July is the month that the garden starts to come into its own. Since everything has been planted and had at least a few weeks to grow, it’s easy to see the potential that the garden has. The plants may still be small, but at least it is the first month that the garden really starts to shine. Not only that, but some items can be harvested by now – usually herbs. Of course, this also means that there are only about 2-3 months left of the growing season. It sounds crazy since it only just began, but that is one of the downsides to living in an area that has a short growing season. The month also had some hurdles that I have never dealt with before. Without further ado, it’s time for the July 2020 garden update.
July 2020 garden update
One of the biggest challenges of the garden this month was dealing with a heatwave. We live in a cool climate, even the summers tend to be on the cooler side, but the first week of the month saw daily temperatures reaching 35C/96F. This is very unusual for here and it certainly presented a unique challenge since I tend to grow almost all cool-weather crops. That week also proved to be incredibly dry and forced me to water the garden nearly every day to keep the plants from dying.
The rest of the month proved to be better but certainly much warmer than normal. Some plants, which thankfully were in pots, had to be brought up onto the deck where I could keep them in a shady spot for most of the day.
What’s growing well
The beans are doing well, but then again, they always do. I have six rows growing, three are green beans and three are yellow wax beans. Nearly every plant is covered with flowers and I should be getting my first harvest in a few weeks if all goes well. I am looking forward to seeing how many pounds of beans we will get this year.
Much like the beans, the peas are doing really well. I have one row of shelling peas and then some snap peas growing up the garden fence. Both varieties have exploded with growth and are flowering like crazy. It won’t be long before the plants are covered with peas.
I have three raised beds of carrots and two of them are doing well. One was planted early and the other was planted in late June. The first bed is chock full of healthy-looking carrots and I am really looking forward to when I will be able to harvest them, which will likely be in late September. The second bed is full of small carrot plants and has the potential to be as prolific as the first bed.
The zucchini and yellow squash plants seemed to be the ones that benefited the most from the heatwave. They absolutely exploded with growth, easily quadrupling in size in just a week. Now the plants have several flowers on them and there are even a couple of very small zucchinis starting to grow.
The onions and chives are also thriving. I believe only a single onion didn’t sprout from all of the ones I planted in the raised bed. I haven’t even given them their regular nitrogen boost this year and they are growing like crazy.
This year, I transplanted quite a bit fo chocolate mint into containers in the back garden. These plants have done really well, in fact, I will need to harvest them soon as they are getting quite large. As an added bonus, they are doing a great job of limiting the number of spiders in the garden. Yes, I know spiders are beneficial but they creep me out!
Flowers are not something I tend to bother with much, but this year I decided to add some to help encourage pollinators to visit the garden. Of the few that I added, I have to say that the nasturtiums are by far the winners. The plants are absolutely huge and are covered in flowers.
The beets don’t seem to be doing much. They sprouted fairly quickly and initially looked like they were growing well. But then they just stopped after a week or so and have been puny ever since. I don’t know if they were affected by the heat or maybe the heavy rains we had. As this is my first year growing beets I’m learning as I’m going. I’m hopeful that by the end of the growing season we will have some harvestable beets.
The cabbages are not doing well either. I started them by seed and they had been growing well. However, since transplanting them into the raised bed their growth has slowed significantly.
In June, I had transplanted some Swiss Chard into raised beds that had outgrown their pots. Unfortunately, the plants have completely stopped growing. I’m not sure if it’s weather-related or something else. They haven’t died, but there has been no new growth either. I will leave them for a while longer to see if they grow in August.
One raised bed of carrots is really struggling. This is the same raised bed that did poorly last year. I had thought it was a fluke then but seeing the same bed struggle again this year tells me something isn’t ideal there for carrots. I’m hoping that some will grow enough to be worth harvesting.
As this is my first time growing garlic, I don’t know if they are truly struggling or not, but they don’t look that great. They were planted about the same time as the onions and are pathetically small. Maybe they are just slow to get going.
This was the first year that our strawberries didn’t do well. The plants were loaded with flowers but we only ended up getting a single small handful of berries.
My basil plants were doing well, however, I have noticed that the leaves are developing blank spots on them. A bit of research told me it is bacterial leaf spot, which is caused by soil splashing up on the leaves when the plants get watered. I have since removed the infected leaves and added more mulch to the pots. Only time will tell if this helps.
What’s been harvested
I’ve been harvesting herbs for fresh use and to dehydrate. The first big harvest was a bowl-full of parsley along with a big handful of basil. These all went into the dehydrator. I also go out whenever we need herbs for dinner and grab whatever is needed for that particular meal. It has made our dinners particularly tasty.
The potatoes which I planted back in March in pots were ready to harvest. I was really curious as to how well they had done, as the plants had gotten quite large. The harvest was fairly decent and we ended up with half of a 5-gallon bucket worth of potatoes. There are still a few pots that had been planted later than will be ready to harvest in a few weeks.
Radishes were also ready to harvest this year. In fact, I kind of forgot about them for a while and they were absolutely huge! My husband was happy though. Radishes are an amazingly easy vegetable to grow and even with our short climate, we can get at least two harvests in a year.
Lastly, I was able to harvest a handful of carrots. These had been planted in a pot in April and some were ready to be picked. They were straight, fairly long, and delicious. I look forward to more carrots in the future.
Pests are a fact of life when you have a garden. However, I have never had any major issues with them, until this year. I guess 2020 is just full of unexpected challenges. This year I have been dealing with squirrels and chipmunks digging in the garden. They have been digging in the pots I have up on the deck of herbs and recently started digging in the onion bed as well. Now, I did find a temporary solution to the issue. Sprinkling some chili powder in the areas they are digging seems to deter them for a day or two. However, if it rains then it needs to be reapplied. It’s not perfect but it is working for the time being.
I am looking into other means to keep them out of the garden. One option is to create ‘cages’ out of chicken wire to set over the pots and raised beds to keep them out. However, I’m not sure if the wire will keep out the chipmunks, but it should work with the squirrels. If that doesn’t work, then I will be looking into other means.
The front flower garden
Sometimes referred to as the “I forgot about it garden” because I really don’t pay a ton of attention to it. The plants have done fairly well in this garden, despite the neglect. Oddly enough, the nasturtiums, that are doing so well in the back garden, are really struggling in the front. The plants are so small and are barely flowering. I think it’s a case of not enough sunlight.
At least the mint plant here came back and is growing well. It’s the one plant I do actually keep my eye on because I absolutely love the smell of it.
As you can see, the garden is doing well despite some roadblocks that I am actively dealing with. I hope you enjoyed my July 2020 garden update. How is your garden doing?