Today I want to give a quick virtual tour of our vegetable garden here in late July. The spring crops are all done for, and I am pleased with how the summer vegetables are doing so far. It will be a week or two before I plant any of the fall crops, so I spend my garden time harvesting and weeding these days. Recent rains have everything growing quite lush, and I’ve been trying to keep the weeds pulled as they pop up. The garden is 45 x 45 feet in size, surrounded by fencing to keep the deer and other critters out. I have about 80% of that area planted this year, with the rest idled or planted with cover crops.
I have vining squash planted in a bed just inside the doorway. All of these are trellised on remesh panels secured to metal t-posts. That helps to conserve space as well as keep the fruit off the ground. I do have to work a bit at keeping the vines on the trellis though, but it is worth it since I can grow a lot of squash in a fairly small amount of space.
Thelma Sanders acorn squash is one of my long-time favorites. They have a rich, sweet and nutty flavor when roasted and don’t need much in the way of seasoning for my tastes. They are setting on now, and should be ready for eating in a few weeks.
About half of the vining squashes are harvested when still green, and we have been enjoying them for several weeks now. The trellising also helps the tromboncino squash straight, unless they get hung up on the trellis itself which sometimes happens despite my best efforts. The one in the photo is about ready to be harvested. I’m letting it get big enough to spiralize, which is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.
Next to the vining squashes I have a row of black-eyed peas sown as an edible cover crop. After that, the peppers are next in line. I have one whole row/bed of them planted. These are all mulched with paper covered with straw, and I use folding metal cages to support them. Since I have quite a few different varieties planted, I’ve put name tags on some of the cages to help me identify them more easily.
I have six C. baccatum plants that I overwintered indoors in containers and set out to grow a second year in-ground. These overwintered plants are usually early to set fruit and ripen, and Aji Rico is the earliest of the ones I have growing that way. It has mildly hot peppers that are good for fresh use and make a very tasty hot sauce.
Tomatoes are always a big crop for me, and I can’t resist growing many tried-and-true varieties as well as a few new ones every year. I have one full row planted and mulched with paper and straw, and another partial row planted in holes I made in woven weed barrier fabric. Both versions seem to be doing equally well so far. I have been trimming the vines that escape from the cages and trying to keep them from running all over their neighbors. It’s hard to do though when they have set fruit so I have left some escapees.
I have a few short-vine paste tomatoes growing, and one called Monticello is going to be the first to ripen. We use these for sauce, and I freeze quite a bit of it for use year-round. I also have the determinate Health Kick planted. I use most all of the the indeterminate tomatoes Juliet and Granadero for sauces and such too. We can use up a lot of tomatoes when we start cooking them down for things like tomato sauce and ketchup, so I have quite a few planted for processing as well as fresh use.
I have eggplant and sweet potatoes growing in the row next to the tomatoes. I use metal folding cages around the eggplant same as I do with the peppers, which helps keep them upright if they are loaded with fruit. They are just now starting to bear but they have quite a few blooms and young eggplant setting on.
The sweet potatoes occupy most of that row, and I have them mulched with newspaper covered in straw. They are vining all over the place, and I try and keep them in the row or else they will happily vine up nearby cages.
The bush squashes are next in the garden, which shared a row with the early brassicas which have now all been pulled up. I start all my squashes inside in plug flats, and this year I set out the young plants in the woven weed barrier fabric, cutting holes to get them in the ground. They have done quite well planted that way, and weeding has been minimal which is a big plus. I am planning to reuse the fabric again next year for the squash and other things. The fruits stay clean when planted this way and so far I have yet to see a squash bug, though that may be coincidental.
Last in the garden are the pole beans, which occupy one whole 40-plus foot row. These are sown directly in place, and I have mulched with straw on one side and cardboard covered with straw between the bean trellis itself and the outside fencing. They have reached the top of the trellis, and the earliest ones are starting to show blooms.
Robe Mountain is an early maturing Appalachian type bean that has strings and a great flavor. Last year I harvested the first one in early August, and they are pretty much on the same pace this year. We freeze a lot of beans for later use, and eat them both as a side dish and in soups.
The last plants I will mention are a couple of vining squashes I have trained to grow up the garden fencing. Centercut and Turkeyneck are two ‘neck’ type squashes I have grown for several years now. We use most of the Centercut fruits at the green stage, while I let all of the Turkeyneck grow to maturity to use like a winter squash. Both are setting fruit, and we have been eating the green Centercut for a few weeks now. I have been growing the neck pumpkins this way for several years, and even though the mature pumpkins get quite large they get ample support from the garden fencing.
Harvesting is already keeping me busy, and when the tomatoes really start ripening I will be busy for sure. And it won’t be long before I begin planting the fall crops, starting with collard greens and then on to broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi. I may also sow some turnip seeds since we enjoy both the roots and the greens of those. I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the garden here in July, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!