July is the month when a gardener really hits pay dirt.
Summer vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and zucchini hit their stride in July. Harvesting these prolific vegetables becomes a daily task, and 31 days of bountiful harvests provide more than just a lot of great summer meals. July is when the work of preserving the harvest begins in earnest, and July evenings often find me trimming green beans to be blanched and frozen or preparing a brine to pickle surplus cucumbers.
There also is more work to be done outside. The garden in July requires regular watering, weeding, and mulching to keep plants thriving through the long, hot summer days. July also is time to start thinking about the fall garden. This July, we planted more carrots, beans, and cabbage that we plan to harvest into the fall.
But the kitchen garden in July isn’t all about work. It’s about delighting in the new colors that appear in the garden each day. It’s about tending to plants among the butterflies and birds that make their home there. It’s about the juicy sweetness of a vine-ripened tomato and the cool crunch of a cucumber. It’s about the satisfaction of preparing a meal made entirely of food produced in your own back yard.
Each month, I’ve been giving you a look at how my garden has changed over the growing season. Here’s a look back at my kitchen garden in July.
The year of the cucumber
2015 is shaping up to be the year of the cucumber, at least in my garden. The cucumber plant has grown up one side of the six foot garden fence and down the other. Hundreds of yellow blooms have produced hundreds of cucumbers, and I spent a fair amount of July making pickles. I’ve also come up with a few creative uses for cucumbers, such as the BCT sandwich (bacon, cucumber, and tomato), shredded cucumbers as a topping for tacos, and cucumber smoothies.
Summer on a plate
With all of those cucumbers, it’s never hard to find a quick meal in July. One of my go-to summer lunches is a salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and feta cheese tossed with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar and garnished with nastursium blooms. (Yes, even many of the flowers in my garden are edible.)
The main reason I started gardening was to have access to fresh ingredients to feed my epicurean muse. Here’s a look at some of the garden’s bounty in July.
Growing out of control
It’s safe to say that our efforts in the garden have paid off. The plants aren’t just thriving; in many cases they are out of control. I’ve already showed you the cucumber plant that’s taking over the world. Here’s a look at some of the others:
Our ten tomato plants have formed a solid hedgerow at the end of the driveway. The challenge is getting in there to harvest the tomatoes. It’s become a two-person job – one person acts as a spotter while the other one digs through the dense foliage.
Last year we planted way too much kale, so this year we cut back to four plants. Guess what? It’s still way too much kale.
We never transplant squash or melons into the garden until early June in an effort to thwart the squash bugs and squash vine borers. But even those these plants are a month or two behind the rest, they are growing like crazy, and I am anticipating bumper crops of cantaloupe and butternut squash (and already have more zucchini than I know what to do with).
Meanwhile, in the egg garden
July brought some hot weather, which meant I spent extra time helping the chickens beat the summer heat. And I’m still waiting for my first Easter eggs from the new girls. Maybe by my August report I will have some blue or green eggs to show you (keeping fingers crossed).
My kitchen garden in July
I hope you enjoyed this look at my garden over the last month. What was going on in your garden in July?