Cruel, cruel summer…

My yarden has suffered mightily this summer so far! The weather veers wildly from “surface of sun” to “never ending monsoon”. As a result, many of my plantings have not been nearly as successful as I’d like. I’ve lost the hot peppers entirely, and the sweet peppers aren’t flourishing as they would normally be at this time. In the back east corner, the Yukon Gold potatoes are doing okay, but the Kennebec pots are struggling a bit. In the back west corner, the butternut squash is setting blossoms, but the deer have had their way with about 1/3 of the plants. I recently spread seed garlic out there, and have seen no further damage. The red onions in that bed did NOTHING. They are the biggest fails of the season, along with the yellow onions under the walnut.

Out front, I’ve had to replace two blueberry bushes, and don’t get me started on the tomatoes in the straw bales. I’m holding out hope that there will be sufficient rain this week to perk them up because I am pretty much over hauling buckets. The rain barrels haven’t had a chance to fill because after the rains it’s hot as hell, so everything evaporates. Garlic has done nicely this season, and there are three varieties curing in the kitchen right now. I didn’t dig much of it, and that may change before fall, but I do have enough for a nice garlic roast coming up soon. That’s one of the bonuses of living alone. I can eat all the damned garlic I want, till it’s oozing from my pores, and nobody can say boo about it. πŸ™‚

The bed under the walnut tree is posting better than expected results. The dirt I got from Mulder’s was ridiculously full of seed, so I’ve been pulling grass all summer, though it’s been in the shade, which is a mitzvah. My plan at the end of the season is cover it over in another layer of cardboard and mulch it down with the remains of the straw bales out front. By spring it will be even more broken down and a joy to plant and in a better position to fight back the grass.

You may remember I planted three kinds of cucumbers, Mardi Gras bush beans, tri-color zucchini, Sugar Baby watermelon, and spaghetti squash under the walnut’s shade. There has been some pretty rough deer predation, which I expected, but I’ve put up a few obstacles in their way since they first came on the scene. I have blooms on the cucumbers, beans, zucchini, and spaghetti squash, but the watermelon is not coming along as I’d hoped. This whole experiment was to see if edible things could be grown in the shade and under a toxic walnut (juglone produced in the roots kills a lot of things) and it appears that they can be. Next spring I’ll put up some of the same netting/fencing that I have around the raised beds and fix those deer but good!

The raised beds, fenced in to keep them off the deer radar, haven’t had much fun this summer either. Rabbits and groundhogs took down every one of my brassicas (broccoli and Brussels sprouts) and all of the radishes. I have Guardsman turnips I can dig now, those appear to be unmolested. My lettuces and spinach bolted SO fast in the heat, and the strawberries took quite a beating. They’re still sending out runners, so I’m not too concerned, they’ll bounce back. My crop this year sort of sucked. The asparagus is still happy, and I’ll be able to take spears next spring, and I’m looking very forward to that.

This weekend I weeded all four beds, because it’s been too darned hot to get out there in the last few weeks. It was a monstrous jungle. Before:

And after.

I replanted for fall crops yesterday. I put in two rows each of Detroit Supreme beets and Rivoli radishes, interplanting with seeds for bunching onions to perhaps annoy the rabbits into leaving them alone. I had a few seeds left of the Sugar Baby watermelon, so I put in four hills of those and surrounded them with bunching onions as well. I’m not sure I have time left for them to get to fruition, but hey, a girl can dream. I ❀ watermelon. I also put in two more rows of spinach, a big square of Buttercrunch lettuce, and filled the Coleman cooler with Tom Thumb lettuce (it makes compact small heads that are perfect for a single salad).

I’m trying a new thing – cabbage! Jung Seeds has a mix called Cabbage Babies (I know, right?) and it includes three colors (red, purple, green) of small headed cabbage. If they are successful, I’ll be having brightly colored slaws! They’re frost tolerant, so I may mound them up with straw and see how long I can keep them going into the colder months. I sowed some in the garden, and some in pots by the back door. I have a LOT of basil going in those pots, and the Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are coming on like gangbusters. I also started four new pots of cilantro, since I go through it so often.

The weather kept me from starting the herb bed I’d dreamed about this year. No point in sowing good seed in desert sand or muddy bog, right? I’m thinking to put those seeds in a cool dark place and try again next spring. I’m not sure they’ll be strong enough to get through the winter if I start them now. They’re perennial, but why push my luck? I’m still on the fence about it. You can see the things I’d planned to plant in the post about Herbal Essences. πŸ™‚

How is your summer growing?

Author: Amy Crabtree Campbell

figuring it out as I go, since 1967

6 thoughts

    1. I’m not entirely unhappy about it, definitely. I was pretty amped about the tomato wall idea, I’m bummed that didn’t fly, but the walnut experiment has been helpful.

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  1. Your garden sounds much like mine. I blame the weather for my tomato plants not even being knee high 😦 I really hope next year is better. I just now this past weekend was able to put up some relish and only 7 qts of beans. Normally I’m flirting with 100 jars up 😦

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    1. I’m hoping next year is better too. I’m glad the walnut bed worked out okay. I think the moderate shade kept things from burning up or drowning. I’ll definitely need to fence if though. πŸ™‚

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