Dog Days of Summer Harvest

 

Ripe vegetables were magic to me.  Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility.   I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green.  To lift a bean plant’s hood of heart shaped leaves and discover a clutch of long slender pods hanging  underneath could make me catch my breath.

Michael Pollan

Sometime this week will will have our 20th day of 90 degree weather.   As a matter of fact they have predicted 90s all week here with very little rain.  We average seven 90 degree days a summer, but even this is high as the years have shown our average temp creeping up.  And the rain, well let’s just say I am living in a strange vortex at the SW end of the lake.  As lines of storms approach and look like they will cross our path, they break apart right before us and go North and South, but not over.  See the dark clouds.  They just rolled right around us as they approached.  So we continue to be 7 inches behind in rainfall this summer.  Now we have had 2 inches of rain in July so yes a few strange storms have made their way here, but these freak storms are barely making a dent in my parched cracked soil.

Despite the heat and drought, we are still having a fairly good season in the veg garden.  The fruits though are a mess.  Blueberries dried up and I may lose some bushes.  Raspberries need moisture and are just not producing much fruit.  A few blackberries here and there.  But the veggies, they are doing well for the most part especially because they are the warm weather worshipping kind.  They beg for those 90 degree days and I accept the heat for their sake.  Me, I melt at 75 degrees.

I thought I would once again highlight the veggies in their own post since there is too much to include in my Journal posts the first Monday of the month (which is coming up this Monday).  I will be linking in with Christine and Barbie@The Gardening Blog for their Garden Blogger’s Harvest Day on the 5th.

Harvested:

So let’s start with what we harvested recently.

This is the last of the lettuces we harvested in mid July.  Not bad for such hot weather.  I planted more lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and arugula.  The radishes are finally done and I let some go to seed.

 

 

We also harvested some of the radish scapes, from earlier radishes we let go to seed.  The rest I left in the bed so perhaps they will seed themselves and grow into nice crunchy radishes for fall. Usually my late planting of radishes never works out (although I did plant more radishes in late July–fingers crossed).

 

 

All the garlic was pulled so much earlier this year.  These came from a left over plant from 2 years ago.  I planted a clove and forgot to harvest it.  It went to seed and grew a huge clump or head of garlic.  Very interesting phenomenon, and more garlic for us.  I just cannot get enough garlic and will be rearranging the garden again to accommodate more.  More on that in a later post.

 

 

Here are some of the many carrots we planted.  I really love the purple ones both in color and flavor.  The orange and white carrots are from Renee’s Gardens, Tricolor “Circus Circus”.  I like the look and flavor of these carrots and they do well so I plan to plant many more next year.  I still have a few left to harvest and I already planted more carrots.  Carrots fresh from the garden is another one of those ‘got to be believed ‘ tastes.  I planted many rows where the garlic was and a few tomatoes are currently growing.

 

 

Our first potatoes were unearthed from the grow bag Monday.  These are blue potatoes.  Once we cure them, we hope to make many colorful dishes.  I’ll let you know how they taste.  We still have another bag that we are going to let grow a bit more.  In growing potatoes, I have had to learn quite a bit about harvesting them.  I’ll let you in on some of the interesting info I learned when I harvest the second bag later in August.

 

 

Here’s a close up so you can get a better idea of what they look like.   I bought the seed potatoes from Burpee.  They are variety, “All Blue”.  They are supposed to reach maturity in 90 days, but we got these in 60 days.   Next month we’ll see what they look like in 90 days when I also hope to harvest the sweet potatoes.

 

 

Boy do we have beans despite the Japanese beetles constant attack on the pole beans.  And yes that is an okra in the middle of the beans in the top picture.  I planted “Tricolor Bush” beans from Renee’s Garden, and “Kentucky Wonder Brown” pole beans from Mike the Gardener.  Both are just as tasty as can be.  I planted peas in this bed again for fall, and they are about 6 inches tall already.

 

 

Another new veggie for me this year has been okra.  It is one of the benefits of the heat we are having.  As many of you may know, okra has an insatiable appetite for hot weather.  This is “Clemson Spineless” from Mike the Gardener.  Mike has a Seeds of the Month Club that I joined last year  on the recommendation of some gardening friends.  I have not been disappointed.  He sends you 8 packets to start and then 4 more every month.  No shipping charges and he ships to other countries.  I love the variety of seeds Mike sends, and it is how I have tried so many new veggies.  Oh and the seeds are non-GMO, heirloom and of high quality.  His seeds have not failed me.

 

 

Here is the first okra we harvested albeit a bit late maybe.  Another lesson in, ‘you better learn how to harvest what you grow’.  Okra likes to be harvested a few days after it flowers or it gets a bit tough.  We plan to pickle the first batch and hope for more to eat in soups, fried and in new and interesting ways.  I only planted a handful of plants this year and will definitely need to plant more next year.  Don’t you just love how they grow up and have that fuzzy sheen.

 

 

To say I am disappointed in the zukes in the containers is putting it mildly.  The male and female flowers have not been blooming together.  This is the “Asiatic” from Renee that has powdery mildew now.  I have fertilized, used Epsom salts, sprayed with a safe copper spray.  Not sure what is happening, but I planted some seeds from Mike in the round garden bed on a lark to see if they would bloom and grow for a later harvest.  We shall see.

The few I have harvested are absolutely delicious and very few seeds.  I haven’t given up on trying them again.

 

 

Herbs:

 

The herbs are bolting even those in some shade.  I am continually replanting cilantro and clipping the flowers off the basil.  Dill will need to be replanted too as you can see it is in full flower in the picture above.   I did get a surprise on my dill, but I’ll save that for Monday’s post.  I had to replant the borage too as it did not grow even with watering.  I put it in pots this time since they get watered regularly.

Oregano, sage, mint and thyme are all doing fine even in the heat although they are flowering now.  I will bring some in come late fall.  As i did last year, I will cut them back, pot them up and keep them under the grow lights for winter fresh herbs.

 

 

What’s To Come:

Here’s a peek at what is growing and will soon be harvested this month.

 

Isn’t this a great tomato.  It is Renee’s “Italian Pompeii”, a plum tomato.  I also have Romas which are doing well and  some San Marzano which are still slow to grow.  No big red tomatoes but hundreds of red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes from Renee’s  “Garden Candy” mix.  They are just ripening.  The picture below is an heirloom from Renee’s “Summer Feast” mix.  This one is a Costoluto.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my first pumpkin.  These are for carving and I have 3 fruits.  The eating variety has been slow to produce and the one pumpkin that was growing was eaten by those rotten voles.  I have dozens of male flowers daily (pictured at the top of the post), but very few females will flower.  After doing lots of research and eliminating all the other causes for this, I found that pumpkins can be fussy if the evenings are too warm.  When we get a cool night, I will find a female that has flowered and fertilized.  If the nights are warm the flowers will not open, but instead will die and drop off.     Well at least I hope to have a few home grown pumpkins for fall.

 

 

The only peppers that are doing anything are my Hatch green chiles and am I happy about that as they are my favorite.  I have so many chiles, I cannot wait to harvest the first few and roast them.  Even the 3 plants that had all their leaves eaten are growing like crazy.  Not sure why the others are not liking the hot sun.

 

 

And those crazy eggplant that had the thorns on their leaves and stems are producing like crazy.  I should have the first eggplant by the weekend.  Dozens on each plant.  A much faster and prolific plant than my Italian varieties so far which have just begun to flower.  These long eggplant were seed from Mike.  I was hoping to show you my Brussel sprouts, but a brazen bunny got under the netting and ate all the tops off.  They are growing back so I am keeping my fingers crossed.  They were another new veggie I am trying from Mike’s seeds.

 

 

 

Planted More Of:

Well here are 2 of the beds that I already replanted some for fall.

This is the part shade bed that usually has lettuces, radishes and other salad greens.  There are the Brussel sprouts bottom right.  They don’t look like that now, and neither does the endive to the left.  Good thing he is a cute little bunny.  The bed also has ants that keep messing up my seeds.  I will be taking care of them organically with Diatomaceous earth.  I’ll post more on it later and let you now how it worked.  I hope to see lots of yummy salad fixings in a month.

 

 

This is the main tomato bed after the garlic was pulled.  I added fresh soil and planted lots of carrots and some radishes.  I plan to freshen up the soil in the potato grow bags and grow beets, carrots, scallions and kale.  That will be planted this weekend.  It is non-stop in the veg garden, but I am loving learning about, growing and eating veggies this summer.

I have lots of plans already for changes in the vegetable garden, and I have even ordered my garlic.  Lots more garlic so I will need a bigger space.  Tune in to September to hear about those plans and to see how the garden did in this crazy heat and drought.

 

I believe that the energy of humans who touched those beans goes into the beans as well.  They become vibrant because of the handling.  This vibrancy is something that a machine or harvester doesn’t have.  From my standpoint … I believe that if food is grown and prepared with love … infused with love  … well, it can be the humblest of food, but because it’s prepared with love, it’s special. ~Valerie Phipps

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Next up on the blog:  This Monday is the first Monday in August and time for another Gardens Eye Journal.  What will August hold in terms of blooms, veggies, critters and weather?  I am trying to be optimistic.

Don’t forget that in one month it will be time for another Seasonal Celebrations/Garden Lessons Learned meme on September 1st.  I hope you will join in.  More info on Monday or click the link.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

I hope you will join me for my posts, every other Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

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