Here’s a reasonably quick update on how things are going in the garden right now.
Overall, things are going well. The DreadBrewer finished getting the Dripworks set up in the front beds, so there are very few things we actually have to water by hand. (And by we I mean he.) There has been very little rain here in NC over the last two weeks or so, so I’d say we’re using the irrigation system probably 2 days out of every 3 or 4 for about 40 minutes at a time. I’ll come down to get things ready in the morning, turn on the hose, and turn it off again once it’s time for me to go back upstairs and rouse the rest of the household. I’m still waiting for the day that I forget to turn it back off and we flood the beds all day, but hopefully the giant post-it note shouting “Dripworks!!!” on my coffee maker will prevent that from ever occurring.
As far as crops go, here’s how things are looking:
Our first garden beds are the squash and garlic beds. As you can see, we’ve pulled the garlic and are letting it cure a bit in the sun before we undertake the massive
pain in the ass production that is drying the garlic in the garage before braiding it up. I’ll have to look back, but for some reason I feel like we didn’t end up with as much garlic this year as we did last year. But I could be mistaken. (For those of you who are interested, we pulled 108 heads of garlic. Yes, DB counted.) Once we get the garlic out of there and mix in some more compost and fertilizer, we’ll turn that into our melon bed.
The zucchini plants are doing well; the actual zucchini, not so much. We’re having an issue with blossom end rot on our zucchini. If you’ve never had an issue with blossom end rot, this is a good article that explains why it happens with squash and possible causes. We’re looking into having our soil tested to see where exactly the issue lies and how best to fix it. What zucchini have been spared the rot are smaller than our normal zucchini, much to DB’s frustration. But they’re still delicious, so I’m happy.
Our okra are loving the heat lately. The ones on the right are ones DB started from seed and the smaller ones are ones we direct sowed in the garden – we’re hoping to spread out the abundance of okra a bit this year rather than being inundated with a million pods all at once.
The tomato plants are coming along nicely; they, out of all our plants, seem to love the drip irrigation the most and are growing lush and rampant. We have some green tomatoes on the plant but nothing near ready to eat. (It seems that my dad will win the annual tomato race yet again! Darn you, Mother Nature, and your late freezes!!!) And you can’t see it, but behind the tomato plants are our bean plants, which are still only about 6 inches high and not doing anything very exciting at this point.
These beds are our onion and winter squash bed and our catch-all bed in the back. We had a serious issue with voles (again!) earlier in the year but they seem to have moved on as we haven’t lost any onions or leeks in a few weeks. Growing winter squash is a first for us this year, so we’ll see how that goes. The catch-all bed only has two random tomato plants and our cucumbers along the back right now, but I think we’ll be putting in some other seedlings of various sorts soon.
Our leeks and the rest of our onions are thriving, now that the voles have stopped devouring them. (I don’t know if you remember World War V of last summer, but we put out all of the same traps and deterrents this year. And DB actually killed 2 or 3 voles before they gave up and moved on, so that was an exciting victory for us.)
The peppers are coming along as well. Every year I start lamenting in July that we will never have peppers, forgetting that we don’t usually get any until August or so. And I don’t know why I really care anyway, as I don’t particularly like peppers. Last year, the DreadBrewer came up with this crazy idea to grow extremely hard to find Mexican peppers – the thought being that if we were really successful, we could then expand our pepper growing operation this year and sell the resulting in-high-demand peppers to homesick Hispanics. While this is actually a pretty good idea in theory, in practice I have neither the time nor the patience for it. So I was pleased that this year, we are concentrating on growing peppers I’ve heard of and will probably use – like orange bell peppers and jalapeños, not chilhuacles.
Over here are our blueberries (which are doing awesome!), our asparagus (which is beautifully ferned), our shallots (which are nearly ready), and our new potato bed (which warrants a post all its own). Once we harvest the shallots, we’ll probably pop a few more pepper plants in that bed or maybe a tomato or two. We may not beat my dad to the first tomato, but we can certainly match him for quantity harvested.
And finally, here’s a picture of our blackberry bushes. As you can see, the bushes are positively loaded down with berries. Every night we go out after dinner and we can usually find about 10 or 15 berries that are ready to eat; the Littlest Brewster is becoming a pro at telling which ones are ready and which ones aren’t. If we could manage to restrain ourselves for a day or two, we could get enough to make something with, but this way is more fun to me.
Sadly enough, our raspberry bushes are not doing well at all and we’ve only gotten a few handfuls of berries so far. However, we know what the problem is and how to fix it for next year – we didn’t prune back any of the 2 year canes because we got lazy, a situation that will not be repeated this year. So I expect that we’ll be back to having a ton of raspberries next summer and will have to content ourselves with blackberries and blueberries alone this year.
Not pictured are our other potato bags, our basil patch, my sunflowers, and the random things in pots DB has scattered about the deck and yard. Suffice it to say, those things are also all doing well.
Given that I’ll be out on maternity leave when most of our produce hits and thus unable to off-load the extra veg on my coworkers, I’m not actually sure how we’ll deal with the surplus this year. This may have to be the year that I conquer my fear of canning rather than be crushed under a ton of tomatoes. Which actually sounds like an exciting prospect and something I should look into. If you have any experience with canning (or know of a good resource – website or book – to get me started), let me know!