July Garden News
August 16, 2010, 1:22 am
Filed under: Garden | Tags:

How many days in a row has “Write July garden post” been in my tasks list?  More than you want to know.  And somehow it’s already halfway through August…  And that’s not the only thing I’ve fallen behind on.  I haven’t been keeping track of my garden activities very well at all, and I’ve completely given up on weighing incoming harvests.  There’s just too much, too often, and too many other things to do.  I’m sure I’ll wish at the end of the season– I do already– that I’d weighed, but so be it.

But, loosely, here goes:

On July 1st, we cleaned and moved the chicken coop and run.  Very exciting, I know, but it needed it.

Rosie, Queen of the Roost

Mae West

Karma (and Cordelia behind her)

On July 2nd, I transplanted some brassicas (mostly brussels sprouts, if I remember right) and seeded collards, kale, scallions, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, carrots and turnips (don’t ask me now where I seeded those last three things because I have no idea…).  I had made a note to remind myself to watch for squash vine borers, especially since I’d taken the row cover off the kabocha, delicata and costata romanesca squash plants when they’d started to blossom and needed to be accessible to pollinators.  When I checked that day, it was already too late.  I tried to cut them out of the stems (found several little wigglies in there behind their obvious entry points) and then wrapped the stems with aluminum foil and also laid some of the foil down as a mulch around the base of the stems.  The delicata and costata romanesca plants weathered this OK, but within a few weeks the precious kabocha (planted for the second year running from seeds I originally saved from a beautiful squash bought from some farmer friends) plants had all withered and perished.  We got so many lovely kabochas last year, and several kept through the entire winter to be cooked and eaten in February and March, not to mention the frozen puree which we even now haven’t quite finished, and the incredible kabocha squash pie with ginger butterscotch sauce I made for Thanksgiving, so this is a real heartbreaker.  Next year: war on vine borers.

On July 3rd, I made sorbet out of some blueberries from work and harvested lemon thyme and Thai basil.  The lemon thyme, believe it or not, was for the sorbet, and it was delicious.

Lemon Thyme

Thai Basil

Gardens of Goodness Blueberries

Firming Up

Blueberry-LemonThyme Sorbet

That morning, we came home from the DCFM bearing plants:

'Glut' or 'Glow' Astilbe

Heuchera & ???

'Chandler' Blueberry

It took me a while to get these transplanted– especially the blueberry, which I potted up, so I had to try to figure out how to make its growing medium acidic enough– so in the meantime, I seeded some things:

Bean Pot

I also discovered that the dratted squirrels had been active (story of the month of July):

Dratted Squirrels

Things were looking pretty good otherwise.  I had thought we wouldn’t have any cucumbers this year because they germinated so poorly and then transplanted so dismally, but by early July, we had five plants growing nicely, by hook or by crook, so I caged them up.

Caged Cucumbers

The whole raised bed was doing alright, although the kale still looked stunted after their harrowing experience with aphids upon transplant.

Collards, Kale, Cucumbers & Parsnips

The next raised bed was doing well, too, getting a little more jungle-y every day.  Matt rebuilt the tomato trellis from last year in a new orientation for this bed, so the vines wouldn’t shade too many other things, and I twined the little guys up on strings.

Carrots, Scallions, Lemon Thyme, Beets, Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

By that point, I was pretty sure that the tall, wispy volunteer there on the left of the forefront was a cosmos, ‘tho for sure I didn’t put it there.

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

When Matt attached the trellis frame in the new orientation, he also attached a cross-piece at the bottom so that I can anchor the string to that rather than tying it to stakes at the base of the plants, since those just kept popping out all last season.

The Tomato Frame

I love it when Matt builds me things…

Right behind the tomato frame is the new Vitex agnus-castus plant I bought this year at Four Elements’ open house in Freedom, WI in June.

Vitex agnus-castus

The many passionflowers whose pots I scattered all around the garden were growing admirably and beginning to embrace their stakes.


The salad spiral was looking a little hairy.

Salad Spiral

And three kinds of bitter Italian chicory might perhaps be too many…

On the other side of the garden in the herb bed, the feverfew was beginning to bloom.

Flowering Feverfew

I’d been eating about a leaf a day as I passed this plant, but more recently I’ve forgotten, and lo and behold, the headaches have returned (‘tho still not too bad or too frequently).

On July 4th, I focused more on El Jardin del Elefantes.

Elef 7/4/10

Elef 7/4/10

It was looking so neat in those days…  Now it’s just a tangled jungle.

Some of the garlic and potatoes were already ready to harvest (which I promptly did) on July 9th.  At home, Matt and his dad had finished building a new, bigger and better run for the ladies, with multiple doors and even a fancy, almost Frank Lloyd Wright-esque perch that his dad built for their roosting pleasure, and we installed it, with some frustration for minor details, but with great pleasure in the final result (‘tho not as great as the ladies’).

Chickens 7/9/10

The oats, shallots and garlics I was drying in the “barn” were looking rustically delicious.

Drying Oats, Shallots & Garlic

Meanwhile, the milky oat tops I’d harvested and dried a couple of weeks previously were ready to be threshed and made into tea.

Dried Milky Oat Tops

The first cherry tomatoes were just about ready.

First Cherry Tomatoes

In the weeks following, I continued to monitor the garden and harvest whatever was ready, but I didn’t keep very good notes at all.

On July 18th, I transplanted flowers, cucumbers, collards and the blueberry bush, which had just about finished fruiting (and oh, were they good).  I don’t think I got the soil mix right and can’t make sense of my pH tester, so I’m still working on that.  I also made an incredible sorbet from perfect Door County Bing cherries.

Door County Bing Cherries

Cherry Sorbet

On July 22nd, I harvested the biggest Yellow Borettana and Yellow of Parma onions and the remaining garlic and shallots and a bag of potatoes, mostly the All-Blues.  I hung the onions, garlic and shallots up in the garage to dry (except what I took inside for us to use right away).

On July 29th, I seeded fall peas, but I’m not sure they’re going to work, because they’re still not up.  I think the soil may be too warm for them to germinate.

Throughout July, the string holding the cherry tomatoes to the trellis frame kept disappearing.  Matt witnessed squirrels working on it.  We think they’ve been stealing the string for their nests.  So, after three or four re-stringings, and with no string left to continue that fruitless pursuit, Matt took some wire and attached the tops of the remaining bits of string to the frame with that.  We’re hoping the squirrels don’t go for the wire, or regret it if they do.  Dratted squirrels…

But really, the garden grew like crazy in July, with plenty of sun and plenty of rain, and its bounty has been loading down our table.


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