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Early July 2014 in the garden

Chicken tractor preparing ground

A facebook reader asked what's going to go into the beds opened up by the end of the peas.  The short answer is Brussels sprouts, but the long answer is that there are a lot of fall crops itching to be set out or seeded in the next few weeks.  Our tractored chickens are preparing ground for broccoli sets, and we'll also be planting cabbage sets, the last sweet corn and summer squash seeds of the season, and a fall round of sugar snap peas within the next week.

Trimmed tomatoes

Japanese beetlesOf course, planting is only a small subset of what goes on around the garden at this time of year.  We're on thrice-weekly Japanese-beetle patrols, and once-weekly tomato pruning.  The septoria leaf spot has been terrible this year, as you can see from how high I've already pruned the leaves away from the bottoms of our tomato plants, but the good news is that we're enjoying ripe fruits from the vines and hope that this hot, dry weather will slow down the fungal spread.

Ripening onion

Fig flowerWe're currently eating cucumbers, summer squash, cabbages, the last of the spring broccoli, masses of green beans (which are mostly going in the freezer), Swiss chard (if I feel like something so "boring" as greens with all of the summer bounty available), and probably several other vegetables I'm forgetting about.  Meanwhile, I'm watching our onions with an eagle eye --- I had to break down and buy a few bags over the last couple of months, so I'm itching for our homegrown harvest.  And, look, baby figs starting on the Chicago Hardy bush!

Young buckwheat

Since we got a bit behind this summer, I'm also scaling back a bit on my garden plans, but am keeping the soil in the fallow beds weed-free with cover crops.  Buckwheat planted close together the way I describe in Homegrown Humus won't let any weed seeds germinate, and in a month I'll be able to put beds to sleep for the winter with an oat planting.

Resting cats

Being as lazy as our two felines seems like a dream at this time of year, but cold weather will be here before I know it.  I'd better enjoy summer greenery while I can!

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Awww....... Kitty porn. ;)
Comment by Emily from Bristol Tue Jul 8 08:49:14 2014
I think four o'clocks will grow in your region. In my yard, they're beautiful attractors of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, but many sources say Japanese beetles like these flowers as well...and eat the leaves and then are poisoned. Could be worth a try, though I probably wouldn't place them directly adjacent my favorite crops!
Comment by Anonymous Tue Jul 8 11:19:19 2014

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime