Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Garden update

This year, the garden is being unusually productive. We are short on both wasps and chipmunks this summer, so that may have something to do with it. Let's take a brief garden tour.

Corn tires. Make that corn-and-bean tires.

This year we're growing our faithful Yukon Chief corn. This is a short-season dwarf Alaskan variety of corn, ideal for our northern climate. I didn't plant it until very late (June 8) but I can always depend on this hearty little corn to produce.

The ears of this variety aren't huge -- they generally top out at about five inches -- but they're sweet and prolific. I've never found a better heirloom variety for our northern climate than this.

I also planted ten tires of Jacob's cattle beans, a nice dry bush bean.

On the other side of the garden I'm growing more bush beans, this time calypso beans (on the right).

This bean is a prolific producer, and what's nice about dry beans is I don't have to bother harvesting them until after the first frost.

We're also growing lots of onions. My goodness do I love onions. These are red:

I adore red onions but they don't last long, so we also have a lot of yellow onions planted.

I also have a single tire of potato (multiplier) onions.

I don't know what magic is in the air this year, but this is the biggest I've ever seen this variety of onions (they can often be very small). They'll never be as big as slicing onions, but they're still a respectable size.

We have seven tires planted with potatoes.

They're getting big enough to harvest a few, though I won't harvest most of them until after the frost kills the plants.

Strawberry season is about over.

I didn't weigh the harvest this year, but I'm guessing we got 50 lbs. or so over the course of a month.

As always, the raspberries were hugely productive.

In the absence of Younger Daughter's diligent picking (it's her favorite fruit), I invited the neighbor's seven children to come strip the bushes in exchange for half the fruit. It was such fun to have a garden full of kids! They did an admirable job and got a bunch of raspberries to take home.

I'm ridiculously excited about the grapes. Last year they were stripped by the chipmunks, but this year the fruit is hanging heavy.

It's really something to look up and see the bunches hanging down from the trellis, just like you see in photos.

What to do with so many grapes? If we weren't moving, I'd try making wine. As it is, I'll try my hand at making raisins and probably juice the rest.

Pears. Plentiful as always.

These are the hazelnut trees. (Well, bushes.)

However so far the sum total of hazelnuts is ... two. (Nut trees take a while to mature.)

However the rest of the young orchard is producing splendidly, with the exception of one peach tree that died. This peach got girdled by voles during its first year, and I'm impressed it hung on as long as it did. I'll replace it.

The rest of the peaches are gorgeous.

So are the apples.

But it's the plums that are doing best. The fruit is clustered so thickly they're almost like grapes.

I cheated this year and bought tomato plants. What can I say, it was a busy spring.

These are the cantaloupe and watermelon.

The watermelon is a short-season northern heirloom variety originally from Russia called Cream of Saskatchewan.

Baby melon. Believe it or not, it will ripen easily before the first frost.


So far the cantaloupe are almost nonexistent, but I know from experience we'll be swimming in incredibly sweet softball-sized melons by the end of summer.

Garlic. It's almost ready to harvest; I'll wait about a week or so.

Some of the herbs.

We also seem to be having a magical year for blueberries. I've picked 12.5 pounds so far, and have (I'm guessing) at least that much more still to ripen.

I pick about every two or three days, then freeze what I've picked. At the end of the season, I'll can up all the blueberries.

So that's what's growing in the garden at the moment. We're having a hot spell (mid-90sF) so I'm doing my outdoor work before 8 am when it's bearable.


  1. Why do you plant in tires? What benefits do you get from that approach?

  2. I always find it amazing that you get so hot. Here in Texas we are to get over 100 degrees for the next week but we almost made it through July with no triple digit days. We had one 100 degree day so that record was ruined. We have only had like 3 or 4 julys where we had no 100 degree days going back into the late 1800's. but we do have AC now days.

  3. Did you have a hard winter? We live a bit north of Seattle and had a particularly hard winter. Cold and snowy. But now our backyard garden is amazing. Apples, blueberries, flowers. We've been here for 14 years and this is a first. Even the darn Himalaya blackberries are volunteering all over the place.

  4. What a beautiful and bountiful harvest you will have!


  5. Could I ask what you will do differently on your next place? Is there anything you'll specifically look for that maybe wasn't a possibility on this one?

  6. could you please tell me where to get some multiplier onion sets? I had them years ago and loved them .One bad year took them all. I also planted them in the spring. Never knew they could be planted in winter.

    1. Try this link:


      Yes, these should be planted in the fall, just like garlic. Try mid-October or so, assuming you're in a temperate region.

      - Patrice