Saturday, July 4, 2015
In this first week of July, we are harvesting kale, broccoli, Alpine strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, cultivated dandelion greens, green beans, lettuce, salad burnet, pak choi, arugula, mustard greens, chard, and peppers. Many flowers are in bloom: glads, daylilies, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias hostas, snapdragons, and alyssum. The beets, carrots, leeks, onions and garlic are close to harvesting. The first round of lettuce, spinach, and cilantro is bolting. Time to reseed with heat tolerant varieties if you haven't already.
We have had lots of rain this summer. Temps have ranged by week from the upper 70's to upper 90's. In general, veggie gardens need ~1 inch of water a week. So far this summer, we have not had to water the garden beds, but are watering the pots weekly.
For the lettuce, carrots and greens you are growing, they cannot dry out or they will bolt and become bitter. My second crop of lettuce is just to harvest size for cut and come again.
To keep from having blossom end rot on tomatoes and squash, consistent water and a fertilizer with calcium is key. They shouldn't be overwatered. Over or under will affect the fruit flavor. They are kind of like Goldilocks; they like it just right. No worries, though, if you do overwater, the fruit will be fine, just not as flavorful and may crack.
Our tomatoes started ripening about a week ago. The 4th of July is the usual time for the first ripe tomatoes. If you planted early types, you were likely getting ripe tomatoes around the first of June.
The pepper plants have green peppers on them. We have bell peppers, ancho, pimentos, sweet banana and heirloom Italian sweet peppers all with fruits. They can be picked when green or after turning red/brown/orange/yellow. Peppers seem to have a built in counter. They will drop flowers when the plant has reached its max peppers. Pick the peppers when green to keep the plant producing. You can ripen on the counter, if you like, or go ahead and enjoy green.
I have not had good luck with zucchini this year. The first 2 plants died. I replanted a couple of weeks ago. In previous years, we would have been getting zucchinis for the last 3 weeks. You have to watch zucchinis every day. Those little ones become monsters in just a few days. The only drawback of the large zucchinis are the large seeds, but I like them. We grill ours and they have a nice, sweet flavor! If you don’t like the large seeds, you can always make wonderful zucchini bread. Or for other ideas on how to use zucchini, see my blog: What to do with all that zucchini?!
The eggplant is running behind this year, too.
Luckily, I froze both the bounty of eggplant and zucchini we had from last year. I tried thawing and grilling them. It worked great! A couple of tips if you do the same, make sure you slice them while still fairly frozen; makes it so much easier as they get mushy when they completely thaw. For eggplant, wait to brush with olive oil until after they are grilled. Eggplant sucks in olive oil.
Our cucumber vines, which I have growing up a trellis to save space, is giving about a cucumber a week per plant. One large cucumber is enough to make a jar of sandwich pickles. My husband loves sandwich pickles on his burger. Any extra I put in salads. They taste so fresh right off the vine. For a homemade pickle recipe, Easy, homemade pickles
|Leek bloom with sage, kale and broccoli in the background|
Our sprouting broccoli is still going strong. I love these plants! You can use the leaves for salad and tops for cooking. There is not many greens that are not bitter this time of year for salads. These sprouting small broccoli florets and leaves taste just like broccoli.
Other greens that can be used in salads. Chard harvested first thing in the morning, dandelion greens, and succession planted lettuce (which doesn’t last long before bolting this time of year) are all salad worthy. You can adds herbs for a fresh taste and zing like salad burnet, parsley, basil, dill, onion stalks/tops, chives, thyme, oregano. For fun, you can add edible flowers. Growing edible flowers
The sage and other Mediterranean herbs are going strong. My mother read recently that you can use sage tea to help with hot flashes. You can have up to 5 teas a day.
|Pole green beans|
I just pick the beans when they are big enough and keep a quart bag handy in the freezer to continually add the fresh beans to. When full, I will label and start another.