July 31: Saying goodbye to July

At the beginning of July, I made a promise to myself that I’d pay more attention to the garden. June had been a less-than-stellar month in terms of my caretaker responsibilities, and I knew that I needed to kick it into high gear if I was to get any “booyah” out of the garden.

Given the extreme heat we had all month and the lack of rain during the last half of June and first half of July, my garden needed all the help it could get. Early on in July, I enjoyed the heat and the way it helped the garden grow with the help of my sprinkler. By the second week of July, the heat got to be pretty overbearing on everyone and everything. Watering the garden helped, but it was clear it couldn’t replace the real thing.

The peas dried up, the lettuce got bitter, carrots refused to grow and the beans just didn’t produce like they should have. I’m even finding out now that the onions, which I didn’t think would be bothered by the heat, were affected. They’re smaller, hotter and the layers are just plain chewy until you get almost half way into the onion. A huge disappointment after last year’s fantastic crop. The 8 inches of rain we got the last two weeks of July helped for sure, but 2 inches a week spread out over 4 weeks would have been better.

I’ve yet to dig up any potatoes, so I’ll have to reserve judgment on those. The two crops that do seem to be doing well are the cucumbers and the tomatoes. The cukes are plentiful and tasty. The tomato plants, their fruit just starting to ripen, look to be prolific in both number and size. What I’ve had so far taste excellent, but I did notice that the cherries and grapes appear to be cracking a bit more than usual. My guess is the heat is responsible for that, too.

Still, the month of July had its pluses, like 10 cups of raspberries in one picking. And just seeing the garden grow in and of itself is a pleasure I never take for granted.

So, with that in mind, I’m reposting a sequence of photos that show just how my garden grew. And even though August means we’re on the downside of the growing season in Northeastern Wisconsin, I can’t wait to see what it will bring.

Here’s July in photos, first looking east:

July 1, 2012, looking east

July 7, 2012, looking east

July 14, 2012, looking east

July 20, 2012, looking east

July 31, 2012, looking east

And looking west:

July 1, 2012, looking west

July 7, 2012, looking west

July 14, 2012, looking west

July 20, 2012, looking west

July 31, 2012, looking west

10 responses to this post.

  1. Wow Julie you have a huge garden. I am uber jealous. My measly 3×12 strip is tiny in comparison. I live in southern California, so I know about sudden and intense heat – but I’ve found if I just water the garden lightly every day, it seems to do fine. Some people even let the soil for the tomatoes dry completely before rewatering. The other option is to set up a drip system, which you can do by making one by hand or just weaving several soaker hoses throughout the garden and then setting on a timer to water 15 minutes twice a day. Although from the looks of it, you are doing just fine. Keep up the good work.

    I’ve always said gardening is not for sissies, so hang tough sistah gardener!

    Writer Chick

  2. Love it! Mine is seriously empty right now, with the exception of bell pepper and cherry tomatoes (a couple of late volunteers). Getting geared up for fall.

    BTW, the cracking cherries are most likely due to too much water at once. The skins split when there’s a sudden growth spurt; always happened for me following a good downpour. They do “heal,” though, and are still perfectly edible, provided you can keep the pests out. Since I use no pest control (other than hand-picking), I just pull them off and let them set on the counter until fully ripened — free of bugs.

    • Thanks for the tip on the cracked tomatoes. I usually just eat them right away if possible, otherwise I end up tossing them. I’ll have to save a few and see if it works.

      I know your gardening season starts a lot earlier than up here in Wisconsin, but it seems so early! You’ll just have to live through other blogs, I guess!

      • I feel like we have an advantage, in the gardening blog world that is. Kinda like New Hampshire and Iowa in the primary season!

        Still pretty hot now, but my new style garden prep is more lasagna layering (hedge trimmings, grass clippings, shredded prunings, etc.) than tilling, which is considerably less work. Consider that I have to do all those other chores anyway. Heavy mulch to hold the water and temp in the soil is key — I could never have done that with the tiller.

        Our season is much longer than yours. It’s not unlikely that we can be growing something 12 months out of the year.

      • Very jealous about growing something all year long. The only thing that gets bigger here in the winter is the snowbanks. Well, not always, but it seems like it!

      • BTW, Julie, I’ve nominated your blog for another award. I know that we just now found each other, but your blog is just awesome! Thanks and keep it up. Get your sunshine here (http://wp.me/p28k6D-yf).

      • Thanks for the nomination Shannon, I appreciate it. The blogging is fun, but an unexpected find is the fellow garden bloggers (like you!) I’ve met. Both are equally enjoyable!

  3. Posted by Cindy on July 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Amazing, what a month brings, when you see the pictures together

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