Sunday, July 8, 2012

The July Garden Update and Lessons Already Learned

Wow, this heat wave we've been having will seriously make you not want to do anything besides lay around and catch up on past seasons of Sons of Anarchy and The Office.

It's been 100+ degrees here for what feels like weeks.  A cool front's supposed to move in tonight and drop the temps into the low 90s tomorrow, then into the 80s the rest of the week.   Please, please, please let that happen!

Anyway, it's about time for another garden update.   And look what the garden is yielding!

All this heat has necessitated watering every evening, but the garden's doing well nonetheless.

Well, I should say parts of the garden are doing well.

First, the good news.

There are lots of green beans coming in, as evidenced by the photo above.  I beer-battered and fried the first harvest and good lawd was that a delicious way to enjoy fresh green beans.  We scarfed all those fried green beans, so alas, no photo.  But I used this Food Network recipe and Newcastle Brown Ale to make a simple and delicious batter.  What green beans we don't eat will be frozen and put up. 

Also doing well are the cucumbers.  I planted four pickling cucumber seedlings in May and when we returned from our trip to Florida in mid-June, they had grown like bananas!

I'm harvesting an average of 4-5 cucumbers a day and have been making copious amounts of refrigerator dill pickles.  (There's dill in the garden too, so it's quite convenient to clip some of that while I'm out picking cukes!)  There are pickle spears, and chips, and the first batch will be ready to eat later this month. 

The heirloom cucumbers planted from seed are a little behind the seedling cukes, but growing well nonetheless and we've harvested quite a few of them as well.

Also growing nicely are the crookneck squash and zucchini, and there are several little watermelons that are thriving.  The tomatoes are fair--nothing's turned red yet, but there are quite a few green ones on the vine.

Not doing so well?

The two beds nearest to the woods.  They started off so promisingly, but have completely crapped out since mid-June.  Everything is stunted or dead at this point.  I need to just pull it all out and start planting for the fall here because they are a lost cause.

The corn is tasseled, but also a bit stunted.  Nevermind that most of it didn't come up, likely due to the chickens.

On the whole, these garden beds don't get as much sunlight as they ideally should because our yard is surrounded by mature woods.  I've been eyeing the side yard, observing how much sun it receives, and I'm thinking I will need to build some beds in that area for next season as it receives light earlier in the day, and continues to do so well into the late afternoon.

That means more work for me, but I'm thinking of minimizing the labor by trying the lasagna method to establish the beds. We shall see...

This little epiphany also leads to the next lesson if I want to increase how much food I grow: I absolutely must start seeds indoors next year.  I was very much behind the eight-ball on that this year, and most of the plants are maturing later because of my tardiness in planning the garden.

The final lesson I've learned is that if I want my chickens to free range--which I do because they're happier when not penned, plus I enjoy catching glimpses of them, and their eggs are more nutrient-laden when they're allowed to forage and spend time in the sunshine--that means I'm going to have to bite the bullet and put up a fence around the garden beds.

Chickens actually NOT in the beds for once...these three young hens were after a bug and running all over the place before I captured this photo

Besides thieving seeds, the twerps ladies also enjoy taking dirt baths in the garden beds. Even though I routinely chase them out, they inevitably return for the cooling relief of the dirt.  They've damaged a number of plants and also helped themselves to the leaves of many a seedling. So, next year, a fence will be in order.

Despite that negative-sounding end note, I will say, I'm truly pleased with how certain parts of the garden are doing.  It's quite a little miracle to know that most of this garden started with seeds sown directly in the soil--and now many of those seeds are lush, large plants giving my family food, albeit in small amounts.

"Like a big mountain, a small garden stimulates, restores, and delights us, 
just as it poses challenges, promotes mastery, provides exercise and relieves monotony."
- Winifred Gallagher

How does your garden grow this summer?

Sharing at:


  1. What a delightful post! I enjoy reading the blog and just had to comment on your wonderful way with words and pictures! You had me laughing with the "ladies".

  2. WOW!!!!! That is sooooooo awesome! Those cucumbers and green beans look SO SO yummy! Happy Summer friend :)

  3. Hi Erin,
    Thank you for visiting My Cozy Corner. I love your vegetable garden. I must admit that we have a vegetable garden, but I don't do anything. It's my Sweetheart's garden. For the first 30 years of our marriage I did vegetables and no flowers. We were raising two boys and we had enough food to last all winter. Now I have been flower gardening for the past 22 years and I love it. We had chickens too. I loved my chickens. I am your new follower.
    Betty @ My Cozy Corner

  4. Erin: You are! How do you EVER find the time to do it all? I mean, seriously. This is wonderful, and I love following the progress. Love the colors in those chickens, even if t hey ARE a pain in the garden!
    Yes, stay cool. I've almost given up on all my flowers; after all, we have another what? two, three months to go. This watering activity is too time consuming!

  5. Your garden looks so good. We are having the extreme heat also, and I have been watering for about 3 hours every night. I will have to try the beans fried. Never heard of that. Thanks for the link:)

  6. be proud of your gardening efforts, so much of it looks great! i mean, you are making pickle for goodness sake!! i've got me some cukes and beans and not yet ripe tomatoes too. i actually had butter crunch lettuce for awhile too in late spring/early summer. the blueberries are ripening now gotta do a blueberry bush or two next year! omg- i want some beer battered green beans now!!! today was the first day in quite a few that it wasn't 100+ degrees was heavenly, hope cooler weather comes rolling your way soon!

    1. pickles...not pickle - whoops!
      oh and love that you call the chickens "twerps", haven't heard that one in awhile! they are so cute, if not mischievious.

  7. Hi Erin, Thanks for coming by Georgie Emerson and leaving such a kind comment. It is nice to connect with you. I'll definitely be following along on your journey! Your garden looks amazing....I can only hope to have a little garden some day!!

    Georgie Emerson Vintage and Motley Junket

  8. Hi, Erin! Love your blog and those pickles look delish! Fried green beans, sounds yummy and I will have to try them. Love your chickies! Come visit me at my blog

  9. Your garden produce looks so fresh and perfect! What I found this year, was my tomatoes that are in the shade (alot) are doing the best! One side of our shed/chicken coop is all tomato garden and the other has okra at the front and the chicken run at the back. So, the side with tomatoes has tons of shade at the rear part and I just threw in some plants to see how they'd do. Imagine my shock that they are thriving there! Maybe you should plant tomatoes in your shady area next year. I wasn't on the ball either and planted my seeds indoors, but late, so my plants took awhile to get it together! Thanks for commenting on my "Loving the Chickens!" post and I'm glad you came over with suggestions of what they like to eat! Have a great day and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! xo wendy

  10. I dream of making pickles from our cucumbers! Your garden looks great.

  11. I love your entire garden... I've learned many lessons myself this year but it truly is amazing and rewarding to see everything grow and produce from tiny little seeds. Your cucumbers look gorgeous! My poor cucumbers are really struggling in the heat... we finally had some rain this week and everything already looks greener and healthier - yay! I laughed when reading about your chickens... it reminded me of our chickens growing up and they were always into everything!

  12. Your garden is lovely! We'd love it if you'd share this at our Home is Where the Heart is!
    and any other posts you'd like to share that have to do with homesteading and homemaking!

  13. Your garden is doing so well in the heat. My squash were growing beautiful with a lot of blooms, but now it looks like they wilted over night. Not one of my plants are doing well, except for a few cukes and two tomato plants.
    Again your garden looks lush, even planted next to the forest.

  14. Hi Erin! Your garden looks great. I would love to watch chicken running around the yard. That looks like fun. I'm so glad you came by my blog and entered my giveaway. Enjoy the heat!

  15. Beautiful produce and lovely hens! I live in town so I have neither:( someday I hope to live in the country and have my own chickens and raise a (small) garden!

  16. I love your garden yield. Makes me wish I'd planted one this year....but next year for sure!

    Just stopped in to see your Where Bloggers Create space.....stop in and visit if you like.

    ciao bella
    creative carmelina

  17. Looks and sounds like your garden is doing very well. The desert environment I live in doesn't allow for much to grow -- our only growing season is winter (December-February). One year I had tomatoes, and we usually have mint -- I am going to try to do much more container guarding this year. Have a great weekend. Tammy

  18. Love your blog- found you on Ironstone Nest's blog hop.
    New follower!

    Ashleigh @

  19. I've got some things doing well and some things needing some love too. Can't wait to share some refrigerator pickles with you in the mountains soon!

  20. My goodness but you are ambitious! I wish I had a garden. I've been so busy trying to get my flower gardens/yard looking how I want it there wasn't time for a vegi garden... I'm hoping next year! Your garden looks beautiful and those green beans sound delicious!


  21. You are funny! I tried a garden this year (many seeds did not even germinate???)and hope that next year I will try more kinds of seeds. A fried of mine is suggesting Molokhia and Arugula. These both like shade. You inspire me.


Thank you for taking the time stop by and say hello! I enjoy reading each and every comment left at Carolina Country Living.