Monday, July 14, 2014

Garden Update

Our garden has definitely seen some challenges this season!

First, there was the (admittedly typical) cool, wet spring, which put us at least a month behind in planting the early veggies, like the peas and potatoes. The first round of peas never did germinate, rotting in the cold, wet soil in early April.

Next, along came the rabbits, who mowed down the green beans as soon as the first little green shoots poked their heads out of the ground. Ditto on the second flush of growth, and again on the succession planting. The one bed of carrots never did recover from being eaten completely down to the ground. None of my usual deterrents worked: I finally had to put chicken wire fences up around certain beds, in addition to the outer fence for the garden proper!

What isn't being eaten above ground by the rabbits and slugs is getting harassed underground by the moles. Normally, I don't see a ton of mole damage during the summer months. Usually they're active in there only in winter, which is okay by me. Moles serve a purpose, eating grubs and other insects from the soil that I'm perfectly fine to let them take care of. I'm less pleased with the giant holes that open up while I'm watering the raised beds, so I've been dumping in mole repellent before filling them back in. Unfortunately, I can't do anything about the tunnels without relocating the established plants. I just have to make sure to keep on top of the watering, to make up for any exposed roots, below.

Despite all of that, though, things are moving right along, as gardens tend to do. I can't remember ever having such a good year for strawberries; we ate as many as we wanted to and still had enough to freeze a couple of pounds. I even dehydrated some, which turned out nicely as well. This is the first time I've tried that, so it was a small batch- I want to see how well they hold up over time, before I commit to a lot of them. The raspberries are loaded, and I have to pick some every day just to keep up. I've probably got three pounds in the freezer already, and they haven't slowed down yet!

The Rat's Tails are in full swing, now, as are the summer squashes; I can barely keep up. Our cauliflower are looking good (despite a mole tunnel directly beneath them) and I'm looking forward to harvesting some this week. I might even get some peas soon; the vines are about 4' high and starting to bud up.

I had my first green bean of the season over the weekend... the bean was a perfectly tender 4 inch pod- from a 10 inch tall plant. Sad. I'm going to get more seeds and put in another planting before the end of the week, in hopes that we'll get some to pickle and freeze for the winter. I just don't see how the ones that are in there will be able to produce anything substantial, even if they are loaded with flowers now. We'll see.

The tomatoes are loving their little greenhouse, and are trucking right along. There are lots of flowers and new fruit on the vines, so I topped them off with some extra rabbit manure the other day,  for a bit of a boost. Speaking of greenhouses, the eggplant is still growing and the sweet potatoes are making a run for it as well. With our temperatures staying in the mid-to-high 80s this week, I expect we'll see a bit of a growth spurt in there, too.

Let's see, what else? Oh! I have itty-bitty cucumbers on the vines; there's another plant I haven't had oodles of success with over the years, but they're doing well this time around. The rest of the brassicas are also doing well- there was a lull in the cabbage moth activity for about a month, but I've been seeing them around again so we're back to daily egg/caterpillar checks. That's okay, though- I like keeping close tabs on the plants that way.

I'll have to take a wander out there later today and shoot a quick video tour to document the season so far. Despite some of the challenges, things are still looking pretty good out there and I'm pleased overall with the progress.

How does your garden grow? Are you experiencing any challenges this summer, or has it been smooth sailing?

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