I got off to a bit of a slow start this year with the vegetables. Well, I didn’t, but I wasn’t paying close enough attention and I lost my tomato seedlings. I started tomato seeds in February, but they germinated while I wasn’t looking and they all died, so I started new ones in April. The most successful ones are about six inches tall, the others are still no bigger than seedlings. I had to buy a few plants to ensure a harvest, including our very favorite cherry tomato, SunSugar.
My garlic, though, has been a resounding success. This year was my biggest garlic harvest ever. I grow two varieties: Siberian, a hardneck variety, and Inchelium Red, a softneck. Softneck varieties, due to the tightly wrapped cloves, tends to keep better, so we eat up the hardneck first. We’ll probably have garlic on hand until at least February or March next year, maybe longer. The only thing I have to do now, while they’re curing, is to choose which heads I will use for this fall’s planting. The bed the garlic was in has been tilled and now it is hosting some sweet peppers and the SunSugar cherry tomatoes I mentioned above.
I went a little crazy with the beans this year. I adore green beans so I planted a whole mess of them. They have since overwhelmed my pole structure and are taking over the one I built for the cucumbers and will soon encroach on the peas. They stole all the water from the potatoes I planted nearby and caused all the radishes to bolt. Oh well, we’re going to have so many green beans we’ll be eating them into the winter. I hope.
My beds with beets and lettuce are coming along. The beets are about golf ball sized, and I need to sow some more. I’m going to wait a bit to sow more lettuce and radishes because they tend to do better for me in cooler weather and it being the beginning of July, I have at least two to three good, hot months to get through. Our growing season seems to be extending later and later into the end of the year, and sometimes our Spring is actually Spring and sometimes it just goes straight into Summer. With the climate changing as quickly as it is, gardening is becoming a bit of a guessing game.
If you remember, last year these beds were all overgrown with marigold volunteers. I have left some in this year’s garden because they are quite beneficial. They repel some nasty bugs and help the wildlife that lives in the soil. They also attract beneficial insects and pollinators. I also planted some zinnias because they are gorgeous and because any flowers in the garden are going to help the overall health and productivity of the plants. The hummingbirds also seem to enjoy them.
Next to the zinnias is a bed full of nasturtiums, sunflowers, and more cucumbers. I was hoping the cucumbers would grow up the sunflowers, and it looks like that might just work out for me. The nasturtiums aren’t growing as quickly as I hoped they would, but fingers crossed they take off soon. They are supposed to be the vining kind, so we’ll just have to see what happens. In my head, they climb up the sunflowers too, but I’ll be happy if they just help out as a ground cover.
The potato harvest wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped for, but considering the bed they were in was unimproved aside from hilling them up with compost, they didn’t do too poorly.
Soon to be planted out with the new peppers and cherry tomato is a nice looking crop of thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley that I’ve started in my window boxes.
I can honestly say that this is the best I’ve ever managed in the world of gardening. I finally have a garden that works for us. It’s nice looking and producing enough for us eat for now. I am trying to do everything organically and so far, this year seems to be going well. The chickens are helping to produce compost for us, and they get all the kitchen waste I produce from my harvests. Sure, I need to work on planning a bit better (I’m looking at you, leaning tower of beans), and climate change is going to be a bigger and bigger challenge in the years to come, but if I can feed my local bees and other insects while producing my own food, maybe I can do my small part to help. At least nobody is going to have to drive green beans around for my consumption!