July 14, 2014

Mid-summer chores: Harvest and replant

The growing season has gotten off to a terrific start this year.

Yes, it has been on the chilly side, but the recent warm temperatures and ideal amounts of soaking rains have helped plants flourish and quickly catch up.

In my home garden, the spinach I planted in May bolted during that hot spell we just had and the first lettuce is finished. My sugar snap peas are just about done, and soon I’ll pull them up and plant bush beans where they were.

The garlic and shallot leaves are turning yellow and are almost ready to harvest and we had our first meal of new potatoes last week.

The onions are bulbing up nicely and I need to check my tomatoes at least twice a week to remove the extra suckers that form. Suckers are leafy shoots that emerge right above every leaf. By removing the extra suckers I can direct the plant’s energy into ripening the fruit, rather than producing an excess of leaves.

I got my cucumbers in late but they are quick to produce so they still have time to grow. Now is a good time to plant carrots and kale so they can sweeten up in the fall before I need to harvest them. It helps to lay a board on top of the row where you sow carrots, parsley and spinach to help keep the ground cool and moist until the seeds sprout.

My basil, parsley and cilantro are doing well but I’ll try to get another seeding in of each before too long to ensure a steady supply of tender, young leaves for late summer harvests.

In my perennial garden the earliest blooms have come and gone.

My peonies will look a lot better once I cut the faded flower stems back. To do this I follow the stems down into the center of the plant and make a cut just above a nice looking leaf. Lady’s mantle, lupine and Centaurea mountain bluet are looking bedraggled now so a nice hard pruning will remove the faded stems and leaves and encourage new leaves to grow.

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