It is now the end of June and we are officially in summer. The spring rain has stopped, and the temperature quickly rose to the 80s.
While the lawn remains green, the growth has slowed down and we finally do not need to mow every week anymore. In contrast, the veggie garden started picking up the pace.
This is what the seedling looked like a months ago, when they are first planted:
And this is how the same bed looks like now! The tomato plants have tripled in their height and the cucumbers started climbing the trellis.
We added a four feet fence around the veggie garden to prevent Charlie from eating the fruits. Charlie came to us last summer and by fall, we discovered that he liked to eat pumpkins and melons. What a naughty boy!
We installed cattle panel fencing on three sides of the veggie garden using T posts and zip-ties. The cattle panel reaches all the way to the wooden privacy fence. To access the veggie garden, we created a small gate made from a piece of leftover cattle panel.
The gate is next to the ginkgo tree bed. Lots of dill pops up in this bed from reseeding themselves in the previous fall. So I just let them grow. As our soil continues to improve, it seems to be easier for plants to reseed. There are so many tomato and pumpkin seedlings coming up this spring that I did not even need to raise my own seedlings, if it is not for trying new varieties.
The first bed immediately next to the lawn grass was planted with tomatoes and cucumbers. A perennial chive border is kept at the edge of the bed as a boundary to stop the lawn grass from growing in. The cucumbers were planted at the base of the cattle panel, and 15 tomato plants are scattered in the rest of the bed. This bed receives most of the sunshine and gets overspray from the lawn sprinkles. Within a month, we already harvested the first cucumber, and the tomato plants are loaded with blossoms.
I also planted borage at the end of this bed. Borage flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They also has a cucumber-like taste and can be used as garnish in salads.
Like in previous years, I planted butternut squashes and pumpkins at the end of all veggie beds, right against the pea gravel path. The roots of pumpkins only takes little space in the actual garden beds, but the vine and fruits can spill over onto the pea gravel path and create a pretty sea of green. it This strategy worked really well two season ago so I have been repeating it every.
This was how the pumpkin seedlings looked like a month ago when they were first planted. it is amazing how fast pumpkins grow in our soil.
The second veggie bed hosts perennial asparagus. In the middle of the bed, I inserted more tomatoes and okra plants.
Again, this was how they looked like a month ago! I cannot believe how tiny they were back then.
I planted 100+ garlic last fall which will be harvested in mid-July. To fully utilize the growing space, I interplanted peppers and eggplant seedlings among the garlic shoots. Peppers and eggplants are heat-loving annuals that grow very slowly in spring. By the time the summer heat kicks in and the plants start to grow, the garlic will be harvested, which allows more sunlight, nutrition, and air flow for the peppers and eggplants. This is the first season I am trying to interplant – hope it works!
The last two veggie beds are my all-time favorite, because of the bean tunnel spans across the center of these two beds. Slav made the bean tunnel a couple seasons ago with three cattle panels, and I have grown pole beans, ornamental squashes, and luffa on them. This year, I am growing pole beans up the bean tunnel again, plus small watermelons and Japanese Kabocha squashes.
The Japanese pumpkins grew so fast. I had to come out every other day to thread the leader around the trellis to make sure they are not taking over the tomato cages next to the tunnel.
Kabocha squashes are good climbers just like cucumbers. By the peak of summer, their big green leaves should cover the entire trellise, and create nice shade for the gardening beds below. I have seeded more lettuce and radishes under the bean tunnel. Hopefully we will be able to grow salad greens all summer long.
In the last bed, outside of the bean tunnel, there are 8 more tomatoes! These plants were risen from seeds I got from my sister and they are her favorite tomato varieties. I am looking forward to giving them a try and it will be fun to eat the same variety of tomato with her over video chat.
Look how small the tomato and pumpkin seedlings were when first planted a month ago. OMG
Due to the cold and wet spring, several fruit trees of ours did not bloom well. This honeycrisp apple tree is an exception. It looks like we will get a good harvest this fall.
I planted several wine cup flower as ground cover under the fruit trees. These plants are native to our area and tough as nails. They bloom all summer long and are so pretty to look at.
Fencing the veggie garden is not the only change we implanted this season. As a male dog, Charlie cannot help but peeing on plants with strong scent. So this spring, I made an effort to move all the herbs we actually cook with to the elevated planters.
I also added spinach into the elevated planters. This is the first year I grew spinach and we loved cold spinach salads.
The lettuce from my first winter sowing experiment did well too! Unfortunately I planted them into the landscape without thinking it through… Since they are at the ground level and not fenced in, I assume that they are “watered by Charlie” so they will not make to our table…
After transplanting the edible herbs out of the herb garden, I filled the bed with comfrey, is one of the best nitrogen fixers. It grows so fast, that I can cut the top one-third off every week, soak them in water for a few days, to make liquid fertilizer for the veggie seedlings. I think it helps!
We have been harvesting cucumbers, salad greens, radishes, and bok choy and the beans, tomatoes, and pumpkins are setting fruits. The first big harvest of the season will be garlic – we have close to 150 heads to gather in mid- to late-July and I cannot wait for it. We keep some for fresh eating, and make dried garlic powder and pickled garlic which last us all winter long. I will share with you how this year’s harvest goes. Stay tuned!