Saturday, July 11, 2009

July Garden

I'll start with herbs. The truth? I like them for their color and scent in the garden and am usually happy to just let them flower and go to seed. I will pick and slice some basil leaves onto a pizza or pasta dish occasionally, but otherwise, I never really grow enough of anything to do much with, such as make pesto. I do have a perennial sage plant, which we have picked and dried at the end of the season; in fact I still have most of last year's harvest. Above is a cilantro plant going wildly into flower. It's lacy and pretty and I imagine the bees and butterflies like it. Good enough.

This purple basil has been a very pretty and hardy addition this year. Note the tiny volunteer tomato plant in front of it; these are springing up everywhere from the seeds of last year's fruits left to drop and rot in the garden. We had a lot of split tomatoes last year, resulting in fewer eaten and more left to reseed themselves. I pull most of the volunteers up, but occasionally I let one see what it can make of itself.

Above is a low-growing lemon thyme, which I almost lost track of when I put down the straw mulch. A few days later I remembered it and had to dig around to find it again. I don't know that I've ever used fresh thyme in anything; I'll have to look for recipes.

Above: Wall o' tomato plants in the background, herbs and perennial, grow-like-a-weed daisies in front. I don't like to mow them, so they just pop up out of the lawn; we often also have yarrow doing the same as summer goes on. June's slow start was followed by a burst of growth at the end of the month, as a week of heat and humidity gave the tomatoes exactly what they had been waiting for. The plants seemed to grow an inch a day, if not more, and the two-foot-tall plants of June 23 are now well over four feet tall and lush with foliage, flowers, and at least on some plants, small green tomatoes.

Above: Sungold cherry tomatoes developing. This plant is the most advanced of my nine tomato plants (seven varieties) in terms of fruit production; it probably gets the best early-day sun of any of them, being on the east end of the row. One on the far western end barely seems even to have any flowers yet, though the plant is big and bushy. I think the cherry varieties do tend to be earlier producers than the large-fruit types.

Above: a kneeling view looking up at the tomatoes for Dramatic Effect; in the foreground are two kale plants (out of four originally) that survived early rabbit depredation to come back with some vigor. I haven't grown kale before, but I suspect I should harvest it fairly soon.

Above: the kale plants again.

Above: tomato flower (neighbor's garden with bean plants peeking through beyond my tomatoes).

Above: A couple of squash plants gaining some size, but no flowers yet. I forget if these are the zucchini or the yellow squash. I also have some cucumbers that I should provide supports for - they have always grown well for me when trained up a tomato tower or other staking/trellising system. The cucumbers hang down which helps them say straight and avoid picking up insects or rot from contact with the ground.

So, it's getting to the really fun time of year, where soon I will be able to go out and pick dinner. Or at least bits of dinner. Can't wait to be eating cherry tomatoes like candy!
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