July: Monthly Review

East half of potager at July’s end

Another month has passed, as quickly as the prior ones during this gardening season. It’s apparent that the greens of spring have been toned with touches of browns and yellow, as the heat and dryness of July took it’s toll. However, it was a good month overall in the gardens because the potager’s impact in the kitchen skyrocketed with lots of new crops for the menu. It’s also a busy time, because the early crops begin coming out, and new plants and seeds go in, and harvesting takes more time. In the photo above, you can see winter squash “Orange Magic” beginning to fill the trellis that once held peas. You can’t really see it, but the wire fence sections that earlier protected the strawberry beds are now cages for the tall “Country Taste” tomatoes. Sadly, the nasturtiums surrounding those tomatoes have decided to take a sabbatical due to the heat, but after this photo was taken, I gave them a clip and a good watering with diluted fertilizer, so they will be filled with flowers again once the weather cools a bit. In the background, the melon vines are climbing to the top of the trellises. The first Melon was later this year, a “Minnesota Midget” of course, picked July 28th. It was a combination of my fault seeding late, and then the weather, but now they are coming on fast and furious. Fortunately, there’s no trouble finding them new homes, unlike the zucchini.

part of potager’s west half…

The triangle beds around the metal bee skep have had a bit of redo, as the violas breathed their last in the heat, and were replaced by small “Spicy Globe” basils. The calendulas were given a hard cut-back, so they will return later on as well. All of the tomato plants are just loaded with fruit, which is a nice contrast to early on last year. There’s already been lots of picking, with the promise of a bountiful August.

grape tomato “Juliet”

“Juliet” was one of the first “from seed” grape tomatoes. Personally, I would call it a mini “Roma” because they are large for a “grape” tomato, generally around 2″ plus long and a good 1-1 1/2″ across. But, D likes them, so I grow them in abundance. I prefer the “Sun Sugar.”

The Cutting Garden is getting crowded!

Despite the efforts of the bunnies, the Cutting Garden is filled with color. The yarrows and larkspur are nearly finished, but the celosias and zinnias are going strong, and the gomphrena and asters are pretty. I still haven’t had to cut any flowers from the official CG, because the wind keeps providing me with material.

The backside of the Front Island.

See those downed rudbeckia? They became a bouquet as soon as I saw them lying on the ground. This has been happening a lot in various exposed spots, with a variety of flowers. Do notice the “Gold Wizard” coleus, which was grown from seed to brighten up the Front Island. Next year I’ll start them a bit earlier, but I’ve been very happy with them, especially in light shade. July was also “Daylily Month.” As you can see, the daylilies are nearly finished, but they filled July with color and were a delight.

July is Blackberry Month as well!

The netting was put on the blackberries just in time, and although there aren’t buckets of berries, there are boxes, which is fine with me. Blackberry scones and roast pork with blackberry-sage sauce have been on the menu, and I think a crumble is next.

A new rose in the Deck Garden.

The roses really did well in July, although all was not “roses and cake” because July was also Japanese beetle month and tomato hornworm month and flea beetle month and squash borer month…..

For the numbers: Total harvest for July 2020 was 192.75 lbs. That’s better than incredibly wet 2019, but less than 2017 and 2018 because the weighty tomatoes and melons are coming in later than in those years. Every year is a bit different, but I’m pleased with this month’s harvest for it’s variety and quality.

The number of varieties planted in the potager rose from 82 to 109, with the bulk of the “fall” crops now in the ground. As the peas, shallots, garlic and onions came out lots of new crops could go in, which helps keep gardening interesting.

Preserving: In my stated goal of lessening the glut and using more produce from the potager fresh, I’m only preserving the items we need, rather than frantically filling all my jars with things that already fill the pantry and freezer shelves. I want to use up the past two year’s preserving, so this month only sauerkraut and dill pickles were preserved.

So that was July…record heat and dryness, but overall still good, which was a huge blessing, because with the virus continuing to spread rather than diminish, all the problems world-wide politically and economic, and all fun events cancelled, the was peace and happiness to be found in the potager.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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14 Responses to July: Monthly Review

  1. Jo Shafer says:

    Thank you, Carolee, for your July “journal entry,” I’ll call it. I know all about the serenity that comes from puttering in the garden. Since I strained my back a couple of weeks ago, I cannot do much, although I’m naughty enough to try anyway. In my own potager, I can sit down on a little wobbly canvas fold-up bench. More that once I’ve toppled over into a lemon balm bush!

    Yes, late July triple-digits really did a number on my gardens, especially in the perennial beds. The herbs, of course, thrived in the heat, and the hanging baskets are not making a quick comeback. Squash and cucumber plants are lovely but produce no fruit. Oh well, they were an experiment. On the other hand, six Brandywine tomatoes are ladies-in-waiting to Miss Queen Bee. Me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carolee, though I have no green thumb, I vicariously enjoy the delights of your garden. It reminds me of my grandmother and my father, who were excellent gardeners! All the best! Cheryl


  3. Lauren says:

    I really enjoy the analysis you do on your month in review posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathleen Jae says:

    Very interesting post! I would love to have a potager garden, complete with enclosure and pavers. Mine is comprised of raised beds built on 4 large benches that lined our deck. Close to the door, but more utilitarian in structure. Yours is beautiful!


  5. March Picker says:

    Carolee, you are amazing! I am wowed by your garden’s productivity — 192 pounds in July! You inspire me. I agree that it’s important to take stock of what’s already preserved (and note which items go super slowly) before spending time and effort setting up more. The busiest months for preserving are ahead, and we need to “preserve” our strength and enthusiasm, too! 🙂


  6. Jo Shafer says:

    CORRECTION: ” . . . and the hanging baskets are NOW making . . .”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful as always, and I’m stunned by how productive your garden is! Would you mind sharing your blackberry and sage sauce recipe please? We go blackberrying every summer (February here) and collect buckets full of wild blackberries for jams and jellies and pies, but I’ve never used with them with meat before.


  8. veggiewhatnow says:

    Even just looking at your lovely photos brings comfort in these trying times.


  9. juliejdonaldson says:

    Everything looks lush, bountiful and lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ohhh! Thx for the reminder-I forgot about cutting back my Calendula! And I learned something new about Nasturtiums…I’ll cut those back a bit and see how they do! As everyone else here, I enjoy reading your updates and always learn something new. Thank you!


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