Midsummer Bounty

It’s always important to plant according to your region and at the proper time of year. I was able to plant a few things a little early this year because we had such a mild winter. It was a gamble. If we had another temperature drop in April, a frost could have killed any sprouts. Fortunately, we didn’t and I’m now getting an early crop of green beans. Sometimes you have to trust your instinct, just be prepared if things go wrong.

This is the third year I’ve planted a garden at this new house and I’ve begun to learn what plants do better and where the sweet spots are. I also chose plants that will give me a cascading harvest- lettuces for early in the season (they grow quickly in May, but the heat kills them now). I also learned my lesson planting spinach directly in the ground two years ago- the insects feasted on them. This year, I planted them up in boxes and had almost zero interference from any pests. Often simple solutions like this can be used in lieu of possibly dangerous pesticides.

The aforementioned green beans are pictured below, freshly picked this morning. I have to check the plants every day, they seem to mature overnight. Sometimes I’ll hold off cooking harvested beans until the next day, so I can quickly pick over the plant one more time and find a few stragglers that made themselves ready– especially if there’s been rain overnight.

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The next for harvesting will be my tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes will be ready first followed by the larger varieties. Currently, the heat wave has been playing havoc with my plants. Temperatures over 90 with glaring sun and no rain can kill more delicate plants. I’ve been dutifully watering the tomatoes every day and snapping off any unneeded branches that are drying out and yellowing. Hopefully I’m keeping them wet enough for ripening. Tomatoes are finicky sometimes, but can easily be grown in pots in or outside.

Finally, just before the end of summer my squash will be ready. You can get a squash harvest earlier in the season if you purchase plants or start your seeds inside early in the spring and transplant them when the weather is favorable. I’ve always had great yield from seeds started outside, so that’s what I did again this year. Their blossoms are coming up now and by mid-August I should have some delicious green squash. I spread out the plants to two regions of the garden, but they are doing the best in the bed next to the house. They have optimum growing conditions there: sun in the morning and early afternoon, but shade in the hottest part of the day, good soil drainage, but not too much coverage that it prevents them from getting properly soaked in the rain.

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Squash are a great starter plant for those with thumbs more black than green. They take little upkeep once you get them started, they look very attractive in the garden, and they yield delicious fruit that can be cooked in a variety of ways. When mine start coming in, I’ll have to post some of my favorite recipes.

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