Edible-Garden Planner: July 2016

Reader Contribution by Melodie Metje
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July garden bounty

The summer garden is in full swing. July is the time of year for harvesting the heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, sprouting broccoli, green beans, all types of peppers, garlic, basil with other Mediterranean herbs.

Peppers, zucchini, and eggplant are just ready to start harvesting, but will be in mid July. My tomato plants have many baby tomatoes and are typically ready to start harvesting by the 4th of July. I just re-planted my cucumber plants for the third time. They love this heat and humidity so should be producing within the month.

1. Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden
2. Growing zucchini and summer squash
3. Peppers are for every taste and garden
4. Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoes
5. Cucumber info and tips for growing

By the end of the month, there will be more summer veggies than we can eat and will start preserving the extra. Preservation garden

The spring greens have bolted, but there are summer greens that are robust during the hot days of summer. My favorites are salad burnet, Swiss chard, collards, Malabar spinach, mustard greens, New Zealand spinach, orach, sorrel, sprouting broccoli and cultivated dandelions. Growing summer salads

The spring lettuce has gone to seed. When you see the white fuzzies, they are ready to save. I just pull the seed heads, break apart, put in a ziplock freezer bag, label with type and date, and store in the refrigerator. I also re-seeded our self watering pots with some of the seeds. I had a few small volunteer lettuce plants elsewhere in the garden that I transplanted to the pots as well. The lettuce seeds I planted last month have sprouted and are ready to transplant. Never ending salad from one packet of seeds

There are even a select few varieties of lettuce that can stand up to summer heat:

• Leaf lettuce-”New Red Fire”, “Simpson Elite”
• Butterhead-”Optima”, “Winter Density:
• Romaine-”Jericho”, ”Green Towers”
• Batavian-”Magenta”, “Nevada”

If you haven’t already, now is the time to plant these heat champions. Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces

Edible and decorative garden bed

The pole green beans are putting out beans consistently. Harvest them to keep them producing. I keep a quart bag in the freezer and add mature green beans as they are ready for picking. The other legume, my snow peas, have finished producing for the season. I love to eat them right off the vine. Not many of these beauties made it to the kitchen! Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer

I have already harvested the garlic, including the elephant garlic. I love elephant garlic as the cloves are as their name suggests, they are huge! When pulled, I will harden both types in the shade outdoors for two weeks before storing indoors. Hardening is critical for the garlic to not rot when stored. Save the biggest cloves for replanting in the fall. Garlic harvest time is near!

Our basil has been slow to get started but is now off to the races. The trick to keeping the plants from getting woody is to make sure to harvest down to the first few sets of leaves before the plants go in to full flower. It will regrow to give me at least one more good harvest before fall. Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil

Oregano, mint, and catnip is in full bloom. The bees love the small lavendar flowers! It could be cut and dried now, but I love the flowers, too, and will wait until fall. Make your own “Herbes de Provence”

I fertilized all the pots again as well as the basil to keep it growing. Pots lose nutrients at a much higher rate than garden beds. I am using a foliar spray on all the plants at least every other week and using a solid fertilizer monthly around each plant. I like Espoma. I use their tomato fertilizer for all fruit producing plants and their general purpose vegetable fertilizer for all other veggie and herb plants. Decorative container gardening for edibles

Adding Flowers to Edible Pots

I have started using a mineral supplement for my plants this year. Right now I am using Azomite. So many soils are low in minerals. Your plants can’t absorb what the soil does not have. Adding minerals to the plants and soil will significantly increase the minerals in the plant itself, giving you minerals in the veggies you eat. The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

A key to keeping the garden productive this time of year is to keep even moisture to all the beds and containers. Water the beds weekly and deeply. During hot, dry periods, your containers may need watering every other day. Self-watering pots with reservoirs in the bottom are the trick to extending watering duties. Summer garden tips

For more on organic gardening in small spaces, see Melodie’s blog at www.VictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.com

Happy gardening!

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