July 1, 2016

Mid-Summer Garden Report

June was very hard on the garden with daytime highs in the mid to upper 90s (30s C) and only seven-eights inch of rain since mid-May. I spent most days using our wood chips to mulch. I used our collected rainwater to water the beds, dressed with compost, and then applied a thick layer of mulch. I worked in small sections because when the air is that hot and dry, moisture evaporates right out of the ground. I've been able to keep most of of the garden alive, but it struggles.

Still, I have some nice photos to show you, although production has slowed down and much of the garden seems stunted. Cantaloupes, for example are small, and have stopped flowering.

Cantaloupe and bush beans.

But they've been tasty. Green beans are slow too, and I've only been able to can six quarts so far.

Sweet potatoes and marigolds

My 3 rows of okra don't seem to be growing at all.

In one of the old, unkempt beds of the garden I discovered several
clumps of multiplier onions that escaped being harvested last fall.

Cucumbers and dill along a cattle panel
trellis with sunflowers in the background.

Most of the cucumbers have been bitter from the lack of water,


but the plants are loaded with flowers and honeybees.

Honeybees visit the sunflowers too.

The next two rows of trellises are tomatoes, along with more dill, sweet basil, and multiplier onions.

Sam keeps me company while I work in the garden. He has tomato
plants on the left and Jerusalem artichokes behind him on the right.

Tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.

The first of my tomatoes all suffer from blossom end rot. Gardeners know this is caused by a lack of calcium, but it's not necessarily because calcium is lacking in the soil. It can be caused by something interfering with the plants calcium uptake, things like not enough moisture in the soil.

Another place loaded with honeybees is in the popcorn.


Last year I was rather unceremoniously corrected by a number of people when I mentioned that I looked forward to our bees helping pollinate the corn. Corn is wind pollinated, which of course is true, but having seen bees in my corn in the past I added corn to the list of plants my bees would help. It would have been more correct to say that the corn helps the bees rather than the bees help the corn.

Honeybee busy collecting pollen in the popcorn. The grain-like
 things are called "anthers," and they bear pale yellow corn pollen.

My bees have been busy in the popcorn stuffing their pollen baskets! And if they happen to knock down some of the pollen laden anthers which fall on the tassels, I won't complain.
Popcorn tassels. Each strand is a potential corn kernel.

A dry summer is hard on honeybees because less is blooming, so there is less nectar and pollen for them to live on. When that's the case they must utilize their honey stores, which can mean a smaller honey harvest in the fall.

Unfortunately we cannot collect enough water to water everything. I focus on the garden, but other things like fruit trees and bushes suffer.

Blueberries waiting to ripen

July is my month to harvest blueberries. The bush is loaded but the berries are small. Without enough water they will remain small and not be sweet and juicy when they ripen. Rain is in the forecast, though, so here's hoping.

Mid-Summer Garden Report © July 2016 

26 comments:

TC Goatldi said...

Despite all Leigh a lovely garden and I love the photos of your bees. I tried my hand at bee keeping about 8 years ago and it just wasn't the time. Now we live in a new area and I may have another go at it. I understand your lack of rain being in Nor Cal. We are fortunate to be in a moderate to unusual dry status. We are only three hours from the Oregon border. But last year when we were in severe status we suffered from many of the same symptoms in our garden. Even though we have the luxury of being totally off the grid and have our own well so we could water enough without being wasteful. The soil just wasn't able to keep up with it.At that point we were in our 3 or 4th year of drought. I wish you the best and look forward to the next installment.

Dawn McHugh said...

I will have to send some of our rain your way, we have had a damp few weeks and now need sunshine.

Theresa said...

Leigh, I hear you on the water. Here we have to irrigate, usually you guys on the east coast can count on some rain pretty regularly. Here's hoping those bees do their best rain dance. :-)

Fiona said...

Nice work...if nothing else gardening and dealing with weather keeps us thinking of ways to deal with not enough rain or to much.
Have you tried shade cloth to ease evaporation? We ran into the other problem to much rain....well too heavy at once...it kept us off the garden and let the weeds and hay come back horribly in the new breaking.
I thought I saw honey bees on our corn too. Your the first person to mention them on corn. Take care and God Bless.

Renee Nefe said...

I think that we've got all your water. yesterday & today are gloomy and the water should be falling soon. I believe that my hail protection has kept the large hail at bay (protect the plants, no hail. no protection, get pummeled) so the garden isn't doing so well. :(

Quinn said...

There was only one day in June that I did NOT have to water the veg gardens. Rain predicted this afternoon, so fingers crossed!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Even with all the heat you are getting a lot from your garden! All your hard work is paying off. Our raspberries have a lot of white on them from the heat and sun during fruition. Nancy

Leigh said...

It's been great news that California has had some relief from its terrible drought. For us it can go either way - too dry or too wet.

The weather is so key, isn't it? And it's so unpredictable from year to year. I've been researching drought-resistant pasture grasses to add to my mix, knowing that if we get above average rainfall, they probably won't grow either!

Leigh said...

I'll trade you!

Leigh said...

LOL. I love picturing the bees doing a rain dance.

We live in an area where we can just miss the rain due to the mountains. The clouds dump on the other side and we don't get a drop! Other years, we get plenty, but that particular weather pattern is frustrating. I'm very thankful we had as much rainwater collected as we did.

Leigh said...

I've heard of shade cloth but haven't tried it. It would probably be worth a go.

I've always seen honeybees in our corn, but never thought about it until we had our own bees. Obviously it's a good pollen source, which is especially welcome when everything is is too dry to produce.

Leigh said...

Renee you seem to have a lot of trouble with hail. Maybe you should switch to indoor gardening!

Leigh said...

Funny how there is rarely the correct balance when it comes to weather!

Leigh said...

I have those white spots on my tomatoes too. :( We need more rain as well as some relief from the heat!

Mountain Mama said...

Your garden looks amazing! I can't believe the critters don't eat your sunflowers - they didn't let me have even one seedling this year, they ate them right down to the ground!

Perry - StoneHillRidge said...

Same here, too much rain and now not enough has resulted in a slow stunted garden. The heat has been good for the tomatoes and I am keeping them watered.

Speaking of bees did you ever have any luck with your bait hive?

TC Goatldi said...

It is all a learning curve no? We have had a garden since 1972 or so. It has been to date in 4 different locations. By that I mean 4 different moves. Two in the San Joaquin Valley of California in and just outside of Fresno. The last two one in Redwood Valley in Mendocino County and lastly here on our 42 acres of Paradise in Shasta county in the southern Cascades. Each move required starting the compost over and it was a good two or more years before the soil reached perfection to the Boss gardener's (that would be my hubby) definition. As I said learning curve even when it is just a different year in same location. Happy digging!

Leigh said...

We usually get deer in the garden and they usually eat all my beets and sweet potato vines! I usually lose the sunflower seeds to the birds. :)

Leigh said...

My job for today is going to be to water my tomatoes!

I'm sad to report that my bait hive remains empty. I knew it was a longshot, but at least I tried.

Leigh said...

You make a very important point - that every garden is uniquely different in its needs and what it grows best. I think all of homesteading is the same, and that there is no cookie cutter formula for success. It takes learning the land, climate, and weather patterns! I think that's why some people don't like it's too unpredictable. On the other hand, it keeps you on your toes and there's never a dull moment!

Farmer Barb said...

The only thing I can say is that anything that grows here is growing despite the lack of water. I am having my whole berry harvest stolen by chipmunks. Literally all of it. I am taking steps to correct that. I have nabbed and disposed of 14 of them so far. My spring is down to a trickle for my sheep, goats and chickens. The ducklings are still in the garage, so they are taken care of. All my planted vegetables are stunted. It is what it is. I can't make it rain!

Leigh said...

Darn those chipmunks! We used to have loads of them, but our cats keep the chipmunk population down pretty much.

It's hard when there is little rainfall and no water. I'm researching drought resistant pasture forage now.

M.K. said...

All last fall and winter we were a soggy mess! It was so very rainy. But since mid-spring, we've had a mixed bag, and have had enough water to get by. Our bit water collector (old swimming pool hooked up to rain barrels) is quite full now, thankfully. I hope all your plants thrive!

Leigh said...

Using an old swimming pool for rainwater collection sounds like an excellent idea. We've been discussing something similar for the ducks, but have yet to work out the details.

Michelle said...

Your garden is so much farther along than ours! Glad you are getting SOME food from it, at least. Surprised you haven't gotten any of that rain that caused such terrible floods back east.

Leigh said...

There's been plenty of rain around, but it always seems to skirt by us or peter out by the time it gets here. That's not really all that uncommon, and sometimes we're the ones who get all the rain. Just not this year. :(