Sunday, July 26, 2015


The thing about July is that the vegetable garden isn't going to win any beauty contests.  It happens this time every year.  Everything has reached maturity.  The lush blush of youth is over.  Weaknesses are beginning to show.  We can all relate.  But I'm a perfectionist.  I like things to look lush and beautiful (I'm slowly getting over that).  I'm the kind of gardner who plants Nasturtium everywhere because I know that the aphids will go there and leave my tomato plants alone.  But then I get upset that the aphids have ruined my Nasturtium.  I can't have it both ways.... *sigh*

Nasturtium never looks good at the end of July.  It may catch a second wind and look nice in September, but in July it looks pretty ragged.  Add a million aphids and some ants and wasps and you have a real mess.  I mean a gardening CATASTROPHE! I've gotten rid of three plantings (two right at the end of the tomato bed) and today I cut back the third.  I actually took a photo this time before I hauled the mess out back to the burn pile, but a photo doesn't even do it justice.  You would need to see the dozens of wasps and flies hovering about to get the full effect.  It looks apocalyptic.  The good news its:  the tomatoes are aphid free.

A small example of a Nasturtium plant infested with Black Aphids.

Northern Spy apples
All in all the garden is doing well.  The apple tree held 11 apples and is weeping under their weight.  Remember, this little apple tree feels it is necessary to produce giant 12 ounce apples, and it is working on it again this year. Last year it dropped all the fruit, but this year it held about a third and we have 11 apples still hanging on.

Cukes on the left, Purple Queen beans (dark) down the center
 and Gold Mine wax beans down the right

This week we began picking 3 or 4 cucumbers each day and the beans are beginning.  I've picked a few Sungold cherry tomatoes and we're waiting on eggplants.

The large eggplants have set several fruit on each plant
The lettuce can be considered done.  Which is fine.  We eat lettuce 4 or 5 times each week through May and June so by July we are "lettuced out".  The lettuce bed is in transition and looks like a hodge podge of plants and growth stages.  There are a few buttercrunch plants holding on and the second planting of cucumbers down the center is gaining size.  I also have two zucchini in gallon pots waiting in the wings to replace the first planting of summer squash.  Next week I will seed fall lettuce.

The lettuce bed in transition.
The Nasturtium still looks pretty in this bed.

What does Iceberg lettuce look like when it bolts?  Like a ball of yarn unraveling.

Mildew on the Magda summer squash.

This year will be the first time I've tried a second planting of summer squash.  I seeded the backups the day I spotted (and failed to apprehend) the squash vine borer moth.  No sign of SVBs yet, but the squash have contracted, on a small scale, every disease know to squash.  The plants are past their prime and while they still look fine and are keeping three families supplied with squash, their days are numbered,

The last of the peas need to come out this week
in preparation for the fall lettuce planting

I'm letting the peas I missed dry on the vine and I am saving the seed.
This is the first time I've tried saving my own pea seeds.

The very healthy potato plants are browning out
and will need to be cut back this week.
The potatoes can stay in the ground until we close the garden

Strawberry bed before renovation

I'm a little late in renovating my strawberry bed.  A few weeks after they stop producing you should cut back the leaves, and sort through your runners.  I attempt to sweep all the runners along the row to fill in and cut off the excess.

Strawberry bed after renovation attempt

The tomato and pepper bed
The tomato bed is doing fine.  The plants are bearing quite well 
but I am still awaiting the first signs of color.  Last year I discovered the  scrumptious combination of fried green tomatoes and peach pepper jelly.  Yesterday I found some peach and jalapeno jelly at a farmer's market (we were out galavanting many miles from home) and this week I'm going to fry some up.

The annuals look good in July.  After such a wet and cloudy June I am now having to water regularly.  The little sink planter above is looking the most beautiful it ever has.  I've tried a couple of different vining plants in this planter.  This year I put four little Lobelia plants in it.  I read that you should keep Lobelia's soil damp at all times so I water this every morning rain or shine and we have achieved the desired results.

Pest report for this year:  We are in the midst of Japanese Beetle season and... there are very few (Yay!)  After battling a scourge of Cucumber Beetles that all but killed the cantaloupes, I am ready for a break.  I've picked a few dozen beetles off our porcelain vine on the side of the house, but I've seen only three beetles in the beans, and we have a Blue Jay who is diligently picking the out of the Linden tree row every day.  It's fun to watch the Jay move through the trees.  The Jay will target a beetle and if it misses and the beetle drops, the Jay also drops (plummets) to the ground feet first and snaps it up.  GooooOOoooo Blue Jays!

Foot Note:  Is there any gardening significance to being stung by bees?  Is it good luck or something?  Because in the past week I've been stung twice.  Prior to this I'd been stung only once (two years ago) since high school... once in 25 years.  And then last Saturday I got stung on the toe by a honey bee (my fault) and today, walking up the garden walk in clogs a surly Yellow Jacket got me in the ankle for no reason.  Same foot.  Considering that two weeks ago my right knee made it clear it no longer wanted to participate in either gardening or house work, and today my left ankle is twice its normal size, getting around is getting complicated.  Stairs are a trial.  Work that requires getting down on one or both knees to be avoided at all costs... I feel like the tin man


  1. Stung on the toe - that had to HURT. I've been stung exactly once in my life by anything, that time it was a red wasp. I'll probably get swarmed by yellow jackets or something tomorrow!

    It may not look like it to you but to me your garden is always perfection. I have major, major garden envy. I just don't kid myself that I have the time.

  2. What Melissa failed to communicate is that she doesn't ever get stung because anything with a stinger is too busy stinging me to fool with her. I was stung six times *this week*. I've lost count of how many times I've been stung this summer but thirty or forty times wouldn't be far wrong. And this happens every single year. I'm not much of a fan of pesticides but I make a huge exception for bees (except honeybees) and wasps because they're going to get me if I don't get them.

  3. So nice of you to de-stinger all the insects on the farm! I don't really mind being stung, I DO mind being stung twice in the same foot within 7 days