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.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
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:
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.
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.