Dear Friend and Gardener: Where do I begin? With these new bean rows that I put in early this morning? Contender bush beans that promise to be ready for harvest in 50 days, on August 31? We’ll see. But, they should be bearing well before frost. The rest of this bed separated by a pile of mulch, and two hills of Lakota squash which are coming along very slowly. We have had fairly good rainfall, but we have not yet had many hot days.
Or I could begin today’s story with this milkweed row – er – I mean sugar snap pea row – er – I don’t know what row. Here is the question. Do I give up the pea harvest in the hopes of welcoming hungry monarchs? We used to have clouds of monarchs in August feeding on a mint field. They do like mint a lot. But of course, they need the milk weed for their caterpillar babies. We rarely see monarchs any more, but there seem to be lots of other butterflies that like milkweed so it stays. I may get a few peas. What would you do?
This squash hill is doing better than Lakota. I can’t actually remember if this is the zucchini or crookneck yellow squash. The other hill is not doing well either. I really do think we need more heat. This squash is planted at the end of a bed of cippolini onions. They are doing fine.
The garlic has done well and should be ready for harvest soon. I did cut off all the scapes, cut them into tiny pieces, put them on a cookie sheet and froze them for an hour before putting them into freezer bags. I can use these in cooking in lieu of a chopped up garlic clove. Using the scapes this way doubles the garlic harvest. On the other side of the row is lettuce and self seeded cilantro. I pulled out the last of a patch of spinach this morning.
On May 20 I planted four substantial tomato plants that I bought at Andrews Greenhouse in Amherst. I think this one is Mortgage Lifter, an heirloom. All of them are looking good.
This is a grafted tomato sent to me by Jung seeds. It looked nearly dead when it arrived. It has perked up substantially, but it doesn’t look very enthusiastic. It is growing in the same bed as two of the other tomatoes so there is no difference in the soil and the garden is in the sun from 10:30 am on.
Jung also sent a grafted pepper to test. It looks much happier than the tomato and they are growing side by side.
Of course, there is more to the edible garden than veggies. Red raspberries are just starting to ripen. I got these from Nourse Farms, an excellent local nursery.
The blueberries will be ready to start harvesting by the first of August. Blueberries and raspberries are the easiest and most delicious crops to grow.
We have been eating our own lettuce for the past month, and spinach, too. It turned out I really didn’t know how to handle rapini, so most of that early crop went into the compost bin. I do get to use our own fresh herbs – chives, sage, basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and thyme, all of which can be harvested now and into the fall. If you are a cook, you really can save a lot of money by planting an herb garden for using fresh, or drying yourself. Many herbs are perennial, but even if you buy a six pack of basil you’ll have enough for the summer and to freeze for little more than the price of one bunch at the store. One gardener told me she chooses which crops to plant depending on how expensive it is to buy. Berries are expensive, so are bunches of herbs, or garlic. Something to keep in mind.
Except for the herbs and lettuce, I haven’t been harvesting much so far, but broccoli, cauliflower, pole beans and those squash plants are slowly coming along.
Do you think I allowed enough space between my Brussels sprouts? They are growing in a specially fertilized bed – lots of compost – after last year’s failure.
How is your vegetable garden coming?
I want to thank Dee Nash for hosting Dear Friend and Gardener, a wonderful virtual garden club where we can share our tips, triumphs, and those less than triumphant moments.