To say we have had a lot of rain the past week would be an understatement.
It seems like it isn’t going to end. And these aren’t just little sprinkle showers either. They are thunderstorms and flash flood warnings. Summer rains are the best thing to happen to a backyard garden, but this is pushing it a bit.
I went out to check on my garden this week after one of the rain storms. The summer vegetables look great. I cannot believe I am still picking lettuce in July. I keep thinking that I need to get it all because surely it won’t last much longer before it begins to bolt, but I’ve been saying that a month now. The steady rain storm every couple days has certainly prolonged its harvest. That’s okay with me, though. It’s nice to have lettuce and all the veggies like cucumbers and peppers to make a salad with coming in at the same time. Usually the lettuce is gone by the time any of those are ready to pick.
Seriously, look how gorgeous! Makes me wanna go get a bottle of salad dressing!
Last week, I planted more zucchini in the lettuce bed, thinking that the lettuce would phase out by the time the zucchini plants really start to take off. The only thing is, though, it seems like there’s no end to this lettuce in sight. The baby zucchini plants look great. No doubt all this rain is really helping them speed along, too.
The cucumbers are coming right along, too. I’ve already picked a few of those, and there are tons more tiny ones, so I’ll be eating cucumbers steadily for the new few weeks, I’m sure.
I had wanted to put a raised bed along my chainlink fence for a long time, and I finally got around to it a couple years ago. It’s the perfect place to grow peas and beans, but this year, I thought I’d try cukes, so they can trellis up the fence. It’s saving A LOT of space.
Just a week or so ago, I planted swiss chard along the front of the cukes, since they are climbing up the fence and not taking up much space at all. The seedlings are just coming up. I need to get up my “deer fence” around this bed soon because last year, the deer decimated my swiss chard. They have already munched the cucumber plants a little, anyway. I got a roll of plastic fence from my brother that he didn’t need, and I’m going to try to fashion some sort of barrier with stakes in the corners. It probably won’t stop them, but I’m hoping it at least makes it a bit less easy for them.
I planted tomatoes and potatoes in my garden plot this year. Last year, I planted brussels sprouts and kale, so I knew I couldn’t plant anything from the cole crop family, in order to help w/ pests (those pesky cabbage worms and harlequin bugs that I fought tirelessly last year). Crop rotation is a great way to keep your backyard plants from succumbing to pests without using a lot of pesticide. Although both tomatoes and potatoes are from the same family also, I planted them together. It is recommended not to, or to at least to have a barrier plant in between. I tried that with herbs this year, but it’s not a big plot, and they are still pretty close together.
I’ve got four different varieties of tomatoes: stripey, cherokee purple, roma and beefsteak. This is the first year I’ve mulched with straw–a trick I learned in my Master Gardener course. I have to say that it has helped immensely. A few years back, I mulched with shredded paper, but it was really ugly, and broke down much quicker than the straw. I still need to pull a few weeds, but this step sure does make my garden way more low maintenance with a lot less weeding and hoeing.
The potatoes are almost ready since they’ve bloomed. I’ve always heard that you wait until the flowers die to dig them. Potatoes are one of the easiest plants I’ve ever grown. They are so low maintenance, and pretty quick to produce. Once I dig these, I’ll probably put in another crop, that I’ll dig in the fall.
I have another “hill” of zucchini plants in one of my raised beds, which is absolutely exploding.
I counted ten little zucchinis last night. Which means they will all be in at the same time. It seems like that always happens with zucchini–you end up with enough to feed an army for a few weeks, then it is all gone. But it’s one of my favorite summer vegetables, so I’m not complaining… yet.
In the interest of crop rotation, I also planted pepper plants in the pots that I usually put tomatoes in. But the last few years, I hadn’t had much luck with tomatoes on the patio. The plants would grow and grow, but I only got a handful of tomatoes. Another tip I picked up in the Master Gardener course was that I probably needed to change the dirt in them. That dirt had been going on ten years old without having been changed out. I’m sure it was totally depleted of nutrients. I had added dirt to the tops over the years, and sometimes even fertilizer, but a change was in order. The three pepper plants are all sweet, since my father-in-law has the hot pepper production locked down. I think he put out around 44 plants.
Of course, I enjoy the non-food plants in my backyard, too. I noticed I have some wayward ferns that have sprouted right beside my rain barrel and will need transplanted. They have probably benefited from all the rain as well.
At any rate, it looks like it’s only a matter of a few days before I’m up to my neck in summer vegetables from my backyard. I can hardly wait.