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Summer Garden Retrospective

September 5, 2010

Summer garden abundance came early to much of the rest of the country, as an early summer heat wave kicked in on the east coast. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest has remained one of the cool spots on the globe this year.  Spring was two to three weeks late, the summer was cool, and only time will tell what fall will bring.

In my shady garden, summer abundance has been a long time in coming. The squash I started by seed mostly failed; the corn, moved to a marginal shady spot this year, hasn’t thrived. The first planting of beans rotted in the ground.

But with patience and some replanting, and now that September is here, we are getting August abundance. Only now are the tomatoes getting red, and still only the early varieties. Early Girl and Early Cascade are the winners this year. Other early ones are Tsygan Black, Black Plum, Yellow Pear, and Debarao. I’m still waiting for the big slicers like the Better Boys.

The peppers I put in the ground in May languished for the longest time, but now they are responding well to the drip irrigation I started this year. I’ve harvested a few green ones, and if the weather holds, there will soon be plenty of the more colorful fruits.

The drip irrigation has been a learning experience. I’ve found it difficult to get just the right amount of water on the plants. It’s easy to have wet and dry spots. The raised beds tend to dry out easily, so they need even more drippers. The broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants in the raised beds produced unevenly as a result.

The squash are fairly pathetic this year. Only a few of the early planting came up, and the later planting in May was even more dismal. What I have now are mostly plants from the April planting that survived two months of cold and rain, along with a few volunteers that sprouted in June. But I have been hand-pollinating what grows, and will get a few fruits to continue the squash selection project.

The fall/winter crops are doing well. Fall peas are about to bloom, and the parsnips and leeks are sizing up. Last year I tried planting late fall cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Even though I planted by Nick’s dates, the plants were too small, growing in my shady garden, when fall rolled around. This year I planted earlier and the plants are bigger so I’m hoping for better results.

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