It’s time for another virtual tour of our vegetable garden here in late July. The early spring planted crops are gone now, and the summer vegetables are coming in. We had a colder than usual wet spring, followed by a hot dry spell, but lately we have gotten much needed rain and things are growing nicely. Overall the garden is 45 x 45 feet in size, surrounded by fencing to keep the deer and other critters out. This year I am trying several new things in the garden, including one no-dig no-till bed. I’ve also reduced the number of planting beds, and made walkways between the beds. And I’m using weed barrier fabric on several of the beds, something I started testing in last year’s garden.
Early results from the no-dig no-till bed are very encouraging. I planted broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi at one end of the bed in late April. In May I planted ten bush squashes to fill out the rest of that bed. All of these crops did very well, and I am happy with the results. Of course one year doesn’t make a trend, but I am planning to try another similar bed or two next year.
I plan to set out fall collards and kale in the bed where the spring brassicas were. I usually rotate plant families to different beds, but I have found that greens make a good fall crop planted following other brassicas, as well as after beans and squashes. After pulling all the spring crops, I lifted the weed barrier fabric carefully so I can reuse it next spring. Then I applied a nigh nitrogen organic fertilizer (Happy Frog Tomato & Vegetable), scattering it over the bed on top of the soil. Since I plant collards farther apart than broccoli and cabbage, I put down new fabric and I will cut the holes at the wider spacing.
The rest of the garden should be set for a while. In a couple of weeks I will pull the bush beans, and sow turnips and turnip greens in that spot.
Every year I plant several hot peppers that I started the previous year and overwintered indoors. These baccatum type peppers get quite big in their second year, and are usually quite loaded with peppers. Those plants are now about three feet tall, and beginning to blossom. Other peppers are setting fruit now as well.
This year I planted the indeterminate tomatoes in a bed next to the trellised pole beans. Both have grown tall now, and I have a narrow path between the beds to allow me to harvest both.
The tomatoes are ripening now, and vines are spilling over and sometimes out of the cages. We had a great year for them in 2021 (almost 200 pounds harvested), and this year they are certainly off to a good start. We process a lot of them into sauce and ketchup, and I also dehydrate quite a few.
I set out 16 eggplants this year, and they have begun fruiting for us. Yes, that is a lot of eggplant, but we love it and eat it often! I have these planted in the weed barrier fabric, and it certainly helps keeps the weeds down. I am using folding cages to support these plants, which I also use to support the peppers.
The pole beans have reached the top of the trellis now, and some are vining up the poles as well. They have begun blooming, so it won’t be long before I will be harvesting them. I typically harvest them from early August until the first frost, and they keep us supplied for fresh eating as well as stocking the freezer for later use.
One other new thing I tried this year is planting a few flowers in the vegetable garden. My hope was to attract pollinators, as well as add a bit of color. I set out petunias and several different colors of Profusion zinnias, and they are all blooming nicely. I also set out a couple of perennial plants (catmint, bee balm) that should provide blooms in years to come.
Harvesting is keeping me fairly busy now, and when more tomatoes start ripening I will be busy processing them. I love this time of year though, and so far I am pleased with the 2022 version of the vegetable garden. 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!