Saturday, July 12, 2014

What's growing in the mid July garden

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July in the USA brings thoughts of Independence Day, fireworks, and ripe tomatoes!  This year, the cherry type tomatoes started ripening mid June, but the bigger tomatoes are still green!  It was a long spring this year, causing the summer veggies to be behind by a few weeks.

I have baby eggplants, zucchini, and the Cayenne, Jalapeño, Pimento, and Ancho pepper plants loaded with baby peppers.  I have harvested cucumbers and banana peppers.  With the cooler spring, many of the lettuce plants that have bolted are still sweet.  The best I have found so far for keeping flavor in hot weather is Red Sails.

I have harvested basil, mint, oregano and tarragon already.  The oregano, cilantro, dill and lavender are all in bloom.  I thin out the plants so they don’t overtake the garden and cut the remaining back by two thirds.  I put the cuttings either in the sun to dry or loosely in paper bags that I let dry in a closet.  Once dry, I strip the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container or bag out of direct sunlight.

I should get at least one more cutting before fall if I choose.  Or I can just let them bloom.  They look beautiful and the bees love them!

I end up with gallon bags of dried herbs which I mix together and give to friends and family.  I put these herbs in and on many dishes.  It tastes great added to fries, sauces, meats, and dressings.  Here is what has traditionally gone into Herbes de Provence: thyme, marjoram/oregano, rosemary, savory, basil, and tarragon.  Feel free to improvise and use whatever you have from your kitchen garden!

The first round of garlic has been harvested and is getting hardened in the shade outdoors for two weeks and the elephant garlic looks to be ready to harvest next week end.

It is time to fertilize all the pots and garden vegetable plants to keep them growing.  I also fertilize the basil so I can get plenty of pesto frozen for the winter!

The first round of lettuce has gone to seed.  When you see the white fuzzies, they are ready to save.  I just pull the seed heads, break apart, put in a ziplock freezer bag, label with type and date, and store in the refrigerator.  I also re-seeded our Earth boxes with some of the seeds last month.  These are starting to sprout, but aren’t quite ready to transplant.  I had a few small volunteer lettuce plants elsewhere in the garden that I transplanted to the Earth boxes as well.  

The sprouting broccoli I seeded at the beginning of June is finally taking off in the Earthbox.  These were seeds I saved from last year’s plants.  I will transplant at least one to the garden bed.  I use many of these leaves for salads during the hot summer when lettuce is the most challenged.  If you love the taste of broccoli, you will love a salad made with sprouting broccoli leaves!

Our Tuscan kale is big, blue and beautiful!  It is still sweet.  I planted it in the garden as well as pots.  It is doing great in both locations.  I did have some caterpillars munching on the potted kale.  I picked those off by hand last month.
Tuscan kale with petunia

I watered the beds for the first time at the end of June.  It rained a few days this week and is calling for rain again Monday and Tuesday.  Looks like I won’t have to water again for at least a week.  It is important to keep an even water supply to summer veggies.  Uneven watering can cause your tomatoes to crack and your other veggies to put a hold on delivering you fruits and your lettuces to bolt and become bitter tasting.

If you live where it is getting really hot, 90’s during the day and upper 70’s at night, you may also see your tomatoes and peppers production drop.  My peppers on the patio last year got sun scald, too!  If you see sun scald in your potted plants, moving them to where they get some protection from afternoon sun is beneficial.  

I planted some bush green beans this week, too.  Days to harvest was 52.  They will likely come on sooner than that since they were planted late and it is warmer than in the spring.  Mid-August we should have green beans.  Bush beans typically develop quicker than pole beans.  Check the seed packet to see how many days from planting to harvesting the variety you are interested in takes.

Lettuce seeds will not sprout in soil temps in the upper 70’s or higher.  I like to start my lettuce seeds in pots I keep on the north or east side of the house in the shade during the summer.  When they get large enough, I then transplant to a pot or the garden bed.

Summer garden is in full swing!

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