It’s Harvest Time – Whoo Hoo!
I love July! It starts off with fireworks and signals to me that most of the vegetables in my backyard garden are starting to mature enough to be picked and carted off to the house – to be eaten or preserved.
With all the rain we’ve been getting, I am able to keep my water barrels full – no matter how much I use them to irrigate my garden through the soaker hose network. That sure saves a lot of money on the water bill!
Many, Many, Many Pounds of Produce
And, every day, now, I fill between 6 and 10 plastic grocery bags with the fruits of my garden labor.
The champion producers so far have been the Three Sisters – giving me the sweetest corn I could ever imagine. The other 2 sisters – green beans and squash – are also beginning to pass along their offerings. The sisters are giving me a full bag per day – each. There has been so much corn that we have already stripped corn off hundreds of cobs and canned corn for our winter supply. I think we have between 30 and 40 pint Mason Jars of corn completed so far.
Coming in second are my tomatoes. With about 40 tomato plants – determinate tomatoes in my straw bales – indeterminate tomatoes on the trellises – I’m getting about 2 very full bags per day. And, several days this week, I’ve filled a third bag. It’s been a mad house around here – trying to juggle the canning, dehydrating, and freeze drying all the tomatoes we can’t eat each day. Some days we are doing all three preservation techniques. It’s a good thing we have 2 large canning pots, 2 quality dehydrators, and a great functioning freeze dryer.
Cucumbers – both the picklers and slicers – are consistently filling a bag apiece – daily. I’m getting them from both the trellises and the straw bales – and, I’ve already canned about 3 cases (36 quart jars) of quality kosher dill pickles that can beat – hands down – any pickles you can find in a grocery store!
Bell peppers are gracing us with a bag’s worth each day – but, they are just getting started. Before long, we will be getting 3 or 4 bags of them. Then, I will have to get them into the preservation cycle.
Let’s not forget the edamame. We have been eating them like there was no tomorrow. The Chiba Green has been the superstar this year. Midori Giant didn’t do as well this year as it did last year – for some reason that eludes me.
Eggplant’s growing well – but, they are not quite ready to leave their garden home. I suspect that a few of them will end up on my dinner table within the next week or two.
My lettuce bolted early this year – probably because the weather has been unseasonably wet, warm, and humid.
However, my Malabar spinach has taken off so vigorously – that I suspect it thinks it is Kudzu! It has completely taken over the backside of my garden fence. Not only is it excellent sautéed – but, I can easily substitute it for lettuce in a salad. So, I take about a bag a day (~ 80 to 100 leaves) out of the garden.
The sunflowers are growing like weeds. They are getting anywhere from 10 to 12 foot tall – and, some of the heads have started drooping. That means I have to keep an eye on them. When the petals, front and back, get dark brown, I’ll be whacking them off and harvesting sunflower seeds. As you can see, the – heads – are – MAMMOTH! They should be – after all, the variety is called Mammoth Russian!
Over in my watermelon patch, I have a lot of flowers but, only a few melons developing right now. I am hoping to see some I can pick in 2 or 3 weeks. The leaves are so huge and “canopy-like”, that I’m sure there are some watermelons hiding beneath that are just too small to be noticed.
The other day, it rained so hard that a virtual river rapids came cascading down the hill beside my house and began dumping thousands of gallons of rainwater directly into the left third of my garden. My poor plants were inundated with way more water than they would need for the rest of the season. It was actually looking like a rice paddy for awhile.
Suffice it to say, that I think it is time to take preventative measures. I’ve been putting it off for quite a while but, to protect my veggie children, I can’t put it off any longer.
It’s time to dig a long ditch and drop in a French drain. Ever heard of it? Well, you’ll just have to stay in suspense until the next installment of Jim’s Garden Adventures – where I’ll cover the drain, “The French Connection.”
Stay tuned – and leave a comment or an email about your garden adventures!
Jim, the Lifelong Gardener