June is a weird month for gardening. Some things are quite prolific, and others have hardly grown at all. The radishes I planted from seed back in mid-May were ready to harvest in mid-June. They were sweet and delicious sliced onto a piece of dark pumpernickel that was slathered with homemade butter and sprinkled with salt. After harvesting, I just planted a whole new set of seed in the same space.
Ditto with the romaine lettuce. It absolutely went crazy, and by the middle of June, I had several large crispy heads. After harvesting, I left these spaces empty, because the tomatoes were growing outside of the boundaries of their square foot and were taking over pretty much that whole half of the box.
The blueberry bushes you saw the previous month were finally planted into the ground, and we added an additional two bushes of a more prolific variety. Since blueberries like acidic soil, we sprinkled some sulfur onto the area we planted, and then watered. We won’t get many blueberries this year, as the plants are just settling in. The few we have had so far the birds have been eating once they turn blue, but before they completely ripen.
The Bibb lettuce was also ready to harvest, which you have to do before it starts to bolt in the hotter days of summer. Once it bolts it gets bitter, so it’s important to harvest it at just the right time for maximum flavor.
The strawberries were starting to ripen – again, not many this first year. We just harvested the ripe ones each day and ate them out of hand. Next year this should be quite a prolific little strawberry patch.
The zucchini was starting to set fruit with little baby zucchini. The funny thing about zucchini is that a baby can turn into a giant overnight, if you get enough rain. I should have enjoyed this phase while it lasted.
I didn’t have much luck with my Poblanos this year. Some plants only set one pepper, others 2 or 3, but we were still months away from being able to harvest any of them.
On the other hand, we had no shortage of mulberries.
One of my daily rituals in June was to go outside and forage the ripe berries (usually a pint to a quart a day), which I’d bring into Paul who would then turn it into the most fantastic mulberry jelly ever. That man sure has a way with jellies, jams and preserves. Yum. Made it worth the trouble it took to pick all of them by hand.
As you can see, we got a little further in laying the groundwork for the garden area. By mid-June, we had painted the boxes black (we figured that in fall we could harvest longer, because the soil would be warmed somewhat by the absorption of sunlight). Not sure if it will really work, but it’s worth a try.
In this first box, you can see the eggplant in all four corners were starting to grow a bit taller, with more leaves. But still looking very much like the seedlings I had planted a month previous. The corn (on the far left of the picture) that I had planted from seed was starting to grow, but hadn’t formed tassels or stalks yet. The green beans (top of the picture, next to the left side eggplant) from seed were coming along nicely, but the spinach to the right of that wasn’t doing very well at all. The lettuce was doing dandy, and the radishes were ready to harvest. The turnips were in severe need of thinning. The kohlrabi (which was really cabbage) seemed to be growing well. My poor collard greens never had a chance. Enjoy the prettiness of them while they lasted. A couple of weeks later they got infested by aphids, and had to be pulled. The Swiss chard on the bottom was also growing as it should. Can you believe that I didn’t know that Swiss chard regrows after you cut it? Doh! If I had known that, I would have harvested it when the leaves were still small.
You can see the strawberry patch was starting to fill in, but still more dirt than strawberry plants.
The tomatoes grew like crazy. Here you can see my pathetic attempts at staking, which I severely underestimated because I had no idea how big each individual plant would get. The tomato plants would take over the onion spots and the former lettuce spots and would eat the stakes alive within weeks.
The pepper plants stayed pretty small, but you can already see that the zucchini plant (top left corner) was gearing up to go a bit crazy. Lucky for me, as it grew it decided to overflow out of the box, instead of into the spaces of the other plants. And the plants were still small enough that I hadn’t trellised yet.
The garlic was just about ready to harvest. Each one of those leaves represents a layer of skin on the bulb, and you want to let a few leaves turn brown before harvesting. As you can see, the poor poblano plants on the other side of the box were basically gnawed down to nothing at this point.
So, as you see, June was the start of good things, but I was still buying lots of veggies from the farmers market. As a new gardener, I’m playing this by ear, and learning from my mistakes. Stay tuned for July.