Thursday, June 11, 2015

June Harvests: Greens, Berries, & Cherries

May is a busy month for the serious gardener.  There is so much to plant, endless weeding, flower beds to revitalize along with harvesting.  Depending on the weather these chores can extend into June. One of my goals is to eat year round out of my gardens.  With careful planning this can be done.  The purpose of this post is to show you what you should be harvesting, how to harvest, varieties to try, and early summer chores. 

June is the month of the super greens.  I start most of my greens from seed indoors in February and put them out in late March or April depending on the weather.  They don't seem to mind the chill and unpredictable spring weather and now are giving us nutritious and delicious harvests.

Loose leaf lettuces give you an extended harvest.  You  only pick the outer leaves as you need them.  When I harvest, I lightly rinse them and put them in a large Tupperware container.  All greens including mache, spinach, sorrel, and lettuces store well this way. The picture above includes Bronze Arrowhead, Black Seeded Simpson, Merlot and Rosa di Trento.

  This is Mascara is a loose leaf lettuce with unique shape and beautiful color.  The color is not only stunning in a salad but means that it is packed with antioxidants.

Bronze Arrowhead is a beautiful loose leaf lettuce.  The leaves are oakleaf shaped and the color is green bordered with maroon.  A good crisp lettuce.

Merlot is probably the deepest red lettuce.  It's gorgeous!  I interplant onions with lettuce to ward off aphids.

Sorrel adds a lemony zing to salads.  It is a perennial.  I plant it in partial shade since I have hot summers.  It is harvested the same as spinach by individual leaf.  It is great in an omelet with Swiss cheese.  Yum!

Kale is the all star of the super greens (at least for now)  I grow a variety of kales.  I harvest individual leaves until the heat sets in then leave them alone until the cooler fall weather comes.  I always add a variety of greens to every salad, but I do enjoy a kale salad.  Massaging the leaves with oil is a great way to tenderize them for the salad.  Pictured are  Blue Curled Kale, Redbor (which is milder in taste),  Red Russian, and Nero di Toscana. My goats and chickens love kale so I harvest through the summer for them.

Spinach is a spring favorite.  I love Strawberry or Raspberry Spinach Salads.  I also add spinach to our fruit smoothies in the morning. Harvest individual leaves.  As the weather warms spinach tends to bolt.  So enjoy it while you can.  Seeds do not germinate as summer weather sets in.  This is one green that I always sow directly in the garden. Bloomsdale Longstanding is a deeply savoyed leaf and a reliable variety.  Other good varieties to try are Space, Giant Noble, and Scarlet.  These are a smooth flat leaves that are very tender.

Storing greens ensures you always have something on hand for a salad.  I lightly wash them, put them in a large Tupperware, and refrigerate them.  This works great with fresh greens but not store bought greens. We eat a lot of spring salads.  I include a little of all the greens I grow.

With head lettuce the entire head is harvested.  I grow Cos or Romaine lettuce and Butterhead.  Most people are familiar with Romaine lettuce.  It does come in some beautiful crimson colors.  The entire head of both these lettuces are harvested.  Butterhead lettuce is a gourmet lettuce and so tender and delicious.  It is a little harder to grow but worth it.
 A cos and Jericho head lettuce.
 Silvia Red and Paris Island Cos
Merveille Des Quairte Saisen as Romaine lettuce

Swiss Chard is great sauteed in oil and garlic and added to pasta dishes.  It is very healthy juiced but a little goes a long way.  You harvest the outside stalks both the stalks and leaves can be eaten. The stalks come in a variety of colors including shades of red and pink, orange, yellow, and white.  This is also best direct seeded in early spring.

Cilantro, parsley, lemon balm, winter savory and oregano are the spring herbs that we harvest.  Oregano I cut down leaving a couple of inches.  I put some in the dehydrator, infuse some with oil, and freeze some in olive oil in ice cube trays.  Cilantro, which is pictured above,  is one of my favorite herbs.  I love the smell.  It's great in salads, rice, and of course salsa.  I harvest the outside leaves.  With the heat it likes to bolt.  The seeds of Cilantro are coriander.  To have a continual harvest succession plant cilantro.  


I love fresh peas.  I grow both edible pods and shelling peas.  Snow peas have flat edible pods that are great as snacks, in salads, and stir fries.  I planted Oregon Sugar Pod this year.  Snap peas have edible pods but are not flat and sweeten up as they fatten up.  Shelling peas are removed from the pod.  They can be eaten fresh, canned, or frozen.  The heirloom varieties I plant are Canoe, Dakota, Telephone (which is 4-5' tall), Avalanche, and Iona Petit Pois.  Planting a variety extends the harvest because they mature at different times.  Peas need a trellis and can be planted in early spring when soil temperatures are 45-50 degrees.  I planted in early March. The tail end of the harvest will be allowed to dry on the vines and saved for seed.

These are Telephone peas.  They grow 4-5' and need a sturdy trellis.

Radishes are a quick crop that can fill in holes in the garden.  I actually plant them as a companion crop around squash and cucumbers.  I allow them to flower.  The above picture includes Watermelon, Purple Plum, and White Icicle. 
This little ruby is a Nanking Cherry.  These can be pruned as small trees or shrubs.  They are great in landscape, hedgerows, or windbreaks.  The small cherries can be eaten.  I make Nanking Cherry Jelly and syrup with them.  They produce an abundant crop and are easy to pick. They give you an early June harvest.

I have the day neutral Tristar and Ever bearing Ozark Beauties.  Both start producing in June.  The berries become larger as the season progresses.  For info on planting a berry patch here's a link:

Nothing goes better together than strawberries and rhubarb.  The outside stalks of rhubarb can be harvested in early spring.  Give the the plant the summer off and then in fall you can harvest again.  As flower stalks develop remove them.  If you plants are spindly then next spring while dormant you need to divide your plant.

While not ready to harvest, there are other cool season crops in the garden including broccoli, cauliflower and a variety of cabbages.  Chewed leaves are a result of caterpillars.  Leaves that droop in the afternoon are probably suffering from thrip damage.  These are very small insects that suck juices from plants they rarely kill a plant but stress the plant.  To deal with these pests mix Neem oil and Spinosad in a sprayer and spray in evening or early morning.  Be sure to get the under side of the leaves.  You can also hand pick off the caterpillars but they are good at hiding.

 This is Chinese cabbage interplanted with broccoli and onions.

This is celery interplanted with cauliflower and onions. 

 Artichokes interplanted with marigolds and cauliflower.

Kale and cabbage with onions.

Early Summer Chores:
  • Mulch around all plants
  • Reseed beets and carrots where they did not germinate.  You can also seed a second crop.
  • Be sure to provide even moisture
  • If a plant is struggling, give it fish emulsion and kelp
  • Finish planting all warm season crops
  • Share your extra harvests with your neighbors 
  • Enjoy the sunshine and beauty of your garden

1 comment:

  1. wow your garden looks great, and it's giving you so much. Keep up the good work, and I love the tip about planting onions with the lettuce to ward off aphids.
    Thanks for sharing.