June was a month of huge progress in the potager, although it is still hard for me to believe that it has been a full month since the May review! First of all, all those luscious rows of peas have been picked multiple times; the peas shelled or preserved. There should be enough in the freezer to last the winter. Where peas were cut off (I cut them rather than pull so those nitrogen fixing roots remain to enrich the soil) are now emerging beans, as seen on the left in this photo: or newly seeded carrots, beets, or more cipollini plants. (I seed those continually every two weeks all summer and early fall.) And, the June-bearing strawberries are either devoured or in the freezer. There weren’t many black raspberries because of too much rain when they flowered, but the black berries are filled with promise. An obvious change in the potager since last month is the garlic, which has gone from stately green spires to ugly browning. The scapes have been harvested and enjoyed in hummus, salad dressings, pestos, stir-fry, and lots more. I’ll start digging and braiding the garlic soon. The first 3 shallot braids are already hanging to cure in the Lady Cottage. There’s lots, lots more braiding in my future. The radishes are all gone, a few bolted in the heat, as did the later spinach, arugula, and some of the lettuces, but we had more than enough to enjoy. I’m allowing some of the lettuces to flower and set seed, like this almost black, self-seeded one from last season. I planted peppers around it and when the new lettuce seedlings emerge it should be quite pretty and no doubt the seedlings will enjoy the shade of the pepper plants. And there are still plenty of lettuces like this Black-Seeded Simpson, which will be wilted with a bit of shallot since it is beginning to bolt. It’s just so pretty. I will miss it when it is gone. There are also many heads of “Tom Thumb” and “Little Gem,” which D prefers because he likes the crunch, and two or three other varieties that have held up to the heat better. Not all the beans are just emerging, in fact we’ve already had 4 pickings of Royal Burgundy beans (my favorite)…3 of the first planting shown here and yesterday the first picking of the second planting with onions down the center to help deter bean beetles, which will be abundant soon. (Sigh!) The third bush bean planting is “Strike” which are just setting baby beans and will be a “regular” green bean. You can see that the bean beetles have already found them, and seem to prefer green plants over the purple, another reason I love Royal Burgundy. The next planting is Top Crop shown emerging in the second photo at the beginning of this post, and the newest planting (as of yesterday, so not much to show there!) is “Provider.” There is also a small planting of “Kentucky Blue Wonder Pole Bean,” which is nice to have just case you happen to be between bush bean crops and need a handful of beans immediately (It could happen!) We’ve had one delicious meal of those. There is still one last picking of fava beans. I won’t show them here, but you can see them in the “Fava Update” post.
I’m most excited about the melon crop which looks very promising. You may recall that last year’s harvest was poorly timed, with nearly all the melons ripening at once…far more than we could enjoy, so most were given away. This year maybe I have it right, because the first melons, Minnesota Midgets are already baseball-sized! Hurrah! Each vine already has 3-4 fruits developing, so it should be a good crop. The second batch of Minn Midgets were just seeded earlier this week, so they should be ready just after the “Sugar Cubes,” “Tasty Bites,” and “Green Nutmeg” which are in various stages of growth and flowering. For watermelons, I’m trying Mini-Love and Gold Crown and the first marble-sized fruit has appeared. We’ve already begun harvesting peppers, mostly New Ace sweet peppers, which I find to be quick-growing and quick to set fruit even in marginal weather. (It has been over 90 some days, and then cool and wet others with nights in the 40’s.) The Red Sweet Cherry peppers are really going gangbusters, so it looks like I’ll have lots to stuff for appetizer trays over the summer and enough to can as well. I doubled the number of plants from last year. and the Alma Paprika peppers are setting fruit well.
Most of the other peppers are doing okay, but their fruit is small, and actually, how many pepper plants do you really want to look at anyway? And, I’d have to go get my map and figure out which pepper is who, and we both have better things to do! So on to cabbages, which have not been harvested yet, but will be before the next month’s review because most are heading nicely. There’s the fancy Alcosa Savoy cabbage and Primero Red Cabbages
and miniature Gonzales cabbages Sorry about that rain-drop on the lens but you can squint and ignore it. We loved the Gonzales last year because 1 mini head is just enough slaw or whatever for the two of us. The broccoli has me worried because it isn’t forming heads. Three medium-sized heads were harvested weeks ago, but none of the other plants (and there are three groups) are even hinting at heading. Fortunately, the kohlrabi have been tasty, and I’m hoping all three plantings form bulbs before it turns really hot again. The cauliflower has been about what I expected, smallish heads that are a bit stronger than store-bought, but it is still tasty roasted or made into Curry (ala “Cook This Not That”.) It really needs a lot of aged rabbit manure and cooler weather to grow quick and lush. Maybe next year…. Kale is still on the menu frequently, as have been scallions, and other various onions, but so far no potatoes or tomatoes, although the tomatoes look like they will be abundant because the “Season Starter” and “Polbig” are loaded with fruits, as are the “La Romas” and the Sungold Cherry: and the Indigo Cherry: No worry…I won’t show you all the other tomatoes because green is green, and we’ll just have to wait for technicolor. Another crop that is doing better than last year is the celery. Last year’s attempt was “Red Venture,” which we thought was tough, bitter, and strong with very thin stalks that made no attempt to form a bunch. This year it’s “Golden Self-Blanching” and I’m already much happier because the stalks are thicker and definitely forming a bunch. I’m giving it more water (and it’s been a wet May and June) so that may be helping as well. Many of the herbs have enjoyed the rains, like the basils and this dill which is heading. That’s good because the cucumbers are already abundant. If I hadn’t had such a busy schedule this week, I could have made some pickles, but instead I gave away a bag of cukes so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty that I didn’t. I also gave away some summer squash, but I kept this Ronde de Nice because I love them. I won’t be sharing any okra either, because it rarely even makes it to the house. So far, I’ve filched 2 pods, but there are many more flowers now that it’s getting warmer. I just seeded some “Red Candlesticks” because I got the seed at a recent GWA Regional gathering, and I’m gambling that it will be quick enough to produce a harvest before frost.
So, that’s the June review. The potager harvest is in early stages, but over 60 pounds of produce has already been weighed in, not as many as some of you report, but I’m satisfied. I’ve had so very much fun this past month, planting, picking, making elderflower syrup, grazing on fresh greens and baby veggies as I play (and those DIDN’T get weighed in!!!) While surrounding gardens went underwater during heavy rains, the potager raised beds remained happy. Newly mulched paths and the stoned lavender slope made me happy. It was a good month. I hope you felt the same.