July Garden Planner

Reader Contribution by Melodie Metje

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

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

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, but aren’t quit ready to transplant.

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”

The fava beans are putting on their second flush of beans. They could be picked now and eaten as green beans, left on the vine to harvest as lima beans, or cut down to keep nitrogen in the soil to feed the veggies planted next to them for the rest of the summer. The other legume, my snow peas, are still producing sweet pods that I love to eat right off the vine. Not many of these beauties make it to the kitchen!

The first round of garlic has been harvested and is getting hardened in the shade outdoors for two weeks and the elephant garlic looks to be ready to harvest next week end.

Our basil has been slow to get started but is now off to the races. I will harvest in a couple of weeks, cutting down to the first few sets of leaves. It will regrow to give me at least one more good harvest before fall.

Oregano is in full bloom. The bees love the purple flowers! In my garden, the oregano, sage, chives, and tarragon are ready to be cut and dried.  I simply cut what I would like to thin out of my garden, place loosely in a paper bag and let dry indoors in a closet.  I harvest enough herbs for myself and family members for the entire year in my little kitchen garden.

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.  It is a good idea to also fertilize the fruiting summer veggies once a month as well.

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.

For more tips on gardening in small spaces and pots, see Melodie’s blog atwww.VictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.com

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