Saturday, June 17, 2017

What's happening in the mid-June garden

Potted pepper plant with blooming nasturtiums

Saturday, June 17, 2017

This is the in-between season in our garden.  The spring veggies have wound down and the summer veggies are just starting to fruit.  The spring flowers are long gone and the summer lovers are just beginning to bloom.

The spring crops like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, mustard, sorrel, chard, rat's tail, snow peas are at the end of their peak.  The lettuce, spinach, sprouting broccoli, cilantro, sorrel and mustard greens have gone to seed.  You can still pick leaves, but look for the ones at to bottom of the lettuce and cilantro plants where they are still sweet.  For the chard, sorrel, cultivated dandelions, and mustard greens, the new leaves are the sweetest.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

I started a second crop of lettuce a couple of weeks ago.  They are about 2 inches tall right now.  Be sure to sow seeds of heat tolerant varieties; every three weeks is optimal to be able to have continuous lettuce harvests.  Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces  

There are other greens that can be used for salads that thrive in the heat.   Chard harvested first thing in the morning, dandelion greens, sorrel, mustard greens and chick weed are all salad worthy.  You can add 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 summer salads

The tomatoes are all flowering and have baby tomatoes on them.  Some have grown into tall, sturdy plants; others are still on the small side.  When tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants first flower, it is time to give them a boost with fertilizer.  I use a tomato fertilizer on all my fruiting plants as it is designed to boost the fruiting of plants.  I'll watch the plants that are not growing as well and give them another round of fertilizer in a couple of weeks.  With fertilizer on fruiting plants, you don't want to over fertilize or they will grow lots of greenery and not so many veggies.  Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoesI used a combo of Espoma Tomato Tone and Azomite to give the plants the minerals they need.  Minerals in the ground is minerals in the plants and fruits which gives you minerals when you eat them.  I have seen a real difference in plant growth using Azomite.  Another mineral supplement I am going to try is a Sea Mineral supplement to see how that compares. I always put the fertilizer under the mulch to make sure it all goes to the plant and not lose the nitrogen into the air.To keep from having blossom end rot on tomatoes and squash, consistent water 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.

Zucchini plant in bloom

We are harvesting zucchinis both the green Cocozelle and the Early Prolific straighneck yellow ones.   You need to keep a close eye on the zucchinis because they seem to get huge overnight!  The more you pick veggies, the more the plant produces for you.  What to do with all that zucchini?!

Close up of zucchini plant with growing fruits
The winter spaghetti squash had nice sized fruits growing until our chickens ate most of them, but they are still flowering so more will come.  They will not be ready to harvest until late fall.  They also tell you when they are ready.  When the vine dies, the squash is ready.  Growing zucchini and summer squash

The pepper plants have blooms and small peppers.  The Ancient Red sweet peppers are furthest along because they were overwintered.  They are turning red and are ready to eat.  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.    Preserving peppers
Our cucumber vines, which I have growing up a trellis to save space, is giving about a cucumber a week.  One 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.  Make your own pickles without a store bought seasoning mix
We started pulling the garlic a couple of weeks ago.  Soft neck and hard neck garlic are slightly different in telling you when to harvest.  Soft neck garlic is ready to harvest then the tops fall over and die off.  They are ready to harvest about a week later.  Typically this is mid-summer, but ours is ready now.  Hard neck garlic is ready to harvest when about half of their lower leaves have turned brown.  Try digging one up and see if the bulb is large and firm.  After pulling, keep in a warm shady spot for 2-3 weeks for the bulbs to harden.  Hardening lengthens the storage time.  Save the biggest cloves for planting in the fall.  Garlic harvest is here! 
The snow peas are about done; they don't like the heat.  The beans are all flowering.  The storage beans have actual bean pods on them.  Storage beans will need to stay on the vine until the beans in the pods have reached full size.  Then you take them off to fully dry and hull them.  The green beans you want to harvest much sooner so that they are sweet and pods are not fibrous.  The more you harvest green beans, the more the plants give you.  I plant the vining types.  They will produce until frost.  Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer
Background-potatoes blooming potato box.  Foreground-pepper and snow peas in pot with nasturtiums

All the herbs are going strong.  Many are large enough now to cut and dry for preserving.  Harvesting and drying herbs  The sage has been putting on lots of lavender blue flowers that the bees and butterflies love.  My mother read recently that you can use sage tea to help with hot flashes.  You can have up to 5 cups of tea a day.  Make your own teas from garden grown herbs

We are now into summer temps; most days in the 90's.  The garden will soon need supplemental watering.   Summer garden tips  For veggies I am growing in pots, I am watering them twice a week now.  The best veggie pots are those that have a reservoir in the bottom.  This will allow you to probably get away with watering once a week.  At some point, I'll remember and take the time to add a reservoir to my existing pots over the winter to cut down on the summer watering time!  Decorative container gardening for edibles

The hard part of gardening is over now.  There is minor weeding and occasional fertilizing along with watering.  Most of the time from here out is just harvesting, enjoying and preserving.

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