August Comparisons

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I feel like this August was pretty comparable with August 2021 on the weather front. It was very hot, with some high temperatures and records broken, and very little rain. Thinking back to last year, August did actually get some lower temperatures but I think that was because the sky was blanketed in smoke that acted as a sort of cloud cover. Fire season has officially begun, but it has been fairly mild this year with little smoke or haze in the sky. In fact, Fire Services is more concerned about September this year due to the likelihood of a dry month with little rain. Again, it feels like our whole year is a month behind on weather patterns.

August just flew by! Luckily we have at least another month and a half of solid growing time. If we have a mild fall, then we might squeeze a full 2 months in, but we will see. It is interesting looking at this months stats for this year compared to last. There were a lot of vegetables last year that came off at end of July that this year were ready in August. I am also seeing a few that were ready in august last year that are going to be ready in September. Just an indication of the very slow start to the season we had this year and the delay on some of those veggies. That being said, some are having banner years. Here is how our garden compares this August to August 2021.

Let’s start off with the strawberries. We should have really been enjoying these throughout August, however we barely got any fruit. Our “everbearing” has not been bearing. For almost all of August there was not a flower to be found. We just barely squeaked in a harvest of a few berries right at the end of August. Even now, there seems to be almost no flowers. I think their home is not great, and the plants are not happy. Next year that tower is coming down and the strawberry patch will be added into the garden beds, at least temporarily. I think that I will still have some sort of planter for our strawberries in the future gazebo area. I prefer them in a tower or planter because it is easier to keep the spider populations down, though just barely. In one of the garden beds, they are going to be thoroughly infested. Oh well, that is part of the joy or gardening. I like the spiders because they keep the bugs in check, but I hate putting my hands in their webs and especially when they are the size of small tarantulas this time of year.

The rhubarb is still happily sending up new shoots. The harvest on this plant is a little deceiving since each year, I could technically harvest a lot more than what I do. The only reason this month is higher that last year, is not because of how the plant grew, but because I gave away a bunch of rhubarb this year to coworkers and family, therefore I picked more this August. August is a huge month for processing the food that comes out of the garden, so I don’t pick anything extra, meaning rhubarb numbers are usually pretty low for August.

Similar to rhubarb, the herb numbers can vary greatly from month to month depending on what I am cooking. In August this year, my basil plants were out of control and taking over the path between the tomatoes and pepper plants, so I had to harvest a bunch of it. I ended up dehydrating a bush of it for winter seasoning. First year I have dehydrated my herbs and I plan to do more this fall with the sage, tarragon and oregano. In 2021 my Basil numbers were higher in September when I had some time to make pesto. Now that we are into September this year, I already know our numbers are going to be high for this month because my mom has asked me to make her some pesto, which I am happy to do since we still have about 4 bushes of basil.

We are having a banner year for tomatoes. The plants are extremely happy, and the weather seems to be hitting all the right notes for regular harvests. As of right now for the 2022 growing season, we are over double the harvest from the 2021 season. With a month and a half still remaining, we will see if it continues on this path. I have canned some tomatoes for winter use and made some delicious salsa. I am sure I will be making another batch of salsa, and likely canning a few more jars of tomatoes. I also plan to share with my co-workers and family since this year my goal was to share more of our gardens bounty.

We didn’t have big beef tomatoes last year, so I have nothing to compare it to, but like the romas, they are doing amazing. These were also canned and added to the salsa. I’ve actually given more of these away away because they are great for eating on sandwiches, in salads, or just on their own with some seasoning salt. I look forward to seeing how many more we get throughout the next month and a half.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Seriously…a banner year. With just 2 cherry tomato plants this year, we are doubling the harvest of our 6 cherry tomato plants last year (cherry and pear). These little “Sweetie Pie Tomatoes” are the best cherry tomatoes we have ever had. Kurt has regularly commented on how tasty they are to eat as a snack. They are sweet and firm, just the right mix to snack on. They also make great additions on salads. In actuality, all of our tomatoes this year are keepers. We will be doing the same varieties next year because we feel like we have finally found the right ones for our preferences. We have the same amount of overall plants as last year, and are harvesting some fantastic amounts that allow us to save some for the winter and share a bunch as well. The tomato vines themselves are already at the tops of the new, taller towers this year, with fruit growing right to the tops. It is so great to see each time we come around the corner and make the descent into the garden.

We had such a good start in the spring with our pepper plants starting in the house. They were so happy, healthy and large when we decided to put them in the garden. Unfortunately, the warm weather in June never came, which seems to have slowed the plants a bit. We are seeing a lot more peppers growing now, and recently just managed to leave a few alone long enough to get some really delicious red peppers. That takes a lot of patience! I don’t think we will match the pepper harvests this year to last year. The weather just didn’t cooperate for a good start to the growing season and the finicky pepper plants definitely felt it. That being said, we are still happy with the amount of pepper we are getting. It is plenty for the 2 of us, we just don’t have any to share, which we were really looking forward to doing.

The banana peppers are on par this year with the ones last year, which is great. We are supplementing our sweet peppers with these and using them in a lot of dishes that regularly call for a sweet bell pepper. I am also adding them on more salads, which I haven’t done in the past. These will once again be a keeper for next year.

Like the sweet peppers, we have noticed our cayenne is not producing quite as much or as fast as last year. That is actually ok, because I feel like I can keep up with it this year and still have some to share, though not a lot of people are interested in cayenne. I personally like it as a hot pepper because it adds a nice kick of heat and dissipates quickly. It also has a really good flavour. I used it in our first batch of salsa and enjoy the flavour it brought, though it didn’t bring much heat. In the next batch I am going to go hog-wild with adding cayenne and try to make a hotter salsa for Kurt. I’ve always used jalapeños and they have never given any sort of heat to the salsa, even after some time of letting all the flavours mix. We also like to add fresh cayenne to tacos, nachos and soups.

Our onion experiment has been a success so far. To refresh your memory, or if you are new to the blog, this year we grew onions from seed. Not the bulbs you find at the nurseries in the spring, but from the itty-bitty, microscopic seeds. We knew going in that there was a chance that we would end up with no onions, but it has actually worked out pretty well. The nicest thing is that we have some great variety of onions this year (sweet borettana, red cabernet and shallots). We are however, noticing that the onions do tend to be on the smaller size. Last year, all our onions were ready for harvest by end of August, so we tied them up and were able to make them last until October. I think we will actually be pulling onions from the garden right through to October, so we will have to see what our overall, years harvest numbers are. Will we grow from seed again next year? You bet! Although a little smaller, it is very cool knowing that we grew these from the tiniest seeds. Plus we have a lot more flexibility with the varieties we can put in the garden. We always find the bulbs so limited.

In addition to our regular onions, we also grew scallions, or a proper green onion. In the past, we have just enjoyed the greens from our regular onions, but scallions are truly a different flavour. Plus the texture and size of the scallion is much better than just the greens from our regular onions. We have also found that the odd one that we have had to pull out completely, has an enjoyable flavour from the bulb as well, which is about the same size as a head of garlic. It is a spicy, rich, onion flavour. We will definitely be enjoying all of them in the fall when it comes time to clean out the garden.

The beets have been interesting this year. They grew well, but then kind of stopped at a certain size. I know my co-worker commented that all of hers were really small, and I have definitely had a few pretty small ones. Overall, mine have been a fairly average size and quite enjoyable. The other day though, the beet seem to have started growing again, because I found some monsters that were not there a few days earlier. I am fine if they want to triple in size, it just means that I get to enjoy them that much longer because I have to harvest less of them at a time. One day, I will manage to do a second planting for a fall harvest, but at this point I feel like it is too late. The Farmers Almanac does state that you can sow beats up to early fall, which I feel like would be right about now. I do have this week off work, so perhaps I will get a fall harvest planted and see what happens.

The cabbage this year was a bit of a disappointment. Although I got a harvest, they were quite small this year. They reached a certain size and then stopped growing. Out of 6 plants this year, I only got 1/3 of the harvest weight that I got out of 4 glorious heads in 2021. I don’t think it was necessarily weather related because cabbage actually does best in cooler seasons. I think the issue is the location. Although it had more room to grow big, it had rock or brick on 2 sides, which I feel radiated too much heat once the warm weather kicked in. In it’s previous location last year, it only had 1 rock wall behind it and that wall was only 6″ tall. In its spot this year the rock wall behind it is almost 3′ and the stackstone brick wall beside it starts at 3′ and tapers down to about 6″. We are going to find a new home for it over in the new beds where the temperatures tend to stay a little cooler thanks to some earlier afternoon shade. I will also make sure that it is not surrounded by brick and rock.

The carrots are doing good, though I do think our overall harvest will be a little lower this year. We will have to see. Similar to the beets, the carrots tend to be a bit more on the smaller side. That could be the new variety that we tried this year though. If it is a case of the variety, I think I will still stick with the same one next year. The flavour is really nice on them, so it is worth the smaller size to the carrot. Miss Basil also approves, as she finally found her way into the garden bed to start snacking. I have had to put some fencing around the carrot patch to deter her from eating all our carrots.

I was impressed with the initial harvest of broccoli back in July, and have continued to be impressed with the harvests we are getting from the secondary shoots. Thank goodness my co-worker told me not to pull the plants after the initial head was harvested. They aren’t huge harvests, but enough to add some broccoli to a vegetable platter in our lunches, or to a soup. I noticed recently, that more of the secondary heads seem to be growing so I am looking forward to making some cheddar, broccoli soup as it starts to cool. Broccoli will definitely be a staple in the garden now.

The celery is once again doing great. I have actually taken to pulling out a few full plants because I realized that we have way more packed in there than I thought we did. I forgot that Kurt planted 3 seeds per container, so when I planted 4 containers, it was actually 12 plants that went in. To give them a little more space, I have used full plants in some baking recently. I will likely be pulling one or two more in the next week or so, when I make some more salsa. Despite the battle with the spiders, I really like have celery in the garden. We use it a lot in our cooking, so having a bunch of plants that we can pull stalks from is worth it. Plus, I can freeze a bunch of it for soup stocks in the winter.

It doesn’t seem to be the best year for corn. It was a very late start, and I think that we have had a few pollination issues. Last year, most of the corn was ready in August, but this year, most of our harvest will be in September. We did get to enjoy a few cobs already, and are looking forward to more. That being said, they are somewhat small. My co-worker brought some of hers in and they are glorious looking. Ours are definitely not as large. I also think that I am going to rotate where the corn is growing next year to ensure there are sufficient nutrients in the soil. We will see how the overall harvest fares this year. I do have to say, despite the hiccups in the corn growing this year, we like the Kandy King variety much better than the 2021 Peaches & Cream variety last year. It’s not as starchy and much sweeter.

Out cucumbers are doing great. Lots coming off, with plenty to spare and share. I like the patio snacker variety, and will definitely be doing them again next year. The straight eights are good, but I may switch that up to something different next year. We definitely prefer these two varieties over the lemon cucumbers I did last year. Despite the speed at which they produced, they were so seedy. And this year we are pretty close in harvest amounts to last year, with a better eating cucumber.

Last, but certainly not least, the zucchini. This time last year, I was drowning in it. I couldn’t keep up and ended up slaving away making 15 loaves of zucchini loaf, which I froze for winter, a bunch of zucchini relish and salsa, and tried my darnedest to give it away, which is impossible. This year, I only did one plant and will only do one plant in the future. It is the perfect amount of zucchini! We have had enough to bake with, to enjoy grilled and to freeze a bit for winter use. I have not had to make 15 loaves of zucchini bread yet. So far, I have only made 4 and that was because I was in the mood to, not because I felt obligated to. I am very much ok with the lower harvest numbers on this plant.

Some fails we have this year are our butternut squash, cantaloupe, pumpkin and cauliflower. The vines finally grew for the butternut squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe, but nothing produced. I have officially given up on trying to get it to grow in the base of the corn and sunflowers. I don’t think it gets enough sun or nutrients. Next year, they will be on their own and we will see how it goes. I may plant them where I have the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli this year. They will like the heat better than those other plants.

The cauliflower was almost doomed from the beginning. After 2 plantings of seeds, I only got one viable plant, and it unfortunately seems stunted. I have left it in the garden, just in case it decides to do something this fall. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised. Next year, if my seeds don’t work, then I will purchase some cauliflower plants. We enjoy it, so I want at least a few heads to enjoy.

Well, that is it for now. I look forward to seeing what this next month brings!

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