gardens 3 yellow tomatos in hand

The Gardens in July {2015}

A Itty Bitty Harvest

I have a love/hate relationship with July gardening.

I love that the weeds have slowed down… (Or did I finally get my mulch thick enough?) I can spend some time doing other things, focus on some home education. (Our Agrarian School Calendar has us taking time off in April & May then September & October, sowing and harvest seasons, rather than one large stretch through summer.)

I hate waiting to see how the major preserving crops, cucumbers, beans, squash, tomatoes will do…

I love watching the plants spring to life and begin to take over the open spaces….

But I hate that I can only tell that we’re making real progress because I take photos for these posts!

I love that my visits are less frantic to get done, more leisurely and enjoyable.

I hate spending so much of my gardening time picking & squishing the bugs that are attacking it, particularly those nasty little cucumber beetles.

I love that despite all my fretting and anticipation, there is still a small flame of hope left over burning from spring.

I’m late this month with my garden update for July… so late in fact that I took photos again this morning (Ok that’s a lie- I’m not a fan of heights, I sent my oldest up on the roof) and will skip a formal August update and include any gardening happenings in the September update.

Kitchen Garden- 1st Week of July 2015
1st Week of July
Kitchen Garden mid-August 2015
Mid August

{Kitchen Garden}

Butternut Squash

• The star of the Kitchen Garden this year is shaping up to be the butternut squash in the top right corner. They’ve completely taken over most of that quarter (along with a couple other gourds, chard, and kale) And to think they were an after thought to fill up some space! Though it looks like the cucumber beetles are beginning to win the battle (that I’m not fighting since I can’t get in there), I still think we’ll have an amazing harvest.


• The cucumbers aren’t going to make it. Thankfully, we had such an amazing year last year that the pantry still has many pints of sweet cucumber pickles left… not so with dill spears. I might end up hitting an auction. Why are they doing so poorly?  I think it looks like Downy Mildew, which there’s pretty much nothing I can do but watch them die and pray that next year is better.


• My tomatoes are beginning to ripen and with no paste types over in the pantry garden this year to distract them, the chickens have found the goodies and are taking sizable helpings before they’re ready to pick. The plan is to finally sink the fence tomorrow, but that’s been the plan for over a year so we’ll see.

The tomatoes are in the front right, behind the blank space where we harvested the garlic. There are also a couple short rows to the left of the path, but the ones directly along the path are severely stunted. I couldn’t get anything to grow there last year either. (Same thing with where the cabbage are… they’re super small and at this point I’m hoping that if I cover them, maybe they’ll pull through for next spring.) Interesting.

We also tried pruning a few of the tomatoes this year and I’m all set with that from now on I think. Not only is it extra work, but it looks to me as though the pruned ones will also be less productive.

Green Pole Beans
Green Pole Beans

• One other observation I’ve made is that the pole beans only have a spiral of twine running around the trellises and it’s probably spaced at 1 ½’. We usually drop a few vertical lines of twine for them to grab onto. This year the beans are favoring running up the poles at the corners. The ones that reach there and have traveled up the poles have taken off and are bearing already… the ones in between are still only a couple feet tall and unproductive. Makes me wonder if there will be no beans this year when we did so wonderfully last year that I still have 2- 1 gallon bags in the deep freeze. I’m not ready to panic yet because this variety, love it as much as I do, usually bears closer to the end of this month and into September.

Kitchen Garden
Pantry Garden 1st Week of July 2015
1st Week of July
Pantry Garden mid-August 2015
Mid August

{Pantry Garden}

• I continued to do battle with Colorado Potato Beetles last month. I feel like I mostly won. Every visit and there were fewer and fewer larvae flicked into my cup. We began harvesting the potatoes today (the green you see above in the potatoes are mostly weeds) and decided to break it up between today and tomorrow. We only found 2 beetles and a handful of larvae.

• While (all but one of) the sheep were sold we’re no longer literally running in circles chasing them out one side of the greenhouse or garden and then right back in the other, we’ve a new problem in the form of Daisy and Annie who think it’s great fun to rub along the deer netting until it gives way under them and jump in. They romp around and nibble on the corn, top all the carrots, and trample vegetables every where they step. I’m convinced there’s no way to make a calf respect polywire or if there is, we haven’t learned the trick yet.

 After the sheep grazing, the sweet potatoes have had a chance to take off, the dry beans though are still stunted. The broccoli have rebounded and I’ll see if they’ll at least send me some side-shoots. Thankfully, cattle don’t seem interested in those, but it would seem the chickens might like the beans.

Onions in the Garden

• This summer has definitely been the straw that broke this camels back, I’m calling uncle and we’re planning on not only building a proper chicken coop near in the orchard, but enclosing it all in a run. In the winter we’re going to move them into half of the hoop house to direct deposit manure and clean up the bugs & vegetation from the previous growth. I’m thinking the full sunlight will eliminate our need for supplemental lighting. Hopefully, after being fully contained all winter we won’t need to cull the whole flock in order to adjust them to a not-so-free-ranged life. We’ve been lazy with the broilers and haven’t used any of the electric netting. It’s a pain and I think we would have been more likely to put up with it if we hadn’t have struggled with it all year with the sheep. So between the lack of sheep & the containment of the chickens, I think that next year will be a whole lot less stressful.

Giant Summer Squash
Giant Summer Squash- 3 Days Since Last Harvest

• The summer squash are in the Pantry Garden  this year and I confess I forgot to thin them so they’re like a jungle. I keep missing the ripe produce and they’re getting out of control pretty quickly. I’m also missing lots of squash bug eggs and while last year very few got past my and hatched into nymphs, this year I’m missing many. Thanks to the overly-abundant rains of June, the plants have developed powdery mildew and were I to be completely honest about it, I’m conveniently forgetting to manage it. I’ve already more than enough zucchini preserved, both frozen in bags and baked into muffins and bread. I’ve still a shelf full of harvested squash that I haven’t yet managed.

{Zinnias & Sunflowers}

Phoebe "Smelling" a Zinnia
Phoebe “Smelling” a Zinnia

Sunflower Row

Orange Zinnia

I love them. That’s all.

Do tell. How is your summer garden coming along? (And if you have one, be sure to share a photo of it’s beauty in the comments below! I love seeing them!) 


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  1. My vegetable garden is far too much of a mess to even consider posting pictures! It’s been a bit of a disappointment this year; between rabbits and bad weather not much has done anything worth mentioning. Yours looks great, though; that mid-August pic looks just how a vegetable garden should look in my mind. The summer was kind to us in one way, though and while it’s not a garden picture I really want to share it because I’m so happy with it so I hope you don’t mind – we got HAY in the midst of this soggy summer, and plenty of it. So pleased! Now, does anyone have a recipe for a crop of one cherry tomato and 4 French beans… 😛

    1. Stunning! I’m so thankful that you were able to get hay up! We’ve had such a trouble with it this year. Makes me thankful at least that we have a neighbor that puts up a ton of hay every year and we can get it from him so easily. Thank you for sharing!! I hear you about the disappointment. I know that from a distance mine looks lovely, but the chickens are killing me!! (Or is it Bill who won’t help me put up the fence. I swear I’d sink the posts myself, but he insists I won’t be able to.) The birds are eating all my tomatoes that aren’t bite sized (so I’m getting most of the cherry tomatoes). I haven’t put up ANY sauce yet this year and I’m starting to panic with only a month or left. I see non-organic sauce from auction tomatoes in my future :/ which I suppose is better than a can from the store. Blessings to you!

      1. I wish I was close enough to zip over and help you with your fence… all I can do from this side of the pond is say that if you can bring eight babies into the world, I’m pretty sure you can knock in a few fence posts! I’ve had to do some when my husband’s arthritis is bad so I’ve done a few with a fencing maul and it’s not tricky. If you do try it, I recommend finding your own way to handle it; be confident and don’t do more than a few at a time or your shoulders will be murdering you the next day, the impact seems to travel up your arms and sit growling in your shoulder joints! I’ll never be as accurate or strong with the swing as my husband (he’s done literally thousands over the years… which is why he has arthritis in his shoulders!) but I kind of bonk them in for the first few inches with the top of the hammer head then start swinging from overhead and you know what? Turns out that in the ground is in the ground and the post doesn’t seem to notice that I’m not a big, hairy man. Go on, give it a try if you want to; if it’s not for you, it’s not but at least you’ll know. Long reply, sorry! I do rattle on sometimes. Happy days to you 🙂

  2. I find it's often like that. What does so well one year does poorly the next and while that's disappointing, it tends to balance itself out and we have another crop that really shines. That knowledge really makes me more diligent about putting up everything we are blessed with (instead of converting it to bacon 😉 ) in the event that we won't have any next year. I hope your cucumbers do doubly well for you next year!

  3. Cuccumber Beetles and Downy Mildew are very bad this year. My first row of cukes are toast, and the late row looks like it will be fighting the same battle. Last year I had FOUR beetles and very little mildew. It was so easy!

  4. Hi Quinn! As always, you are such an outrageous inspiration. I admit I am struggling quite a bit to keep up with my chickens, garden, and one four-month-old, and here you are with so many beautiful babies, animals, and vegetables. This year is my first year of a garden and any animals besides a dog, so it’s actually doing pretty well, considering. My husband is a big tech- and automation lover, so set up drip irrigation which has made a huge difference to the health of the garden. We do move our chickens once a week in the electric fencing, but more because we only have a few acres of pasture that also happens to be our golden, crispy lawn, so the buildup of poo would just be a bit much if we didn’t. We would like to get sheep next year for meat and fiber, as well as ducks. I also would absolutely LOVE a dairy animal, but with Anthony traveling so much (and a wonderful dairy right down the road that sells pasteurized grass fed milk for $3 a half-gallon, which is pretty good for Portland) it seems like it will be the last frontier. However, raw dairy has a big lure for me. Anyway, it would be truly amazing if you could write a post on how you do it all. I loved your day in the life post, but perhaps any “hacks” if you’ll pardon the term – any tips for mamas who want to run a homestead but are starting a bit later (at 28.)