July 2023 Garden Update
Updated: Jul 24
It is the middle of the summer and everyone's garden is in full bloom: tomatoes are turning from green to red, cucumber plants are prolific, carrots are large and in charge, and wishfully you are canning up your beets and peppers while your potatoes finish maturing. Whether you are harvesting and cleaning up beds for a second crop, or preparing them for next year, here's an update on how my garden is doing.
This year I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, peanuts, horseradish, onions, cabbage, corn, beans, beets, radishes, and a couple varieties of lettuce. Of that, the only crops that did not produce were corn and beans. The reason these did not produce is because I planted them in the pumpkin patch I created last year, which got overwhelmed with weeds from the field grass it was created on. My mistake. What I should have done is kept the landscape fabric laid over the patch, and cut holes where I wanted to plant. This would have keep the weeds at bay.
Next year, I am completely getting rid of the pumpkin patch area; I will let the grass grow over the area, which will be quick and easy because it is mostly weeds now anyway. The reason I want to get rid of it is because I enjoy gardening in raised beds more. I think raised beds look more tidy and pretty since my in-ground bed is on a slope. My plan is to add three more raised beds to my raised bed garden space for next year.
I have two raised beds dedicated to tomatoes, and each bed has 8-9 tomato plants. This was another mistake. My intention was to grab inspiration from the square foot gardening method. It did not make sense to me to plant one tomato plant per square foot since tomato plants can get so huge, so I gave them two feet. This would work if I went out there every day to prune to keep them tidy, but that is not realistic for me. Also, this method requires me to basically keep only one main stem per plant, which means a smaller crop yield. I thought multiple plants in one area would mean a larger harvest, but this actually backfired on me and my harvest will be much smaller this year due to how much I have to prune to keep them tidy. Next year I will stick with 6 plants per bed, which will allow me to keep the plants a little bigger and reap a larger crop.
I planted 32 pepper plants in one raised bed, experimenting with the same square-foot gardening method. This did work, and I did not have to stake up the plants because they leaned against each other to stay upright. While the pepper plants are producing quite well, I feel like there should me more airflow toward the middle of the raised bed. Next year I will plant about 25% less plants per one bed.
Onions are doing fantastic. However, the soil I used to fill the beds was riddled with weed seeds, which then produced a ton of weeds. It was easy to keep up with them in the beginning, but after a few rains the weeds grew too big, too fast. Now, when I go to weed around the onions, I inevitably pull the onions up. I'll harvest them early this year.
Peanuts are still growing, looking great.
Horseradish will not be ready until next year.
I planted cucumbers in pots this year, which was a mistake because the soil dries out too quickly. Since cucumbers require a large amount of water and pots lose water quickly due to drainage and heat, the cucumbers are not receiving the water they need and are not growing evenly. I will not grow cucumbers in pots next year.
I planted cabbage in the pumpkin patch. I used transplants that I started indoors and covered them with a bug net to keep moths out. I have a few that are ready to harvest, which makes cabbage the only successful crop to come out of the pumpkin patch.
I don't want to talk about the 100+ corn plants that never came up.
Beets, radishes, carrots, and lettuce did fantastic. They are by far the easiest crops to grow. I highly recommend having a salad bed where you grow everything you would put on a salad.
My son and I harvested our potatoes this past week and they were HUGE. We gathered a large basket full of a yukon gold-type potatoes and russet potatoes from only one bed. I am sure there are more in there, I just have not taken a fork deep through the soil of the bed yet.
How is your garden looking? Any successes or failures so far? I think it is fun to see what people are growing and what they are enjoying/struggling with in their gardens.
See you next Monday!