Sunday, August 2, 2020

Summer Burn-out

This summer has been a hot one.  Around our area in western NY the average July temperature is the mid to upper 70s.  That'd be around 25*C for those of you using celsius.  This year we are always in the high 80s (30*C).  That can increase your garden fatigue.  I usually begin next year's garden plan in August when I am tired and unusually realistic and sick of zucchini.  I started next year's plan mid-July!  This year's plan was pretty darn good, but it did create a glut of work now and then.  And that is what I try to avoid.

The garden still looks healthy and tidy and the daily and weekly chores are manageable, but I have reached to part of the growing season where I wonder "what was I thinking?!?"  This is the time of year when a lot of gardeners feel overwhelmed.  In my case, it is usually more about the food than the work.  And of course, like most of us, I planted a little extra.  I now have a virtually unlimited supply of cauliflower, zucchini, and cucumber.  Corn to follow.  Tomatoes are looking like a bumper crop (if they ever start to ripen).  Thank goodness we survived the onslaught of peas and lettuce!  

Pineapple Tomatoes

Besides mapping out next year's beds and making shopping lists for seeds, I keep a list of observational dos and don'ts:
  • Don't: plant more than six cucumber vines at a time.
  • Do: buy two gallons of fertilizer
You get the idea.  The Garden Plan tends to ebb and flow over the years.  You will have a disappointing year for something so next year you over compensate and plant too much.  A lot of this is driven by sloppy shopping.  So I am very specific when I draw up my layout and lists.  But I am sure I will buy SOMETHING that isn't in the plan.  And it will happen in January when my immunity to bad choices is most compromised by glossy catalogs.

Next year:

Fewer Cauliflower plants and only Flame Star (unless I find a source for Mulberry)
Its not so much that the bed was over-crowded, because it did fine, but we just don't use that many cauliflower.  I am tempted to leave them to grow as large as possible when I should be employing the same strategy as zucchini and picking them small.  The deep purple Graffiti cauliflower were a lot of fun to grow, but the orange Flame Star is still our favorite so I'll stick with that.

Cue Ball Zucchini

Only two Clue Ball summer squash and only two plants of that.
The "single serving" size of the round Cue Ball squash is perfect for me.  And the size of the slices are easy to flip on the grill.  So now I have all of this "extra" regular zucchini.  A person can only eat so many zoodles.  And I still have some shredded zucchini in the freezer from last year for making bread.

Two spare cucumber plants planted late at the end of the bean row
Will extend the season when the main rows burn out

Fewer slicing cucumbers and no pickling cucumbers.
A dozen pints of dill and a dozen pints of sweet just lasted us two years.  So when my pickling escapades are done for the season, we will have enough pickles to get us to 2022.  And each year I get better and better at growing slicing cucumbers and I'm going to have to learn to scale back production!  I could easily grow cukes by the bushel.  I used to be that way with bush beans but I've learned to moderate.

Try Pole Beans from a different source.
I still like the idea of having yellow and purple pole beans because I want to be able to see the beans against the foliage and have them more at eye level to avoid crouching down to pick.  But I still haven't found the right varieties.  I've tried before with Renee's Tri-color Pole Beans.  The vines were great but the beans themselves were ho-hum.  This year, I like the beans but the vines are absolutely pitiful.  I've tried them in a second bed hoping completely different growing conditions will do the trick, but if not, I will try the same varieties next year from a different source.  These came from Territorial and I don't have any history with them so it is possible the seeds aren't the very best.  I can get both Carminat and Monte Gusto from either Johnny's or Burpee's, and Johnny's and Burpee's seeds have never disappointed me yet. I like to try new sources as much as new varieties, but sometimes the old favorites are the best.

Things to remember when critiquing your garden during July Overwhelm:

Potatoes Flop Over
This is an ugly time of year for potato plants.  They inevitably flop over and turn brown, dying off as they complete their life cycle.  That's really hard to watch especially when they have been so beautiful up to now.  But it will be one less thing to water!  The grow bags were high maintenance through that hot dry period, and the Sweet Potatoes still are.

Tomatoes get bacterial disease
Certain varieties are more resistant, and containers are easier to keep healthy than in the ground, but there will come a day when your tomato plants will have to be pruned a bit.  This time the first to show signs is the store bought Pineapple plant.  Again- really hard to watch when they have been so beautiful up to now.

All good things come to an end (cauliflower)
It is hard to say good bye to a spring crop.  And these were so much fun to watch.  I am used to the dying back of pea plants, and I've even come to accept the aging of tomato and potatoes, but I am still coming to terms with the bare spots in my cauliflower bed.  I've found the best way to harvest cauliflower is with a large by-pass lopper tool.  I cut the plant down to the ground and remove it out into the open where I can lop it a second time to remove the head.

Sometimes a little Ugly is OK (Brussels Sprouts)
The Agfabric did a fine job of keeping the insects out of the cole crops.  But yes, now and then one does get through.  You just have to pay attention and pick them off before it gets too bad.  And fortunately I am finding the worms one or two at a time, not dozens at a time like last year.

But not everything is on its way out.  The Sweet Corn will be ready in a few days.
This is the bed of corn that blew down in the rain.


  1. Your garden is always such a delight. Sounds like you've been getting adequate rain in spite of the heat (??) My garden is struggling to survive because of dry conditions plus hot temps. It's nice seeing yours do so well!

    1. yes, we have had enough rain but it has come in downpours. It doesn't seem possible to get a quiet rainy day where it rains gently on and off. It comes through, hit or miss and drenches everything!