Friday, July 22, 2016

The Summer Garden Looks Toward Fall

We are just about at the mid-summer crossover point, when many of the summer vegetables are either at or just beyond their peak of productivity.  Pepper plants are loaded with ripening fruit, tomatoes are almost flying into the kitchen, zucchini plants have been felled by the borers after piling up lots of squashes, winter squashes are big and beginning to turn from green to tan. You get the idea.

We've made pickles with some of our cucumbers, and we have hot peppers fermenting in jars on the counter for a Tabasco-style sauce. In addition, the dehydrator has been busily turning slices of tomatoes into chips that we can re-hydrate in winter for use in cooking. The dry tomato-chips are a great snack, too.

Meanwhile, the okra pods have only just begun to come into the kitchen. Those plants are typically slow-starters, but they will produce until frost.

Over the past weekend, I pulled out lettuces that had been left in the garden to produce seeds. I will be leading a seed-saving workshop next week (Thursday, at the Extension office), and I wanted to have lettuces for participants to see and pull seeds from. After clearing that garden space, I dumped on some more compost, mixed in an organic fertilizer that I hadn't tried before, and planted seeds for a late patch of bush beans.

The pole beans we are eating from the garden now are Blue Marbut (find them in the pole/snap category on the linked page) and I LOVE these, but a friend (thank you, Kim!) gave me a little packet of Dragon's Tongue bush beans to try, so those are what I planted. Hopefully, they will germinate and grow in this hotter-than-usual July. The seeds were in one of the beautiful packets from Hudson Valley Seed Library, so I can enjoy the artwork while I wait for my plants to appear.

The next space that opens up in the garden will be sown with buckwheat as a place-holder (some people would say "cover crop") before re-clearing the space for a fall crop. Even though the weather will still be quite toasty, I am sure, mid-August is the time to get some of our cool-season crops seeded into the ground.

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