Saturday, July 14, 2018

Garden update

Sorry for the blog silence -- it's been something of a loopy week! Plus July heat is now upon us, which takes some adjustment after the lovely cool June we had.

But at least the garden is enjoying the heat. Let me take you on a tour to show the good, bad, and ugly of this year's garden.

Corn. Unlike years past where I grew our faithful Yukon Chief corn, this year I did something different. I planted popcorn.

I'd wanted to try popcorn for a long time but it's hard to grow in our short seasons. However I finally found a short-season heirloom popcorn and purchased some seed.

I planted it May 21 and it's doing splendidly. The old adage goes, "Knee high by the 4th of July," and it surpassed that, so it's on target to harvest before the frost. I hope.

Here's the corn on July 4:

And here it is early this morning, July 14:

I'm growing seed poppies again this year. I adore poppy seeds (the girls always teased me how I would literally blacken my English muffins with poppy seeds) and it's fun to be able to grow our own.

Here are some of the seed pods. These are green, but when they dry and go brown, the seeds will be ready.

Peas. I don't know what it is about peas, but I think they're one of the loveliest of garden plants.

The pods are plumping nicely and should be ready to pick in a week, maybe two.

Cayenne peppers.

Carrots. I have three beds and should probably have planted more. I love canned carrots.

Onions. I grew four beds of onions from sets, three beds of yellow onions and one bed of red onions.

Potatoes. I have five beds, four of russet and one of red potatoes.

Here are the herbs. Sage:


Parsley. I have a plant that overwintered and is now going to seed, which will be nice for starting next year's plants.

Thyme. I have a small tire of thyme that's overgrown with grass, and I want to get rid of it (it will require a tractor to lift it, so I haven't gotten around to it yet). But last year it seeded itself into the adjacent box where we're growing grapes, so suddenly I have this beautiful bed of thyme growing around the grapes.

Spearmint. This started as one little plant I purchased a few years ago, and goodness it has spread. This underscores one of the benefits of planting in tires -- I can plant spread-y stuff like mint and not worry it will take over the whole garden. It's a funny relationship I have with this spearmint. I'm not overly crazy about the taste, but the smell is divine -- to die for -- almost perfume-y in quality. I just love it for its smell.

(Not pictured: oregano and basil.)

Broccoli, my all-time hands-down favorite vegetable. In years past I consistently lost all the broccoli to aphids. But this year? Success!

Why the difference this year? It's because I prophylactically sprayed the leaves with neem oil, an organic biopesticide. I sprayed the leaves every few days ever since transplanting, and the aphids never even stood a chance because they didn't have the opportunity to get established. Neem oil concentrate is now part of my prepper supplies. Losing garden plants to aphids is not something you want to happen if you're depending on a garden for survival.

Raspberries. They're just starting to peak.

We've been picking and dehydrating them.

Grapes. I'm so tickled by the grapes!

Last year they did well but we didn't get any fruit because the chickens ate everything. This year the chickens are strictly banned from the garden and so far so good in watching the baby fruit grow and swell.

Garlic. Ah, love the garlic.

It's time to trim the scapes. Don is going to try pickling them this year.

Watermelon. I planted four tires of watermelon, each tire with four plants. Not all the plants grew, but enough (hopefully) to have some late-summer snacks. These are Cream of Saskatchewan watermelons, a short-season heirloom variety. Last year the chickens ate every watermelon as it developed, though I was able to rescue a couple for seed.

Cantaloupe. These won't grow as big as the ones available in grocery stores, but they are so so so sweet.

Tomatoes. This year I planted 14 tires of a hybrid variety. Yes, hybrid. Just for kicks.

Blueberries. These are the mature plants (no photos of the younger plants, sorry).

Most of the berries are still green, but a few are ripening. Last year I didn't get one single blueberry thanks to the chickens. Ah, it's so nice to have the chickens excluded from the garden. They did a lot of damage last year.

Orchard. Don just mowed and weed-whacked around the tires, and I weeded inside the tires around the trees.

Discovered two yellow-jacket nests inside tires, and two in the ground. It's a stinkin' miracle neither of us were stung. I've got the ground nests marked with sticks pointing at them, and one day soon I'll wait until dark, suit up, and go spray the durn things.

Here's one of the nests in a tree tire:

The ground nests were harder to photograph (obviously I'm standing a distance away and zooming in) -- you can see a blurry unfocused yellow jacket just emerging from the hole at top center of the picture.

The trees are all healthy and strong (except one apple that died when the wind blew it over -- we'll replace it), but the only fruit I'm getting this year is apples. No plums, peaches, or hazelnuts. I'm not terribly fussed by this -- the trees are still in their infancy and becoming established.

That's the skinny on the garden. Thanks for coming with me!


  1. Your garden looks wonderful and will supply many meals for eating now and with canning and drying through the winter as well! Just finished picking 40# of black currants and 30# of red currants. Will freeeze some for winter baking. And will make syrup and jam with the rest. Black berries are coming on strong and raspberries are just starting. Alsp just getting our firt tomatoes and zuchinnis and onions. Loce the bounty this time of year. It will be in the low 100s here this week and next. So will get out early to water and harvest. Stay cool!
    Janae @ Creekside farmstead.

  2. Sooo glad to see your post today. Was afraid you were still fighting bronchitis......whew! The gardens look awesome, you have worked your magic again this year. Keep those chickens out for sure.........GG from Bama

  3. Thank you for the garden up date. How is the wheat field doing?

    1. No wheat field this year, sadly. Didn't get to it.

      - Patrice

  4. Replies
    1. The bees didn't make it through the winter. I'll have a blog post on them in the near future.

      - Patrice

  5. Are you going to can the garlic scapes?

  6. chichi and I have the same question.....what happened with the bees? Before I saw chichi's question, I checked your index on bees to see if perhaps I had missed a posting before asking and saw that your last remarks on them was late spring 2017.

  7. What kind of poppies do you grow? Where do you purchase your seeds?

    1. Try this website for poppy seeds:

      I have breadseed poppies:

      - Patrice

  8. You will be very busy this fall with lots of canning. You will be very grateful for all of this wonderful food this winter. If I had chickens and they ate all of my fruits and veggies they would become dinner.

  9. where do you purchase your poppy seeds from, I love poppy seeds too.

    1. Try this website for poppy seeds:

      I have breadseed poppies:

      - Patrice

  10. Don/Patrice, Please let me know how the Pickled Scapes turn out. Would love to try it myself.

    God Bless,
    Janet in MA