Summer Garden 2012 Part Three

Summer Garden 2012 Part Three

This is the third part in my series of posts describing the progression of my garden areas from the first spring planting to harvest time during the 2012 growing season.   As of August 1st, you can see by the photos that after two – three months my garden is exploding with growth.  Considering that I got the cool weather vegetables in by May 1st and almost everything else in the ground by the first week in June,  then things are maturing quite well.  Still, by August 1st we are not at the point when everything is eatable yet.  I’m sure the cool and rainy June weather delayed some things, not to mention that there were so few bees around in June to pollinate.

So far,  I’ve been enjoying my berries, radishes, onions, green onions, potatoes, and of course the kale, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuces, broccoli, zucchini, crookneck, a couple millionaire eggplant, and most of the fava beans. Some of the favas I made hummus with, and the rest I sautéed with green onions and garlic in coconut oil. Yummy! I forgot that I wanted to get save some beans to plant next year, so hopefully the ones that are left on the stalks will mature enough at this late date to provide a few.   I did pull a few turnips to get them thinned out as well, and my Boston pickling cucumbers were ready to start canning in small quantities by the 1st.  I was able to eat some of the biggest ones that weren’t bitter while I eagerly waited for the Cypress and lemon cucumbers to mature.

I’ve been stuffing mouthfuls of blueberries and raspberries into my mouth almost on a daily basis since June & early July, and I am amazed at how great the blueberry yield was again this year.  That was likely due to our wet spring & early summer rains.  My cilantro and dill have already finished their cycles, and soon I will be pulling them up to harvest their seed.  The onions were ready to pull well before the end of July.   I’ll leave most of the potatoes in the beds to store until well into November.  This year I am going to cover the beds with a tarp when it starts to rain to keep the beds dry.

The dried bush beans are well on their way to being ready to start harvesting as the pods dry out.  I’ve already started shelling the beans from the dried out pods of the King of Early bush beans.  The name definitely reflects the character of these beans since they are indeed maturing and drying out faster than the other varieties.

What I have been waiting the most impatiently for are my tomatoes!  It seems like it took forever for them to start turning, but they finally started to turn the second week in August!  My bell peppers and larger hot pepper varieties such as the Poblanos, Carmen & Anaheim, are ready to start harvesting little by little as they get larger, but the small cayenne, jalapeno & Thai aren’t producing yet even though they are loaded with blossoms.  I’ll want them when I start to make my salsa later in the month, and early in September, so hopefully they’ll get a move on soon.  One thing I learned about the small hot peppers; it takes forever for them to propagate, so next year I will definitely get them going much sooner.  And of course I started the tomatoes way too late, but even the two larger Celebrity tomatoes I bought from the store didn’t start turning until just recently, so maybe this is just a late year because of the cool and rainy June month.  Let’s hope the summer gets extended with a nice September.

One important thing I’ve learned about squash this year, is that some of the vines are the contained types, like zucchini, crookneck, spaghetti squash, golden table acorn, and acorn table queen bush, while other are huge crawlers.  Some,  like the Burgess Buttercup, spread their vines out 10 feet and more!  The Waltham Butternut I’m discovering not only needs a lot of crawl space, but I will know next time to not plant the butternut on the side of my garage.  Not only is there not quite enough room for it to spread its vines, it gets too hot there, and the butternut leaves tend to wilt in the heat.  None of the other squashed are doing this.  I didn’t understand how much moisture the butternut needed, and I think it would do much better in an area where there is more access to cooling breezes when it gets real hot.   Next year it will definitely go in the back with the other crawlers where the breezes stream through better.

Discoveries like these are what excite me as a small backyard grower who considers herself a novice even 12 years into it.  One can always read carefully before growing everything to try and avoid all mistakes, but there’s something to be said for trial and error learning if cost savings isn’t an issue.  Obviously, I can’t eat all the food I grow, but what I can’t eat I either feed to my chickens, give away or throw into the compost pile.  The funnest part for me is learning about growing at all stages,  about enriching and maintaining good soil, experimenting, and figuring out what and where things grow best in my particular garden with its unique micro climate and soil.   In some ways I feel like I’m the mother goddess of my garden who is trying to create a harmonious garden family where all the plants and animals and bees and bugs and microorganisms live together in a symbiotic and happy world where we all work together to create beauty and food and nourishment for the planet and our bodies.  Kind of like I envision heaven, I guess.  It’s a blessing to be a part of nature this way, and my role as steward of my little world is one I take very seriously, and I am so grateful for the joy and peace it brings me.  When everything is flourishing and healthy I feel like a good mother, but on the flip side when things don’t grow well or diseases and pests threaten my garden, then it makes me feel like a failed parent.  I wonder if anyone else feels this way.

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