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More Garden Observations – Answering Reader’s Questions – End of June

I’ve been getting a few emails from various readers and I think the questions they’re asking are common to many more gardeners than just the handful that write to me.

I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: promotion to sell products has greatly influenced how most gardeners look at their garden and how they expect crops to perform.

I think it especially difficult for new gardeners because they’re starting at ground zero and have no experience to build on. They go searching around the internet to find answers and a large percentage of what they find is the “same old, same old” but not necessarily true.

And when you start working with nature – you’ve really got a different ball of wax (than in conventional gardening and conventional advice).

In all my years of gardening, conventional gardeners I know usually have most crops before I do. They all seem to have lightning fast growth and production. But when all is said and done with their garden, mine is always still going and my plants are still bearing long into fall even in drought.

Points to Consider About Slow/Fast Growth

  • Many seedlings can take 2 to 4 weeks to get established. In other words: it takes that long for the soil and the roots to work together as one to form a symbiotic relationship.
  • Assuming you’ve adopted my 3 keys to successful gardening and are working with nature it’s likely your plants will get off to a much slower start than in traditional gardens where plants are “forced” to grow quickly with doses of “fertilizer”.
  • Keep in mind that fast growth is not necessarily synonymous with best. And forced growth is definitely not the best. It takes time for plants to establish themselves and take up the nutrients they need from the soil.
  • Vegetable hybrids are bred for reasons like fast growth or bearing a lot of fruit. Unfortunately, they lack the same nutritional value as the open pollinated varieties. Food is meant to sustain us. Thus, I want as much nutrition from my crops as I can get. I look for excellent open pollinated varieties that give me that higher nutritional value.

Garden Observations from This Year

Radishes

My daily ration of radishes.

My daily ration of radishes.

In February I started radishes in jugs. I transplanted the seedlings to the garden at the end of February. It was cold. They sat there for what seemed like forever and did nothing. Finally conditions changed and I got radishes. It was wonderful.

By that time, I was direct seeding various spots for more radishes. They germinated relatively quickly. Then they sat there and sat there.

About the same time, a reader sent me a picture of one of his radishes. It was tiny. He was concerned. I sent him a picture of one of my radishes at the time, which looked almost identical to his.

The radishes grew. For weeks I’ve been enjoying at least 12 nice sized radishes each day.

Still, there are some out there that formed large tops but never formed more than a thin sliver of red where the radish should be. That happens to a small percentage almost every year.

How big radishes get can also vary according to the variety.

I just picked a German Giant today that is literally the size of a lemon. They’re my favorites because even when the temperatures rise they don’t get pithy as quickly as other varieties.

German Giant Radish and a Lemon

German Giant Radish and a Lemon

Beets

I started beets in jugs as early as the end of February. I transplanted to the garden the first part of April. They sat there. It was late May and early June before I had good sized beets.

L1390184copyrightTendingMyGarden.com

Chard

Transplanted seedlings of 3 varieties  to the garden April 19th. They remained tiny for weeks. It was the end of May before they looked great.

L1390659copyrightTendingMyGarden.com chard

Patch of radishes, chard, potato onion, potato

Patch of radishes, chard, potato onion, potato, part of a tomato plant

Tomatoes 

Started seed at the end of April and into May. Transplanted to the garden the first of June.
They sat there for about 10 days. Most varieties took off after than and are about 2 1/2 feet now and have blossoms.

L1390908copyrightTendingMyGarden.com toma planted June 1

Peppers

Started in May. Transplanted in June.
As usual the most growth thus far is to about 8 inches. Not to worry. They’ll be 5 and 6 feet before I know it. (You may enjoy reading my post Peppers, It Ain’t Necessarily So )

L1390911copyrightTendingMyGarden.com pepper June 22

Onions and Potatoes

Onion transplants established themselves faster this year than I ever remember.
Potatoes grew with lightening speed.

Both crops loved that rain we received just at the right time for them.

Squash

One reader sent a picture of her squash plants: 2 or 3 puny leaves and a huge blossom. She said, “This can’t be good. The plants are only 6 inches high.” My squash looked identical to hers.

This is my squash now:

L1400095copyrightTendingMyGarden.com squash

One of the biggest things you hear about squash is having too many. It’s hard for me to believe that’s a problem because it’s so easily remedied.

Hybrid varieties of squash are bred for abundant production. Growing an open pollinated variety will usually remedy the problem and get you more nutritional value to boot.

If it doesn’t remedy your problem there are other things you can do:

  • Don’t plant as many.
  • Pick the squash when they’re smaller.
  • Rather than give them to neighbors who don’t want them anyway, dig them back into your soil or compost them. Any nutrients will go right back to the soil.

Cucumbers

Transplanted to the garden about a week ago.  Still small.  But they won’t be for long.

L1400098copyrightTendingMyGarden.com cuke

Blueberries

Most of my berries come from 6 bushes.

In prior years we’d eat as many as we’d freeze, but I’d still end up with about 3 to 4 gallons for winter.
This is the first time in 18 years that I’ve had the amount of blueberries lessened by a late frost, so I’ll probably end up with 1 to 2 gallons this year for winter.

I never did get to cover the bushes. I’ve seen a few birds get some, but for the most part they’re leaving them alone. Might be because of the rains we’ve had and the birds are not using the fruit for a moisture source like they usually do. They even left the strawberries alone this year.

One thing I hear a lot from readers is that their bushes don’t give them many blueberries. I often wonder if that’s really the case or if they just underestimate the power of a little.

For example: I pick blueberries twice a day. When I start at the beginning of their season in June I get about 1/4 cup in the AM; a little less in the PM. Right now I’m getting about 1 1/4 cup in the AM and 3/4 cup in the PM. The amounts peak at midseason at 2 to 3 cups in the AM and 1 to 2 cups in the PM and then continually lessens again until the end of the season.

When I pick in the AM it always looks as if there won’t be any berries for a PM picking. But more are there to surprise me when I go out to pick again.

The point is that my berries come little by little. But they add up to gallons.

3 pickings of blueberries

3 pickings of blueberries

Final Thoughts

I hope some of my observations and comments answered some questions you may have had and helped you to see your garden with a fresh perspective.

xxxx

I’m still enjoying lettuce from these plants even though they’re setting seed.  Another radish patch is in the middle of the picture.

 

cccc

A section of one of my borders.

9 comments to More Garden Observations – Answering Reader’s Questions – End of June

  • Beppy

    Hi Theresa,
    This year was the first time my blueberries were affected by late frost. Less berries but huge. I have put up a permanent frame of pvc pipe and I put the netting over it each year in time to keep the birds out and take it off when the berries are done and the frame stays there.
    Love hearing about your garden.
    Beppy

  • Michele

    Great reminders; thank you. I see pictures of abundance and shake my head at my puny crop. But it is coming along and now I see it more realistically. Other than the bunnies eating my bean plant leaves (my fault no fence) and those nasty squash vine borers, it’ll be okay.

  • Sue Thom

    Theresa, your garden is lovely! So is all the harvest from it! Thanks for the wonderful pictures! Hope you’re doing well!

  • Ray Kent

    I think this is a very good read for new gardeners. My neighbor used to purchase seedlings from any source and kid me about how much larger his were than my open pollinated grown from seed. First difference is that I plant mine “much” deeper than his planted as in the pot. Later in the year I usually have to top mine because they are taller than I want and he grows quiet. This year he purchased seedlings from a recognized organic, open pollinated source and we both planted as usual. His taller than mine but now mine are catching up so I think this supports your article and I’ll keep doing it our way. Happy gardening. Ray Kent

  • mb

    This makes Me feel better about my gourds whcih are puny, still only a couple inches high after several weeks. My dahlias right next to them are several feet tall and blooming. This article is encouraging me to be fond of the lil gourds rather than looking at them with suspicion. Thank you! 🙂

  • Pat

    Theresa, I just love to have a look at things around your place! Although mine is not nearly as pretty as yours, there are days that I wish for a smart phone so I could take pictures while strolling about my garden.

    I know I said I would not plant cucurbits this year, but I have a volunteer Soyu and also an Armenian cucumber. They are looking lovely right now, and even blooming! I have one baby on the Armenian! I had one well placed volunteer tomato that is blooming, but I am not certain what variety, and it may not be true to the parent plant. We shall see! I love the volunteers!

  • Toni Brock

    What a lovely tour of your garden. These posts where you show and tell how your garden is doing, with direction on the how to and whys are so very helpful. Because these types of posts over the years and your encouragement, I have learned the payoffs of patience. So now I stay calm and patient watching my garden produce more and more each year. I just can’t thank you enough 🙂

  • Farming Bear

    I agree with Toni. I can’t get enough of these kinds of posts. They are so helpful!

  • Betty Dotson

    I needed this post. I feel so much better. I was feeling a little down after hearing about my friend’s large harvest of squash (using Miracle Grow and 7 Dust). Also, she planted hers earlier than I planted mine.
    I can’t say it any better than Toni did. This year alone is SO MUCH better than ever before. Many more varieties of fruits and vegetables and healthier plants.
    Also, for dinner last night I served Alfred turnips the way you prepared them and he loved them as much as I do!
    Thank you so much for sharing all that you do. What a BLESSING it is to us!
    Betty

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