We’re just beginning to see the fruit of our labors with a few stray zucchini’s trickling in and a couple pounds of peas and bush beans. I may be worrying unnecessarily, but I’m feeling altogether uneasy about the quantity of vegetation that this garden will produce for our family and whether it will meet our needs until next season. We’re at the point where we are beginning to consider purchasing bulk quantities and putting it up fresh in season rather than taking a wait & see approach. Either way, if I can it from more successful farmers or purchase it from the grocery store in the winter, I’d be sacrificing organic because they don’t grow organically around here and I won’t pay organic prices for fruits and vegetables that are beginning to rot on the shelves. It’s a disappointing and difficult thing to contemplate after investing all of this time and energy into the garden yet it strengthens my resolve to plan larger quantities for next year. If we were living in another time of history, this would be wholly unacceptable and I’d be contemplating our starvation rather than “plan b.”
While waiting for the harvest, whether meager or abundant, to come in, I’m mostly spending my time battling pests. Ultimately, I’m opting for a bucket of water and my fingers to deal with the leaf footed beetles, my primary enemy. They are incredibly prolific here this year and I’ve found them on the zucchini, winter squash, yellow squash, cucumbers, corn, and mulberry tree. I’m rolling the eggs off under my thumb and dropping them in the water, picking off the beetles and adding them to the pool, and the nymphs squish under my thumb with ease. The cucumber beetles are as active as ever, but are too wily for me.
After killing my cucumbers this month after attempting to use orange oil (apparently a natural herbicide) as a pesticide when my peppermint oil supply was depleted, I am trying for a fall crop with seedlings started in the basement. It’s time to start thinking about starting my fall crops of brassicas as well. Their showing this spring has been less than impressive. I’m wondering if I should be planting them earlier than I have been or maybe go with a hybrid variety. The heirlooms I’ve purchased the last two years have done poorly.
I’ve harvested the parsnip seeds and have enough for years to come, enough that I’ll probably test the germination rate at some point. The heirloom iceberg lettuce I allowed to bolt and go to seed will hopefully be ready to harvest in August.
Finally, this year was officially another poor showing in the grain field. We have the grain cut and sitting in the garden shed waiting to be threshed when we get a spare minute. All prototypes for a grain thresher were failures this year, so I’m dreading the laborious task of doing it by hand again this year. I suppose there’s a reason to be thankful for poor yield. I do have some ideas about how to amend the soil for improved yields next year and with the chickens finally contained to the pasture for good where they can’t eat the ripe grain prior to harvest, I’m hopeful.
What has July brought for your garden?