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2018 Garden Planner
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  • Weather: In contrast with the wet beginning of summer, July and August has been noteworthy for the absence of meaningful rain. The days have been mostly comfortable and seasonably warm.
  • Sunflowers: Towards the end of July, the sunflowers opened up in full glory with heads ranging from 8”-12” in diameter to the delight of numerous honeybees. On the 24th, I went on a weeklong vacation. When I returned the flower heads were heavy and drooping from the weight of newly forming seeds.
  • Asian pole beans: I got two moderate harvests of these green beans before I left for vacation. Unfortunately, when I returned the majority of the runners had produced bean pods which were too large and unpalatable to eat by the time I returned. I am letting these grow to maturity and dry and will collect the dry beans for next year.
  • Cucumbers: Plants remain healthy. Some insect damage causing individual leaves to turn brown and die but does not affect entire plant. Very pleased with this cultivar. Production has waned with the lack of rain.
  • Tomatoes: All of the tomato plants are thriving during these dry, sunny days. Production of all cultivars is heavy and I am enjoying many Insalata Caprese while my in-laws prefer to make BLTs.
  • Okra: Producing heavily. Mason bees seem to be particularly attracted to the large flowers this year.
  • Onions: Both the Red Ace and Candy have been harvested. Bulb size was a bit underwhelming for both cultivars.
  • Broccoli and Kale: Side Shoot production of the broccoli remained vigorous, even into August until the shoots became too small to profitably harvest. I am letting these mature to flower. Honey and bumble bees have been feeding on these now. Kale is healthy.
  • Brussels sprouts: Plant growth has been modest.
  • Spinach and shelling beans: Spinach plants have dried and I have collected the seeds. Shelling bean pods are beginning to dry.
  • Bush green beans: Heavy harvests throughout July. Once I returned from vacation, the beans are too mature to be palatable so I am letting these go to seed to use next year.
  • Popcorn: Plants grew tassels at the end of July. Ears are now maturing.
  • Summer squash: Plant vigor was compromised from the powdery mildew but new leaf growth has emerged. Continued to spray with the potassium bicarbonate and neem oil mixture, which has also killed emerging colonies of squash bugs. Numerous flowers fail to produce fruit, despite the presence of pollinators. I am definitely going to attempt to procure and grow disease resistant cultivars next year.
  • Potato: I vigilantly killed any Colorado potato beetle grubs. The plants died back before I went on vacation. I dug up the potato beds and found that the yields were pathetic.
  • Garlic: Plants began to die back so I pulled them up to discover nice sized bulbs. The flavor is very strong.
  • Raspberries: Several Anne canes are producing healthy sized fruits.
  • Weeds: Even though the garden is as close to picture perfect as it has ever been, some weeds have been able to capitalize on my absence. In the new garden these are largely summer annual grasses, varieties of foxtail and crabgrass for the most part, along with some ladyfingers, medic, and plantain. The grasses represent a bit of a paradoxical challenge: their roots harbor beneficial organisms and pulling them would disturb the soil and leave it bare during the winter, where it would be better to leave them as a winter killed cover crop. On the other hand, if I leave them they will go to seed, adding to the weed mass next year. My solution will be to hand mow the grass where possible, discarding the seed heads from the garden. I will flame the garden before cultivating the soil next year, destroying a majority of seeds lying on top of the soil.
  • Strawberries: In the strawberry garden, however, using the flame weeder is not possible because of the plastic row cover. My negligence of this garden has allowed a lot of grasses to grow along with the strawberry plants, all of which must be painstakingly separated and pulled. Crabgrass and foxtail grow in thick clumps with dense and fibrous roots. There are many masses of these grasses, along with some purslane which has germinated on top of the plastic and penetrated it from above. When pulled, the thick roots tear the plastic up exposing and disturbing the soil for more weed seeds to germinate in. It seems that my best recourse is to lay new plastic between the rows, and to be more vigilant on keeping the strawberries weed free in the future. The Albion plants have begun to produce fruits again, which I have been able to harvest in the dry weather before they rot. I continue to spray with my fungicide mixture to keep the leaf spot in check.
  • Ambience: The long lazy days of Summer are slowly growing shorter. The riotous growth of foliage crowns and fades as flower turns to seed. Choruses of crickets and katydids fill the night air while the sunny days are awash with the hypnotic drone of cicadas.

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