July Comparisons

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July has treated us pretty well. We have had some nice warm weather with a few stretches of higher heats. The hills have now all turned brown over the last month and we are once again looking like a semi-arid desert.

Starting the month of July in 2022, we were almost 10 degrees cooler, though our monthly average for temperature is just slightly lower in 2022 than it was in 2021. Where July 2021 started off very hot and normalized by the end of the month; July 2022 started off very mild and unusually cool and has finished off with the higher average temperatures. This definitely made a difference in the garden growth and some of the harvests

The temperatures this year were definitely beneficial to our rogue strawberry patch. All the extra water and mild heat had the plants blooming and producing right into July. Last year, it petered off in June when the heat dome hit. Also, we noticed this year overall we had almost triple the harvest over what grew last year. Though they are small, that is a big difference!

The same could also be said of our tower strawberries. We have 1/3 the plants that we did last year, but still managed to harvest the same amount as we did in 2021. Pretty good numbers. Next year, we will be adding more plants back in, so we will see how the harvest season goes next year. We have noticed that our strawberries seem to be taking a break now and have not had any flowers for the last week. Hopefully they get going again soon.

The rhubarb is still trucking along. As we continue to pull, new sprouts continue to pop up. We have shared a lot of rhubarb this year, with at least half of our harvest going to co-workers and family. We are happy to share since the plant grows like a weed and need regular removal of the stalks so we don’t end up with a bunch of woody stalks where wolf spiders love to build homes in the large, lush leaves. Pass! Instead, by harvesting regularly, the spiders are minimal due to constant disruptions.

MMMM, beets. I have been closely watching them, and although they came up right away, they have been slow to grow. I pulled a few smaller size beets because I just couldn’t wait any longer to make the Gourmet Beet Salad that I made last summer. It does look like a few are starting to get to a better size, so we should have some good harvests moving forward. I also think I will replant where I have pulled so that we have a fall harvest. They are just so yummy! I know a few people in the garden group commented that they had absolutely no luck with beets this year, so perhaps this weather has had a bit to do with my smaller, slow beets this year.

With the beets come the beet greens. Due to the ridiculous temperatures last year, most of the beet greens got crispy and un-useable. This year with the cooler, wet weather, I was able to keep more and add them into our salads. They are a nice addition to any salad, but especially good with the salad that is layered with roasted yellow beets.

I am surprised that my numbers weren’t higher for herbs this year, but when thinking back, I have taken a bit of a break from some of our tasty meals for easier, quick meals on the go (ex. bagged salad with a protein). Now that the garden is finally producing regularly, no more bagged salads and a lot more veggies from the garden, including herbs to marinate meats and other BBQ items. All of our herbs are very happy. The basil bushes along the bottom of the tomatoes are especially happy, so I predict I will have a good harvest of that this year. I will likely dry some and grind down for winter seasoning. My rosemary was a little slow to start and I lost the plants that I had in the house, but the ones outside are happy and have finally started to grow nice and big. I should manage at least one meal of rosemary kabobs, using the rosemary stalks to skewer the meat.

The cucumbers have been slow to get going. The plants themselves are finally crawling up the ladders and are halfway, but have been slow to produce. We have finally started getting some cucumbers, and have harvested a few, but not nearly as many as last year. Though we aren’t doing the lemon cucumbers this year, if we only compare the patio snacker (2022) and the long english (2021), we are still quite a ways behind the 2021 harvests. Just the LE cucumbers from 2021 were 5.32 lbs, while I am only sitting at 1.85 lbs this year. I guess we will wait and see what August brings.

Like the beets, our carrots were slow to start and slow to grow. I could have harvested some in July, but they would have been pretty small, so I wanted to leave them to get a bit bigger. I did manage to harvest a few decent size ones since the beginning of August, so I predict we should have some pretty good numbers this month.

I feel like a broken record…the weather, the weather, the weather. Peppers like the heat, so they did really well last year. The plants this year are now starting to look happy since the warmer weather has finally arrived. Prior to that, they were not so happy and stopped producing flowers for a bit. now, all the plants have a bunch of peppers started, so I do think the next month will prove to be good for the peppers. They are once again a good size and thick skinned, so at least that has stayed consistent to last year.

Same as above, a little slow to produce. Not a bad harvest though this year. Just a little over half of what we had this time last year. I’m ok with that since we mostly dehydrate the cayennes to make into red pepper flakes and powder for the winter. They are a fantastic addition to chili.

So our onions are definitely smaller than last year at this stage, but to be fair, we did start them from seed this year, which I feel is making a big difference. I predict we will start seeing some nice size onions in the next month and really get some good harvests. I have plucked a few to check how things are going. I can’t seem to find all my shallots, which should be done right about now, but that is ok. The few cabernet, red onions, that we have tried in some greek salad is fantastic. They look like they will be great onions. I will definitely start onions from seed again in the future.

We have an abundance of scallions, but for some reason, I just haven’t been harvesting them. This one is a tough one to track, because it actually has very little to do with when they are ready and harvested and much more to do with just when you choose to harvest it based on what you are cooking. I may have to harvest a bunch of these and freeze them for winter use. Or maybe I will make some ham and onion scones, or just herb and cheese scones. We will see.

So technically, we are a little under in our harvest of roma tomatoes this year, but are actually up quite significantly in our harvest of tomatoes for July. Last year, our only large tomato was the romas. We then had yellow tomatoes, which are smaller like cherry tomatoes, and then cherry tomatoes. This year we have romas, big beef and sweetie pie (cherry) tomatoes. I actually think the harvest we did have of romas this July was pretty good considering we have a few less plants this year.

As mentioned above, Big Beef Tomatoes are now in the garden instead of the yellow tomatoes. I am happy we switched back to another large tomato. We will be able to give lots away, while still canning some jars for winter use. So far, so good. I have given quite a few away, and yet still ended up with a full, large-size mixing bowl, overflowing with the big beef tomatoes. I canned those, and used the romas to make a spaghetti sauce. Next harvest, which should be leading up to next weekend will be processed into salsa. Though based on what is starting to ripen on the vine, I will likely be giving some away again since it will be too much for it all to be used to make salsa. Perhaps I will can a few more jars.

Sweetie Pie tomatoes are my new favourite cherry tomato. Even when very ripe, they are crunchy and juicy. I don’t like it when tomatoes get “pulpy”, so I often tend to harvest them a touch early to keep some firmness and tartness to them. The timing of harvest doesn’t seem to affect these little tomatoes. Plus they grow in cool, long vines, so they are also great to look at and watch. They will be out staple variety for a while. Again, our numbers look skewed because we had triple the “cherry” style plants last year between our cherry and yellow tomatoes, so the harvest numbers were much bigger.

My poor cabbage. I have officially come to the realization that the large corner on the bottom most bed is not made for anything in the cabbage family. Last year the brussel sprouts did not work in the same spot. Although my cabbage are growing, they are just small little heads. I pulled one today (early august) to check it and make sure there are not patches of the leaves drying out. I may leave the others a bit longer, but I don’t have much hope for them. I will be moving them to a new home next year and will perhaps move the carrots or onions to the far corner. The cabbage may move over to the new walls/beds since I can’t put them back where they were last year, since we have now turned that into our asparagus patch.

Well, this one has me stumped. Last year I had 2 plants that were out of control. I could not keep up with the zucchini coming off the plants, so this year, I stuck with just 1 plant. I have had an abundance of zucchini growing for the last month, but as they reach a finger length, they shrivel up. Recently, I decided to prune back some of the leaves since the plant seems to be growing new leaves like crazy. The hope is to divert some of that growing energy into the zucchini and less into the plant itself. It seems to have worked and I was finally able to harvest a zucchini this morning. Better late than never I guess? I do think I am going to move the zucchini or the celery next year. I think there is just too much happening in and around the cucumber towers.

Like herbs, this is a tough one because it is all about when you pick it. The celery has been growing and ready for.a while, but we haven’t needed any for any of the meals I was making. That should change over the next few months.

We are doing about par for banana peppers. They seem to take a while. Last year, I wasn’t able to harvest anything from those plants in July 2021, so we were lucky to be able to harvest a small pepper this July. There are lots of them on there, I am now just waiting for them to either go orange or red as that is what Kurt prefers.

So this is a new one this year. We decided to give broccoli a go and love it! We both love broccoli, so it seemed like a no-brainer to add them to the garden. Luckily mu co-worker told me to leave the plants in after we harvest the main head because there will still be little heads producing all the time. She was picking those side shoots all the way until end of October last year. I will definitely stagger them more next year so that all the heads aren’t ready at once, but am quite happy with how our first year has gone with them so far.

I am eager to see how it all pans out this year. I feel that we are going to end up with lower harvest numbers overall this year, but we will see once we get into October.

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