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!
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!
The peppers and the tomatoes have also been a source of excitement.
Look how big this sweet banana pepper is?
We’ve got tomatoes beginning to blush.
And other tomatoes ready to pick (and some that got knocked off the vine by varmints).
Even tomatoes with silly shapes!
The basil is going nuts.
The okra that Cricket begged me to buy is getting tall and beginning to put out blossoms.
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).
I hand pollinated the beautiful baby ears to make sure they would be perfect.
And they were perfect. They were gorgeous. Some stalks even had double ears!
We had a storm issue where some of the corn fell over (this is called lodging).
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.
“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.
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.
A solitary tobacco horn worm that we disposed of with haste.
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!
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.