The dog days of summer have arrived in the Tri-Cities. We just survived a week with temperatures lingering past 100 F. While the garden has indeed exploded with lush greens and harvests, the intense heat has made it difficult to work outside. Additionally, my garden plot has become conquered by weeds despite my (and the stirrup hoe’s) best efforts to keep them at bay. So to continue enjoying a garden, I succumbed and purchased some planters, dug up several plants, and started a mini garden on my patio. Funny that the planters were more costly than an entire 15′ x 15′ plot at the community garden. Yet, I do find having the plants right outside my doorstep immensely more enjoyable. This also gives me a chance to grow the plants that got attacked by rabbits and voles.
South-facing patio garden: 2 chili pepper plants flanked by 2 brown planters containing Casper eggplants (front), Bountiful Beans in the rectangular planter, Dragon carrots (back).
Chili pepper (my seed starts didn’t fare well, so I inherited these)
Casper eggplant, transplanted from the garden plot
Bountiful green beans (direct seeded in the planter)
Dragon carrots (direct seeded in the planter with sowing markers)
North-facing patio garden: fall seed starts and herbs (front), cilantro, lettuce, trellised peas (middle), worm compost bin (back)
Fall seed starts (plus a late second attempt at watermelons)
Thai basil (left), Sage (middle), Lemongrass (right), Thyme (not visible), transplanted from the garden plot
Cilantro (front left), Speckled lettuce (front right), Golden Sweet peas (back), all direct seeded
When the lettuce is bolting and the cucumbers start appearing, that means summer is officially here. Pictured below is the latest harvest consisting of Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage, Dragon Carrots, and a Boothby’s Blonde Cucumber:
The spring has provided a good bounty so far. Listed here are the total yields from each set of plants and recommended adjustments for next spring:
- Beets (Detroit Dark Red) – Devoured by mice before I could harvest them. Gopher baskets offered no protection. Will try planting in containers.
- Bok Choy – 11.90 lb from 9 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 9 plants provided a continuous harvest, will try staggering plantings to 3 at a time. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great steamed and in stir fry.
- Cabbage (Mammoth Red Rock) – 2.13 lb from 1 plant, seeds started in February, harvested late June, 1 plant left to harvest. 2 plants that were transplanted later were destroyed by rabbits since the cabbage plants were out in the open. 4 plants may be a good number, will keep the plants protected by wire boxes.
- Carrots (Dragon) – 0.94 lb from 5 plants, seeds started in March, harvested late June. Leaves were partially eaten by pests, gopher baskets provided OK protection, except for the few carrots that had portions of the root nibbled on. Will try planting in containers.
- Cauliflower (Early Snowball) – Devoured by mice before the cauliflower heads had a chance to form. Wire mesh box provided no protection. May need to try container planting.
- Kale (Red Russian) – 15.75 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, still heavily producing. Wire mesh box provided good protection from rabbits, but leaves started being inhabited by aphids near the beginning of June. Suggestions for next season: reduce number of plants to 4, use row cover for additional pest protection. Kale chips from this variety were OK.
- Lettuce (Speckled) – 2.1 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 6 plants at once provided a continuous but short harvest due to bolting. Will keep lettuce north or east of taller plants to give them shade. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great in sandwiches and for lettuce wraps.
- Peas (Golden Sweet) – Devoured before they could grow taller than ~6 in regardless of what protective devices I used. Currently attempting to grow peas in a container at home.
- Radish – Harvested too late and ended up growing too big and tough for eating. Next time harvest after just a month.
- Spinach (America) – Encountered difficulties raising the seedlings. Some seedlings already started bolting, even with just a couple sets of true leaves, and got infested with some small insects. Next time will grow seedlings in shade and protected by row cover.
Sometimes it’s fun to reap what you sow. After expending much time, energy, and love preparing the garden, I’ve started to cash in on some hefty bundles of produce.
Red Russian Kale (3.18 lb)
Bok choy (3.49 lb)
Hello, kale chips and stir frys!
The garden has mostly been taking care of itself, yet I haven’t stopped singing for my supper. I recently spent a good day weeding, reapplying mulch, and transplanting all my summer starts into the ground. Keeping the weeds under control has been as challenging as slaying the Hydra…until I found this:
This man speaks the truth. For one thing, the Garden Weasel cultivator is indeed a piece of junk (I used to have one, can’t say it lived up to its expectations, unless that expectation was for it to break). But more importantly, the claims made about the stirrup hoe are, thankfully, the real deal. I bought one this past weekend and…well, let’s just say, for the sake of analogy, this thing performed the labor as if it were Hercules.
I had to take a hiatus from gardening due to travel and, I must admit, sheer heartache from seeing some of my plants undergo transplant shock. Turns out this break did us all some good (it also helped that the community garden has automatic sprinklers, which allowed me to leave the garden unattended). The leafy green plants that appeared to be suffering without protection had bounced back.
Bok choy and Speckled Lettuce
Another view of the bok choy
Russian Red Kale
Other crops that appeared unresponsive to any previous TLC have flourished.
Early Snowball Cauliflower
Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage
Some root crops look ready for harvest.
I should thin out the greens of these Detroit Dark Red Beets soon.
And finally, my peppers, eggplants, and large tomatoes have sprouted. This required coaxing via the combined warmth and humidity from both the heating mat and grow lights. I sowed the rest of the summer seeds: beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, and squash. I heard from some fellow gardeners that peas can still be started at this time, so I figured I’d give these another go.