Late summer in the vegetable garden

Today I did the third round of planting in the vegetable garden – lettuces and broccoli which should germinate easily in the warm soil and continue to grow as the temperatures fall.  By the time they are finished, it will be time to plant the tulips again!  I love having a four-season garden.  The blueberry bushes add great fall color and winter structure, the tulips color up the early spring, and the summer yields so many vegetables that I get to share the bounty.  Plus, the white picket fence, rose bushes, pink Veronica and other plantings look so charming that the garden is always a visual feast!

I borrowed the idea of planting tulip bulbs in the vegetable garden from White Flower Farm,and it worked great!  No critters ate the bulbs, so I got a full season of beautiful cut flowers, and then pulled the bulbs after flowering was finished.  Double planting the garlic also worked well – bulbs went in in September and garlic was ready to harvest in late June.  But there was so much of it, so I’m not sure I’ll do it again.

Some other good successes in the vegetable garden this year as well.  To begin,  I eliminated the things that did not work last year – no melons (bugs ate them), no zucchini (t0ok up too much room).  For herbs, I planted rosemary, peppermint (buried in a pot, of course!), sage and dill.  They all grew lush and happy.  In fact, the dill was so happy that it attracted a population of black swallowtail caterpillars (note to self, dill goes in a pot on the deck next year!).  Lettuce and Swiss Chard were also happy, although the peas did not do so well.  I picked all the carrots way too small, and the beets got leafy but no roots.

For tomatoes, I planted three varieties – Sungold and Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes from White Flower Farm, and Jersey tomatoes from a local farm market.  Some lessons learned:  a) the Sungold fruit up early and prolifically, but they are a bit tart; b) the Gardener’s Delight are yummy but they fruit up late and not so heavily; c) space the plants further apart and use tomato ladders – it’s quite the jungle out there at this point in the summer.  Also, the swallowtail caterpillars ate a bunch of the tomatoes, so really, no more dill in the main garden.

French filet green beans went in in July – only a few plants germinated, but the beans were delicious.  Next year, I will skip the peas, carrots and broccoli, and go right to the beans in June for a longer season.  The cucumbers were the biggest success – Emir Prolific variety.  Indeed they were prolific and tender.

I’ve had some success keeping bugs away by interplanting planting marigolds and nasturiums with the vegetables.  The nasturiums really took over though, so I’ll stick to just a small patch or two next year.  The marigolds took a really long time to bloom, so next year I will start them early in cell packs and transplant later on.

Over the next couple of weeks, it will be time to clean out the spent plants, and add compost to prepare the soil for next season.  Even though it’s a messy chore, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the results next year.  In gardening, as in life, everything is a cycle.

I posted last year’s photos of the vegetable garden on hgtv.com.  Here is the link:

http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/Gardens/Cottage-Style-Vegetable-Garden/detail.esi?oid=15651876

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