August 2019 Garden Ramblings

It’s now September in my Concord, MI garden. I thought I’d ramble about our August garden happenings.

We have had relatively few pest problems since we butchered our meat birds. This year’s batch of meat birds were very creative in escaping from their fenced in pen (located in my garden; they rotate to different spots each year to aid in fertilizing) and they ate almost all of my spring garden. This year, they were my biggest pests!

It doesn’t help that this years spring was extremely wet, which made being able to do much in the garden a tough job on its own. We have had our usual run in with Japanese beetles, hornworms, squash bugs, and cabbage moths. We have had some hot periods this summer, but nothing too over the top. I try to keep track of all of these things in my garden planner, which helps me keep track of problems we have had, and successful methods of handling them. I took a walk through my garden and made note of a few things and started to think about crop rotation and where I would like to move some things.

I was happily surprised last month taking a walk through the garden to discover I actually did have cabbage growing (I thought the meat birds got them all), I had more zucchini growing than I realized (some zucchini seeds found their way into another squash bed that I wasn’t checking on a daily basis because the squash takes a lot longer to mature over there). Our church had a massive garage sale for missions and brought all of their cardboard boxes over to me. I use cardboard like crazy in the garden to help keep weeds at bay, so I happily accepted them this year and last. A tree service was doing a lot of local work over the past couple of weeks and we became their drop spot for all the trucks they had working in the area. They were very grateful to have an easy spot to drop unlimited loads (yes, I did tell them they can drop it all here) and I was simply giddy to have so much mulch. We are in the process of turning many of my in-ground beds into no-till beds and we use a lot of mulch. I am very, very thankful!

This month I have harvested my onions (red, white and yellow), pulled some carrots, enjoyed some cherry tomatoes, continued to harvest broccoli (after the head forms and you harvest it, don’t pull the whole plant – smaller offshoots will develop – they are like pre-cut florets! Perfect size to pick and eat without having to cut smaller), cabbage, celery, acorn squash, zucchini, summer squash, okra, spaghetti squash, and herbs. The bigger tomatoes just started to turn towards the end of the month and I have begun processing them. I’m sure I am forgetting something, I always do.

I am anxiously awaiting another round of green beans, the winter squash are still growing. On the to -do list include harvesting herbs to dehydrate for use over the winter, harvesting more celery for the freezer, freezing zucchini, and turning tomatoes into various canned forms. Tomatoes are one of those things that we do a whole lot of. Last year I grew over 600 plants. After canning, eating fresh (I have 8 kids, most of them love snacking on tomatoes), and sharing with others, we canned a grand total of 495 jars of various tomato products alone. It was awesome. This year, thanks to the cold, wet weather my transplants didn’t do as well as I had hoped they would, but we do have a few hundred plants out there looking beautiful.

Fall garden prep will be going here in a bit. This year really got away from me with the late spring planting and the pile up of farm projects that resulted. Last year my garden had so much going on, and I put it all in 8-9 months pregnant and kept it in the best shape of its life despite a newborn. It was just beautiful! This year that newborn is mobile and kids are busier and having to try to plan my time in the garden around kids and all the wet weather really slowed me down. I am rather surprised, but sometimes that happens. Mama said there’d be days like this… I am convinced next year will be better, and we started our homeschool year back a couple of weeks ago with the intent of being done by or in April so that I have time to get my garden in. Because I have convinced myself it won’t be so wet. When the ground is as wet as it was, you really don’t want to be out there doing projects and planting because it will compress the soil, leading to further problems later.

One area of new changes in the garden is the side closest to the road. We call that the Roadside Garden. Originally my garden was divided by fence into three sections. The first garden was what is now the spring garden. I added on to that to the north – the Roadside Garden, then I added to the south of the spring garden and we call that the Summer Garden. In the Roadside Garden I am building some no-till beds, completely redid the raspberry trellis (and now I need new raspberries to go there, I pulled the old ones out and started completely over), and am trying to solararize a small plot for next years corn. We had meat birds in this area this year, so this spot of the garden had a rest and manure, and the meat birds area has been moved to a new area for next year. There is still plenty of work to be done, but in the area of the new beds I cut the grass low, laid cardboard, topped with a few inches of compost, and now I am using my favorite hoe to remove the little weeds that are starting to pop up. After a good frost I plan to lay mulch and -ideally- these beds will be ready to go with little to no prep work next season. The cardboard should break down and there should be plenty of earthworms and good garden buddies crawling around in the bed, and the mulch should suppress weeds.

September should continue to be a good harvesting month, hopefully I will finish the new-till beds in the Roadside Garden and begin the process of clearing and refreshing beds for next year as the harvest is collected.

What have you been doing in your garden?? What are you harvesting?

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