Garden Log 6-26-08: Summer Arrives All Too Soon

June 26, 2008

The start of the summer growing season finds me playing catch up in the vegetable garden. I had been temporarily sidetracked by an unidentified noxious weed/vine that was getting out of hand and attempting to choke out some of the pine trees in the yard.

It took a lot of time and effort but things are under control now and I’m contemplating some interesting changes in the veggie garden over the next few months. In the meantime I’m still planting summer crops like beans, squash, cucumbers, cowpeas, basil, epazote, and a few other herbs and edible flowers.

A Growing Case of Gardener’s Procrastination

Yeah, they all should have been planted weeks ago, but there’s still plenty of growing season left and sometimes there are benefits tied to a gardener’s procrastination. Maybe I dodged a dry spell in the weather. Also, a late crop of veggies such as squash, snap beans, and cucumbers often seems to catch squash bugs and bean beetles snoozing and avoid their attacks.

Well that’s the logic that I’m using to help myself feel better about the tardy state that the garden is in right now. A second planting that is made later in the season is perfectly acceptable, but don’t follow my bad example this summer when it comes to the timing your plantings!

On the other hand the spring crops seem to have been timed just right. There were large, full heads of heirloom lettuce, broccoli, kohl rabi, and an assortment of leafy greens that were harvested and enjoyed over the past few weeks. The cabbages are still growing and should be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks as well.

Garlic Babies and Scapes Ready for Harvest

I recently pulled the clumps of volunteer garlic plants that sprouted from bulbs that were missed during last summer’s harvest. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover that instead of baby garlic I found the bulbs were a pretty decent size and even segmented. That’s great considering the early harvest time and how closely the garlic plants were growing together.

Hopefully it’s a good sign for the main garlic bed which still has at least a few more weeks left to mature and hasn’t yet begun to dry out or die back. The garlic scapes were removed this week and are in the fridge waiting for me to decide what I will do with them. Maybe I’ll try my hand at some of that garlic scape pesto that Christa raves about. If you’re interested in your own home-grown garlic, garlic scapes, or baby garlic now is a good time to order your garlic seed for fall planting.

Other veggies that are currently growing in the garden beds include; okra, Japanese sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, melons, rhubarb, beets, tomatillos, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, celery, Swiss Chard, and eggplants.

On the Frontlines of the Garden’s Skirmishes

There’s no sign of a single groundhog in the garden this year, so maybe that brutal woodchuck battle has been won, but there are other intruders leaving their marks on the garden. One rabbit in particular seems intent on raising her little ones right inside of the garden’s boundaries. Very convenient for her but it’s not making me too happy… guess it’s time to break out the trusty Havahart trap again.

The skunks have not been around as often, but an unpleasant visit the other night made it clear that they haven’t completely abandoned their patrols through the area. On a more distressing note the flea beetles are up to their usual destructive antics with my precious eggplants. Looks like I may be forced to address the issue with a dose of an organic pesticide later this week.

Other than those flea beetles, I haven’t noticed much in the way of insect damage in the garden so far this summer. There are hordes of tiny wasps and other beneficial insects hovering all around the parsnip and lovage plants which are currently flowering. I welcome the sight and do all that I can to encourage these little guys to make themselves right at home.

Harvesting My Own Crop of Vegetable Seeds

I’m also working on collecting seed from the wild garden kales, parsnips, spinach, and an angelica plant. The most tedious process is with gathering the kale seeds but I want to experiment with developing some strains that are fully acclimated to my specific micro-climate and growing conditions.

Collecting the angelica and parsnip seeds is a cinch, except for the fact that the birds seem to enjoy eating the angelica seeds. Speaking of the birds, two that appear to be catbirds have discovered the fruits on the blueberry bushes and are eating their fill before the berries even have a chance to fully ripen.

I could swear that they are teasing me as they snatch berries from the bushes and fly into a tree just out of reach where they slowly tilt their heads back and pause with a sly grin before easing the berries from their beaks into their greedy bellies! Forget what I said earlier about the groundhogs, I guess the battles in the garden are never really over.

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  • Yeah, I’ve been incredibly busy getting summer and winter squashes in the ground, harvesting, digging some more plots for carrots, beans, and beets.

    Quick note: you can give the eggplants a break by covering them with Reemay (row cover cloth: white and quite porous to non-flea beetles). This trick has worked really well, giving young eggplants a chance to get big enough to the point the beetles won’t kill them.

    Used the same approach to give cabbages a break from rabbits or mice, and to shelter new plantings needing time to adjust to the hot weather.

    Best regards, Mark

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