Now that we’re in the middle of summer, it is peak garden harvest season around here. As much as there is a lot of excitement early in the spring when the first edibles are ready to pick, there’s a deep satisfaction this time of year when there is enough ripe to make a significant impact on the fruits and vegetables we eat.
While the garden is still not large enough to take care of all of our needs this time of year, we get enough to supplement our meals every day and share with friends and neighbors as well. When I first started gardening, I could only have imagined that someday my garden would look like it does now.
I definitely have dreams of what it might be like to have acres of my own to put to work, but our small slice of land is enough to do quite a lot with. Our property is a quarter acre, but because our backyard is shaded by evergreen trees year round, only the front yard is usable for most edibles.
All in all, only about a tenth of an acre is open and gets enough sun to grow food, and half of that is still in lawn to have a place for the kiddo and his friends to play. When I break it down that way, I’m impressed by how much we can grow in an ultimately very small space.
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Since the summer has been generally cooler this year, we’ve just harvested the last of the snap peas now. Peas like cool weather and usually fade out by June, but the extra rain and cooler days kept them going for longer. There are a few left on the plants now, but I’m leaving them to dry out so I can save the seeds to plant next year.
Since I’ve started saving quite a few of the seeds from the plants I grow, my garden costs have dropped even more, barring the construction of new raised beds. Beyond that, it makes us a little more self sufficient and reduces the waste and transportation costs of always buying new seeds.
The celery and leeks are flowering and going to seed now as well, but I’ve never tried growing them from seed before, so I’ll have to do some research before I attempt that. I have a decent amount know knowledge when it comes to gardening at this point, but I’ve done a lot of reading – and a lot of trial and error – over the years to get to where I’m at now. If you think you don’t have a green thumb, spend some time reading and doing and you’ll be amazed at what you can actually grow in time.
I erred on the side of growing way fewer green beans this year because I’m the only one in our house that eats them, but I could have grown twice as many plants as I did. Putting this here as a reminder to myself to double this next year. Still, I would rather plant too little of something than too much, because I know it won’t go to waste.
We are also harvesting carrots, cherry tomatoes (the big ones are still all green), herbs, potatoes, blueberries, and garlic. The garlic scapes left have started to sprout bulbils, but they are really edible at any stage. Since we planted so many (and had many more volunteers beyond that), I’m not too concerned with having enough to dry out as full bulbs.
Our neighbor also has a plum tree that borders our two yards, and this year is a bumper crop year. He told us to eat as many as we like since there are well more than they will consume, and I’ve taken him up on the offer like I have in past years. They are the best tasting plums, and I can’t get enough of them.
The downside of the cooler start to summer is that plants that would have normally ripened by now aren’t quite there yet, like my large tomatoes. I’m also growing cucumbers, squash, peppers, hazelnuts, zucchini, hops, and corn, but none of them are ready to harvest quite yet.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t actually have that many different varieties of plants this year, but listing everything out here clearly shows that isn’t quite right. And again, I may not be growing as many things as previous years, but I’ve focused on the things we will eat and in manageable quantities. Of course, those quantities include plenty to share with friends and neighbors, because one of my favorite things to do is give away produce I’ve grown to the people I care about.
After the very expensive month of May in terms of gardening costs since we added two new raised beds, we didn’t spent anything in June. Even watering was negligible since we ended up with so much more rain than we’ve been used to in receiving summers. Plus, we pay this bill every other month, so both months were paid at the end of July.
July I purchased some fertilizer (specifically a large bag of Jobe’s Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer and Alaska Fish Fertilizer, which came to $34.08. July started to get warmer, and if I calculate based on our April water bill, we spent an additional $14.74 for June and July.
We pay attention to the forecast and don’t water if rain is expected, and then water heavily to fully soak the beds and then them dry out before we water again. On top of that, I mulch the beds to reduce evaporation (though I could definitely do a better job here) and water in late evening after the heat of the day and the sun has gone behind the trees. We still pay for and use water this time of year, but significantly less so than if we weren’t being intentional about it.
Total costs, year to date:
Garden Cost, January: $0.00
Garden Cost, February: $36.61
Garden Cost, March: $0.00
Garden Cost, April: $0.00
Garden Cost, May: $434.39
Garden Cost, June: $0
Garden Cost, July: $48.82
Garden Cost, YTD: $519.82
Garden Cost, 2018: $169.64
Wanting to grow your own garden, but don’t know where to start? Have a small one but still feel like you have a lot to learn? Just love reading and consuming more garden content? Here are some of my very favorite resources that I’ve used over the years to expand and deepen my knowledge of gardening. Without them, my garden wouldn’t looking nearly as awesome as it does now.
- Carrots Love Tomatoes
- Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest: Cool Season Crops for the Year-Round Gardener
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
- Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
- The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook
- The Backyard Gardener
- The Backyard Homestead
- And Animal Vegetable Miracle to get even more excited about growing your own food.
My biggest suggestion here is to find local blogs. Planting times and what grows best varies significantly based on your area, so finding a few great bloggers for your specific area is really helpful. Since I’m in the Pacific Northwest, some of my blog suggestions are local, but there are also some really inspiring ones that aren’t.
- Flutter & Hum
- The Prairie Homestead (Wyoming, but an absolutely fabulous resource for all things homesteading)
- The Prudent Homemaker
- Northwest Edible Life (Month specific checklists and guides on when to plant – not updated these days, but I find myself going back to her checklists often)
- One Hundred Dollars a Month (she moved to the Northeast a couple years ago so this is no longer local PNW advice, but she’s still great)
- Mother Earth News Companion Planting Guide
- My favorite plant rotation chart
- weekends with Sarah
- midnightsfarm (where we buy our beef!)
- mavisbutterfield (writes at the aforementioned One Hundred Dollars a Month)
30 thoughts on “Summer Garden Update: August 2019”
You’re an awesome gardener. Mrs. RB40 is trying, but she’s not having much success this year. We only have one raised bed and the front yard area. This year is mostly devoted to cleaning up. Next year, we’ll plant more. I’m not a big gardener, but I’ll help by picking up supplies. 🙂
Well, if she ever had any questions, feel free to send them my way!
Angela – do you grow anything indoors? We had moderate luck with outdoor gardening in previous years but now in Wyoming we have such a short growing season that I’m leaning towards just indoor herbs.
Nope! But we don’t get very much sunlight indoors so not a lot would grow well inside without some intense grow lights.
You are very lucky! A deer (or two?) jumped our fence into our garden and ate ALL of our blueberries and apples. Every. Single. One. And knocked the fence over on their way out . . .
Booooo 🙁 I have a full container for you tomorrow though, never fear!
Your produce looks so lovely! I didn’t take advantage of my mom’s gardening interest while growing up, and she mainly only grew flowers anyway. So I will need to do a lot of research, plus trial and error, to get anything growing around here. I hear this part of KY is not the greatest for gardens, but I know it can be done. The previous owners had a garden in what is likely the flattest and sunniest part of the property, so we will probably just try and stick to that area when we do get around to it. Right now figuring out our work situations and getting the kiddos settled into school are the top priorities, but eventually, we hope to grow at least a small crop of veggies for ourselves. Who knows, maybe doing the work ourselves will give our younger son the motivation to try some new and healthy foods! (Does your kiddo like to help in the gardening process?)
Lots of trial and error. You will get better with time 🙂 And the kiddo loves to help in the garden – and to eat the produce once it’s ready. He’s obsessed with pulling and eating carrots right now.
I’m jealous of those blueberries!!! We put in a bush this year, but we’ll be lucky if we get more than a handful. Thank you for all of the recommendations. I added to the reading list spreadsheet and the bookmark list, ha!
They take a number of years to get going, but they are WELL worth the wait!
You keep talking about visiting here but heck no, I’m coming your way for garden bounty !
You are welcome any time! 😄
So jealous! We moved earlier in the year and didn’t find the time to get our garden growing like we had at our old house. Very inspirational for next season though!
Where do you live? Any chance for a fall/winter garden?
I got hungry just by reading this post. We’ve actually had some decent success with out garden this year. Recently, we’ve been able to harvest eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and figs. And our bananas are close to being ready. We had some of the figs sitting on our counter, and one night I found a cockroach sucking on the fig. So that was definitely not a pretty sight to see! Dragon Gal’s parents live down the street from us now and they have been a big help in watering and harvesting things when we get too busy.
For whatever reason, my eggplant didn’t sprout this year. Very sad, but I also don’t plant a lot of it because I’m the only one who will eat it.
Looks delicious. This is making me miss my Seattle garden, which had a plum tree and delicious raspberries. I didn’t have a tremendous amount of luck gardening, but one year I did grow some lettuce. Aaand I planted the seeds directly in the ground on a day when it rained. So all of the lettuce grew at the very edge of the bed. It was still quite tasty though.
We get enough sun here that I worry plants would scorch in the sun/temps, so I don’t really bother. Also, the earth is incredibly hard-packed so digging in would be a bear. But maybe one of these years I should at least give it a shot, planting some strawberries or something else delicious. (And yes, I know it takes a couple of years for strawberries to do much. So I’d just have to protect them from the small dog in the guest house for a year or two.)
I bet you could find a local garden blogger with some information for your area! Maybe some kind of citrus trees could do well because it’s so hot.
Those snap peas remind me of summer. I’ll have to go get some the next time I’m out.
And those plums! Baby AF’s favorite right now.
Everything looks great!
The plums are even better than they look 🙂
Always so jealous! Our balcony garden has been a bigger struggle this year, but we’re still working on it lol. At least the girls love the cherry tomatoes! And I do have fun giving away the herbs that grow so easily!
Gardening definitely gets easier as the years go by (and the kiddos get older. Ha)
So like, this year, the garden at our place is going NUTS. But we cheated and bought plants at the local nursery. Still, it’s nice to get cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and red peppers practically on demand during our 4 week growing season in Minnesota.
Insult to injury – we had to use our compost to recover the lawn from a grub infestation. It was supposed to be used for the garden, darn it…
Btw – Nice plums!!
Hey, I don’t feel that’s cheating! I did a LOT of buying of starts in my early garden years. And you’re supporting a local business 🙂
Totally! We refuse to get our garden plants from HD. Lots of other things, granted, but not garden plants. 🙂
That’s a beautiful garden haul! We’re awaiting tomatoes, big and small, and tomatillos too. We planted late and with the cooler temperatures this summer, are also expecting smaller yields. Already harvested: a fair amount of beans, peas, raspberries, basil and chard. We have room for nut trees but are starting small with an in-ground bed. Keep us posted on how the hazelnuts do! And thanks for the NW gardening links. Definitely learning by trial and error here what to do differently next season.
PS. Do you plant a winter garden?
Trial and error (and a lot of reading) has been my gardening experience for sure! And this summer has definitely been an odd one for the garden with atypical weather.
Oh – and I’ve not been great at winter gardening so far, other than a few things that overwinter without the need of a cold frame, like carrots and kale. Definitely on my list of future goals for the garden!
Your garden sounds like it’s doing quite well, despite having cooler weather. That’s a lot of blueberries! I want to add blueberries to our garden at some point, but where I live there are tons of wild blueberries, so I haven’t grown them myself yet. Why waste space in the garden when I can go into the forest and pick them for free? Plus the wild ones just taste better. That’s so nice that your neighbor shares the plums with you. They look delicious.
That’s how I feel about blackberries! That reminds me… we really need to find a day to go pick some beyond just a few to snack on as we walk by.