Jul 23, 2014

Our Garden July 2014

Our Garden July W3 2014
Our garden is in full bloom right now and has been doing great due to the cooler temps this summer and lots of rain.  I've only had to water our garden when we planted so far.  Usually the only thing I do in July except for the occasional weeding is watering in early mourning and guiding tomatoes in their cages, and beans and cucumbers up their trellises.


Our lettuce and spinach and cilantro has bolted so I plan to replant for fall soon.  Right now our warm weather crops are probably a few weeks away from exploding. Here's a peak at our garden.

Garden A
Garden A July W3 2014
This year I planted the low pretty plants in front.  And mirrored the same plants on the other sides.  In the first row in the picture above.
 To the left in the first square is cucumbers, curly kale, Our firecracker "red leaf" lettuce has bolted and I have since harvested, and dino kale with cilantro bolted behind, and broccoli just starting to grow a crown.

our firecracker lettuce has bolted and is now harvested
Red Russian kale in the next square, and poblano peppers,  And serrano and bell peppers are behind.  All peppers are blooming but not yet peppers.  Beets are seeded throughout both squares.

flowering poblano peppers in garden A
In the left back row of garden A (left to right) is roma tomatoes that have green tomatoes, turnips (that need to be thinned) and cucumbers that are blooming and climbing but have no cucumbers yet. 

Garden B
Garden B July W3 2014
Notice how similar garden B is to garden A?  With the exception of the beans only on the right (we had it on both sides last year but it was way more beans then we eat).

On the front row Left square of garden B we have red Russian kale,Thai basil (from direct seed from our last years Thai basil plant), Italian sweet basil,4 jalapeño plants, and 3 bell peppers.

I love basil and usually grow some from seed in a container, purchase purple basil that I put in our garden, and last year for the first time I bought some Thai basil transplants that I placed in our backyard in the huge planter I made along with a jalapeño plant.

Thai Basil direct seed backyard planter July W3 2014
They both did amazing.  The year before I planted way to many lettuce seeds and never thinned them.  This year I just threw down Thai basil seeds in the planter and hoped for the best.  Well it worked.  They are doing great (pictured above).

I purchased purple basil from the same vendor I've always had good luck with at our local farmers market, but I purchased it super late in the season (I want to say mid to the end of June) because they weren't at the farmers market earlier in the season when I was there looking for plants like I had in the past.  I was hesitant cause I knew the transplant was pretty old and did look a little leggy.  Well I waited a few days to plant it and it died before I did.  Was it me or because the plant was older?  Don't know but lesson learned.  Buy at the end of May and plant right away!

Luckily my direct seed basil in our container is doing great too! I used seeds from last years plant.   I absolutely am addicted to Caprese salad in the summer.  Which is great since we have so much tomatoes!  I like to have some in a container so that I can bring it inside at the end of the season and have a few extra weeks of fresh basil.  I harvest the rest in our garden and planter and dry it.

In our garden b front row right square we have purple pole beans, broccoli, we had romaine lettuce (now harvested so it's not pictured) and a few tomato helpers.  As you can see above some of our broccoli is doing fine, where some were overshadowed by our romaine lettuce.  Hopefully now that I've harvested our romaine lettuce it will start to grow more.

Our purple pole beans are growing like crazy on the wooden trellis I made.  They're in full bloom and just starting to produce right now.  Yesterday I picked my first beans of the season (about a handful).  We planted half of what we did last year, because we learned last year that we way over did it.  It takes alot of time to pick beans every day and I found we ate only 1/3 to 1/2 of what was produced.  In the past we froze beans but never used much because we really prefer it fresh.  So we gave away a ton of beans to everyone we knew.  Hopefully we have the right amount planted this year!

Cucumbers climbing and blooming Garden B Back row right July W3 2014
In place of beans I planted an extra row of cucumbers. We planted 3 rows of cucumbers this year.  I like to add them to smoothies and juice them (check out my cucumber limeade recipe).  And my husband eats pickles like candy so we can never have enough cucumbers!

Tomatoes Roma and cherry, turnips, and beets garden B back row left
In the back row of garden B, with the exception of cucumbers there is roma and cherry tomatoes, 4 helper surprise tomatoes (likely early girl, better or big boy), turnips, and beets.

Our tomatoes are green and I'm guessing in a couple of weeks will start turning red, especially our cherry tomatoes (since they're smaller they start producing sooner).

I tried to plant cilantro in this container from seed.  I just placed a bunch of cilantro seeds (which is really corriander) from last years plants in this container.  It never really produced anything except for one small plant.

Backyard
Catnip has been growing wild ever since we planted it in our front yard years ago.  We pulled it out because it blocked our picture window and was causing mayhem in the cat world here (cat fights over rights to the catnip were frequent in our yard, oh the kitty drug world).  We've let a few wild catnip stay in our backyard and a few lone seeds from those plants made it into the container that was meant for cilantro, I figured I'd let it stay.  I might transplant it latter. 

Mr Cat and our huge June 2012 catnip harvest
Mr cat still has more than enough catnip from our massive catnip harvest years ago, but hey can a cat really ever have enough?

We have a garden bed in the back which we have not planted anything in yet this year.  We had peas and cauliflower back there last year, which neither did well.  Since I decided to plant neither of those this year (in an effort to cut back) I have just left it open.  I might throw some lettuce seeds down soon because i think they might do well there (partial shade and not a lot of space). 

Our concrete raised bed has mustard (to the left) and arugula (right) that self seeded from last season.  Both mustard and arugula can have two crops a season in zone 4.  As you can see in the picture above they are bolting now and will soon self seed again (with a little help from me since the arugula will mostly self seed on the asphalt without my help).  I might add a few tomato plant helpers from our front garden to our raised bed just to make sure they don't overshadow some of our plants.  We've had up to 4 tomato plants mixed in with the greens in our concrete raised beds before with no problem before.

I love mustard and arugula greens because they have a little kick to it.  They are out of this world on sandwiches, but a little to much to have by themselves in a salad although fantastic when mixed with other mild greens (romaine, green leaf, etc).  I love that the flavour doesn't seem to go bitter once it bolts (so you have a longer harvest time) and as I said before it self seeds so as long as you keep it contained like I do you will have an unlimited amount of carefree (with the exception of weeding and watering) greens in the spring-fall.

In our backyard side bed we have Rhubarb.  I usually make strawberry rhubarb crisp since they're both in season at the same time in June, but this year I totally forgot about it.  I guess I'll have to find something else to make with it.  Any ideals?  What's your favourite way to eat rhubarb?

 In the same side bed I threw down some parsley (pictured above) and cilantro seeds, and they're finally starting to grow!  I planted the same last year thing in this same garden bed but our parsley did not survive the very harsh winter we had last year (coldest in decades), despite the fact it is biennial and I have had it come back a second year before.  Kale is also biennial and that did not grow back either for us.  Which I was okay with since I ended up not being happy with the placement I had of our kale last year.  It was in the middle of tomato rows and never grew well due to lack of sun.

How is your garden doing this month?  What are you harvesting right now?  I'd love to hear about it!

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