Summer may have only just officially arrived, but it came to the garden about a month ago. We’ve harvested the remaining winter beets and spring greens, giving the summer crops a bit more room to breathe. The beets stayed small, but the Cylindra variety from Johnny’s Seeds stay tender and seem to resist bolting. We planted three Asian greens (mustard, tatsoi and shungiku) in March when we were on a Korean food kick. These are all brassicas and we tend to have problems with flea beetles eating our brassicas. Thankfully, a dusting of diatomaceous earth kept the flea beetles at bay, letting the plants become established and letting us have delicious salads, kimchi, and stir frys. And, we now have a bumper crop of greens to find a use for. Remember that, as harmful as diatomaceous earth is to arthropods, it can be equally harmful to humans. Make sure you wear a respirator (the white ones that cover your nose and mouth) when you use it.
With the heat we’ve had for the past few weeks, we can almost hear our summer vegetables growing -- or most vegetables anyway. Our blueberries haven’t done as well this summer as last. Between the heat, lack of rain, and some hungry chipmunks, we’ve lost most of the berries. Thankfully, we picked up plenty of local blueberries at Stripling’s.
Surprisingly, our zucchini seems to be healthy this year. The plant that grows so prolifically that there’s a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day tends to fail miserably at the homestead. This year, we started the plant on plastic sheets, fertilized, and used dirt from the chicken coop. This seems to have done the trick, as tiny fingers of baby squash ha3ve emerged from the base of the plant.
Something new to us this summer is using buckwheat as green manure. Buckwheat grows quickly and flowers, preventing weeds from growing and providing a buffet for bees. After about one month, you cut it, leaving the roots in the ground and the stems and leaves on the ground. As these decompose, the buckwheat becomes a natural soil amendment. We’ve planted our buckwheat under corn in a new patch of garden. Our main garden has benefited from years of coop dirt and fertilizer, but the new plot was previously grassy yard. The green manure should block out some of the grass that may want to grow back, and improve the soil.
Of course, we have more than zucchini, corn, and buckwheat in the garden. Eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pole beans, and okra are all planted and headed for a productive summer.