By Roger Erpelding
July has come and gone. After July 5, the rain stopped. This is not unusual for July and it will soon be four weeks since any measurable precipitation has fallen on the garden. We have watered the pots and raised beds each week, but the other portions of the garden have remained dry. August doesn’t hold out much promise for rain either; again, par for the course.
July 15 and July 22 mark the end of the green bean crop. Four pickings is a good crop, and they were thoroughly enjoyed. I haven’t checked the plants since then, but since it hasn’t rained, I know they are in tough shape. They did their job. Now, they can die.
The potatoes were dug on July 19. The plants were pretty much dead, but I could still feel their stalks, so I dug around them with a large garden trowel. This is one of my favorite garden jobs, as you never know what types of potatoes will show up. Due to my clay soil, the potatoes were rather small, but that is not a problem for me. We have already cooked some up and their taste is fantastic.
I planted a second crop of green beans where the potatoes grew. I haven’t watered them and it hasn’t rained, so my hope for them is slim, at best. However, with some late season rains, they could come through. These were leftover seeds, so if they don’t grow or produce, not much is lost.
I did pick a bag of peppers, and have enjoyed them in salads. I also froze my first bag of peppers. I judge by size when I pick them. Banana peppers are my favorite, and since I’ve grown them for years, I have experience when sizing them for harvest. Several young peppers have set, so I am looking for another harvest later this month.
The garlic has also been dug. Like the potatoes, I use a large trowel to dig out the garlic at the base of the plant. I dig a few inches away, then get under the plant and lift with the trowel. This avoids damaging the garlic bulbs. Elephant garlic will always be my favorite, as it produces large and tasty bulbs. The other type is much smaller, but still productive. I already have garlic ordered which should be here in the fall.
When checking on the sweet potatoes I planted on July 6, I noticed that this area of the garden was getting very weedy. This is where the spinach, radishes, and lettuce had grown. Before weeding, I mounded up the sweet potatoes again and gave them another drink. I am thinking that they will need additional soil around them at least twice before harvest.
This weeding was a challenge. In one respect, it should be easy. After all, the early crops were either harvested, or pulled out. On the other hand, it was critical that I get near the carrots. When weeding, I always start with the obvious. I pulled out all the weeds first that had been in the rows with the early crops. In weeding the carrots, I first pulled out the obvious culprits—dandelions, night shade, and other unnamed pests. The challenge was the grass that was growing among the carrots. The carrot leaves are ferny and quite distinct. When in doubt, just pull off one of the tips and smell it—it won’t hurt the crop. But with the grassy weeds, their roots become entangled with the carrots, and could damage the crop. I didn’t do a perfect job in weeding them, nor do you have to. I am looking for a fall harvest, again depending on weather. I have dug them from mid-September up to November, depending on weather and rainfall. For all the bother they are, each year I wonder why I raise them. But, their first taste makes the effort worth it.