Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Garden Update

It's been a while since my last update, I kept waiting to post an update until everything took off and was huge. This hasn't happened yet and probably won't happen this year. According to the locals, this has been a challenging gardening year in our area due to early cool weather and lots of rain.

We've given up on a couple areas in the garden and are planting these sections with clover that we will later till in to add more organic matter.

Overall, things are looking pretty small compared to our neighbor's gardens. I wonder if this is caused by a lack of organic matter? When we purchased our soil we were shown a soil test that indicated the soil had 10% organic matter. We did dilute the good soil with ~25% sandy loam to create a soil that warms up more quickly in the spring. We also added in a fair bit of blood and bone meal to fix nutrient deficiencies. We did a drainage test that indicated our soil did not drain too fast. Still, I wonder if we may have created too sandy of a soil.

The scarlett runner beans are doing fairly well. Behind them you can see radishes that have gone to seed.

The sunflowers are looking good. We seem to be on pace with other area gardens as far as the sunflowers go.

We had fairly intermittent success with the carrots. We have yet to harvest any carrots and got rather spotty germination. I hear that some other people in the area had this same problem and attributed it to too much rain early on in the season.

The blooming radishes have been amazing. I had no idea these plants would get this big. Our bees seem to really like the flowers.

It took 3 separate tries of planting out tomatoes to get some to stick. We first planted out at our last frost date. Those plants are still alive but have grown no more than an inch in the last 2.5 months. We planted out two weeks later, these plants have maybe doubled in size. Then we planted one more time at the beginning of July. The large tomato plants you can see are those plants. It was a good thing we started so many tomato plants to experiment with!

Our (mostly) perennial bed is doing great. All of the herbs are booming. The rhubarb, asparagus and chives are also doing great.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are finishing up. We've probably been getting about 5 pounds of tomatoes per week from the greenhouse for the last 1.5 months and maybe a couple pounds of peppers. We are looking forward to winter squash, melons and lots of basil coming soon.

The peppers love our greenhouse! These have done really well and have been easy to pollinate by hand.

The melons are slowly coming along. It has been challenging to pollinate these. Our success rate is pretty low (maybe less than 15%) but there are so many flowers per plant that we should still have quite a few melons. We've been trying to encourage bees to come into the greenhouse and give us a hand. Despite bringing in a couple frames of a few hundred bees and shaking them off in the greenhouse, still no luck.

The squash has also been difficult to pollinate by hand. Out of ~50 squash flowers, these are the only two that we've pollinated successfully! The varieties we've been working with include pumpkins, spaghetti squash (pictured above), acorn squash, patty pan squash and zucchini.

Any suggestions or ideas of what might be going on in the garden would be much appreciated! We're also currently trying to plan a fall crop of some plants. If you know of some plants that might do well in a zone 4 area for fall, let me know.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Oh, dear I'm having trouble posting a comment...
    Let's try again...
    Do you enjoy radish pods? When the radishes are done blooming, let pods form. They are excellent in salads or in stir fry, used in southeast Asian cooking. Taste like radishes, with a bit of kick.

  3. It has been a rather rough gardening year in our area and I would definitely attribute some of your issues with our cold rainy long lasting spring. That said, your greenhouse crops look absolutely fabulous...just look at those melons.

    I just planted up a row of spinach and will be doing the same with turnips (for greens) soon. Turnip greens grow really fast and don't do well in the hot weather so we usually wait until late August to plant them and our spinach. It's a good time to plant more radishes, arugula, cress, mustard, cilantro, and chervil too. All of these grow fast and are fairly cold hardy.

  4. Thanks for the helpful suggestions as always Mr. H!

    Maria, we will try eating the radish pods. We certainly have plenty of them as we went a bit overboard planting radishes this year and could not keep up with eating them.

  5. Take heart... It's been a horrid year for most veggie gardens. I simply threw in the towel after a late June freeze.

  6. Karen, your garden is beautiful and I am positively envious of your greenhouse. Great job! And for a first year garden w/ a challenging summer, your harvest has been impressive.

    I'm in CA but my parents live in Libby so we come visit frequently (next visit end of this month). They were telling me about a fairly new garden club that seems to be taking off. I think it meets at Libby Christian Church. I bring it up as it seems like a good place to get great info from local experienced gardeners!

  7. You seem to be doing a great job. What a lot of tomatoes! We're jealous. Wish we had some good advice but our veggie garden is always a hit or miss. Keep at it.