Our Garden at the Beginning of July

It's time to get out the harvesting knives!  The warm season crops are just starting to roll in our vegetable garden as the cool season crops are starting to bolt and go bitter.  This is the short stretch of time where we gleefully harvest the first tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini before we have more than we could possibly eat fresh and have to go into preservation mode breaking out the canners, dehydrators and freezer bags.

Our spring greens this year are:
In front is the Gourmet lettuce mix, behind that is Cordier spinach
and then Rubarb Red Swiss chard and Pot of Gold Swiss Chard.  

We've been eating salads with every meal for the last month or more, but our Gourmet lettuce mix from High Mowing Organic Seeds is starting getting tough and bitter as the warm weather encourages it to shoot up flower stalks.  The 12 square-feet we grew from one seed pack provided more than the two of us could eat together.  Junebug, now two-years-old, will tolerate lettuce on her plate, but only for decoration.

I had poor germination, less than 50%, of the Cordier spinach.  We ate it some while it was small, but since our second baby was due the third week of June, I missed the window for blanching and freezing the mature leaves.   Now all the spinach is stretched out and flowering.  I guess I'll have to try again this fall.  I'm counting on the chard to take the heat and provide greens for us into through the summer.

Did you catch that little bit of information?  We've got a new baby!  He was supposed to be born on the summer solstice, but held out until June 26th.  Despite missing the longest day of the year to make his appearance he's going to be known as Sunny on the blog.  So far he has been much easier than his sister, labor was quick and natural, he sleeps in long blocks and so far he hasn't spit-up more than a couple times.

Adding a new baby to the mix is always bit crazy, but Jeff has the summer off as the professor equivalent of paternity leave.  I did not work this summer so the two of us as stay at home parents keep things from getting too crazy.

There's your quick introduction to the baby, now back to the garden.

The 'Blue Adirondack' potatoes are doing great.  We haven't mounded them or put straw down.  I'm hoping I don't regret that choice. We'll see if we have a bunch of green-shouldered potatoes come harvest time.

Speaking of shoulders check out these onions! We put in 12 square-feet of anonymous red onions from the hardware store and 12 square-feet of 'Candy' white onions I bought from a local farmer.  I'm excited about the Candies.  They are looking mighty fine.  I can't wait until their tops start flopping over and browning, signaling harvest time.

Some day I want to dedicate a hundred square-feet to onions or if I'm feeling super ambitious 365 square-feet so we could grow all our onions for the year.  I can just see all the onions hanging from the rafters in the garage to cure and then in our future root-cellar built into the corner of the stone basement.  

The basil is a little behind this year.  My first seeding yielded only one plant; the big one you can see in the upper left hand corner of the photo above.  I thought my seeds must be bad so I threw all the remaining ones into a thick row figuring I might get a couple more to germinate and then I wouldn't have be saving half a package of bum seeds.  Of course all of the seeds came up.  The dozens were thinned down to just 16 and they seem to be doing well.  Some bug has been nibbling on them a bit, but I foresee another bumper crop of basil and lots of pesto to be put up in August.  

Also in the herb section are five robust dill plants and a row of cilantro.  The dill is starting to flower, but with no cucumbers ready to pickle, I've been cutting off the heads to encourage more blooms and keep seeds from forming.  The cilantro has just reached a harvest-able size and we've enjoyed it in our breakfast burritos and with enchiladas.  Unfortunately, it is already starting to bolt.  I should have started the cilantro earlier.  

I chose 'Northern Pickling' cucumbers to try this year.  They promised a small vine with abundant cukes that are good both for eating and canning.  Between the two plants there are probably a hundred little cucumbers forming.  Although they have been holding at about an inch long for weeks now.  I just spotted the first one to make it to thumb size when I was out taking these photos.  Garden fresh cucumbers are one of my favorite garden eats.  I am impatiently waiting to start harvesting.

After getting tired of acorn squash last year, this year I only planted butternut squash.  We've got a couple little fruits on the vine.  I just looked up that we should get 4-5 squash per vine and we only put in two vines.  I'll probably wish we had more, but I chose the variety 'Metro' because it was powdery mildew resistant as we lost several of plants to it last year.  I'll add more winter squash hills to my wish list for when we expand the garden.

Another powdery mildew resistant squash I chose this year was 'YellowFin' zucchini.  We just ate our first one and it was so much better than the sponges I've been buying at the grocery store.  I much prefer the yellow summer squash to the green if for no other reason than they stand out from the green leaves and won't get overlooked until they reach the size of a baseball bat the way the green ones sometimes do.

On the tomato front our 18 plants are coming along.  The red cherry 'Jaspar' are way out in front as I had new seed and all of them germinated.  The 'Sun Gold' yellow cherry tomatoes and 'San Marzano' paste tomatoes were last year's seed and germination was slower and spottier.  Luckily some friends had extra 'San Marzano' seeds so we got enough plants to fill all the spots.

Almost all of the tomatoes are flowering and the 'Jasper' have set some tiny, green, marbles of fruit.  Since we direct sow our seeds the plants are a little behind where they could be.  We know folks who are already harvesting because they started their seeds indoors.  I plan on acquiring some row covers this fall, so perhaps we'll be able to start out tomatoes earlier next spring.

The last thing to show you in the veggie garden is the bean teepee.  The 'Red Noodle' beans are up and growing.  I'm not sure if these twine by the stems wrapping around or if they will tendril.  Some bug has been munching on their leaves, but it looks like they are growing fast enough to outpace the damage.

Each pole has 3-5 bean plants and that should be plenty to cover and create a little shelter for Junebug to play in.  Right now she is into digging in the loose, dry dirt next to the house.  She basically takes a dust bath every time she's outside.  Perhaps she would enjoy a little sandbox under her teepee.

That's it for the vegetable garden.  Hopefully I'll be able to put up some new recipes soon and some tutorials for preserving the harvest.  In the mean time here are a couple summer time favorites from the archives: