the lack of rain is a challenge but most things are coming along fine.
the multicolored swiss chard is very nice to look at and the eating it tastes pretty much like spinach to me. which is good because last year when we tried spinach it bolted as soon as it could. some of the swiss chard (the darkest red) has tried to go to seed (in the first season). i pulled those and ate them. :)
almost all the beans sprouted (only one type was a problem) and almost all the gardens are looking nice and green now. one of the bean patches is being raided by a family of muskrats/groundhogs/ woodchucks, but i gave the largest one something to think about the other day with the air gun and i haven't seen it since. the rest of the children are probably still around though. at least these don't eat the entire plant back to the ground so many bean plants have resprouted. i just need to keep an eye on them... funny, they have a few thousand square feet of mixed legumes to chomp on that is back further closer to the ditch and i wouldn't care much, but they decided to eat the beans instead. it doesn't help that we have a highway installed for them to come up into the yard (covered trench for drainage) -- i think i'll be redoing that next year to fill it in.
the chipmunks have had a major population boom this year. after all the snakes i've been seeing i was hoping they would not be quite so many. and while i didn't have as many strawberries this year i still did have some, but the chipmunks have also been feasting on them. the everbearing strawberries are on their second round of flowering/fruiting. for the chippies i'm putting out rat traps and plinking with the air rifle has thinned a few. however, it is very funny to watch them eat the poppy pods climbing the plants and flipping around. yet Ma was not happy when 98% of her sunflower sprouts/seeds were eaten.
the 2nd and 3rd strawberry patches had some production this year, but the multiple early frosts and the chipmunks have kept me from harvesting much. perhaps 10lbs of berries from them total (and about 40lbs from the first patch). i have bags of shredded bark and leaves to put out into the back strawberry patch as soon as i can get to it. in this heat, i'm not doing much heavy work in the middle of the day. get some light stuff done in the morning and whatever watering needed and then it is siesta time until 2pm, weeding bouts in 30 minute chunks for the few gardens i have left to do. not much weeds, but i like to keep after them.
at the moment i'm more tied up with fixing broken stuff and patching the roof (again, i sure hope i found the leak this time -- no rain lately to test it out). no tree froggy up there...
the onions i planted with a layer of worms/worm poo are doing really well and the tomatoes are also growing quickly and flowering. the first roma is on one of the plants. with the lack of rain we've been filling up the buckets every three or four days. with the recent heat (mid to upper 90s) i'm watering frequently enough to keep everything from wilting, but hoping for some actual rain. we've had less than two inches of rain the past six weeks. i think the average around here is about three inches a month. not much forecast, but i'm sure hoping for one of these "chances of a thundertorm" to actually happen soon.
still many of the flowers are doing fine as they are natives and do ok with the periods of drought we can have. that lets me keep up with the veggie gardens and the other ornamentals that we don't want to lose in the heat (mainly the clematis since those are the most expensive to replace).
the garlic i should be able to pull for curing/drying in a few weeks. some relatives stopped over the other day and one of them hadn't ever seen garlic growing before so i randomly pulled garlic for him to take with him to plant this fall. all first season bulbs, a few were quite small, and one was four inches across. an interesting survey of soils and starting clove/bulbule sizes. when i harvest it will be fun to snap a few pictures of these.
the early planting of peas went well. harvested a few rounds and now they are looking sad because of the heat and the broken stems from harvesting. next time i'll snip them instead of pulling, but i think i'll just leave these now to get more seeds to replant.
turnips, being eaten. i'll keep growing these. Ma doesn't like them, but at least she'll tolerate me cooking them. to me they are close enough to a brocolli or cauliflower stem (peeled and diced). i like them fried and browned like potatoes or onions. i'm trying to cut back on cheese lately, but i could imagine they'd be really good au-gratin with a nice layer of browned cheese and buttered bread crumbs on top. dang, that's making me hungry. :)
onions from seed, gradually getting smothered as i keep forgetting to trim back the trefoil i planted next to them. still they are there and i should have starts for next season from them. the seed source was a clump of three leftover onion plants that grew from a leftover a few seasons ago. i harvested seeds from them last year. this year, from that same spot three more plants and blooms have appeared. looks like i will have a seed source again for next year's plantings. :)
beets, hmm, the first planting i had trouble keeping evenly moist and i suspect i had too old of seeds for a few rows as almost nothing in those rows sprouted. i have a few plants from that planting that are doing very well (more worms/worm poo under those). the second planting, i have more sprouts from and they are doing ok. still behind on these for growing/harvest. the plants themselves (especially the big ones) are looking the best they ever have here. the soil they are going in gets improved each season as i add more worms/worm poo to it and any other organic material i can scrounge up plus planting beans/pea pods in alternation with the beets. we'll keep at it. it's been fun to watch the transformation.
green, red, jalapeno peppers, all coming along, plenty of blooms. i suspect the spacing is a bit too much, but we'll see how they do. last year they were all planted very tightly and did very well. i think this season we have about the same number of plants in three times the space.
cucumbers, alive, flowering, surrounded by wire cage to keep the deer/etc. from eating them, with the wilt going around i'm not sure we'll see much from them this year, but so far they look mostly ok. once they have a core of growth then they can grow out of the cages and sprawl where they like. i may need to trim back some of the surrounding cover crops (buckwheat and birdsfoot trefoil).
new for us this year: cucumber, swiss chard, turnips, dill, large leaf parsley, red onion, white onion, roma tomatoes, okra, and many types of beans (fresh, shelling and dry), peas/peapods and soybeans (edamame).
the green manure source is looking great with all the bright yellow flowers. i'll be trimming it and the alfalfa back eventually and harvesting garlic. the clay makes the garlic harvest a challenge... if i miss some i'll be there for next season.
well i hope this long and windy post has found all of you keeping busy in the gardens and enjoying the harvest. until next time... :)