Summer is here, its hot, the grass gets shaggy fast, but everything grows!
Summer is here, its hot, the grass gets shaggy fast, but everything grows!

Its now officially summer. Well, maybe not according to the real seasonal date setters who say its Saturday, June 21. But around here, when the heat gets here, its summer. Its beginning to stay in the 90s now and the summer weather patterns are taking shape. And everything grows better in early summer! Our brand new, first year garden is doing well. Even six months into the year, I’m so glad to be back into the dirt after a four year break.

By the way, if you want to follow the progress of how this garden was built, I added a sidebar there on the right, “Building a Garden from Scratch Series.” You can see what we did, and hopefully gain some insights and benefit from our mistakes. But that’s how I took an unproductive back yard to production. Check it out if you are interested in a raised bed approach to gardening.

By now, in years past, I would have hope to be posting pictures of harvests and recipes and articles following our efforts to learn how to can veggies, but the late start this year means that will have to wait. I may run out of time before I get the full harvest of many of the peppers I was hoping for, but the good news is that my Poblanos are putting on a lot of fruit. In the photo above, the trio of tall plants in the middle of the pic, in the first garden plot, are laden with peppers. I look forward to Poblanos, they are one of my favorite mild chilies.

Our tomatoes have loads of green fruits on them, especially the Romas. There are a few diseased plants here and there coming down with something or another, I can’t yet figure out what it is. There should be enough plants (there are 27 in the middle garden plot) to give me plenty. I am not happy about a critter that has been boring holed and eating and living in several of the green fruits, that makes me pretty mad. But that’s gardening. Pests and disease visit from time to time. Overall, the tomato crop seems like it will be heavy, and that makes me smile from ear to ear.

Here we have the last of the radishes up close, then some swiss chard that will likely not do well with the heat, many kinds of peppers, and in the far back, Okra.
Here we have the last of the radishes up close, then some swiss chard that will likely not do well with the heat, many kinds of peppers, and in the far back, Okra.

I’ve been harvesting radishes and Star of David Okra, slowly but surely building up enough Okra for a meal. I’ve enjoyed growing the Okra plants, they are impressive plants to look at, stately and large. It still impresses me that all of this was from seed. What an incredible design the seed is.

The beans getting more vigorous and putting on flowers.
The beans getting more vigorous and putting on flowers.

Beans are finally taking off and growing, there are ample flowers too, and I expect beans in a few weeks. The cowpeas are growing vigorously now that the heat is here – cowpeas thrive in summer heat, get some Purple Hull Peas or similar for a summer bounty. I’m growing the Ozark Razor Back variety. I’ve not watered these much either, just a light sprinkling if I’m watering the rest of the garden. They seem to do well in poor soil and are great for improving soils. As nitrogen-fixing legumes, cowpeas of all sort make a good first crop or cover crop. Till into the soil as a green manure at the end of the growing season.

My container plants are thriving too. I have three large Ping Tung eggplants in 5 gallon buckets now bearing fruit, while three other plants are lagging a little behind because I have them in a shadier location. I look forward to trying this variety. I was also happy to discover that it thrives in a container. I am having to water them almost daily, as with all container plants that sit in the sunny heat. But container gardening is a way to expand your growing space or cram in extra plants. I have three Panteno tomato plants that I did not expect much from, they are still hanging on. I’ll see if I can nurse some fruit from them. I enjoy container gardening quite a bit.

Bird and rodent deterrent
Bird and rodent deterrent

I’ve added a bird repelling strategy now that I have a lot of tomatoes on the vine. First, an owl decoy of dubious effectiveness, but it sure makes us feel better. I have friends with a yacht who keep an owl decoy perched upon it and they say it keeps bird off quite nicely. I also have put a strip of “Irritape” brand reflective mylar ribbon on each post of the tomato support. Its probably overkill, and besides irritating birds, it irritates my wife by flashing through the window at certain times of the day. But it works. I used to see birds hopping through the garden but now I have not even seen a bird comfortable sitting on the fence. This stuff is good, and looks like it will last forever. I’ll take it down when the tomatoes are harvested. It sort of irritates me too.

I’m very happy with the progress of the garden so far. I’ve had to deal with some pest issues and it looks like some diseases will need to be diagnosed, but overall, the garden is a great source of joy and pleasure. I am eager to eat more food from these tiny plots. I’m already eager to expand it.

Early morning in early June.
Early morning in early June.
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