The Summer Garden: Lush and Productive

The garden is unbelievably lush, what with all the rain we’ve had.  I continue to harvest kale and chard, but now have tomatoes (one ripe this week!), zucchini, and beans blossoming.

The zukes are now doing well...

The zukes are now doing well…

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that my zucchini were turning yellow when quite small, so I added some bone meal, digging it in around the plants, and it seems to have taken care of the problem.  I’m excited about having more than just greens from the garden.

The okra plants now have blossoms and some pods forming.

The okra plants now have blossoms and some pods forming.

The okra plants are thriving and putting out the first little okra pods, which I look forward to.

The big triumph of this year’s garden, though, is the bean tower.  For the past few years, I haven’t had any beans because of my archenemies, the voles, who bit the plants off at the bottom.  Last year, the rabbits kept eating the plants as they came up, so the voles didn’t even get to bite them off later.  The vole and rabbit protection screen I built last spring seems to have worked.  The beans are thriving and have begun to blossom.  I look forward to many fresh beans and a few jars of dilly beans canned as well.

Ah, the sight of healthy bean plants, unmolested by critters....

Ah, the sight of healthy bean plants, unmolested by critters….

A few weeks ago, I also harvested my garlic, and have 13 bulbs to get me through, usually until about January.  I will have to sacrifice the largest bulb for next year’s crop, but I won’t be planting them until late August or early September.

Somehow I missed this plant in my first garlic harvest.

Somehow I missed this plant in my first garlic harvest.

If you have never had your own fresh garlic, you should plant some.  Wait until you see signs in the grocery stores that say “Garlic from Gilroy” or garlic from California.  These will be fresh bulbs from this season.  Normally, you’ll see them in late August or early September.  Break the bulbs open and plant the individual cloves, with their peels still on, pointed side up in the soil.  Plant the cloves at least 6 inches apart in well drained soil.

Here are a couple bulbs, harvested.

Here are a couple bulbs, harvested.

The cloves will sprout and are winter hardy.  They won’t do much unless you live in an area with warm winters, but in the spring, they will shoot up into large plants.  When they shoot out a tendril with a blossom at the end, clip that off and use it in a vegetable sauté.  This is called the scape.  You cut it off so the plant doesn’t spend much energy on blossoming.

When the  plant starts to look a little yellow, you can stomp it over, gently, and leave it a couple more weeks while the garlic bulb swells.  I dig my garlic up around mid June each year.  You can cut the tops off or braid them and hang them to dry.  Fair warning:  Wherever you hang them will smell strongly of garlic while they dry out.  But it’s well worth it.  It’s also worth it to use a few of the really fresh cloves before they dry.  Yum!

And another pleasure of the garden is the flowers.

And another pleasure of the garden is the flowers.  Yes, that’s my water bottle…

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