprayed the leaves to get rid of the beetles and then covered them with row cover, not really thinking it would keep out more flea beetles. But it has worked. You can see the lower older leaves with the riddled holes from early spring, but the upper leaves are completely whole. And the plants are twice and tall as any I've ever grown. The eggplant fruit themselves are glossy with none of the insect pock marks that I usually have. Another winner for row cover!

The far end of the garden is where the garlic and strawberries were growing - with their huge crop of weeds and thistles. When the strawberries were over and I had pulled the garlic, Ed lightly tilled this whole area and we planted late sweet corn - something we didn't have the garden space to plant earlier. The  ground was so muddy, clumpy, and weedy that I didn't have high hopes for the poor corn seeds. In an endeavor to halt the weeds and give the corn a chance, Ed covered it lightly with grass clippings. I was shocked when a week later we had nice green shoots in this patch. You can barely see them in this photo - but hopefully by next month we will have a nice stand of sweet corn. It won't be ready to harvest until September but last year we planted late sweet corn at the end of June and we had lovely worm-free corn in September.

I usually pick garlic around July 4. This year it seemed ready at the end of June. The key is to pick it when the outside skin becomes slightly papery, but before the cloves begin to split. 

I let the garlic dry in the woodshed for a week, then trim off the tops and bottoms and rub off the outer skin and dirt.

I place the heads in a net orange bag and hang it in a cool spot in the basement. This  year I harvested seventy bulbs of hard necked garlic - more than I'll ever need. I'll use some for my pizza sauce later in the summer, then plant some in September/October for next year's crop. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and such fun to use in the kitchen.

July Garden Goals 

1. Late planting of beets and green beans.

2. Purchase broccoli and cabbage plants to set out by end of the month or first of next month.

3. Add compost and lime to soil to prepare plot intended for broccoli. Broccoli (and other like crops such as cabbage and cauliflower, like the added nutrition.

4. Harvest garlic, setting aside the nicest bulbs for planting in September.

5. Harvest onion crop, braid, and hang in dry airy place (for me it is the wood shed.)

6. Plant buckwheat as a 
cover crop, when an area of the garden is finished so that it does not revert back to weeds. Mow down and till into the garden before it goes to seed.

That is my list planned for my zone 6 garden. What are you doing in your garden in July?


  1. Our garden in July is just starting to produce well. Since it's been so wet and chilly at night,it is even later this year. I picked broccoli to freeze today,as well as a head of lettuce and some smaller beets to pickle. We have had only 4 zucchini so far! The cukes are tiny,as are the summer squash,beans and cabbage. We have alot of green tomatoes. I normally pick blueberries now,but they were lost in hard freeze we had in May. We also lost the transparent apple crop,which makes the best applesauce.We have been enjoying swiss chard,onions,beet greens,leaf lettuce and we had alot of strawberries.All things considered,I say we have much to be thankful for. August will bring more ready in the garden anyways..and hopefully less rain because we haven't done any haying yet! So goes the life of a farmer!!

  2. We didn't plant a garden this year so I really enjoyed looking at the pictures of your garden. Thank you.

  3. Gina, I must have missed a post about your pregnancy! Congratulations to you and your sweet family!! Try to stay cool this summer... God bless you.

  4. We also had the rain and strange spring so we are just now ripening tomatoes, and a few carrots, onions and turnips (I like them) the strawberries are giving me just a few every day or two but it is the first year for them so I'm happy. After such a strange start we are just happy to have anything!! (we have a mighty fine crop of weeds as well!)


  5. Congratulations on the new child and all of the work accomplished on the vegetable gardens. We are in zone 3 so in July we will continue to pick push beans, blueberries, raspberries, kale and selected the end of the moth I will be able to pick and process tomatoes, kohlrabi, greens, zucchini and Swiss chard. The gardens will also need some weeding and their next drink of compost tea.

  6. congratulations on your pregnancy! our 6th baby is almost 1 and it's gone by so quickly.
    thank you for the photos of your veggie garden, we are going to start planting in a week's time and have lots of ideas and space but maybe will start manageable first. You have done so well.

  7. I seem to be late with reading etc ...could be summer busy-ness. I do love your potato field . They are pretty and so delicious to think of all the ways we can use those potatoes the rest of the year.


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