Gardening Tips Organic Gardening

Learning Organic Gardening – July Observations

Learning organic gardening is easier when we learn from others. Pictures, organic gardening ideas, and observations from my July garden might help you in yours.

My first garden and my current garden have proven to me many times that working with nature (using my 3 keys as the foundation for success) is the easiest way to learn to garden organically and be successful.

Here’s How One Proof Began

As I stated in my last post all my veggies (except onions) rotted where they fell in 2018 as I lay on my floor healing. Summer poinsettia and some annual weeds that I allow in my garden, grew up to cover the soil as my garden waited for my attention.

No pictures of how it looked back then exist. That’s because it was all I could do to get to the garden when I first started walking.

By the 2019 season, I was only strong enough to plant the lower half of the 2,500 sq. ft.

One of the Many Proofs

Little by little, I pulled up unwanted vegetation at the unplanted end and laid it on the beds and paths as the season progressed. If vegetation was plentiful enough, weeds were rolled “tight” and usually placed at the end of a bed or in the path between beds.

Those weed piles that I made in the summer/fall of 2019 and the winter of 2020 have been a great source of help to me this season. When I ran out of space in beds, they provided perfect spots for late plantings of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The plants love it! The decayed weeds/annuals turned those spots into prime garden real estate!

A tomato plant in decayed weed pile in July. (As of July 30, this tomato is 3 times taller and has lots of blooms.) The pile was between two beds.  The bed to the left housed onions.  To the right was broccoli.  The leaves of the broccoli plants are what you see to the right.  After I harvested I left them on top the bed. When I’m finally able to get more straw into the garden, I’ll place it on top.  The soil life will pull everything down into the soil.

My Simple Approach Made It Doable

Given the facts that I only use simple hand tools, that I’m slow as molasses getting around, and need a crutch for support, there is no way I could have reclaimed my garden so easily without my simple approach to gardening. (Even if it did take two years to “look” like my garden again.)

Everything I do is easy.  And I mean that literally.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it.  BUT, as with anything, it takes a desire to do it and a willingness to make the effort. If you have those things you can do most anything.

What’s Required to Learn Organic Gardening Ways (or anything else)

I remember back in the ’80’s when I had broken something-or-other in my knee.  Couldn’t stand or walk for over a year without the aid of two crutches.  For gardening I lay on the ground and pulled myself along.

I’d say to Bill when I got in the house, “If I can garden anyone can!” His reply was, “Yes, they can. BUT, they have to want to.”

After my broken thigh bone (femur) healed in 2018 and I first got up from the floor I DIDNT WANT TO even look at my garden or borders. Much less “fix” them!

I wanted to close my eyes and have all the borders and garden disappear!

I knew I was in trouble with that attitude.  Fortunately, I got past it.

A Picture Can Be Worth a 1,000 Words in Learning Organic Gardening

Tomatoes

Most of us start tomatoes in March or April with the idea of getting tomatoes a few weeks earlier than if we waited for warm weather.

After all these years of knowing without doubt that the best time to start tomatoes is when the weather warms in May, I’ve persisted in starting them in March or April — until this year.

I’m finally done with that!  Henceforth, I’m following nature and starting them when they want to grow.

This year I started tomatoes in May and transplanted to the garden the last day of May and into the first week of June.  Made it easier on me (gave me more time) and the tomatoes have loved it. They showed it with quick growth and fruit set.

(If you click on the pictures you may be able to enlarge and get a better look.)

Tomatoes transplanted to the garden the first part of June. As of July 30th they’re taller than I am, and heavy with fruit. (This picture taken July 6th) From left to right is lettuce setting seed, plantain, tomatoes, collards, beans, asparagus and broccoli.

Tomato Varieties

I always grow my open pollinated Big Beef plus two or three other varieties.  One of those in recent years has been Cherokee Purple.

Carbon tomatoes.

This year I grew Carbon rather than Cherokee Purple.  It’s still early in the tomato season, but so far I love it!.  Fruit set is much heavier than Cherokee Purple and it was the first tomato to ripen (other than a cherry tomato).

Five Dafel tomato plants are from my 2012 saved seed.  (Since Dafel was a hybrid, my seed may not perform exactly as the purchased hybrid seed parent. )

None are ripe yet, so I can’t speak for taste, but they look great and just as I remember. They’re a medium sized tomato. They form on the plant in clusters similar to cherry tomatoes.

Dafel tomatoes form clusters almost like cherry tomatoes.

Cabbages

After taking the picture of the row with tomatoes (3 pictures up) I turned around and took the picture of the row with the cabbages covered with light row cover fabric.

Cabbages covered with light row cover fabric. You can see part of a tomato plant in the lower left corner.  On the right hand side is a volunteer potato. The row that shows brown vegetation had peas early in the season.  After they finished I cut the plants and left the residue as a covering on the bed.  (Have not yet been able to get more straw into the garden which will will add to the covering.)

Covering cabbage to prevent the cabbage moth and other pests from getting to them doesn’t always work.  I had another few cabbage plants in a different row that was covered but the moth got in.  Wasn’t a lot of damage though.  I harvested and used. They were delicious.

About the Row Cover Fabric

The row cover fabric is about 6 years old, maybe older.  It had some small holes which I repaired short term with tape.  As the days passed it developed more holes in a couple of places.  Repaired them with shipping tape as well.

The tape won’t last.  Eventually it comes off and you have to tape it again.  I’ve repaired it 3 times since April. Wasn’t a big deal since it only took a few minutes and more importantly — it worked!

This is what I saw when I looked under the fabric on July 4th. I was thrilled that the cabbage moth had not gotten to them!

Varieties

July 19th head. Harvested July 31.

Picture taken July 19th. Harvested on July 31st.

These Columbia Cabbage heads were medium and compact. Weighed about 2 to 3 pounds.  No splitting. I couldn’t have been more pleased!

Also had just as many small sized heads (Green Express) which were very nice. (I like the Columbia better since they’re just the right size for me.)

I leave cabbage in the garden as long as possible since I don’t have the room to store many.  Three heads remain at this writing. (Plus 3 young plants planted late that may or may not give me cabbage by fall!)

Storage

From what I’ve read, cabbage likes to be stored at 32º F.  Mine are stored closer to 40ºF.

I wrap each head in a large paper towel attempting to cover all of it.  Then place in a plastic bag and seal. This is not long term storage however. I eat the cabbages usually within 3 weeks and sometimes sooner.

Beets

Not many beets in my garden, because they’re not my favorite thing.  But I enjoy having some for diet diversity.

(And if you juice vegetables they’re a must-have.  It only takes a small piece of beet in with a lot of veggies to make a delicious difference.)

I’ve grown many varieties over the years.  Detroit Red is my choice as the best overall for beauty and eating.

Beets pictured below are Detroit Red.   The leaves stayed beautiful up until last week.

The beets are now huge.  Used two of them the other day with garlic, onions, potato and carrot peelings to make potassium broth. (I use it as a liver tonic, plus it’s delicious.)

Detroit Red beets on July 11th

As you can see  in the picture above, the Detroit Red had perfect leaves for a long time.  So I used those when I wanted to add beet greens to salads in June and through mid-July.

Towards the end of July leaves lost their beauty.   The beets however taste fine.

“Baby” Beets

Found an interesting small variety to try this year named Babybeat.

They get about the size of a plum and are truly delicious.  Still have half a dozen or so in the ground.  Pulled a few yesterday and steamed until tender.  Delicious.

Flea beetles got to the leaves of the Babybeats the minute they started growing.  But that didn’t hurt the taste of the beets or affect their growth. (If flea beetle damage totally destroys the leaves when plants just come up, then growth will be affected.)

Since this is the first year for this variety in my garden, I don’t know (yet) if they’re prone to flea beetle damage or if it was where they were placed in the garden. In my garden flea beetles can attack plants in one bed and not touch those in another bed a few feet away.

Beets – “Babybeat” variety on July 6th showing flea beetle damage.

Okra

Never tasted Okra that I enjoyed ; thus, never grew it — until this year.

Two things influenced my decision to give it a try.  A dear reader sent me a book on Okra sometime ago.  AND  a long-time friend made it sound worth trying.

Only have five plants and didn’t place them in prime garden real estate.  None are very tall, but all are robust and bearing fruit. More than enough for me.

Sautéed the pods in a tablespoon of olive oil for two minutes and then added to my chopped raw vegetables.

I’ll save some seed and grow a couple of plants each year to help keep my diet diversified.

Okra. The green on the far left of the picture is Oenothera that was blooming (pink) in the June garden picture.  I let it grow in the garden just to have it on hand for replanting in borders. Behind the Okra at the top of the picture is Oenothera and the annual summer poinsettia coming up.

Broccoli

Intended to leave 3 heads of broccoli for seed saving. (3 is a good number for diversity’s sake.)

They were too irresistible and succumbed to my hunger. Ended up with only one for seed saving.

Harlequin bugs haven’t been too bad to control this year. Because of that I was able to leave a few broccoli plants in the garden longer than usual. I cut the “branches/stalks”, sauté, and use with my chopped vegetables.

Beans

The percentage of germination for my first planting of snap beans was poor.  Ended up with 4 plants. Those 4 plants gave me 8 meals while I was waiting for the second planting to produce.

Above – July 6th – the 4 bean plants are right in front at the bottom of the picture. The frothy plants in the back ground are stalks of lettuce going to seed.  Top left is a Big Beef tomato plant.  The blue green plants are collards which I had thought to pull up sooner. To the immediate right of the beans is a small planting of peanuts. And to the right of the peanuts is spring planted parsley. The flowers are daylilies.

Harvest for a meal.

My 3rd planting of beans is almost ready to bear fruit.

I’ll plant one more time the middle of August for a fall crop.

Chopped carrots, cabbage, onion, garlic and broccoli with lettuce.  Snap beans. Potatoes sprinkled with chopped dill. Everything from the garden except the carrots. (Planted carrots 3 times and none of the seed germinated.)

Peanuts and Parsley

Spring planted parsley and peanuts.

The parsley that was protected during the winter took me through the spring and is now going to seed.  I planted more parsley in the spring in several places throughout the garden to make sure I’d have some for summer.

Keeping it spread throughout the garden increases my chances of having parsley intact after the Black Swallow Tail butterfly comes through. In spite of efforts to keep the caterpillar under control, they can quickly eat the plant to a nub if you miss seeing them for a day or so.

The peanuts are looking fantastic — at least on top of the ground.  Won’t check underground until about September or when the tops start to die back. They too are planted in several spots throughout the garden.

Peppers

To see what my peppers have always looked like by this time each year see this post. You should get a laugh or two from it as well.

Peppers — even when planted early — sit there for the longest time until conditions suit them.  Then they quickly grow to giants.  (At least mine always did.)

Wanting to see how late I could plant and get the same results, I decided to plant peppers later than usual and transplant to the garden about late June or the first of July.

I’m not 100% sure yet (because there are always so many variables), but I think that may have been a mistake. Maybe they need to “sit there” after establishing roots and wait.  By fall I should know more.

All the pepper plants look healthy and I’ve even gotten a few peppers.  But they’re not HUGE and loaded with fruit as in past years.

Peppers transplanted after mid June.  Only about 2 feet tall rather than the usual 4 1/2 to 6 feet.

Russian Kale

Volunteer Russian Kale. (the other plants are volunteer summer poinsettia)

The flea beetle and/or the Harlequin bugs both love Russian Kale. I hand pick the Harlequin bugs to control them. But with flea beetles, I just watch and hope they won’t do too much damage before the plants “outgrow” them. Will depend on conditions.

In the meantime I pick a lot of the new leaves for salads.

Once I see which plants are the strongest I’ll thin out the others.

Onions

Last year I didn’t grow enough onions.  This year I probably grew too many.

Harvest for early maturing onions like Texas Super Sweets starts the first of June.  The long day and intermediate onion harvests starts about the end of June and continues through the first part of August.

July 6th – Left to right at top: Long day onions starting to fall over; second planting of snap bean; asparagus ferns; lettuce.  Middle: Dafel tomato.  Bottom: Oenothera, opal basil, volunteer potato, top of cucumber plant.  Top right: daylilies and potatoes.

I can hardly get my back door open and walk through my mud room porch to the kitchen because of all the onions laid out in baskets to cure. They take up every inch of available space.

Curing my Onions

It’s much easier (and way less mess) to cure outside.  Bill use to set up screens for me protected with a tarp. (See this post for pictures and details.) I can’t handle all that  – so I have to cure inside.

When I ran out of floor space in the mud room, out of desperation I placed four flats (turned upside down) in a spot that is mostly shaded all day.  Put the onions on top and then protected from rain with my makeshift cold frame that I use to start and/or protect seedlings in late winter and early spring.

It’s not the best set up for curing onions but should protect them from dew and/or unexpected showers unless there is lot of wind with rain.  That’ll blow off the cold-frame unless I have enough heads-up time to anchor it in place.

Above are just harvested onions. Large ones to the left are Copras.  From Center of picture to the right are medium and small Australian  Brown Onions.

The same onions about two weeks into the curing process.

Make-shift cold-frame propped over the onions to protect from rain, but let air circulate. (Those inside have a fan running 24/7.)

Cucumber

It was almost July before I put cucumbers in the garden this year.

I usually transplant cukes to the garden at the end of May or first of June.  Mine have always seemed to like the conditions in June.  Not too cold — not too hot;  like Goldilocks’ porridge it seems to be just right.

This year it was July before I got them into the garden. As you can see in the picture, the foliage loved it. However, when temperatures stayed above 90º for weeks, they didn’t set fruit.

When checking the vines for squash bugs yesterday I noticed a lot of small cucumbers. Hopefully they’ll keep growing.

Final Thoughts on Learning Organic Gardening

If you’re a new gardener some of the best advice I can give you — (other than the 3 keys) — is to enjoy the journey.

You’re never going to know everything — and you don’t need to.

Every year is different; most things are cyclical; and many variables that influence crop performance are so minute you’ll never be aware of them.

Yes, nature is complex!! BUT she makes it sooo easy for the gardener. All you need do is follow her example while you tend your garden.

Enjoy every minute in your garden and look at everything as a learning experience.

Theresa

PS – Please leave me a comment and let me know if you like posts like these and if they’re helpful to you.

_____

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18 Comments

  • I have always found peace and ease in my garden and this year with the pandemic I hear others for the first time are feeling the same. This year it has been a veritable blessing for me. Pinched nerves in my back along with arthritis kept me from walking any distance. One way or another I managed to get it in and the more I was out there the less the pain became until now with my kneeler and a walker I can work out there pain free all day. There is a lot more to gardening the way we do than just getting food. The results taste special too.

    Have a happy garden

    Ray Kent

  • Your garden looks wonderful. I am wondering what you do for the squash bug. My zucchini always grows well, has lots of blooms, I will get one or two zucchini then the plant collapses and dies. the plant is usually severed at the base.

  • Hello Theresa!
    so glad to hear you are thriving in your garden (i had no doubts)! I have never heard the term before, but how do you “roll tight” a weed? Do you literally roll it up and shove it in the ground or what? very curious 🙂 An your garden is of course BEAUTIFUL as always. Thank you!

  • I always love reading your posts. You have inspired me to change to ‘no till’ gardening and plant things other than tomatoes and peppers. This fall I’ll try garlic once more (the seed garlic I got from your recommended supplier didn’t produce very big bulbs, but it could be lack of fertility in my soil). I didn’t amend other than compost and slow release organic fertilizer. I’ll attempt growing onions next spring, too! Thanks for your inspiration! Dianna Malta Z7b Georgia

  • I always learn things from your posts. And it is encouraging to a still-novice gardener when I read that an accomplished gardener faces the same inexplicable problems I do. The carrots in my garden were great this year, but despite several attempts, the borage did not germinate, nor did the parsley. Green beans and peppers have been really slow, but the tomatoes are producing a bumper crop! (Now I’m learning about canning!) Thanks for all your insights. Reading your posts is like chatting with a fellow gardener!

  • It’s always so much fun to get a tour of your garden and also “hear” your comments on each crop’s performance!

  • Kay, sounds like you have squash vine borer. This is the caterpillar of a moth. There are a lot of ways to deal with this- most don’t work. I use BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacteria that only attacks caterpillars. I inject it into the stems (or leaf stalks where it runs down into the stems) of the squash. Have to do it early in the season to get them before they do irreversible damage. You can also make another planting, as the moth generally emerges in early spring and is gone by now.

  • Ray, I was glad to hear that your garden has been a blessing to you – especially this year. Absolutely wonderful that you can work out all day without pain! Was so happy to hear that.

    Kay, I’m glad you think the garden looks wonderful. Appreciate your telling me.

    Sounds to me like your squash problem is the squash vine borer.
    When you first see the plant droop you can examine the stem and find a somewhat soft area that might indicate where the larvae is in the stem. Cut the stem with a sharp knife and and if you find the larvae remove and kill.

    Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. When the larvae is in the stem right at soil level it’s hard to get to.

    After you finish cover the stem with soil and many times it will recover.

    Squash Vine borer is a bane to gardeners. So you’re in good company. You can read my experience with them in 2012
    here https://tendingmygarden.com/squash-bugs-it-aint-over-til-its-over/

    Over the years I’ve gotten lucky once or twice and was able to kill the moth when I saw it flying around the plants. It’s very visible because it’s black with red on its back. Just Google “squash vine borer moth” to see a picture

    When I got ready to post this reply I saw that Abby Stein had joined the conversation and had given you some good input.If you’re able to do what she suggests you’ll be pleased with the results.

    Regarding squash bugs you’ll want to read these two posts:
    https://tendingmygarden.com/squash-bugs-tactics-for-winning-the-war/

    https://tendingmygarden.com/squash-bugs-end-of-the-season-strategy/

    Beth, you probably will never hear that term anyplace but here. I’m sure it won’t be elsewhere because it won’t make anyone any money.
    Some time back I sent out a letter to subscribers. It was not on TMG. It was titled “Don’t Waste Your Weeds”. You should have received it.

    I also explained how to roll the weeds here:: https://tendingmygarden.com/making-the-most-of-every-opportunity-what-i-suggested-to-a-reader/

    In the comment section Julie explained it this way: “think you mean kind of like rolling up sticky bun dough once you have spread the filling all over–”

    I thought that was a good description.

    Thanks for your compliment on the garden. It’s definitely lost it’s “spring” youthfulness, but it’s beautiful in a different way by mid summer.

    Dianna, I’m so glad you love reading my posts!

    Congratulations on the good decision to change to “no till”. You’ll save yourself a ton of work and get better results to boot!

    Sorry about your garlic. Not getting large bulbs can be the result of various things. The smaller the clove you plant, the smaller the bulb will be. And your soil needs to have plenty of organic matter in it.

    Compost is good. You shouldn’t need to bother with any purchased fertilizer if you replenish organic materials in the soil each year.

    When you said “I didn’t amend other than compost and slow release organic fertilizer” — Soil that receives organic materials every year — such as leaves, compost, crop residue, etc. does NOT NEED TO BE AMENDED with purchased fertilizers.

    I don’t know what your temperatures are in Georgia, but garlic likes a couple of months of cool temperatures when first planted. Plant when temperature there get below 50 degrees if you can.

    Good luck with your onions next spring. Fresh garden onions are a million times better than store bought.
    In Georgia you could probably plant some onions in the fall and have them winter over for harvest next year.

    Bonnie, your comment was very meaningful to me. Gardens and crops are promoted in our society as being beautiful and without blemish all the time. That’s totally false. There are always things that don’t turn out just like the way the gardener would like — but that’s just the way things are. Every year is a bit different and sometimes a whole bunch different.

    Healthy soil and observation on the gardeners part is the path to follow for the best results possible.

    Regarding seeds not germinating. —I’ve found that purchased seeds get worse every year. I’m trying to save as much of my own seed as I can. They will germinate!!

    Peppers are always slow but they should grow more when they like the conditions as we head into fall.

    Hey Julie!
    I’m glad you had fun on the tour!

    Abigail, thanks for the good input to Kay regarding the SVB.

    Thanks everyone for joining the conversation and adding so much to the post.
    Theresa

  • Theresa, loved seeing all that you’ve accomplished this year. Thanks so much for taking the time to take pictures and explain all of what you’ve tried so far this year and what worked.
    Dona

  • You cabbages are beautiful! When should one expect fruit on broccoli? Mine seemed happy with lots of large leaves but have done exactly nothing as far as flowering 🙁

    My cucumbers all sulked, a couple of them died, none of them are big enough to be worth mentioning. They didn’t like *something* about conditions, that’s for sure.

    And my melons – don’t recall if I mentioned the flame weeder incident, but I don’t think I’ll be getting any watermelon this year, a later transplant to replace the burned babies hasn’t taken off.

    But we do at least have zucchinis, and some kind of mystery squash that was supposed to be spaghetti squash but definitely isn’t.

  • You and your garden are an inspiration. I always remember your advice, “little by little,” and visit my garden for an hour or so each day just about year round. Even in winter I’ll can take a load of old hay from the goat shed to lay over the rows.

    Every year I learn something new. This year I had zinnias volunteer throughout the garden–I imagine from bird droppings. I weeded them out of some areas and let a few grow in others. Right now my garden is full of butterflies! So it’s feeding me and it’s beautiful to look at too.

  • Theresa, thank you for another very inspiring post, I always learn so much!

    I had to giggle reading the bit about your tomatoes planting timing: a friend gardener put in my head years ago that you should have your first harvest in time for Christmas (that would be like 25 June for you) – and he usually has it, or just about (he doesn’t grow from organic seeds, he buys conventional seedlings at the shop).

    So I always felt there was something wrong with my early spring seedlings not doing well at all and I had to keep planting until I had somewhat good seedlings.

    Last year I finally ignored what my friend said and I just waited and sowed my tomatoes in late spring: I ended up having too many healthy plants to transplant and the crop was the best so far!

    Having said that, now that I know about the jug method, I might try again in early spring this year – but just as an experiment if I have the time 🙂

    I’ve never been successful with peppers and beets, but they are two things we use a lot. Hopefully it’ll get better as my soil improves!

  • Dona, I’m so glad you loved the post.

    It takes a ton of time to take all the pictures and write all of the explanations but I think it adds a dimension to learning (for the reader) that you can’t get any other way (except for experiencing it yourself).

    Really appreciate your comment.

    Anna
    , I too think the cabbages are beautiful! Made me so happy — AND they are truly delicious.

    I don’t grow broccoli every year but I’m starting to realize that the variety you grow can make a huge difference. I’ve grown some varieties that do absolutely NOTHING for me. As in your case, they gave me great leaves (which I eat in salads) but nothing as far as flowering.

    Out of 3 varieties that I tried this year, Umpqua was the one that gave me all my broccoli.

    I’ve forgotten what state you’re in but if you planted cucumbers late like I did this year that could be the problem. I have lots of babies on my plant (which looks good), but they’re not developing as quickly as when I plant in late spring. (about the end of May)

    Yes, you did mention the flame weeder incident.
    Again — as with the cukes — I’m thinking transplanting later “could” be responsible for the slow growth of the melon transplant.

    Congrats on the zucchini! And the mystery squash should be fun!

    Betty, talk about an inspiration! Your comment sure inspired me.

    So glad that you’ve made it habit to go out almost everyday of the year and do something. It makes a huge difference in what you can accomplish over time. I too go out everyday unless the ground is frozen, covered with snow, or we’re having a storm. Things get done that way.

    What a wonderful experience with the zinnias! Love that story. Sure an added bonus that feeds your heart.

    Thanks Betty for taking time to share.

    Giulia, you made me so glad that I shared my thoughts on the tomatoes. I think so many gardeners who are just starting out look to those who have been doing it a while and because newer gardeners have no experience — naturally they think those gardeners with more time logged “know the way”. But — as you have found out — they don’t always know — although they think they do.

    It pays to think for yourself as you’ve already found out.

    I’m so proud of all you’ve accomplished in your garden and absolutely feel honored that you’re keeping me updated!

    Theresa

  • Theresa, thank you for sharing your gardening journey. You are always inspiring.

    I have some questions regarding the Summer Poinsettia that you often mention. Is this “Amaranthus Tricolor”? Do you use it as a summer cover crop? Are you able to save seeds from this or do you purchase seeds annually?

  • The squash borer has laid eggs by June 15 or so. I don’t plant until June 20th about so to miss them. Then there is the squash shield bug problem! Not much way around them for me except to cover with row fabric and hand pollinate. Cuts the number of squashes to manageable numbers also. But extends the season since it isn’t making so many.

  • Thanks for your input Letitia.

    Liisa, the Summer Ponsettia that I grow is not the same as Amaranthus Tricolor. The picture shown here is exactly like mine. So I assume mine would go by that name: Wild Poinsettia Fireplant Euphorbia cyathophora.
    And yes, I use it as a summer cover crop. I don’t usually save seed because it volunteers each year since I’ve been growing it so long. I’ve never purchased seed. The original seed was given to me by a dear friend,.
    Theresa

  • Thanks for sharing, Theresa. Your garden looks fantastic! I just wanted to share some of the ups and downs of our garden this year. So often all anyone talks about is the good, and I think it helps to hear that every gardener experiences the bad…and it seems to be different each year!

    THE BAD:
    No eggplant at all this year – total flea beetle destruction.

    Garlic seems to have gotten the “white rot”. We harvested early and spent time peeling away all the rotting layers of paper so that we could put the garlic in the freezer and still use it.

    We have been eating LOTS of tomatoes…but it appears that fusarium wilt is slowly taking most of our plants. It got the yellow pears first and now is slowly creeping into the others. We’ll keep getting tomatoes as long as possible then rip the plants out and throw them away instead of composting.

    I LOVE the persian green fingers cucumbers – so sweet and delicious. But, for the 2nd year in a row, they seem to be succumbing to the cucumber mosaic virus. I think it’s time to do some research for a similar variety that might have some resistance for next year.

    My saddest garden moment this year was when the big storm came through 2 weeks ago. My beautiful zucchini plant, which had been giving me a zucchini practically every other day, was broken completely through by the heavy rain and wind. I’m hoping against hope that it will start a side shoot, but that might be it for zucchini for me this year. You might say to yourself, “Why did Sarah only grow ONE zucchini plant?” Well, I didn’t. I grew two, but for some reason plant #2 never took off and started growing. It’s still there in the garden, not dead, but not thriving, just…there.

    Now for THE GOOD:
    Lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce! We ate lettuce every day this spring, and we found a great spot shaded by the string bean arch so that we have summer lettuce, too (not as much, but still nice for variety.)

    Okra! We LOVE okra, but it’s almost impossible to get good pods from the store. We were slow to get the plants in the garden this year – they were supposed to go in where the spring lettuce was, and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to rip out the lettuce until it was completely done. But now the plants are large and bushy and giving us great harvests!

    String beans! We grow green and yellow filet beans. What I like about them is that no matter how large the beans get, they are tender and never stringy. I keep checking to see if a giant is going to come down the beanstalk because they are growing up to the sky!

    Swiss chard! Swiss chard is a workhorse in my garden. From early spring, straight through the heat of summer, and into cooler fall weather, it just keeps trucking. It has a strong flavor that isn’t for everyone, but we LOVE it. If you’re not sure, try the Croatian potato and chard recipe called blitva. Delicious!

    Well, I hope my garden stories can give everyone hope. One year something does well, the next year something else does well, and we just keep learning to work WITH Mother Nature instead of against her. Get your fall gardens going, everyone!

  • Sarah – this was an excellent addition to the post. Thank you for taking time to write this because new gardeners especially — need to know that every year is different and sometimes – for whatever reason — some things don’t do well while others thrive.
    Anyone gardening for a while will totally relate to all your accounts.
    Thanks Sarah!
    Theresa

    PS – I’m gonna try that potato and Swiss chard recipe. Thanks for mentioning it.

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