By seeing what others do and learning what they’re experiencing, we can build a knowledge base that will help us in our own gardens.
That’s the purpose of this post. I’ll focus only on the main things going on currently so this post won’t get too long. Other things I’ll cover at some other time.
Welcome to my early June garden. The picture below was taken at the entrance to the garden looking to the left which is the upper end.
If your computer is like mine, you can click on the picture and it will enlarge.
You might recall the first picture in my May 9th post on restoring fertility to the garden. Pictured was a 2 x 2 foot mound of peas planted in one of last year’s piles of decayed plants. In the picture above, the right hand top corner, the tallest green is that mound, grown over 5 feet tall.
I apologize for all the sunlight in the back, but I had to take the picture when I could in spite of that.
As you may be able to tell the peas are already a foot taller than the supports I provided. And as you can see are loaded with peas.
Change of Strategy – Peas, Strawberries, Blueberries
It was difficult to find seed for Green Arrow peas this year although I didn’t think I’d have trouble in January. I did find some, but I ordered a couple of additional varieties to make sure I had enough.
Everything up to that point was based on what I usually order and plant. It was more out of habit than thought.
After I planted a small section of a bed with peas it dawned on me (thankfully) that what I was doing out of habit may not be the best approach for my current situation.
Reasons why I needed to adjust what my planting and harvest strategies would be:
- Peas, along with strawberries and blueberries are ready for harvest at approximately the same time. All 3 crops need to be harvested, used and/or preserved pretty much right away to maintain quality
- Because of that Bill always helped pick blueberries AND pick and shell peas (same day they were harvested). It would currently be physically impossible for me to handle all that myself along with other daily chores.
Fortunately there were other considerations that made the decision easier:
More than a gallon of beautiful and delicious peas are in the freezer from last season. And I have probably 2 gallons of blueberries. More than enough to take me through the winter if we don’t lose power for an extended period.
A good take away:
Always consider what you really need and what you can realistically harvest and use in the time you have. It’s a waste of your time and money to do otherwise. Not to mention the stress it causes most gardeners when they have more than they can do.
This Year’s Strategies
- Peas – I’m letting peas ripen and dry on the vines and will save seed for next year. (My saved seed for peas always has better germination than those purchased.)
- Strawberries – Enough were harvested almost everyday for use that day. Since strawberries slow production if not harvested, it shortened the season a little to not harvest everything. But I had to be realistic in the interest of getting everything else done.
- Large Blueberries – Only the bushes with the huge berries that Bill and I always had so much fun picking and eating are being harvested daily.
- Regular Blueberries – This is the first time in 24 years that my other bushes will be loaded with fruit and not be harvested except on occasion to give me a continual supply of fresh fruit for eating through July.
Getting Serious About Cabbage
Cabbage (along with carrots) is a main stay for me. Since 1 cabbage lasts 3 to 4 days and usually 3 to 4 carrots are used every day it’s impossible (for me anyway) to grow and store enough to keep me going all year even with rationing.
Started in Late Summer Transplanted in Fall
Two transplanted in early fall produced heads. in winter. Small but nice
Six smaller seedlings were held in their container until late fall and then transplanted. Noticing they had disappeared in late winter I planned the spot for something else. Was pleasantly surprised in April to see they had NOT disappeared but were robust and growing. Only one did not head.
At this point the others (4 shown below) appear to be about 3 1/4 pounds like ones I’ve already harvested from the spring planting.
Started in February and Transplanted in Late March
Cabbages shown below were started in late February and transplant to the garden in late March. Most are heading and look good. A few appear not to be doing much, but I can always use the leaves.
Below is the cabbage shown in the lower right hand corner of the picture above after it was fully developed. The head weighed 3 1/4 pounds and was just beautiful — AND delicious!
Lettuces and Late Planted Onions, Plus
This picture was taken to point out lettuce planted last fall setting seed and spring planted lettuce starting to stalk. (I have two more rows of wintered-over lettuce on the other side of the garden.)
Also, when I planted onions in March, I ran out of room and had about 50 seedlings left over. They sat in their little container until May 15 before space (although tight) became available. Although it’s too late for them to reach maximum size, they’ll be great to use for sets in the fall. That way I’ll have “spring onions” well into winter.
Beets are great for use in nutritional drinks. You only need a small piece of beet to juice with lots of carrots. Delicious.
About 25 is what I usually grow, but will increase that to 50 this year. Roasted. beets are delicious. Sometime I’ll roast a large one to cut in quarters and add to my chopped veggies over a four day period. Sometimes, if I have some great butter on hand to slather on the roasted beet, it never makes it to my chopped vegetable meals.
Beets were planted in two spots. These in the picture above did fine. Flea beetles devoured the foliage in the other spot. Often plants will outgrow the damage, but not this time. I’ll plant more this week.
At our previous garden (in improved clay soil) radishes grew more quickly and in abundance. Never had to ration and could pick as many as I wanted each day and be assured there would be plenty more to follow until it got way too hot for them.
In our current garden (improved sandy soil) radishes grow, but not in the abundance we were use to. And some never fill out. But, as you can see in the picture, some find conditions satisfactory.
Marketmore is my favorite all around cucumber. Open pollinated so I can save seed. Big, beautiful, and delicious. What’s not to like!
These came up from seed dropped last year rather than from those I saved. So I didn’t have to start any.
Onions from Seed and Potatoes
Subscribers have already seen pictures of the onions from seed in one of the private letters I sent out with tips on how to mulch them.
It’s a bit early to harvest potatoes but a couple of weeks ago I got enough for my simple dill-potato salad. Just couldn’t resist.
I’m surprised this plant has one leaf. There for a while I was harvesting its leaves daily picking it bare over a 10 day period. It’s recovered nicely.
As usual, peppers are still small. When conditions are right they’ll quickly grow to 3 1/2 to 6 feet depending on variety.
My saved seed from peppers outperforms purchased seed by far. Purchased Carmen seed (the only hybrid I grow) and only ONE seed germinated!!
I saved seed from Corno di’Toro last year and every seed I planted (about 20) germinated.
I’ve noticed this for at least a decade on almost all crops I grow: peas, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, etc. Save seed whenever you can.
At last tomatoes are starting to bush out. This one is at the lower end of the garden outside the fence and has some supports in already. Staking the others is overdue. Hope to get to them this weekend.
Approaching my Garden Looking to the Right
Only one large roll of straw remains. I’ve moved 3 this year already. I use a large piece of plastic to move straw. I’m not steady enough to use the wheelbarrow, but can move more with the plastic anyway.
Middle top of the picture is my cold compost pile. A permanent fixture there.
The tomato shown in the picture above is in this picture too, but hard to see. Look for the two poles (like white lines) at the top left above the fuchsia flowers. That tomato shows between those poles, but is on the outside of the garden.
Other Crops not Shown
Herbs and medicinals and other wild plants are not shown in this post.
Asparagus are finished and growing ferns.
Green bean plants about 12 inches tall. (I plant about a dozen in various spots and stagger plantings.)
Garlic is about ready to harvest.
I’m adjusting the strawberry beds.
Figs are in abundance this year. Not ripe yet.
Carrots planted in April are doing great. Will plant more soon. Hope to give them their own post when they get to maturity.
I always appreciate feed back on posts. If posts like this are helpful let me know. And if you feel they’re not helpful, let me know that as well. They take a ton of time, so if they’re not helpful there’s no point in doing them. Thanks in advance for any input.
Wishing you a great and abundant season!
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I enjoyed this post. I “lost” you somehow for a couple years, but just refound you. While I am not gardening much these days, I am enjoying some cilantro, dill and lettuce that volunteered this year. I didn’t clean up my milk jug garden from last fall and was surprised to come home recently after a weekend away to them loaded with lettuce, cilantro, dill and a beautiful dandelion plant. Plus, the seeds/plants had spread to either side of our little back porch. All this made me think of you and I managed to find you again. Thank you for the inspiration.
Everything looks great Theresa. My strawberries were good this year until a 1″ rain and then 3 days of clouds rotted them! My blueberries are not near ripe, you being in a warmer zone than I are lucky. My figs came through well on the Chicago but the other three kinds had to come back up from the roots…will be awhile. Peas were really late in coming, beets still coming slowly. Red potatoes from ones purchased to eat that got eyes are in but the new low glycemic ones aren’t ready. Will be interesting to see how they taste! Peppers and cukes are coming slowly. We had a very cool and damp spring so I didn’t put them in until mid May. Onions that looked iffy earlier are now bulbing nicely. Beans seem to have something interested in them…not a good thing. Maybe a rabbit, nibbles to small for a ground hog.
Apple tree, Ginger Gold, is just loaded this year. Finally got all the spray schedule in this year so am hoping they hold. Sour cherry was heavy with bloom but didn’t seem to set well. Not sure why as pollinators were heavy.
Thanks for the pictures and telling us about your successes, definitely good to know things.
Elaine, sorry to hear you’re not gardening. Maybe all that wonderful cilantro, dill, and lettuce will get you started again.
Tish, sure sorry to hear about the strawberries. I too have had that happen and it’s disappointing.
I have early blueberries, early/midseason/ and late blueberries. Maybe that accounts for why I’m harvesting now. Was thinking we were in the same planting zone. What zone are you in?
Hope the rabbits don’t have their eye on your beans. Years ago after gardening for at least a decade with no fence and rabbits all around but no damage — I went out to pick the most beautiful beans I’ve ever had and a rabbit had mowed them to the ground!!
Great you can tell one nibble from another. At least that gives you a clue about what the critter is. Around here, if it’s a ground hog — they take it all – not just a nibble.
Exciting that your apple tree is loaded!! Yum!!
Hope you get enough cherries for a pie anyway. Years ago when we were first married a neighbor gave us permission to harvest their cherries when they ripened. Bill climbed the tree to pick and literally had to fight off the birds!!
A garden always has successes and failures. Part of gardening. As far as telling about my successes — yes, but I always try to give account of failures as well. They can be just as important as successes — maybe more so sometimes.
Thanks for the great report, Tish.
I enjoy hearing what volunteers for you. I have planted beets twice this year without any growing, but there’s an area I noticed today where beets are growing from a beet I let go to seed last year. I always throw old seeds on the compost pile in the Fall and am shocked every year what comes up.
I’m curious about the late onions you’ll use for sets. When will you harvest them, will you cure them and when will you replant? Thanks Theresa, Julie
I read all your posts and save them, there are tips and learnings every time.
I like the named varieties you use as that is helpful and I can go look for places to buy seeds I haven’t tried. How the different varieties taste is also very welcome.
I have been planting more flowers and less food plants because of critters, I listed 11 types of wildlife here in Asheville and with no fencing it has been lots of work to grow and then end up feeding Deer, rabbits, turtles. I saw a turtle with it’s entire head inside a tomato, and a neighbors dog would come and eat the tomatoes. Wild turkeys pecking a hole in every cuke, and voles eating the potatoes. I have made various plantings in raised beds, lined in the ground beds, bins and baskets. The plants I grow changes depending on what I think will survive the nibble and graze.
On the other hand I like seeing the wildlife, the bears are quite numerous and now coyotes eating our pets is disturbing. Everywhere you live in USA has something challenging for gardening.
It is very beautiful here in NC and this year I am trying Dry Farming like you do Theresa because our well has to be repaired and the parts have been backordered over 9 months. I carry buckets of water from the house to some dry plants, we have an acre lot and can not afford to pay to water everything that gets dry.
This is getting a bit long for a comment, I enjoy what you write about your life, what you eat from the garden, and any goings on in your neighborhood. So keep sending please, thanks
As I mentioned in the post, I’ve had very poor germination from purchased seed and excellent germination from seed I saved — or that is dropped by the plants in the garden. Your experience with the beets seems to indicate the same.
Regarding the onions planted too late to reach full size and that I’ll probably use for sets:
Some I’ll harvest and let them cure – I’ll do that after the tops fall over (just like regular size onions do). After curing I can keep them until it’s convenient to move them to the garden again. That could be in the fall – which usually gives me nice spring onions into the beginning of winter.
I’ll keep some of the cured bulbs and replant in the spring. Keeping in mind that since onions are biennials there is good chance of these bolting – which won’t be a problem anyway if you use them as young onions. And then again you could get some that don’t bolt.
Often I’ll leave the small bulbs in the ground (they’ll cure in ground in hot dry weather) and they’ll either come up into fall and even winter and into spring to give me spring onions.
Margo, your comments were so encouraging to me and gave me some great advice and/or suggestions.
I usually try to mention varieties, but not so much in this post. I thought I’d never get the post up and going back to make sure I got the correct names was a task that would have taken another week. Some time before year end I will try to list varieties grown this year in a separate post and give a few details about each.
You sure have my sympathy with those critters you’re dealing with!
And to top it off you have to deal with the neighbor’s dog! I really dislike it when people are so inconsiderate of others that they allow their dogs and cats to do anything they want to a neighbor’s property.
I have a suggestion for you that may work. I read years ago that Ruth Stout used this idea for critters and I never forgot it and am prepared to use it if I must but hope I don’t have to.
It has it’s disadvantages (not looking so nice and being inconvenient sometimes) but it could help.
You might already have some pieces of wire fencing around bent into various shapes. If not you could purchase a roll. Small openings in the fencing are better than large. Then cut the fencing into various sizes depending on where you plan to put it. In most cases you’ll want to bend it — put it over or around various plants. Deer, rabbits, ground hogs, and turkey can’t get a firm footing on wire that is somewhat raised and also covering most of your plants.And it moves – and they don’t like that. I’m not explaining this well, but you can experiment and use your imagination.
Voles you can trap as I do. Search TMG for voles.
When you see turtles (I assume they are not snapping turtles but rather box turtles) you can take them down the road to a nice “wild” area and they’ll be perfectly happy.
Bears would be out of my realm. Sure can’t help there.
If you garden as I do you will be very successful with dry farming Margo.
I totally relate to not being able to water stuff. Our place is an acre as well and there is NO WAY I would or could water.
The secret is proper preparation of the ground, making sure organic matter is replenished every year and mulching deeply while the soil is still damp in the spring. An encouraging post you might want to review is https://tendingmygarden.com/3-keys-to-successful-gardening-more-proof-they-work/.
Keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing as the season progresses.
Again, I appreciate your taking time to comment. And it was NOT
too long at all. Will keep all your suggestions in mind in the future.
THANK YOU Margo!
Last year I took in my mentally disabled brother and sometimes didn’t have enough time to can or dry the harvest. I found that I could freeze things like strawberries, peppers and tomatoes quickly- it seems the fastest of the methods. Then later, when I had more time, I could thaw them out and can or dry them. I would hope that would work for blueberries and peas. Maybe peas could be frozen unshelled and shelled later. I prefer snap peas, which don’t need shelling. I would have friends and family help me harvest in exchange for a bit of it. I also paid a teen to come in and help with some heavier things and he was so excited harvesting I would give him a little to take home.
This year I will need help again. —–
(pause Abby’s comment)
Theresa here. I’m interrupting Abby’s comment.
The last part of her comment was personal and very intense. So much so that I felt it needed its own spotlight.
Thus, I’m sending the comment in its entirety to subscribers in an email (via Mail Chimp) which you should receive sometime today.
Knowing my wonderful TMG family, I think some will want to reach out to let Abby know she’ll be in our thoughts and prayers or send her messages of encouragement. To do that you can respond to that email (which of course will come to me) and I’ll forward it to Abby.
If you’re a long time reader of TMG you know I’ve written a lot about how important one’s attitude is in dealing with almost any situation. A “can do” attitude can make a huge difference in any situation.
Abby certainly has that kind of attitude. (You will see that when you read her full comment.) Encouragement and support from others can strengthen that even more.
I know first hand because of how much you helped me with your supportive responses when Bill died. I treasure everyone of them and still go back to read them even now.
I’m looking forward to sending your personal emails of encouragement and support to Abby.
I love your posts, but love your gardening methods even more. I heavily mulched this year and the garden, although very small, is the best I have ever had.
A very heartfelt THANK YOU to you for all you share. It has made such an improvement in my garden as well as my life! I am 76 and have been digging in the dirt for as long as I can remember. But I also love to quilt, knit, spin, weave, bake, and just “make things.” So the heavy mulching frees up a lot of time for me, especially since I don’t get things done as fast as I used to. We are NEVER too old to learn new ways and make changes!
Thank you, Theresa!
I always love getting your posts, your garden is inspiring and beautiful.
Because we both live in zone 7 your posts can be especially helpful to me, showing me what’s possible. Case in point with this post are peas. I’ve never gotten more than a few handfuls of peas out of my garden cause in zone 7 we don’t really get a spring. It’s cold, then it’s hot, with a few spring-like days here and there in between. But here it is June and you’ve got peas growing like gangbusters, so I’ll have to look at what you did, what variety you planted, and give it a try again next year. I have ginger growing this year, thanks to you letting me know about it via a post here.
You made me think “uh oh” for a second with what you said about what I can realistically harvest. I’ve planted 4 kinds of beans, lots of them too, just in case I have to live on them. However, 2 of the varieties, Christmas Limas and Pigeon Peas are for dried beans so can pick pods and store them in baskets somewhere with good air circulation and then shell them at my leisure. Kentucky Wonder green beans for fresh eating and freezing aren’t very much work and Jackson Wonder limas will be fresh, frozen and dried (another basket). So I think I’ll be ok there. Busy, but ok.
I know these posts are a whole lot of work to put together, but I love seeing pictures of your garden. However, if the pictures are way too much work, plain text works for me just as well!
The best thing I’ve learned from you can be summed up in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill. “Success is moving from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. Pretty much sums up gardening, doesn’t it?
Take care and God bless,
Congrats on your best garden ever!
Makes me happy I could be a part of that.
And you are so right. We are NEVER too old to learn new ways.
Thanks for letting me know you’ve benefited by reading TMG.
Glad to hear from you Derek.
Appreciate your taking time to comment.
Hope your garden is doing great and your harvest will be abundant.
About peas: for years my pea crops were always abundant. In the past decade I’ve had at least two years that were NOT abundant and only harvested very few peas. Disappointing.
A possible reason could be the decline of good seed available. I notice that in almost all crops. And then – as you’ve mentioned the weather can have a lot to do with it coupled with our timing for planting.
To try to counter that I plant 3 times – and each planting is about a week to 10 days apart.
Sounds like you’ve got a good strategy worked out for your beans.
Thanks for letting me know that the written word without pictures will work for you.
Liked your Winston Churchill quote. But you know, it’s seldom I consider “failure” real failures. In most cases they teach us valuable lessons going forward. We may not really enjoy them but sometimes they can help us figure a better way.
But then you already know this.
I’m saying it mainly for the benefit of new gardeners who may not know.
Thanks for taking time to write such a good comment Harold.
Hello from New Jersey! I just wanted to comment (again) because I really enjoy this blog. It’s so helpful to hear REAL people sharing about gardening. There’s so much on the internet that is just put there to sell a product.
We started our garden about 5 years ago in CLAY soil. I write that in capital letters intentionally because I’m pretty sure I could have chosen to dig the soil and open a pottery instead of gardening. We are slowly but surely ameliorating the soil with amendments like leaves, straw, and compost. In the meantime, we garden with an eye to knowing that the clay is there. The primary impact is that we start almost no seeds directly in the garden. The clay is just too heavy for them to break through. For peas and beans, we direct-seed, but put a layer of bought soil on top to allow them to break through easier.
We also started out with a cool and wet spring this year, which means lots of slugs. I will be going back in the TMG archives for advice on how to deal with slugs better next year. On the other hand, now we are in complete drought. Mulch helps a lot, but absolutely no rain in at least a month means that we are watering more than we would like. So far everything is surviving, although the cucumber plants are looking worse for the wear.
Finally, I really liked the comment about not losing enthusiasm due to failure. Every single year we have at least one of our regular crops that does horribly. Sometimes we know why (slugs devastated the string beans this year, a wind storm broke my zucchini in half one year, etc.), but other times it isn’t as clear. We don’t give up, though! We just make sure to have enough so that losing one thing isn’t the end of the world.
Wishing everyone best of luck with your gardens and some rain to boot!
These are among my favorite kinds of posts that you do. I learn so much each time, and they’re so fun! Thank you for the wonderful tour and education.