I love the early summer garden, before the pests, heavy rain storms, and incredible heat set in. The garden is easy and productive now, and the weeds and bugs feel under control. However, productivity CAN have some drawbacks!
We were gone at the Florida Folk Festival over the weekend, and in only a few days the cucumber vines and squash went crazy. Every day we harvested about 30 lbs of vegetables, and yet monster cucumbers and zucchinis were still discovered, hiding in the leaves! The family motto has been: Squash for dinner, squash for lunch, squash for breakfast, squash for brunch…..and this is not just a rhyme, but reality! You will notice just how many squash recipes I will be posting lately. I like summer squash, and this is the only time of the year we get to eat it, but the younger half of the family is not so wild about it. Just saying “squash” leads to groaning and eye-rolls, which leads to our second motto, one repeated often at mealtimes: Lazy Lips Sink Ships. (you have to imagine a ship sinking under a giant zucchini)
Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes that were planted by the pigs (!) and survived no water, no care, drought and frost are fruiting now. Our tended-to tomatoes are all still green. The lettuce leaf in the picture is actually lettuce leaf basil, which I have never grown before, but I love the huge leaves!
The summer squash just doesn’t last, so we have to enjoy it while we have it. The snap beans, meanwhile, are ramping up for harvest. I have five different beans to trial: Blauhilde, Bush Borlotto, Meraviglia di Venezia, Roma, and Calima. So far the Borlotto beans were the first to produce beans, and so far we have enjoyed them. I will have more to report when the rest of the beans are up and going.
The Blauhilde beans are the only pole beans. They are on the left, sharing a trellis with the long beans from my great-grandfather. On the right are gourds that seem to be flourishing – I planted two different luffas, one is a more tender, eating luffa, but I’m not sure which is which now!
I’ve been trying some companion-planting experiments this year. The one shown above is very pretty, even if it isn’t useful – I planted extra zinnia starts between the eggplants. It might be keeping the leaf-legged bugs away, but mostly I am enjoying the color and beauty. Another planting experiment is sowing White Acre Peas between sweet corn rows. This doesn’t seem to be very beneficial, actually, and is encouraging weeds that are hard to get to around the pea plants. The corn looks about as happy either way, but the mulched corn (rather than companion planted) looks like a more well-tended garden!
This is another companion-planting experiment. I’ve planted tall things like roselle, okra, and cassava with vining things like melons and pumpkins. Last year the gourds and pumpkins overran my cassava patch, and seemed to have a good effect on both. The vining plants create a ground cover that keeps down the weeds, and the tall things provide shade in the hotter parts of the summer. We’ll see how it turns out this year! Here are watermelons planted with roselle.
It’s still too early to tell if the planting will be successful or not, but so far it is working out well.