June In My Food Garden
Early June in my food garden was all about me playing catch up. The tailbone incident set me back a bit this year so some plants generally planted/sown in April or May, like onions, simply did not ever happen this year.
The hot weather veggies always have to wait till I close the greenhouse for the summer… and then life turns into a few weeks of crazy frenzied planting!
This year, I had more reason than ever to hurry up the planting as I was heading over to visit family in Alberta in mid-June. I had to get everything planted and rooted in, or sown and already germinated, before I left, to make it easier for hubby to care for everything while I was away. I did okay for the most part but the parsnips were not yet up when I left, so I may need to re-sow when I return home. (did this)
The tomatoes were looking terrific, cannot wait to see how they look when I get home… a lot can change in one week. The cucumbers were a ways off yet, just newly up or newly planted, but I tell you, I can hardly wait for fresh homegrown produce. Cannot wait! Squash and pumpkins were just but planted, rooted in but not doing much yet. Hoping to see a bit of sprawling plants and maybe blossoms upon arrival.
Spring sown veggies, like the brussels, cauliflower, and broccoli, were looking just awesome, as were all the i companion flowers. I have mostly fall and winter producing plants in this bed, very little broccoli and cauliflower as I was unable to plant at that time.
Snap peas were already being devoured by the time I left, was just waiting on my shelling peas. They were super late this year due to the snow cover in February, our typical planting time.
Towards the end of the month, is already time to start thinking about fall and winter planting… honestly! Crazy , eh? My goal is to sow some purple sprouting broccoli for spring harvest, a bit of fall broccoli and some purple winter cauliflower, too. While I missed out on most of these veggies this spring, I’m hoping that I will get in a good fall and winter garden this year.
So, here we are just about two weeks later, at the tail end of June and there is so much to talk about! Everything has grown and changed immensely during the short week and a bit that I was away! I am going to go crop by crop, I think, as so much is happening. Buckle in for a really long blog post… ; )
Peas.. Both peas and beans are the type of veg that need constant picking in order to keep producing (this also includes Sweet Pea flowers). The more you harvest, the more they make. My sugar snap peas were producing like mad when I left but hubby did not pick any while I was away, so most of them are pretty much done now. If they do not get picked, the vines begin to yellow and they shut down.
The shelling peas though, they have just begun, so I am picking some daily. My friend Shannon is picking, blanching and freezing for winter eating… Me, I am just picking and eating ; ) While I love fresh peas like crazy, I am not a fan of cooked peas. So, this is a crop that we just enjoy fresh and share with the kids.
Carrots… Plant now! We only have just over a week to sow our fall and winter carrots, you always want to get them in by the end of the first weekend in July at the very latest. Carrots planted too late will not have time to size up as they stop growing when the days grow short and the temperatures drop. They do not resume growing in spring when the warm weather arrives, will instead get hairy (grow roots) and begin to set seed.
Last year, I planted the round Romeo carrots for my winter harvest carrots, see them in the picture above. They were big, beautiful, sweet, and amazing. This year, I am tossing in some Chantenay and a new-to-me red variety called Kyoto. I tend to love both the blocky carrots and the red ones the very best. Grow whatever kind you have on hand.
Remember that carrots can have a really long germination time (up to 3 weeks) and must be kept moist until you see them coming up. Sow your seeds, water them well, cover with burlap sacks, and then soak the sacks. The sacks help to keep the soil moist and keep the seeds from drying out and dying. They also work as a really great visual reminder to water. Seeing is remembering ; )
The spring sown carrots are doing great, have been thinned out and are growing really well. The winter sown carrots (December) are being harvested now, the pups are enjoying fresh homegrown carrots once again. However, I do not have many of them as they were just a trial. Will be sowing them in winter again this year for that early crop to tide us through.
Beets .. you still have oodles of time to sow another row or two of beets. I have sown Cylindra beet seeds for pickling and also trialed some beets from starters this year. Seems quite odd to me to grow root crops from starter plants, but they all took off really well and are already ready to harvest, well before the seeded ones. I am using these guys in my salads, thinly sliced or spiralized.
I started following a wonderful foodie gal on Instagram (@lorindabreeze) with the most inspirational photos of healthy salads and simple veggie based meals. You all know I am not big on cooking, but her meals are simple and fast, loaded with veggies. They really inspire me to up my game!
Beets can be sown now, and again in August. As cold hardy root crops, they can be stored in the garden till late in the fall, harvested as needed, but will go mushy if we get a really hard frost unless well mulched.
Squash … the pattypans and zucchinis are just flowering now and putting on a bit of baby fruits. I should be eating fresh squash in just a week or so.
If you begin to get some small fruits on your squash plants that suddenly turn yellow and shrivel up, do not worry. That just means that they were not pollinated well enough to produce fruits, all is well… your garden soil is fine, your plants are fine, and you are doing just fine, too. Not to worry. If, on the other hand, you are not getting any fruits on your plants, you can help them to pollinate by taking a q-tip or paintbrush from the male flower (have a skinny, long stem) to a female blossom (have a swollen round stem) if you would like. I just leave this to the bees but if you have less bees, you can help them along.
Cabbage … the spring cabbages are doing great, both the Savoy (for Kimchee) and the Ruby Red. Just starting to make heads now. This is a great time to sow some more if you need a bit more. I think I need to sow some winter cabbage, some Danish Ballheads for making coleslaw, cabbage rolls, and hubby’s sauerkraut.
Tomatoes … should be nicely growing and putting on fruits for you now, too. Won’t be long before we are all enjoying tomato sandwiches and salads!
Catfacing, see picture above, is, a sign of poor pollination. These funky looking faces on your tomatoes mean that the weather was inclement when they were being pollinated… too wet, too cold, too something. The tomatoes are still completely edible, but they will have scarring to cut around. Or pull them off when small and wait for new tomatoes to form.
If you have lots of blossoms but little fruiting, just grab the main stem of the tomato and give the bush a wee shake. The should do it, you will have more fruits before you know it.
Indeterminate (vining) tomatoes will need the suckers removed from them as they grow. In the first picture above, you will see two suckers… the small one beside my finger and the bigger one right above it. These suckers will grow between the branches and the main ‘trunk’ of the tomato plant. Just grab these suckers and pull them towards you and they will snap right off. If you did not notice them early one while they were little, and now they are really big, you can use small pointy pruners to cut them off to prevent tearing.
Determinate (bush) tomatoes will not need this step, you can just let them be to fruit and grow.
Garlic… Your garlic may be ready to lift from the garden earlier than usual this year due to the hot and dry conditions. Some varieties are earlier than others and softnecks tend to be ready a week or two before the hardnecks.
If yours are still green, stop watering after you have harvested your scapes. Do not water for the last 3 or 4 weeks before harvest or your bulbs may be too moist to cure well, and so will go mouldy.
The trickiest part of growing garlic is knowing when to harvest. It is super easy to plant and grow, needs no special care, but knowing when to harvest, that is the trick. If you wait too long, your garlic will have burst it’s skin and so will not cure. If you lift too early, you will have missed out on some bulb growth and it might be not cure well, will have a shorter shelf life.
Harvest when the foliage is brown/yellow about halfway up the stem. This usually means about 4 or 5 leaves on the bottom have shriveled up or are brown, and there are about 4 or 5 green leaves on the stalk when you count from the top down. This is the perfect time to harvest your bulbs.
Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil and then gently pull your bulbs from the ground. Brush the soil off of them, leave the roots on, and either hang them up or lay them out on a wooden table (or pallet) to cure. Make sure that they are spaced out well. They need to cure in a shaded location with good air flow to prevent them from going mouldy. A carport is perfect, or in a shady area on the north side of the house… wherever you have shade with a breeze blowing through so that they cure well.
Berries.. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, and so many other berries are ripening right now. This is when they need more water for bigger, better, juicier berries. Fruiting shrubs usually only need a good soak once a week but need more water when they are flowering and fruiting. Give them a good deep soak twice a week, if possible, during these times. If not possible, try to give them a longer soak when you do water.
Pretty pink calendula aka pot marigold.