Growing and growing

June 2, 2016


Sometime in the very depths of November, I had a dream in which it was June.  In my dream I remember being so glad that it was finally summer because the winter had seemed endless.  When I woke up I was, predictably, crushed.  It wasn’t even technically winter yet.

Well, now that June is actually here, I feel both elated and overwhelmed, especially in my backyard garden.  There is so much to do!  There is so much I haven’t done!  I still have tomatoes and baby cucumbers to harden off and get in the ground.  I never did get my sunflowers or pumpkins planted in the front yard and I’m pretty sure it’s too late now.  I might plant some sunflowers anyway, just smaller varieties and not the mammoth ones I usually do, and see what happens.

Flashy Trout’s Back lettuce

So, back in March or April I went a little crazy and planted about 15 heads of lettuce.  They looked so small and insignificant back then, but after a month or two of unusually nice weather they have become monsters!  I have three different kinds: Flashy Trout’s Back, Parris Island Romaine, and Red Sails.  All three of those are cut-and-come-again types, which means you don’t have to harvest the whole head at one time, you just break off the leaves you want or need, and more will grow.  Well, despite trying to cut a leaf off every plant every time we eat, and also picking a handful for the chickens and rabbits every evening, we have to eat salad with practically every meal to keep on top the ridiculous amount of growth going on.

I know the lettuces’s days are numbered though – we’ve got temperatures predicted to be in the high 70s all week – and lettuce never does last much longer than the end of June around here.  So, I shall suck it up and keep eating big salads for lunch (and dinner) as long as I can.

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Scarlet Nantes carrots doing great!
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The feathered tops of carrots getting tall

Last year was abysmal when it came to carrots.  I don’t think we got more than five good carrots out of the whole crop.  They just didn’t germinate, and the few that did were small and meager.  This year, on the other hand, the carrots have done wonderfully.  I planted the first batch of Scarlet Nantes on March 1st, and the girls and I are already eating the thinnings, which are only a little smaller than my pinkie finger.  The second batch, planted on April 1st, are only a bit behind in size.  Exciting!

Unfortunately, I think the problem last year stemmed from using pelleted seed.  I tried Territorial Seed Company’s pelleted version of Purple Sun Carrots.  Like I said, hardly any germinated.  I gave them another try this year (while relying on conventional Scarlet Nantes seed for the bulk of my crop) and, again, they didn’t germinate.  I think I’ll be sticking to normal seed from now on, even though they’re so small and come up as thickly as grass.

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Sadly, overeager children and husbands might have eaten these before they were ready

Peas.  What can I say about peas?  They’re doing great, even though they’ve already climbed higher than the trellis I gave them and now have nowhere left to go.  The vines are already covered in pods, and I’ve already had to chastise both the girls and Jasper to leave them alone until they’re fully ripe.

I hung a praying mantis egg right in the thick of the pea vines, and am hoping that the weather is warm enough for the baby mantises to hatch.  There is a spider who hopes the same thing, and has spun it’s web right underneath the egg.  I don’t know whether to knock it down, or let nature do it’s thing.  This spider has caught a lot of pesky mosquitoes in it’s web, and I hardly want to discourage that sort of thing.  On the other hand: baby praying mantises!

Not too spicy, these radishes are just perfect in our salads

The first sowing of radishes have long been eaten, and now we’re working on the second sowing.  I went with Early Scarlet Globe radishes this year, and they were mild enough that even the girls liked them thinly sliced in their salads.  I think they’re good enough to eat whole, straight out of the dirt.

sungold tomatoes not quite ripe
Adorable little sungold tomato-lings  (can that be a word, please?)
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Backyard garden.  Everything’s doing great!

In order to avoid being any more redundant than I already am, I’m just going to sum up the rest of the garden’s progress here: Everything’s doing great!  The tomatoes that are already in the ground are growing quickly and abundantly, the onions are bulbing up, the potatoes have been mounded and mounded again, the elephant garlic is getting ready to flower, the strawberries are ripening and more are being set daily, and the green onions are downright profuse.  The only thing I’ve had to completely scrap is a butternut squash plant, leftover from the ones I planted on the farm.  And that tragic vegetable death was completely the fault of the chickens, who got into the garden and scratched it up looking for bugs.  They were duly punished (told they were naughty chickens) and banished back to their run.

So yes, it’s finally June, finally summer, and everything is doing wonderfully.  Some things are doing too wonderfully, but I’ll count my blessings as I have them, and they are growing by the day.

Happy gardener


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