|The Kitchen Garden July 2014|
It's time to put the kitchen garden to bed, but like an energetic child, it doesn't want to go. This is because I planted cool-season crops when the growing season was winding down and they are flourishing. The little bunny who lives under my potting shed prompted my decision to try to extend the season. To explain, I need to take you back to the beginning of the gardening year:
As always, I began by putting a rough plan on paper. I don't plant a crop in the same place two years running and I place plant 'families' together using a four-year rotation method. Here is my 2014 plan:
You can compare this plan with 2013 and 2012 by clicking on the year. The past postings describe my vegetable garden in detail and explain the rotation method I use. My garden is a combination of direct sowing and starting plants indoors from seed. I write about how I choose seeds here. I wont repeat all this information now, as it is easy for you to find it using these links.
Let's take a pictorial look at how my 2014 garden progressed ...
|End of May : I finish sowing and planting.|
I use the square-foot gardening method.
|Middle of June : Snow peas, bush beans, and cukes sprout.|
|Middle of June : Blossoms on zucchini|
|June - August : I harvest snow peas.|
|July : Beautiful blossoms on the bush beans.|
|August : Acrobatic bee on borage.|
|August and September : I harvest cucumbers and zucchini.|
|August through October : Pick cabbages.|
|By the beginning of August the cantaloup plants have escaped.|
|Cantaloups are late to mature. Begin harvesting them in early September.|
|Peppers are even later. Pick most of them at the beginning of October.|
|Still have plenty of onions.|
I picked all the carrots this week, but left the parsnips to enjoy a little frost. Frost definitely improves their flavor.
Note the empty bamboo tepee -- the runner beans were a complete failure this year, mainly because of Japanese beetles and that pesky rabbit. The little pest ate all the sunflowers, beets, Swiss chard, and spinach as soon as the plants popped up out of the soil. I was in England at that time and the plants were totally unprotected.
|Can you see the bunny returning to his home under the shed after eating a row of sunflower seedlings?|
|Cute, but oh, so distructive!|
I was most upset at the loss of my beets, which have taken a first place ribbon at the Fair the last couple of years. Also, I missed making jars of pickled beets -- a family favorite. Beets are a cool-weather crop, and as the bunny had relocated to the Woodland Walk by the end of summer, I decided to try again. So instead of putting the whole garden to bed I planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, and beets.
I scratched some well rotted compost into the soil in preparation. I timed the planting so that the young greens would become well established before the weather cools off too much. As you can see, I was successful. With frost forecast, on Sunday I covered the salad/beets bed with fleece and I harvested the rest of the crops.
|No more frost forecast for a few days, so I rolled the fleece back.|
The last few days, I picked salad greens, radishes, peppers, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, and onions. The beets are not quite mature enough yet.
|My haul before the frost.|
I guess I have the rabbit to thank for prompting me to plant a late harvest. I will definitely plan to grow cool-weather crops again next year, although I will also protect my spring crops! Do you extend your growing season?
It is near the end of the gardening year in the northern hemisphere. My feelings are mixed at this time, because I'm sad that it is ending, and yet look forward to RESTING (after I've canned the beets, of course.) I don't think I would be able to garden year-round.
Whatever the season where you live, enjoy your garden!
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