I’ve realized I’ve done a terrible job with garden updates this year! But hold onto your seats, cause if you’ll stick with me, I’m gonna catch you up! (and please excuse my poor excuse for photography. It seems I only take photos with my phone these days). Ready? Here goes…
This summer has been crazy busy and it’s flying by! But the garden actually got a pretty slow start in the beginning with all the cool weather we had around here in the early summer months. Progress seemed to drag it’s feet a little.
But before I could even plant anything, there was a LOT of hard work I had to do to get the garden ready for sowing. There were so many weeds that had sprung up in the early spring weeks, and once they start they were viscous!
I mostly planted everything in late April (thinking I’d get a head start and hopefully we’d eat watermelon and cantaloupe earlier this year!). But that cool weather just halted any early growth, so a lot of things just kinda sat dormant for a few weeks. The onions I actually planted in early/mid April, because they can be planted within a few weeks prior to the last frost. You can read all about that post here: Gardening Kickoff. About a week later is when I bought most of my seedlings.
Some things I bought the same as last year- like the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, watermelon and cantaloupe (although I did buy a different variety of watermelon this year, and I made sure to buy “pickling” and “bush variety” cucumbers since the ones last year were SO HUGE). They were great, but I thought I would try a smaller variety this year. I also branched out and bought banana peppers and jalapeno peppers (since they will go in my salsa recipe). And the onions were new this year. I got all these plants into the ground by late April.Mom and Dwayne gave me some seedlings they grew themselves from seeds. They are Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and Rudgers heirloom tomatoes. I had to be very gentle with them in the beginning. They were so delicate and easily damaged by hash sun and rain, I had to keep them in smaller pots on the porch until they grew bigger and stronger to tolerate being out in the garden.Here are the bell peppers and Roma tomatoes in the garden bed behind the house, and in the background you can see the little cucumber and zucchini seedlings I planted in front of some wood trellises (so the vines can have vertical space to grow this year!). And the grapes (that I planted last year) had started to fruit by early May.You still with me?? You’re doing great 🙂
Everything just slowly started to grow through the month of May. My strawberries from last year just went dormant through the winter then came back this spring. So during the months of May and June I was able to pick some strawberries. They still don’t impress me that much. There was certainly more fruit on the plants this year than last year, but they are still pretty small. And they don’t last very long. We figured out if you don’t eat them the day you pick them they pretty much just turn to mush. Maybe strawberries aren’t my specialty. But they are nice to have in the garden for snacking on. Here’s how everything looked at the end of May. The top left picture are the seedlings from Dwayne that were growing big and sturdy. I transplanted them into the raised garden bed shortly after this picture was taken. The grapes were still pretty tiny at this point. The pear tree had just started to fruit, and the cucumbers and melons were starting to stretch their vines.
As June flew by, the garden just continued to grow. Besides the onions, nothing really produced anything significant enough to harvest. I was able to pick 1 jalapeno pepper around mid-June, which I used in some salsa that I canned. (I had to go buy tomatoes though cause none of mine were ready for picking yet.) The cucumber vines were getting pretty big though! And I had tons of green tomatoes on some of the plants. The 2 tomato plants I bought from Lowe’s had lots of green tomatoes on them, but the Rutgers and Cherries have yet to bloom (since they were started from seeds at home, they have some catching up to do with the big box-store seedlings). And the melon vines are stretching farther and farther by the day!
I harvested about half of the onions around the 3rd week of June. (I’ll do a detailed post on that process later!) I laid them out to start curing on the swing on our porch. Once they dried for another week or so, I strung those babies up! I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself 🙂 And the best part is, we went on our mountain trip right after I had harvested all those onions, and our friend that vacationed with us gave us an awesome potato/onion storage unit that he built and brought to us!! It’s perfect and now I have a great place to store all my onions (and potatoes!).
Around the last week of June, I noticed we had some hefty cucumbers on the vines! Those suckers grow fast once they get going. I mean, a week can make a huge difference with this guys. I was able to pick about 15 cucumbers that week. Since I was leaving for our girls’ beach trip that weekend, I gave a few away to a friend. But when I got back from that trip and checked on the garden, I had about 8 more cucumbers I could pick, and I noticed the hot peppers were making some progress! And the melons in the garden are seriously getting out of control now. They are running out of room!And that brings us up to speed on the garden for this year!! Whew, did you make it to the end? That was a marathon of a post! Thanks for being a trooper! Stay tuned for some new recipes and how-to’s of pickling. I couldn’t let all those cucumbers go to waste! 😉