Last summer was unusual for our area of Western Washington. In June we had warm sunny days which brought the garden on early and with vigor. This year is a more typical year. As I have mentioned in past wordpress blogs, we can have grey weather three out of four 4th of Julys. This year seems to be holding up this percentage.
We had glorious sunny weather in May and hopes that the garden would be the verdant, abundant scene it was last year. We have collected 4000 gallons of water from the shed roof this past winter to water it as this is our only water source at the farm. I started all my little plants early, expecting that it would be a hot summer due to the warm spring. I held them over longer in the greenhouse so as to not shock them with the cold outside.
When I was a kid and a Brownie and Girl Scout, I went to camp the first week after school was out. IT ALWAYS RAINED. For me camping is about cool, damp weather. It always seemed that we would have glorious, sunny, warm days for the last few weeks of school making us all itchy to get out to vacation. The last day of school, an early release day, it would rain and continue to rain until after the Fourth of July.
This year is no exception, being right on that schedule and reminding me of my youthful days at “summer” camp. They felt more like winter, but I was away from home on an adventure and it didn’t matter that it drizzled the whole time.
Now it matters that it drizzles the whole time. We fight slugs, leaf rot, slow and retarded growth due to the weather in the high 40’s and low 50’s. Tomatoes are not fond of this scenario. I planted thirty plants with great expectations. My husband, being the more practical, planted his dozen in the greenhouse and they have lots of tomatoes set, some the size of large lemons. Beautiful. We will have tomatoes this year, but probably from the greenhouse, not the garden.
The cabbages, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts are doing fine. They will grow in the winter here in our temperate climate, Western Washington being the largest cabbage seed producer in the U. S. Even my squash plants are trying to bloom, but often when the weather is cool, the flowers fail to be fertile. The leeks are getting tall and thick-waisted which is good.
I have planted the corn three times and still have terrible germination. Next year my husband says we should switch to another variety as this one is so poor, but I just love the sweetness, flavor and keeping ability of this variety. We finally started some in the greenhouse and it was only 50% viable. Not going to be much corn this year. I usually put up 200 ears, cut off the cobs and packaged three ears of cut corn per package for dinners, which is just right for the two of us.
Beets I have planted twice, but now they seem to be coming up. I learned a secret for our area some years ago. Before tilling, we always put seaweed, which we collected at the local boat ramp, on the soil in the beet row. Now you have to have a permit to collect it. It is an endorsement on the state fishing licenses. I have another remedy. What the beets need is boron which is in the kelp and seaweed. I use Borax powder from the laundry section of the grocery. Just a little tiny bit, not too much or they won’t be happy. It makes for an abundance of beets. We like to eat them just boiled with a little lemon juice and butter, pickled with some cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, or my new favorite, with credits to Rustica Café and Wine Bar in Oak Harbor, roasted beet hummus. If you have just finished a jar of pickled beets, don’t throw out the juice. Hard boil eggs, peel, and put them in the pickled beet juice for about three days. Then proceed as you usually do to make deviled eggs. As an artist, these bright magenta eggs are a visual delight.
Well, I guess I have strayed far enough afield from the weather, but I hope that you have a glorious 4th of July, rain or shine. Lots of deviled eggs, potato salad, fried or BBQ’s chicken and watermelon and apple pie. Of course the apples were preserved last year and the eggs are from my chickens, the potatoes are from a neighbor’s garden. The rest I had to fill in from the grocery. Too bad.
Dutch bucket tomatoes grown hydroponically in our greenhouse.