Heading into the holiday weekend, I had another wonderful week of gardening, harvesting, and maintaining my crops.  At this time of year, each week brings the debut of some new crop.  This week brought the first harvest of cauliflower, our first carrots, the first golden beets and the first raspberries of the season.  We also continued to harvest peas, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, radishes and Glacier tomatoes.

Replacing the First Planting of Peas with Beans

It seems like only yesterday that I planted the first peas.  After giving us a couple of very productive weeks, it was time to pull those plants.  I was very careful to scrape off the nitrogen nodules on the roots of the pea plants so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  After all, that is one of the main reasons to grow peas and beans; they fix nitrogen in the soil so that next year’s leaf crops (lettuce, cabbage, spinach, mesclun, kale, corn, etc) can thrive.  They all love nitrogen.

A SECOND CROP FROM PEA PLANTS

THE ROOTS OF A PEA PLANT WITH NITROGEN NODULES ATTACHED

I replaced two rows of peas with two rows of “Vermont Cranberry” beans for drying.  We have been making more stews and soups as the years go by.  Dry beans are a great resource to have heading into the colder months.

Transplanting “Golden Treasure” Tomato Plants to the Garden

As I’ve mentioned in some of my earlier blog posts, I have been looking for ways to extend the gardening season, especially the harvest.  Regarding tomatoes, I start my season with “Glacier” ultra early tomatoes, which we have bee enjoying since the third week of June.  On the other end, I grow a storage tomato called “Golden Treasure” which actually ripens slowly in storage.  I start seeds about a month later than my main season tomatoes and put the seedlings in the ground about a month later as well.  We have enjoyed “Golden Treasure” tomatoes as late as Christmas Day.  This variety comes from “Territorial Seeds” in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Tomato Maintenance

One of the things I take pride in is the attention I give to my tomato plants.  Aside from loving the taste of tomatoes, I spend time working with my plants to assure that there will be a good crop to support the many tomato tasting events we will be hosting in August.  For the last five years, we have offered a “Tomato Lover’s Dinner” as an auction item at our church.  The dinner has become quite popular.

We start the evening off with a tomato tasting, offering seven or eight heirloom varieties to our guests.  I really enjoy serving the slices of tomato along with stories about the origins of each variety.  We also do a series of tomato tasting potluck dinners for our friends.  At the moment, we have a total of six events planned.  I will keep you all informed as we get closer.  I have even lined up a professional photographer to shoot this year’s dinner.  I will host a dinner for him and his friends the following weekend.

At this time of year I concentrate on removing suckers and leaves that touch the ground.  Also, I keep securing the tomato plants as they continue growing to their full height.

A LARGE LEAF POINTING DOWN TO THE GROUND WITH A LARGE SUCKER  ABOVE.  BOTH NEED TO BE PRUNED

A LARGE LEAF POINTING DOWN TO THE GROUND WITH A LARGE SUCKER ABOVE. BOTH NEED TO BE PRUNED

TOMATO SUCKER

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF A SUCKER ON A TOMATO PLANT

After pruning, I sprayed all of my tomato plants with Copper fungicide to prevent “early blight”.  I take this precaution because my garden has been subjected to attacks of blight over the years.  Next week I will alternate my spraying with a product called “Oxidate” which works by oxidizing blight spores.

Transplanting Lettuce, Cabbage, broccoli and Fennel Seedlings to the Garden

The beat goes on.  In order to have a steady supply of crops throughout a long growing season I start seeds on a regular basis so that I can replace harvested crops with new stock.  This is especially true of leaf crops.  This will continue into early fall.  I can’t live without my cole slaw.

SEEDLINGS READY FOR THE GARDEN

LEAF CROPS READY FOR TRANSPLANTING OUT TO THE GARDEN

I find that using soil blocks to start the seeds makes the transition out to the garden easier for the seedlings.  The lettuce will be available for harvest in August.  The cabbage and broccoli will be ready in early September.

All the best,

Greg