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Late July Garden Walk and Notes

July 31, 2013

I’m already a little wistful about summer gardening coming to an end and it’s only the end of July with lots of warm weather ahead of us.  But the days are getting noticeably shorter and the garden has really grown fast this year with this dry summer we’ve had.

It’s hard to get a photo of the entire gardens at one time due to their shapes and the lay of the land.  Yes, even my garden has a keyline, and we’ve always been conscious of that, we just didn’t have a name for the north facing slope of the main garden, now we do.  Using that keyline to our advantage, we can plant some cool season crops during summer that appreciate the north facing aspect.  The garden with the distinct keyline also has an established hedgerow to the west, so by late afternoon part of that garden is in the shade.  I’ve mentioned this before but if you don’t have full sun, and are looking for a place to locate your garden, morning sun is more important than afternoon sun if your just trying to add up the hours of light your garden gets.  Plants are morning people, so plan accordingly even if you’re a night owl.

Chantenay for Jane

Chantenay for Jane

Main garden

Main garden – North end

I did a quick walkabout yesterday afternoon and took some snaps, so I apologize for the photo quality.  I was on my own, so these are a little washed out, but what the heck, I am just documenting my garden as July 30, 2013.  I never said I was a photographer!

The main garden is actually a catchall of everything from flowers and herbs to leeks.  It is the most diverse and bears the brunt of our succession plantings.  It’s also close to the hose bibb, so anything that  needs water on a regular basis gets planted in this garden if not the greenhouse.

In the vein of needing more sun ( you can see the shade approaching on the west side), I am summer fallowing two new rows to expand the size of this garden for next year.  Basically this garden is divided in half at the keyline, but still planted in long rows for ease of weeding and harvesting.  In this part of the garden you’ll find pole beans, cilantro, potatoes, dahlias, snap peas, romanesco, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi, and salad greens.

Main garden - keyline

Main garden – keyline

This is the breakpoint in the keyline which is basically the middle of the garden.  Our hillbilly cosmic pipe is here also, although you can’t see it in in the profusion of volunteer flowers and herbs.  There is also a path of sorts through here too.

Main Garden - south end

Main Garden – south end

At the top of the hill or the south end of the garden the garden the crops are a little different.  Celeriac, kale, carrots, beets,  chicory, cucumbers, bush beans, leeks, onions, garlic, shallots and summer squash make up the bulk of the plantings.


The greenhouses are between the two gardens, greenhouse 1 houses mostly tomatoes and peppers now.

winter brassicas and chard

winter brassicas and chard

And greenhouse 2 is planted with winter cabbages, kale and chard.

"New" garden - southwest corner

“New” garden – southwest corner

The Staple garden or what we refer to here as the New garden isn’t quite as diverse, still planted in long rows, but you will find blocks of vegetables here depending on what the crop is.  Sweet corn, winterkeeper beets, rutabagas, winter squash, dry beans, carrots and parsnips for the family cow, and potatoes.

"New" garden - middle south

“New” garden – middle south

Sweet corn, Lutz beets, rutabagas and the insectary row.

Insectary row

Insectary row

Winter squash and dry beans

Winter squash and dry beans

Winter squash, dry beans, insectary, and corn viewed from the north.

root crops

root crops

Potatoes galore, and carrots and parsnips for Jane.

I am sure this seems like a lot of garden for just a family of three, but when you consider we are trying to grow what we consume in a year, it barely does the trick.  I have to budget my garden space just like an income, too much frilly non-food or salad and we are short of calorie dense foodstuffs by the end of the year.  Many of these crops will remain in situ to be harvested as needed.  We try to grow varieties that store from one growing season to the next too to lessen our preserving or putting up tasks.  I have also quit growing crops that we either don’t eat much of, or that take up too much time to process.  I know I shouldn’t say never, but I don’t see myself ever shelling peas for freezing again, the snap peas are delicious frozen and we can get our shelling pea fix by a growing a smaller amount and enjoying them fresh.

This has been an odd growing year, we had warm and dry weather early (for us) which led me to plant cucumbers and sweet corn.  Then a little of our normal spring weather returned, causing enough problems with the cukes and corn that I had to replant those two crops.  The corn was interesting too,  I purchased a treated variety (organic) and a non-treated variety for later.  The treated corn had such spotty germination that I decided to turn it under and plant again, with the two varieties having two different maturity dates, I thought it would still work well for a succession of sweet corn.  As in all gardening years, I learn something.  The later maturing, non-treated seed (Sugar Buns F1) came up gang busters and the other (Spring Treat F1) still had a weak showing despite perfect corn germinating conditions.  This has transferred to the growing as well.  The second corn is much more robust and I am pretty sure it will ripen ahead of the earlier variety.  Had I not replanted the same variety,  I would have blamed the poor performance solely on the weather.  It just goes to show you, experiment, experiment, experiment and observe, observe, observe.

I am looking forward to August in the garden!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2013 10:15 am

    Love the honeybee on that bachelor’s button. Do you keep bees? We think we’ve seen a big difference in pollination efficiency since getting our two hives started this year!

    • July 31, 2013 10:23 am

      Katharina, we used to, but we had too many bear problems to make it worth our while. If we get the weather, we get great pollination from lots of different pollinators. But it never hurts to have more bees for sure, and lots of feed for them too 🙂

  2. July 31, 2013 12:09 pm

    Learning so much here. Thanks for sharing your observations.

  3. Ben permalink
    July 31, 2013 2:44 pm

    I had terrible germination on my Spring Treat as well! So frustrating. Planted it twice. Finally just planted another succession of untreated Luscious which came up fine.

    • July 31, 2013 3:29 pm

      Same here, only with the Sugar Buns, which is beautiful and much taller and thicker. I thought the Natural II would help but it probably made no difference with weak seed to begin with. I’m glad we weren’t counting on corn as a major crop.

      • Ben permalink
        August 1, 2013 12:09 pm

        Did you grow Jasper? My plants are big and the fruit is terrible; cracking before ripe, small, bad taste, etc. But my saved seed Sweat Meat and Butternuts are doing quite well.

        • August 1, 2013 1:17 pm

          Yes, ick! Well, not really ick, but they are not a winner or a repeat for sure. I wish now I hadn’t planted them or wasted the space 😦 And another one not worth it is Juliet. Ok, but the plants that are stressed seem to be ripening fruit, the ones growing in perfect conditions are very slow to ripen compared to even some big honking heirlooms I have. A good one I tried last year was Japanese Black Trifele. Excellent flavor out of hand and delicious addition to the roasting pan 🙂

  4. July 31, 2013 5:22 pm

    I know what you mean about growing food you EAT in the garden, John is all about weird herbs,and bushes and so forth and I am – WHERE is the food! My gardens are the potatoes and beans and deadly dull but good stuff like that. But still i am behind. My goal is 365 onions, twice as many potatoes, the corn is great, but the zuchinni is rubbish, thank goodness my neighbour has piles of pickle cucumbers for me to share.. but we have piles of cabbages! Your gardens look fantastic, so few weeds, how do you do that? wonderful.. c

    • July 31, 2013 7:09 pm

      C, I know I feel guilty setting aside a row for dahlias this year, but they are just starting to show some color so I know I won’t be regretting it much once I have plenty of bouquets for the house!

      As for weeds, I like to hoe and my daughter prefers to weed, so we hit the gardens pretty regular, but that being said, I still have some weeding to catch up on. Alliums are the conundrum, used daily in meals, sometimes in all three meals! I grow summer onions, keeping onions, overwintering onions, shallots and leeks to get us through the 52 weeks of allium need. Nothing else seems as important except maybe the carrots and potatoes…and cabbage, and well you know, all of it. Cheers!

  5. July 31, 2013 5:23 pm

    Oh and no more talk about summer coming to an end, waa.. surely there is more to come.. !!

  6. Jeanne permalink
    August 1, 2013 6:41 am

    Wonderful to see your beautiful gardens. I struggle to get ahead of the weeds every year. I have started to mulch with straw like Ruth Stout in an attempt to get a little ahead. Please tell us, what is a hillbilly cosmic pipe? I am intrigued. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

    • August 1, 2013 7:14 am

      Jeanne, thank you, we surely enjoy the gardens and the work as well, even the weeds.

      Here is an interesting article about a real cosmic pipe, ours is not as involved. It’s my hubby’s project and I figure anything that gets him in the garden beyond delivering compost is a win-win for me.

  7. August 1, 2013 10:20 am

    i just found your blog and it is the best homesteading site i have ever come across. i appreciate all your hard work taking photos and writing detailed explanations of farm life. i am new to homesteading (4 years) and have learned so much already on your site. many blessings to you and your farm.

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