It’s officially summer now in North Carolina. The longest day of the year has come and gone – the beginning of the true heat and humidity that makes living in the South such a sweaty experience, especially if you’re doing any gardening outside.
But with the heat comes the harvest. The squash and the cucumbers. The tomatoes. The canning. Summer has become my favorite time of the year simply because of the food. It seems like just about everyone around here has a garden they love to talk about, and usually they like to share their harvest with others. Almost everyone in my family has a garden of their own and sends vegetables our way as they come in. We share our vegetables with others in our family who don’t have gardens of their own. The summer months bring everyone together in that way. And there’s nothing better than throwing some fresh vegetables from your own garden on the grill for dinner.
I’m pleased to report that our garden is doing rather well this year. The weather has been decent – plenty of rain, but enough sunshine to keep the garden from rotting. For the first few weeks, our plants didn’t seem to want to grow. It took the tomatoes and squash a while to establish their roots and begin growing upward. Our squash and cucumber plants continue to be small, but they seem healthy and are producing some. And the green beans are quickly taking over their trellis.
I think the reason our garden took a while to establish is because we didn’t loosen up the soil enough. We turned the dirt over twice before planting. But the second time, instead of borrowing my dad’s much more efficient tiller, we used another tiller that doesn’t do the job quite as well. I think the roots had some compact soil to deal with, and it took them a while to work their way down. But now that they have, I’m quite impressed with how everything is progressing.
We’ve done only minimal fertilizing. Definitely could do a bit more weeding. I think my husband and I tend to be lazy gardeners. Now that everything is growing well, we don’t tend to spend much time out in the garden other than to gather the vegetables as they come in. Of course, we check on it often to make sure we haven’t been invaded with squash bugs or some other pest.
Hopefully, we won’t have too much of a problem with deer eating the tomatoes this year. This has definitely been a problem in the past. I believe the only solution really is to fence in the garden. Fencing it in would also keep our pesky chickens out – worst offenders sometimes for devouring our tomatoes. But putting up a fence sounds like a lot of work. So for now, we’re just crossing our fingers that all vegetable thieves will stay out, or at least minimize their indulgence.
Yeah, right. I’m sure the garden gods are laughing at me right now.
My next gardening update will be around the time that it’s time to start canning. Canning… is a lot of work. It’s one of those tasks I look forward to every year, but I sort of dread it at the same time. It’s a long process and can be tedious, but the end result is so worth it. If you’re interested in doing some canning yourself, be sure to check back in another month or two. I’ll be canning tomato sauce that I use in soup recipes. I’ll also, with the help of my husband, be canning some green beans with a pressure canner.
Thanks for reading! Share your gardening stories with me. How is your garden shaping up this year? Did you plant anything new and exciting?