Garden Update July 2016

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

July was a month of incredible garden highs and crushing lows. This was the month that the garden started paying off in a huge way, which was exciting for all of us.

Cricket, especially, has been excited to finally start harvesting the fruits of her labor. She planted our beans for us this year, and she loved the chance to grow purple beans!

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

I was hoping she’d eat them, but alas. Her vegetable passion seems to extend only to growing them so far.

But I sure enjoyed them!

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

The peppers and the tomatoes have also been a source of excitement.

Look how big this sweet banana pepper is?

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

We’ve got tomatoes beginning to blush.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

And other tomatoes ready to pick (and some that got knocked off the vine by varmints).

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

Even tomatoes with silly shapes!

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

The basil is going nuts.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

The okra that Cricket begged me to buy is getting tall and beginning to put out blossoms.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

But the real source of joy was the sweet corn. The sweet corn was my crop. These were my plants. I squeezed 45 corn plants into my 2 foot x 6 foot bed, and it grew perfectly. I lavished love on it.

It grew tall and put out tassels! (That’s where the pollen is).

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

I hand pollinated the beautiful baby ears to make sure they would be perfect.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

And they were perfect. They were gorgeous. Some stalks even had double ears!

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

We had a storm issue where some of the corn fell over (this is called lodging).

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

But I propped it, staked it, and it recovered.

I was just about ready to harvest it. I even filmed a little video where I felt around on the corn and said, “I think it’s just about ready…”

I was going to harvest our first ears the very next day.

But when I woke up in the morning, disaster had struck. Raccoons. They ate every single ear, stripped them to the cobs. They left nothing.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

“That’s okay,” my husband said. “There are immature ears still growing. We just lost the first round. This is why you staggered planting. It’s going to be okay.”

But that night, the raccoons returned and stripped the rest of the ears, immature and all.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

The corn has been a total loss. There were only 2 ears that we were able to save and eat. I had no idea that one animal could be so destructive.

We’ve had other pests.

A few slugs.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

A solitary tobacco horn worm that we disposed of with haste.

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

But nothing has been quite as soul-crushing as the raccoon.

I tell myself that garden season has really just begun. There are weeks of harvesting ahead of us: tomatoes, more peppers, carrots, gorgeous herbs, but the loss of the corn really hit me hard.

I’ve got to keep looking forward, though. Tomato season is just getting into gear, and my vines are loaded with green tomatoes!

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

With gardening, there’s so much that’s outside of your control. It really puts into perspective for me what farmers deal with. A farmer I spoke to recently told me it is like planting dollar bills in the ground and praying they grow. Now, my little backyard garden is definitely not anything like a real farm, and I am not kidding myself that I can truly understand the feeling of risk farmers who rely on their crops to live really feel. But seeing just how fickle nature can be despite all the care you take helps give me just a glimpse of what farmers must go through on a daily basis. Wow. I sure am grateful to all the folks that grow my food!

July was a tough month, but I’m already looking ahead to the August harvest!

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Because of the work I do for Monsanto, I got the chance to take home some of the vegetable plants and seeds in my garden. I was not asked to write this post and all opinions are my own.

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What’s Happening in the Garden? June Update

In June, the garden really starts rocking. See what warm weather veggies are taking off and which cool weather vegetable need to be taken out.

Our vegetable garden has really taken off in the last month, and the kids, especially Cricket, have had a ball taking care of it.

We had a few setbacks. Judy Hopps, the rabbit living under our deck, paid our tomatoes a visit one night and snipped off all the leaves.

Rabbit damage to garden Tomatoes

This was a hard blow because I grow paste tomatoes exclusively for canning my homemade pizza sauce at the end of the year, and most big box stores only sell slicing and cherry tomatoes. My husband called all over town to find a nursery that sells paste tomatoes and surprised me with them one afternoon after work. That’s love!

They new tomato plants are growing well. They’re getting tall and all of them have produced flowers.

garden tomato flowers

Some of them already have green tomatoes!

garden green tomatoes

We re-planted the strawberries this year to a different spot in hopes of containing their aggressive spreading a bit more easily. I hope the paper mulch I put down will keep them under better control. They got super invasive the last two years! We’ve already had a delicious round of berries, and we’re hoping the next crop comes in soon.

Spring Square Foot Garden strawberries

Cricket discovered pickled okra this year, so she decided that we had to plant some of that. I’ve never grown okra before, so it should be interesting to see what comes up. I remember as a kid having to avoid the okra in my dad’s garden because of how spiny it is.

Square Foot Garden Okra

 

Check out this huge pepper!

garden pepper sweet sunset

I kid you not, this beauty is 10 inches long! It looks like a hot pepper, but it’s really sweet. It’s almost ready to harvest. Once it blushes, I’ll pick it. I can’t wait to taste it!

We also grew broccoli. Briefly. Until the caterpillars got into it. I have never been able to grow brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.). The worms here are just too bad.

broccoli caterpillars garden pest

I ended up just pulling it out, chopping it up, and composting it. At least it will give back to the garden in that way.

By far, our most exciting crop has been the sweet corn! I had always thought that it was impossible to grow corn in a small space, but I decided that since we had an empty bed due to crop rotation, that we could give it a try.

square foot garden corn

Since I planted it, it has really grown!

square foot garden corn 2

I had some problems with the stalks getting yellow, but a good dose of Miracle Grow vegetable fertilizer seems to have solved that!

I can’t wait to eat fresh, warm from the sun, sweet corn this year! It truly is a family favorite!

Of course, I’ve also included some plants for the butterflies. This is echinacea purpurea, a Missouri native I got last year at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House plant sale.

garden echinacea pollinator

Echinacea (also called Coneflower according to my mother) is not only great for butterflies, but in the winter, the dried seed heads provide an important food source for hungry birds!

I love growing food for my family, and I love teaching the girls where their food comes from. This garden season has been the most fun yet!

 

Love this post? Don’t want to miss a thing? Click here to get Two Little Grasshoppers right in your inbox!

Because of the work I do for Monsanto, I got the chance to take home some of the vegetable plants and seeds in my garden. I was not asked to write this post and all opinions are my own.