Post Solstice Garden Update

Hey, look at that! That liquid is water, and it fell! from! the! sky! Did you even know water could do that!? We were seriously starting to wonder if rain was only an ancient legend, but at last it has been proven to be a real thing. In good time too, because all our plants were starting to look very dry and floppy, in spite of us spending hours every day at the end of a hose. We had even started to implement the emergency tree watering plan, which means it was an emergency. So, WHOO! This was good. 

Our garlic looks magnificent this year. I’ll soon be pulling some extremely nice looking rutabaga greens to thin them, and the carrots are doing very well. In the third bed over, the onions are… okay, I guess. We had serious problems with germination followed by serious problems with transplanting, but the survivors are starting to look like they will do. Beyond them, the potatoes are mixed bag. Actual potatoes are doing well, but transplanted seedling looked very promising for about a week before they started to dwindle. Something eating them, and it’s not even potato bugs. I don’t know.

There’s been some windy times lately, and the tall peas show the prevailing direction. We’re starting to pick snap peas, and other mid-season peas are flowering and forming pods. Good, because the early pea beds are in full production and we hope to actually pull them out and replant beans in their spot within a week. Speaking of beans, the full-season pole beans are just starting to climb, but in general they look fine. They usually do, for about another month before the anthracnose really starts to bite. 

Immediately after our big rain, the watermelons went from “doing okay but sitting there” to sending out vines. This is the 5th – I think – year of growing out the golden rind cross and we will be watching these with interest. 

 Zucchini, up to the post, with butternut squash beyond that first post. That monstrous large one is an interspecies cross, we are pretty sure, and as such we don’t know what to expect, beyond monstrous large. Should be good almost certainly pretty bad, actually, but fascinating nevertheless.

 Over in the leaf section, the spinach is way over and the lettuce is getting bitter and bolting. I’m hoping some cooler weather following the big rain will keep it usable for another week, but it’s time to thin and replant, leaving a bit to go to seed. Brassicas are doing terribly. They went out looking small but nice, but some critter has been eating the hell out of them. Snails? Chipmunks? We do not even know, but popping half a pop bottle over them seems to be keeping them safe for the moment, so we are reseeding where they have been destroyed and covering the survivors.

Leeks are still in their original trenches but they seem to have doubled in size after the rain, and within a week or two we should be able to do their final plant out, in deeper holes to keep them long and pale. Celeriac is surviving, but it sure was iffy for quite a while.

Another view back at the root beds – potatoes and beets in the first bed, along with a little (hah) self-seeded lettuce, which will need thinning, hopefully this afternoon. Then the onions, carrots and rutabaga, garlic, and since the rain brought in some chillier temperatures, the sweet potatoes got covered until it warms up again.

The barley is starting to form seed heads! This is the Dango Mugi barley. It is probably doing the best of the 4 types we planted, which is mildly a pity as I wanted tall barley straw and it is somewhat short. I will be watching the barley carefully because I suspect it will be a tug-of-war to keep it from the critters.

Down at the other end of the bed the Valsergerste (which is tall!) is doing very well, with the mixed types and Lawina being slow to start. I’ve got a bunch of herbs in there as well as some pea breeding experiments, but those got put into available spaces; it’s not that they crowded the barley out.

In the background you can see a huge pile of wood chips. We had a tree service come in and cut down at least a dozen trees, including some of our old apple trees, which were starting to drop limbs all over. I’m counting a couple of big downed limbs from our willow trees, because they were certainly the size of any medium tree. However, most of them were ash trees. We don’t, as it turns out, seem to have ash borer, but they are all somewhere between ill health and dead anyway.

It makes the garden seem strange and unfamiliar, but I hope the greater openness will help some spots in the garden have less shade and tree root infiltration, and the wood chips are already being deployed as mulch – we go through massive amounts of mulch, so that’s a bonus.

So far this has been a quite different summer from last year. Like last year, the rain has thus far been pretty intermittant at best but unlike last year there has been a LOT of heat. It’s been odd, though: the swings between high and low temperatures have been extreme and a recurring feature. It seems to still be happening even as we get well away from spring. I’m noticing a few plants like strawberries and peonies are not doing well this year, and I think it is because they flower and fruit so early in the season that they must do a great deal of preparatory growth the year before. I’m hoping both will be better next year, thanks to higher heat levels and what has so far been J-I-T watering.

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