For a while – even as late as the end of May, I didn’t think there would be any vegetables in the June garden big enough to show in photos. But growth came quickly in the last couple of days in May and the first week in June.
Saving Seed Has Become a Necessity for me
Not only was the spring colder than usual, but I had more trouble with seeds germinating than in any year of the 43 years I’ve gardened.
As reader Rob D exclaimed in his comment to a recent post “We must save seeds!” Then, using cilantro as an example, he went on to tell of his experience — which by the way is identical to mine.
I’ve mentioned several times in various posts that purchased seed gets worse every year. And I order from various places that I consider excellent sources.
This year I’ve resolved to save seed that I usually don’t save.
For one thing, the decline of seed quality is so obvious I can no longer ignore it. And second – there is a good possibility that we may find it difficult to get any seed in the near future — especially varieties that may be our favorites.
Since I eat primarily from my garden it’s a necessity to take steps to make sure there will be something for me to grow and eat next year as well as this year.
Seed I Save or Allow to Drop in the Garden
Until now I’ve only saved seed from
- lettuce (mainly Winter Density),
- cucumbers (Marketmore),
- peas (tall peas and a bush pea),
- one variety of winter squash,
- buckwheat, and
- various beans that I grow for dried beans (which I have not grown since Bill died),
- seed of my favorite zinnias and Sweet Williams
Seed that I allow to drop in the garden and come up at the right time the following year are
- Russian Kale
- Chinese Cabbage
- seelect tomatoes
- Dill (in addition to collecting some)
- Buckwheat (also collect it)
- Magentaspreen (a good substitute for greens when lettuce is scarce)
- Wild lettuce (that I started from purchased seed some years ago; good for medicinal use if you know how to prepare it. I’ve not yet learned but will. )
- Opal basil
- Summer Poinsettia
In addition to those listed above I also allow what some may consider weeds, to grow and set seed in the garden.
- Wild clover
- Plantain (great for itchy insect bites and other medicinal purposes)
- Venus’ Looking Glass (absolutely beautiful little purple flowers on a 10 to 20 inch stalk)
- Lambsquarters (great green for salads if my lettuce is sparse; and the wild greens always have more nutrients)
In my letter to TMG subscribers in May of 2019 I gave details of what to do with weeds to benefit your garden.
I also touched on this in the post under the sub heading: “A Best Kept Secret – Weeds are Valuable”.
One of the Most Important Posts on TMG
If you’ve not already done so, you may want to review a recent post that I consider one of the most important ones on TMG. You’ll discover the principles in place that make diversity of plants in your garden important. And why it’s important to have living plants through out your garden whenever possible. Find it here.
The Plan Going Forward
This year’s plan is to also save seed from radishes, onions, bush beans, and whatever else I like that I end up growing.
Where (most) of the Flowers Are in the Garden and What They Do
My garden is approximately 2500 square feet. I leave a border of 2 feet around the garden from the fence to where the permanent beds start. Flowers (perennials) are planted in the next foot.
Flowers serve lots of purposes including their roots keeping the soil life alive and active during the winter months, providing additional plant residue to enrich the soil, and serving as shelter and food for pollinators and beneficial insects.
And they’re beautiful which enriches my spirit.
Welcome to my June 2023 Garden
Click on pictures to enlarge them.
What’s in the Garden on the left hand side and Remarks
At the bottom of the picture #1 above is the row of transplanted-this-spring strawberries that I mentioned in a recent letter to subscribers-only about strawberries. You might recall these newly moved plants didn’t give me the abundance of strawberries that the untouched-from-last-year berries produced.
Thus, if you’re new to strawberries don’t expect as much production the first year.
Here are some of the strawberries that I didn’t thin or move. They produced a LOT of berries!
Here’s a view that leaves out the row of spring-transplanted strawberries so you can see more.
The bed at the bottom of the picture above holds potatoes on the left side. And behind them is one volunteer tomato that I’ve not decided whether or not to pull up. The right hand side has carrots coming up that are still too small to see in the photo. Another potato on the right.
And by the way, I have potatoes in various spots all over the garden. I grow early, midseason and late varieties.
The next bed (in the picture) shows spring-planted lettuce. The Winter Density is visible on the right. The Reine des Glaces (translation is Queen of the Ice) and Gustav lettuce is to the left of the Winter Density and not visible in that photo.
The primary lettuce I depend on in all seasons is Winter Density. A few pieces of Deer Tongue lettuce is mixed in with that. And one or two Oak Leaf lettuce plants. By the time these larger lettuces set seed, it can be hard to tell which is which unless they’re marked. So that’s how other varieties get in with the WD seed.
Reine des Glaces is delicious and a definite favorite. Wonderful by itself or mixed with other lettuces.
Gustav is a butterhead that is new to me this year. It’s ‘ok’. It’ll probably outlast the other lettuces because I don’t pick much of it. But I’ll use it a lot when there’s not much left of the others. It makes small pretty heads rather quickly.
In the bed past the lettuces (in Picture #1 or 2) you can barely see the new radishes coming up. Carrots are planted to the left of the radishes. That was my first planting of carrots this spring. They’ve not germinated well.
To the right of that is my patch of Plantain that I allow to grow in the garden. It is said to be edible when young. I don’t like it, but grow it for the medicinal properties, one of which is to take the itch out of insect bites.
In Picture #1 you can see it’s directly in the path. Can just hear Bill now asking me why I’m letting it grow in the middle of the walkway. — I guess because it first positioned itself there and looks so pretty. He’d breathe a sigh of relief that at least I’m not allowing the patch to get any bigger. 😉
The next bed (Picture #1 and #2) is cabbage. It’s doing great. With all the rain we had a few days ago about 5 heads got too big to leave in the garden. Those were harvested.
Here’s a closer view from the middle path.
The next few beds are not visible. They contain mainly tomato plants, asparagus, radishes (one older radish is overlapping onto the peas as you’ll see in the next photo), and a few onions.
The tall green plants in the far distant bed are tall peas and short bush peas. This year’s planting of peas is only 25% of what I usually plant. Peas are work intensive and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle anymore. I’ll probably end up a little shy of a gallon in the freezer plus seed saved for next year. And some for fresh eating of course.
The bed behind the peas held winter rye. On the right hand side of the photo above you can see some of the rye that I left for seed saving. It’s not yet dry enough to harvest the seed.
Had I known we’d have so much rain I would have cut stalks and bundled them. If they’d been inside with a fan blowing 24/7 the seed heads would be dry by now.
Not sure what I’ll plant there. It could end up being a bed used for winter greens.
After that are blueberry bushes. Not shown.
The Right Hand Side of the Garden
In the picture below I’m standing in a path between rows looking back at the entrance gate. The yellow sunflower-like plant is heliopsis. It’s one of my favorite flowers in the garden. It’s usually accented with more red daylilies but I removed too many of the red one last fall. It’ll be back to normal next year.
The tall lighter green plants in the picture above are potatoes. A red cabbage shows on the left hand side. The pink oenothera will be taken out when I get ready to use that space. Until then – it’s helping soil life and nourishing my spirit with its beauty.
Here’s a better view of the heliopsis:
Onions, Lambsquarters, Dahlias and Daylilies
Didn’t think Lambsquarters were going to appear in my garden this year. One plant finally showed up! Came up in a path between an onion bed and a potato bed close to where the flowers begin.
Would hate to be without it since it’s a good back up for salads if lettuce is sparse. And of course wild plants have a lot more nutrients in them.
As soon as it seeds, I’ll save a few seeds just in case, let the rest fall where they may, pull the plant and lay it in the path to decay.
Huge parsley plants can be ruined over night when voles decide the root looks like a good meal. I try to have at least a dozen plants distributed around the garden. It’s not a guarantee but it gives me a better chance of enjoying my parsley.
I missed saving seed from my parsley last year. So I didn’t have as many plants as I wanted this spring. But I have 7.
Russian Kale self seeds in my garden. It comes up in spring and in the fall. Its bluish leaves are a nice change of pace from all the green. Several times I’ve picked the one bare in the picture below.
In June the Russian Kale that wintered over sets seed in abundance.
Cilantro (shown with cucumber)
As you past the Plantain and look to the right in Picture #1, you see a tall plant with frothy white blooms on top . That’s Cilantro blooming and setting seed before the wind and rain knocked it over.
This next picture was taken after 3 days of rain. I’ll be glad when the Cilantro sets and drops seed so I can remove the plant giving the cucumbers more room.
As Rob D mentioned in his comment about saving seed, I too never had much luck growing cilantro. Finally got one plant. It seeded. So I saved a bit of seed (backup) and allowed the rest to drop in garden. Now I and my pollinators and beneficial insects have all the cilantro plants we can use.
Whenever any of the self sown plants are in the way of planned plantings I just pull them up. Then I lay them either whole or cut up on the bed or in the path to decay and be pulled into the soil by the soil life.
Not a problem as long as I have one or two elsewhere in the garden dropping seed for next year.
Since we’re talking seed saving — lets talk spinach.
I’ve never done well with spinach. But this year I saw great potential for the future. Rather than just ignoring the plants, I paid attention when they were setting seed. Seed has to be what I would call totally dry before you save it. The stalks that were “dry” and brown I’ve already collected.
Some still remains in the garden bed with green leaves and seed as you can see in the picture. To see the seeds on the stalk better – click to enlarge.
Hopefully the cilantro story will repeat itself with my spinach seed and I’ll have lots of spinach that begins earlier in the season and lasts longer than what I’m use to.
The lettuce in the picture below was planted late last summer. It provided lettuce for me during the winter and spring. I stopped picking it when my spring-planted lettuce got big enough.
The oldest lettuces are blooming and starting to set seed now. The seeds are held under the white fluff.
It was exciting when I started growing Chinese Cabbage year before last. It’s easy to grow and it comes up when other things are not yet ready to grow. Sadly, only one plant headed up. It was quite good. This year I didn’t even get ONE to head. Just leaves.
A brief internet search indicated there is a loose-leaf Chinese Cabbage. But each source used for my purchased seed indicated what I chose would head up.
Although I won’t purchase Chinese Cabbage seed again, I intend to keep it in the garden. It makes an excellent winter green here in Virginia even with little if any protection.
It goes to seed very quickly. I let it bloom and seed. A few of the nicest seedlings are kept and used for backup in case other greens are in short supply. Then they too are allowed to set seed and start the process over. With this process happening in my garden 3 times a year I can almost always find some of its beautiful leaves in the garden on any given day.
In late summer last year carrot seed was planted that never germinated. Much to my surprise this spring I found 4 carrots in that space.
From the looks of the top of the carrot that appeared above ground the carrots would be huge. Decided to save these for seed. Couldn’t resist pulling the smallest one to see what I might be getting in future carrots.
Much to my delight the carrot was perfect. Was at least 8 inches long, had a diameter of 1 3/4 inches. It was one big beautiful carrot!
I have 3 sections of beds planted in carrots thus far. Percentage of germination in the first planting was low as I mentioned previously .
Germination rate was high in the second and third planting. The spacing is too close and I’ll have to thin some. I’ll transplant some of the seedlings even though I may lose some to that.
I want at least one full bed of carrots still in the ground going into winter.
Upper Corner of the Garden
I so enjoy looking at this corner when the daylilies are blooming. Most of those (all pastel shades) are outside the garden.
If you could see past the large tomato plant at the top center of the photo above you’d see mainly potatoes and strawberries.
The pink of the Oenothera and the blue leaves of the red cabbage coupled with the pastel shades of the daylilies make it very appealing to look at.
Usually my tomatoes start ripening in mid July or later. This year I might get some sooner.
The plant shown above is the largest. Others planted later are about 1/2 the height.
More Kalibos Cabbage
When I first mentioned trying Kalibos, friend and reader Abigail mentioned to me that she had grown Kalibos and liked it. After that I really looked forward to it even more.
And WOW!! was I surprised at not only how beautiful the heads are, but how delicious it is.
Most of my diet is made up of chopped vegetables. The more variety of veggies I have growing the better my meals taste.
I couldn’t believe how much more delicious meals were when this wonderful cabbage was included!
Rather than trying to store a lot of cabbage in the refrigerator I leave it in the garden as long as possible. They keep well there as long as the heads remain “tight” and don’t show signs of “opening”.
In the few years I’ve grown cabbage they obligingly form heads at different times rather than all at once. That makes them even more perfect for my lifestyle.
After that 3 days of rain I noticed 5 heads that needed to be harvested. One of which was the red Kalibos.
This week I’ll start more cabbage. Maybe 6 plants at a time. I’ll continue every few weeks through September. The last plantings will be for the winter garden.
I’m always into late June or early July planting beans. Only a dozen contender bush beans have been planted. I’ll soon plant some other varieties that a friend shared with me.
Detroit Red Beets are about the finest you can get. (Over the years I’ve tried many varieties.) Only two germinated from my first small planting.
Happily almost every seed germinated in my second planting.
They’re too close together. I’ll transplant as I thin. They don’t really care for that, but they look too great to toss.
My plantings are scattered throughout the garden. Sections of beets are small, averaging about 2 to 3 square feet.
Small butternut-like Squash
I have a small butternut like winter squash that somehow ended up in the fence border by the driveway. I can’t believe I put it there, but I did. And it loves it! Has already produced lots of forming squash.
Waltham Butternut Squash
In my opinion this is about the best winter squash one can grow. A great keeper and so delicious. This is the first year since Bill died (8 years in October) that I’ve grown it. I’ll be glad to once again have my own seed from this squash.
First ones planted didn’t germinate. (They were from purchased seed.)
Second try produced 5 beautiful seedlings. They’ll be planted outside the garden at the lower end tomorrow.
I’ll place some plastic fence netting around them until they grow a bit. Another plant in that section was “cut” to the ground earlier in the spring. Have not seen any rabbits but that’s what the damage looked like.
The harvest was good but not as impressive as I had hoped.
I lost some plants because of all the rain. Guidelines to harvest plants are after 50% the leaves turn brown. Many of mine had all green leaves but their bulbs were opening from all the rain. So harvest was required. Those are the ones I’m eating first since they won’t cure.
The other plants are curing in my mud room/ enclosed porch. What a wonderful smell when I open that door in the morning. I’m sure many would not agree with my description of the strong garlic smell. 😏
One young man who worked delivering for Fed Ex endeared himself to me by telling me that he loved coming here because it smelled just like his grandmother’s house after she harvested her garlic each year. It was endearing because most young people nowadays don’t know anything about how vegetables are grown.
They’re just about as important to my garden as tomatoes. And unfortunately I only have ONE plant in my garden. Other seedlings started earlier didn’t make it.
I looked through my seeds and found some pepper seed saved from last year. Scattered the seed in a grow bag that’s in the garden. Covered with some straw before all the rain. Looks like every seed germinated and they’re growing faster than usual. So there’s hope for a great fall crop in spite of the lack of germination and/or seedling growth in the spring.
I don’t usually grow melons, but decided to this year.
Lost every seedling! To what — I don’t know.
It’s late but I’m starting more seed this week. We’ll see what happens.
The only thing Mother Earth demands for your success in the garden is for you to abide by the principles that are fixed. Your methods to obtain those principles can vary with each individual.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of my 2023 June garden and that you’ve benefited from some of my experiences and thoughts.
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