Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Summer Garden and Fall Preparations

In gardening terms, when I think of April, I think "sparse". And when thinking of September, "overgrown" comes to mind. Which is partly why I enjoy this time of year so much. Everything looks perfectly lush and green yet manageable, except for maybe the weeds. Anyway, here are some gardening bits worth noting:

I found a ripe ground cherry the other day. After a month of doing absolutely nothing, the plants have exploded in growth during the past few weeks. I see quite a few green husks. Unfortunately, either the chipmunks or birds have been going to town on them...eating the green berries before they have chance to ripen. I will be covering the plants with bird netting tomorrow and hope that it will deter the chipmunks as well.

The Piracicaba broccoli is putting out tons of side shoots. I'm rather enjoying the texture and taste of this variety. Also, I realized the other day that one particular plant is responsible for producing all of the bitter shoots I've been tasting. Maybe it's the result of some sort of plant mutation.

My Imperial artichokes are growing rather slowly these days. I had inadvertently planted them in the shadiest spot in my garden...not good for a plant that requires full sun. I still haven't seen any signs that they will put forth flower stalks anytime soon. If I don't get any artichokes this year, I will try my best to overwinter them.

My melons are flowering at the moment. I haven't seen any female flowers yet though. Now that the weather is warming up, the plants are really starting to sprawl. Pretty soon, I won't be able to walk as freely in the back garden. Any tips on how to ensure that your melons pollinate properly?

Finally, the end of June means that it's now time to start planning for the fall and winter growing seasons. On Tuesday, I placed a seed order with Johnny's, which I'm glad to say arrived in the mail on Thursday. Here is a tentative list of my fall and winter veggies for this year.

Broccoli (Bonanza - produces a center head and the many side shoots) - F
Mini Napa Cabbage - F
Shanghai Bok Choy - F, W
Extra Dwarf Bok Choy - F, W
Mizuna - F, W
Tatsoi - F, W
Scallions - W
Swiss Chard (Fordhook) - W
Kale (Red Russian) - W
Mesclun Mix - F
Minutina - W
Mache (2 varieties) - W
Lettuce (Tango) - F
Lettuce (Korean) - F
Lettuce (Winter Density) - W
Wild Arugula - F
Claytonia - W
Radish (Daikon) - F
Radish (Altaglobe) - W
Radish (French Breakfast) - F
Radish (Watermelon) - F
Turnip (Tokyo Cross) - F
Turnip (Hakurei) - F
Carrots (Nantes Half Long) - F, W
Chinese Celery - F
Spinach (Space F1) - W
Snow Peas and Shoots - F

I'm sure I'll make some changes along the way based on the amount of space that becomes available. Also, I still need to finalize the garden plan, sowing and transplanting dates. Last year's winter garden had its share of successes and failures. I'm sure this year will be no different, but hopefully, things will be slightly more predictable.


  1. I was just looking at my pumpkin plants vining happily and thinking to myself - "in a few weeks you will hardly be able to get into the walkways by this bed!" It's amazing how it goes from the mid June - full but manageable to the late August overgrown state.

    Your artichokes look very healthy even if they are not flowering for you yet. I am thinking about adding a few to my garden next year just for fun.

  2. I'm trying to grow Melons but not very well I'm afraid, I think I missed a trick somewhere along the line.

  3. Thomas - Thanks for sharing your fall winter veges list. I made a few notes of veges and planting times you talked about last winter. I've been looking forward to reading when you start planning your fall/winter garden. I was thinking it would be time soon to start the brassicas in seed trays for transplanting. Your summer garden looks great. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. Your list sounds great. I was just walking through the garden while pulling up the last of the early spring plantings ( the intense heat wiped them out) and realized it was time to get into the fall planting planning mode. Need to get moving on my list and order as well. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. My artichokes are not showing signs of flower stalks either. We will see if I'm successful this year growing them. Mine are planted in very large, I intend to try to overwinter them in the shed.

    I have also put together my fall planting list. It's almost time...believe it or not!

  6. I have officially thrown in the towel on my artichokes, too hot here! Those ground cherry plants are so compact and pretty, aren't they? I wish I liked them! There is like 20 a day falling off the plants, and I hope the birds like them at least :)

  7. I'll be watching closely to see when you plant things. You had such a successful winter and being so close to me, makes it a great barometer for what I can do.

  8. It seems crazy to be thinking so far ahead, but you and I are on the same train of thought; I yanked my garlic a bit early to sow some greens for Sept. and Oct., and have begun putting together a list for a seed order to fill in anything I missed.

    I sowed more claytonia in the old garlic beds, the last sowing I did was a complete failure. I have one plant that is growing in the wrong bed!

    Have you grown fordhook before? That variety is in my "cart", but I keep going back and forth over it.

  9. My fall-winter list is more or less like yours, I'm going to add daikon, regular napa, and fava beans.

  10. I am going to start some fall crops before I go on vacation next weekend. Kohlrabi was one on my list. Turnips, bok choy and raddichio are others. I will be planting peas, spinach and lettuces later because our July and August are brutal!

  11. I don’t have a fall/winter list. I just might copy some parts from you.
    Have you tried pruning the melons? I never had any success with them, but was reading on them and I can recall that pruning might be very useful.

  12. great post... i still need to get my herbs into pots!!! ridiculous ... great blog...xx

  13. Your garden is looking great. Our broccoli has not been doing well at all. Bugs have been eating the leaves like crazy and no shoots. Sigh.

  14. Hand pollinate your melons. It is easy (tweezers help), quick and although not 100% guarantee of success is your surest bet.

    My melons don't have female flowers yet, but I am checking every day and I'll hand pollinate for sure.

  15. for perfect pollination - keep bees :) i've never had to try hand pollinating but that would probably work (if a little painstaking). maybe you could plant a border of something bee attracting like borage down the side of patch next time. about to get all the spring seed catalogues here - looking forward to making lists also