Sunday, June 4, 2017

Early Summer Garden Chores

Ok it's way too hot for June, but luckily our nights still cool down. My chore lists are based on what I am doing or what needs to be done this time of year.  The more experienced you become at gardening the less overwhelming these chores seem. My goal as a gardener is to eat year round out of my  gardens so I probably have more "chores" than most backyard gardeners.  

Flowers are important to the gardener because they provide nectar for native pollinators and beneficial insects.

Shade loving plant have the right idea with the summer heat.

General Chores:
  •  Be sure to check your water systems and make sure your crops are receiving even moisture
  • Water stress causes misshapen, bitter, and small fruits
  • Start thinking about your fall and winter garden and check on what seeds you need.
An orchard ladder is a great investment.  It's stable, lightweight, and easy to get into the center for the tree for pruning, picking, and thinning.

Climbing the cherry tree.

In the Orchard:
  • Apples and peaches are sizing up so be sure the trees have adequate moisture
  • Continue with the summer spray schedule of Neem Oil, Spinosad, fish emulsion, and kelp every 10-14 days. Kaolin clay is also recommended.  This will control colding moth and aphids along with other pests.
  • If you have not thinned your fruit do so before the heavy loads break branches.  Also if you don't thin you will set a poor crop next year.  The buds for next year are developing along with this year's fruit.

In the Garden:
 Beautiful companion planting combo of 
cauliflower, onions, and celery.

Cool Season Crops:

  • Be sure to check daily and harvest cool season crops.  You should be harvesting broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and lettuce.
  • I put a shade over my lettuce to extend the harvest
  • You can plan on leaving some peas on the vine to save as seed.  Your peas must be open pollinated or heirlooms to do this.
  • Some lettuce will go to seed and it is fairly easy to save seed from lettuce
  • Biennials such as rutabagas, carrots, collards etc should have seeds set and be close to harvesting
A beautiful purple cauliflower Grafetti.

Cheddar cauliflower starting to form.

  • Cauliflower does best if the inner leaves are clothes pinned shut around the developing head.  Be sure to check frequently so the head does not begin to open. You want to harvest both cauliflower and broccoli when the buds are tight.
This is a conical shaped cabbage that is early and good for areas with hot summers are hard on the late cabbages.

  • Harvest early cabbages
  • Harvest outer leaves of chard and kale
  • Celery is also close to harvest time.
  • Continue to harvest side shoots of broccoli
I like Waltham and Premium Crop varieties.

  • Sow a last planting of beets and carrots
  • You may be close to harvesting carrots and beets depending on when you planted
  • Remove scapes from garlic.  The are the flower or garlic.  You want to cut them off so the energy is focused on developing the cloves.

Warm Season Crops

  • When sweet corn is knee high fertilize with fish emulsion
  • Stake tomatoes up
  • Cut lower leaves from plant up to first flowering.  This helps with disease control
  • Remove any plants infected with curly top.  It is caused by a virus and there is no cure
  • Until peppers mature in size pick off the flowers so you have a stronger plant to support fruiting
  • Squash bugs are here!  Check for eggs and pull off the leaf or squish the eggs. Squash any squash bugs you see.  Continue with the preventative spray routine:  Neem oil, fish emulsion, and kaolin clay.  Add pyretrin if you see squash bugs.

  • Continue to harvest oregano, basil, lemon balm, parsley, thyme, mints, and cilantro
  • Lavender is starting to bloom so prepare to dry some lavender
  • If you enjoy raspberry leaf tea, harvest and dry leaves from primocanes (first year canes)
The seed from cilantro is coriander.

Yarrow is a beautiful flowering herb with medicinal benefits.

You can enjoy continual harvests of berries.  Some berries can be planted in a landscape setting. Below I list berries from earliest to latest harvest dates.
Nanking cherries make a delicious jelly and syrup.

Nanking Cherries while not a berry are a small cherry that makes a fantastic jelly and syrup.  It can be pruned to be a small tree or shrub. 
Gooseberries can be green or pink.  They are very thorny and have a tail that must be removed before preparing.

Next are gooseberries, and black currants.  They need to be checked and picked daily because they do not all ripen at once.  I freeze them as I harvest them until I have enough to process them.

Black currants can be used in jams, jellies, syrups, and for medicinal purposes.

Jostaberries will be ready some time in July along with Pink currants. Both make a great jelly. 

Raspberries are ripening now so pick daily and keep plants watered well during fruiting
I prefer the erect varieties.  They seem to be much more productive than trailing varieties.

Blackberries are starting to develop fruit and also need to be watered well.  You can give berries a drink of fish emulsion during fruit development if you have time.

 It seems like the season is passing so quickly.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor, and remember you always reap what you sow in gardening and life.

Bolting lettuce.  Saving seeds from lettuce is fairly easy.

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