My joy from the garden comes through the many variables, watching a slug eat a leaf as much as finding the first ripe tomato of the summer. I am intrigued by the fact that one year we have more eggplant than we can use and the next year we get 5 eggplants total. Success is in the enjoyment of the process rather than measuring the yield. This time of year our work is informed by our garden. While cooking and arranging flowers there are continual trips with scissors both to the front and back yard to gather additional ingredients. This continues somewhat throughout the year. Mid-winter we can still cut rosemary to add to something we are cooking or a stalk of bay leaves to add to a flower arrangement but right now the possibilities seem endless. Wandering outside I might find a branch from a blueberry bush that finishes a flower arrangement or a few leaves of borage that enhance a salad.
In Washington July is the mid-point of the productive garden season. Sometimes around this time of year I experience some garden fatigue which is diminished by the discovery of the first cucumber, harvesting lemon grass from the front yard or watching the birds eat the first ripe figs of the season. Mid-summer can also be overwhelming in the garden…the neat rows that were planted in the spring may not be distinguishable. Holes start to appear once the early summer crops finish their productive cycle. There is still lots of potential left and a large variety of crops that can be planted now and for the next few weeks from seed for late summer, fall and early winter harvest. I will be planting salad and cooking greens, cabbage, brussel sprouts, carrots, beans, parsnips, onions and some fall squash that I started a few weeks ago. I am particularly excited about a variety of cabbage called Caraflex that is tear dropped shaped. I need to get the seeds ordered from Johnny's Seeds and get them in the ground in the next few weeks.
On Thursday evening at 8:00 I am giving a talk at Greater Goods about July in the garden. I am going to discuss what I am doing in my garden and the other gardens we planted this spring. Yesterday I got a call about planting a late summer vegetable garden and we will start next week…it is not too late! This list helps orient me when I am trying to figure out how to proceed in the garden this time of year.
1.Make an assessment. What is working? What is not?
2.Make a plan for the rest of the season.
3.Order seeds if necessary or contact local plant stores to see what they have and will be getting in.
4.Fertilize- top dress crops that are growing or work organic material into soil where you are replanting.
5.For crops that will continue to produce throughout the summer treat problems such as bugs eating leaves, not enough water, not enough sun….
6.Weed and water!
7.Monitor closely so you do not miss ripe vegetables. Certain vegetables such as cucumbers seem to go from immature to over ripe in a matter of hours.
8.Make certain that tall growing vegetable plants have enough support, Stake up or provide support with lattice.
9.Keep track of what works in your garden, varieties that thrive and those that do not…I can never remember year to year what was successful unless I write it down.
10.Enjoy the process and don’t concentrate only on the yield enjoy the experimentation and the many variables.