I initially built this site for myself, to record plant varieties and planting and harvest dates and anything else that might be useful for future gardens. Planting and working the garden is in itself therapeutic, and thus has a lot of value. But harvesting the crops provides healthy foods and a connection to friends and neighbors who also benefit from the abundance of my garden. So, having a way to create a longer growing season is important. Hopefully, good record keeping will help me to that end. But of course, once the data is recorded, there other thoughts and reflections that come into my mind and I have recorded those here also, because as it has been since the beginning, gardening is not only good for the body but also good for the soul. Again, my original purpose was for my own use, but if you find any of this useful or inspirational, welcome.
It’s the 4th of July and time for an early season evaluation of the garden. Overall I am happy with the way the garden went together this year. Almost everything got in on schedule, despite the early sell-out of plants at most of the nurseries.
The only real failure was that none of the Cucamelons germinated. The other germination issue was with the Fava Beans, where the germination was somewhat erratic with the plants, that are just starting to bear are widely different in size. Pak Choi and the Arugula immediately bolted even though they went in on April 7. I guess that was too late. The lettuce from seed went in on March 8, including spinach, but the growth was very slow. The lettuce did well, but the spinach bolted early. I planted lettuce plants from Goebbert’s on April 18, and we got our first lettuce from plants and the seeds on May 17. The lettuce is bolting now, but we are still picking edible lettuce. I will probably pull it in the next couple of days as it is starting to get bitter. A cover over the lettuce bed next year might help the early growth of lettuce from seed.
We’ve been getting tomatoes for over a week from the couple of large potted tomato plants that I bought. The large cherry tomato plant I bought has had tomatoes for about a week. The other cherry and grape tomatoes are at various stages. There are a couple of plants with ripe tomatoes. The first garden tomato might be ready tomorrow and that is an Early Girl II. There are two or three tomatoes on that plant, but after I pick them there might not be any more until August. I bought larger Champion and Early GIrl plants but the other plants have caught up. The other plants were all small because of the plant shortage this year. Here are the Heirloom tomatoes that have set fruit already – Mortgage LIfter, Lemon Boy, Cherokee Purple, Early GIrl II, and the Two Champion Plants. I have three variations of Roma Tomatoes, Roma, Roma II, and Roma III, all from Countryside. They were all small plants that went in on June 8. All of the plants have set fruit.
The eggplants look stunted, but one has an eggplant on it. They probably should have been watered more.
The hot peppers are slow, and the Jalapeno plants have some tiny peppers. Of course the large Jalapeno plant I bought has been bearing well. We have had Shishitos for over a week and I’ve picked a couple of the Gypsy peppers. There are some small banana peppers but nothing on the Lady Bell plants yet. There are some nice sized Sweet Cherry Peppers, but I need to wait until those are red.
The Okra have small fruits and we might have a few of those in a week or so. The kale really took off and the fennel and Swiss Chard are doing okay. They will likely take off once I clear ou the lettuce and give them more room. The Chinese Cabbage look okay also.
We will soon be inundated with cucumbers. I picked the first summer dance and a couple of bush cucumbers today and the summer dance has a lot more. There is no fruit on the Goebbert’s plants yet. The vines for the Lemon cucumbers are vigorous and just starting to flower.
The Zucchini are slow and probably could have used more water. I’ll probably have zucchini in a few days, and there are some small Peter Pan fruits on those plants. They will get watered today.
The tomatillos are still leggy, bot one has a large fruit on it already. Those sat in the tray for a long time before they got planted.
I fertilized all of the potted plants and the herb garden today. The new herb garden is doing extremely well. I’ll hit most of the rest of the garden with fertilizer tomorrow and do some weeding. I’ll also need to tie up the Roma tomatoes before the fruit gets too heavy.
I picked the first tomato today from the container garden, this is at least a week earlier than last year. There are a couple of Early Girl II tomatoes in the Heirloom patch that might ripen by the 4th of July. This was from a large Red Husky plant that I got from Goebbert’s. We’ve had Jalapenos from another Goebbert’s plant for a couple of weeks and have been picking spring greens since May 17, so it’s been a successful spring.
I used the above tomato and some fresh basil from the garden to make a Bruschetta appetizer for dinner this evening.
One of my main goals is to extend the gardening season to provide food over a longer period of time. The spring greens yielded well this year and there is still usable lettuce, although most of it is starting to bolt. I made up my mind last year after a very wet spring and early summer and the Groundhog problem to have a container garden that I could get in early and easily protect from animals if necessary.
So I expanded my cherry tomato plantings this spring with 6 plants in three containers, two large patio tomato plants, a large Jalapeno plant which I’ve been harvesting for a couple of weeks, and a pot with two bush cucumbers. I am hoping this adds another month (July) to the harvesting season.
The first day of Summer and Father’s Day coincided this year, and it also marks the completion of my plantings. We were somewhat back to a normal spring schedule this year. Most of the nurseries sold out early, but I was still able to find almost all of the varieties I wanted. So here is a gallery of where the garden is at this point.
Sixteen tomato plants, four rows of four, mostly heirloom. New stepping stones between the rows.
I put the finishing touches on the garden the past couple of days. I finished fencing in the Roma tomatoes and added a removable piece of fence for a gate and did the same thing for the cucumbers.
I harvested some more lettuce as it is bolting and probably will be done this week with the hot weather. This gave me room for the Swiss Chard and Fennel. I fitted in six Chinese Cabbage plants between the Fava Beans since their germination was so erratic. The beans are starting to produce, so they will be out of there by the time the cabbage gets going. I also planted the three tomatillo plants behind the barn they are leggy and flowering, but I hope they will be OK.
I planted some flowers in front of the first bed and put a couple of stepping stones along the bed. Hidden among those flowers, I found three French Tarragon plants which I planted next to the Mexican Tarragon in the herb garden. I replaced the Pansies on the porch with new flowers and transplanted the pansies into a couple of large pots that I used to spice up the corners of the container garden.
At the end of the day I was exhausted because in addition to all the work mentioned above, I filled the yard waste container with invasive trees, grapevines and other stuff that shouldn’t be there that I removed from the blackberry patch. Major work still need to be done in there and it will take a couple of days to clean it out.
Tomorrow is Father’s day and the first day of summer, so I’ll do a status report and a bit of a gallery. All in all, I’m happy with the progress, and for the first time, there are no unplanned plants sitting on the deck.
In my mind, the official start of summer is the emergence of lightning bugs. I’ve been watching for several days but nothing, likely because the temperatures at dusk had fallen into the 60s. But we were in the 80s today and shortly after dusk the air was filled with a myriad of the little flashing creatures welcoming the beginning of summer. That’s five days earlier than last year when they arrived on June 22.
Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also marked the arrival of summer, but it has been relatively dry for the past week, so it’s likely that they will taper off soon. Also, with our new drainage system, there should be a lot less standing water available for them to breed in.
I took my Ryobi hedge trimmer to the Blackberry Patch and removed as much overgrowth as I could and restored the paths through the patch. It will need a lot of hand work with the pruning shears and saw to finish, but it is a start.
Then I worked on the pile of dirt on the north side of the garden path and broke it up with the rototiller and raked it even with the wood walkway. Then I planter the Black-eyed Susans in that area and plant a Coral Bells plant at the head of the walk. Some of the Black-eyed Susans had little soil on the roots and were dried out, but I’m guessing most of them will survive as they get rooted in the new soil. I’ll fill in the area with some Hosta and Sedum transplants when I have time.
I added some compost and peat moss and topsoil to the herb garden and got all of the herbs planted today. Here’s what is in the garden: Mexican Tarragon, Basil, Thai Basil, Tri-Color Sage, Purple-Veined Sorrel, Lemon Thyme. Greek Oregano, Spicy Oregano and Chocolate Mint.
I planted two Sunsweet yellow cherry tomatoes in a pot and that finished up the container garden. Also, in the herb garden by the deck, I replaced the dead sage plant with Garden Sage and the tasteless oregano plant with Greek Oregano.
I’ve been working on the herb garden since Friday and made a big push to get it done today before the rains came. We were getting hit with the tail-end of tropical storm Cristobal this afternoon, but we missed the worst of it and got about 1/2 inch of rain which we really needed. But I got the stonework done and the dirt leveled for the herb garden ahead of the rain. I’ll add some compost and sand to the soil over the weekend because the soil is mostly clay, and then I’ll get the plants in and add some decorative rocks.
We went to Countryside on Sunday afternoon and bought 3 varieties of Roma Tomatoes. Four Roma, six Roma II, and five Roma III. I planted those today and fenced them in, just in case the groundhog is still waiting in the wings.
I also planted two Peter Pan squash plants in the first bed with the rest of the zucchini, and then I removed the spinach, Pak Choi and arugula that bolted and planted 10 Okra plants in their place.