July 28, 2022

Garden Notes: July 2022

Generic daily forecast: 
Hot to hotter
Chance of pop-up showers (and chance not)

  • 1st: 0.9"
  • 2nd: 0.1"
  • 5th: 0.5"
  • 7th: 0.75"
  • 8th: 0.2"
  • 15th 0.25"
  • 30th: 1.75"
  • Total: 4.45"

  • nighttime range: 69-78°F (20.5-25.5°C)
  • daytime range: 80-98°F (26.6-36.6°C)

Note about summer rain:
  • The problem with our southern summers, is that the sun and heat will evaporate moisture right out of the ground. So small rainfall amounts have very little effect. This makes it a challenge to keep things hydrated, even with frequent rain.

  • Picking
  • Preserving

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes are prolific volunteers

Cucumbers too. We eat a lot of cucumber and cherry tomato salads.

Primarily, we eat as much fresh as we can. If there is extra, I preserve it.

Extra cucumbers become dill pickles

and relish.

Unfortunately, my cucumber vines are succumbing to blight.

Blight on my cucumber vines.

On the other hand, there's been no sign of pickle worms, which usually destroy my cucumbers. If it isn't chickens, it's feathers.

Some of my cherry tomatoes have blight as well. This is a common summer problem, but I've made an interesting observation. The plants on one side of the garden have it, on the other side there's very little of it. The unaffected plants are in my hugelkulture swale beds. This is also the side of the garden that gets the most benefit from the garden swale (because it still needs some leveling.) The affected plants are on the side of the garden that has regular bordered beds. All of them are volunteers, so it's been an affirmation of the extra work that goes into the swale beds.

The cherry tomatoes are so productive that I'm having a hard time keeping up with them. What we don't eat fresh is made into pizza sauce and canned.

Paste tomatoes have never done well for me, but last year I
discovered that cherry tomatoes work just as well for sauce,

because like paste tomatoes, they aren't as juicy as regular tomatoes.
That means they cook down more quickly than regular tomatoes.

I also have four plants of slicing tomatoes. We eat the ripe ones fresh in
sandwiches, or quartered as a side dish if we don't have a tomato salad.

When I get more fresh ones than we can eat, I'm going
to can them with okra, for winter variety in our diet.

And I always make a batch or two of fried green tomatoes as a special summer treat.

This year, we have enough green ones to can slices for frying come winter.

Recipes for canning these and frying them here and here.

The abundance of green tomatoes got me thinking I should pick up another case or two of wide mouth quart jars. But I haven't seen canning jars (or lids) for sale anywhere. Not even at the places that usually carry them. I've managed to scrounge up a few jars at thrift stores, but no one seems to be selling canning supplies this summer. At least, not around here.

One thing that is doing surprising well is my summer squash. That's amazing because I usually lose summer squash to wilt. In fact, I've pretty much given up on growing it, but on impulse, decided to try a few seeds this summer. The first mound didn't make it, but this one was planted several weeks later.

Healthy summer squash vines!

The variety is pattypan, although when my kids
were in 4-H, we called them flying saucer squash.

July's fruit is blueberries, of which the birds are eating more than their fair share! That means I won't be able to freeze a lot for blueberry pancakes this winter, but we're getting our fill of fresh.

These are great for snacking, pancakes, or on our breakfast granola.

And I made sure we got at least one fresh blueberry pie!

That's everything that's noteworthy about my garden this month. How about you? How does your garden grow?


Rosalea said...

Trying to comment. Verification is giving me a hassle. Test...

Rosalea said...

Lovely pictures, as always Leigh. Please enlighten me about what 'pickle worms' are?? Your produce looks so very good. We have been very fortunate over the last couple of summers, to have good rainfall amounts, although we did have a couple of dry summers previous to them, when we had to bucket brigade water from the pond, before we got the big water tank. The bones are getting older, and so glad I don't have to do that anymore! What a difference a few degrees of latitude make...still waiting for that first big ripe tomato up here!

Mama Pea said...

Well, you're up to your elbows (literally!) in harvesting. Our blueberries are just turning pinkish so have a ways to go before they're ripe. Great to know that cherry tomatoes work as well as paste tomatoes for making sauce. Cherry tomatoes are about the only ones I can grow reliably up here near the tundra! And Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes have always given us so many tomatoes it's almost scary. Thanks for all the good pictures.

Nina said...

Our tomato plants are loaded with green fruit, but nothing is ripe yet. Cucumbers though had a good start, but now it seems that all the pollinators we had at last month are gone. I've never seen our whole garden area with so few bees of any kind.The pickling cukes that I generally eat for lunch are doing okay, but the slicing cukes seem to have come to a halt, with lots of flowers, but very few fruits setting. I usually make at least one batch of relish here because we eat it and there is often little to be found in the shop, not even that unnaturally coloured bright green stuff!

Florida Farm Girl said...

Everything looks wonderful. Makes me want a garden again, but then I remember all the work and that I'm the only one who really appreciates it. Having access to fresh blueberries again would be nice considering that we really like them and use them a lot. They're expensive in the grocery store these days.

Jenn Jilks said...

You are amazing! What a harvest.
(ツ) from Jenn Jilks , ON, Canada!

Leigh said...

Rosalea, what kind of problem with word verification? I thought I had that thing turned off!

Pickle worm is a larvae that burrows through cucumbers. You can probably do an image search to see what one looks like. If the isn't too bad, I can cut that part off and feed it (worm and all) to the chickens. Sometimes, though, they destroy the whole cucumber. :(

Mama Pea, interesting that Matt's little tomatoes have such a diverse growing range! They do make a good sauce. It's a little tart, but considering how many of these things I get, it's a good use! I may try canning some tomato juice from them if I get enough sauce.

Sue, everything is expensive at the grocery store these days! Or hard to find. Which makes me glad for our garden. It is work, but it's productive work, the kind that makes me feel happy at the end of the day. :)

Leigh said...

Nina, that's worrisome about your pollinators. Or lack of them. Have you ever considered getting bees?

Leigh said...

Jenn, thanks!

Rosalea said...

Hi Leigh. It was picture verification, and it went on and on and on, more and more pictures to click on, then repeats of ones I'd done. I had to biggify things to make sure I was getting the right icons clicked. Second try had only one set of pics, and it went right away.

Leigh said...

Rosalea, I hate those things. It's something blogger/google does. However, I find that if I ignore the "I'm not a robot" box, leave it blank, and just hit "publish," my comment will publish without the verification hassle.

kathyinozarks said...

I agree with the comment above me, I never click on that I'm not robot and my comments usually publish.
your garden foods are doing good, always nice to be able to can or freeze or the extras. Happy rest of the week Kathy

Leigh said...

Kathy, it's one of blogger's best secrets! Yes, the garden keeps me very busy this time of year!

Ed said...

I did some dill pickles from gifted cucumbers recently.

I’ve always just used the cherry tomatoes with whatever I’m canning.

I loaded up on jars and lids this winter. I’m glad I did now.

Leigh said...

Ed, so you just toss the cherry tomatoes into the mix, skin and all? I may have to try that if I get plenty of sauce and have some to experiment with. I don't usually use canned tomatoes, per se, but a handful in a soup is nice.

Good for you for stocking up on canning jars. I actually think I have enough, but once I get on a roll, I think of more and more things to can and so want more and more jars, lol.

Cederq said...

You had me at fried green tomatoes and blueberry pie...

Leigh said...

Kevin, summertime favorites!

WolfSong said...

Canned green tomatoes??
I'll have to test out putting up a few jars, just to see how I like them fried later on. :)
Normally my green tomatoes get turned into an end of season batch of wine, but I could definitely steal a few pounds for fried green tomatoes in the middle of winter.

Leigh said...

Green tomato wine? WolfSong, that's a new one on me! Do you have a recipe?

The "problem" with canning green tomato slices is that they tend to get too soft or even mushy with a long processing time. Officially, quarts of (ripe) tomatoes are supposed to process 45 minutes. Unofficially, green slices retain the best texture if processed 15 minutes or less.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, this has been a brutal summer here as well. No rain whatsoever. Creating a made up sprinkler system has actually made a garden possible, but it is an issue.

Leigh said...

TB, I'm sorry to hear you've been suffering from dry conditions too. We rarely seem to get a summer with adequate rain. We're always looking for alternatives.