Early Summer Garden Notes

Well, it got hot yesterday, but not nearly as hot as projected.  The weather forcast was all over the place yesterday–from one hour to the next, the projected highs went from 98 to 84 then back into the lower nineties.

We had a very ominous cloud come through at about 10 a.m., but nothing came out of it but a few sprinkles. We did get a nice shower late last night–I hear the lightshow was fantastic, but I slept right through it!

I went out twice yesterday to hand weed, pick peas, then later on to hoe as the soil surface dried out.  The first planting of pole beans has overtopped its trellis, and I’m amazed at how fast the tomatoes and broccoli are growing.

I’m usually ahead of my plants’ schedules when I project when something will be ready, but although I thought it’d be next week for broccoli heads, it looks like I’ll have a few from the first planting in the north central garden ready for market this week. I have never seen broccoli size up so fast!

The nice thing about broccoli (as opposed to cabbage, which is a little more iffy about re-sprouting) is that a good variety will sprout a nice-sized (though not huge) central head of about 4-6 inches in diameter and when that head is cut, the plant will sit there somewhat confused for a couple of weeks, then start producing smaller side-shoots through the rest of the season.

This morning, Kelly (my fellow farmer) and I spent an early hour in the northeast garden weeding out the strawberries.  I’d hoed them earlier in the season, but the second flush of weeds had really taken over in there. I always think I’m really on top of the weed situation until the June rains come, and then I see quite clearly through my self-delusion.

Another surprise in the gardens yesterday was that the okra, planted on Sunday, is already up and growing!  I’d soaked the seed overnight, as okra’s seed coat is especially hard.  You can also use a file to nick each seed’s coat individually to give moisture a way to get in.

I did do that one year out of desperation to plant that same day, and I learned from the experience that there are certain kinds of desperation best avoided–germination was very poor. This time, four days from direct seeding after a night of soaking, germination appears to be almost 100%. The humid heat can’t be hurting–it probably thinks it’s in Dixie.

For market this week, I’ll be cutting the last few heads of cabbage in the northcentral garden and starting on those in the east garden as well.  As mentioned above, I’ll have sugar snap peas–those are harvested throughout the week, as peas will quit producing if you don’t pick every other day or so.  We are eating the Sunday picking at home, but I’ll have a few more bags this week from yesterday’s and tomorrow’s pickings.

The summer squash are coming along now–I’m guessing it’ll be a week or two for good-sized ones, as I planted a little later than many locals.  I need to mow around those plants before they get too big and then mulch them down with straw. It’s just too late for hoeing there–it’s a new garden, so the weed cover is intense.

I did go in with a hand hoe and get around the hills at least–and also re-seeded some of the hills of winter squash and melons on the landscape fabric above the summer squash area.  The Moon & Stars watermelon seed that H had saved did sprout (at least some of it), and the empty holes from a seeding of Neck Pumpkin (some did come up–not all) are now sprouting spaghetti squash.

I’ll have to do one last seeding in that melon and winter squash area with something that grows fast–probably the seed saved from a volunteer muskmelon that’s likely a hybrid of Athena F1 and Minnesota Midget. Those are both fast-growing varieties, so it’s fairly likely I can get some juicy ripe  single-serving cantaloupes for the hot days of early fall.


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