At the end of July, our garden’s results are mixed. I was thrilled with our hollyhocks: this was the first year we got them to flower. The flowers in general have done OK. The vegetables, however, are much more of a mixed bag.
There have been some good surprises, like the red and yellow cherry tomatoes, three or four plants that sprouted
unbidden. Perhaps their seeds were intermixed in the packages of Amish Paste and Black from Tula tomatoes I ordered from Seed Savers; otherwise the seeds might have been in our compost. Either way around, our daughter enjoys plucking ripe cherry tomatoes from the vine as an after-school snack. The garlic I planted last October is drying in the garage. Carrots and basil also look to be doing OK, although basil isn’t as prolific this year as it’s been in years past. Beets, which were an abject failure last year, are coming along nicely.
The two tomato varieties noted above are perplexing. I expected them to thrive with this summer’s hot weather. The plants are leafy enough and look healthy. But most of them have only two or three hard green fruits, and each has a good half-dozen flowers that have just dried up. It’s not lack of water: if we don’t get rain, I get liberal with the hose. Right now it looks like my dream of sun-dried tomato paste is drying up.
Kale, which was prolific last year, is languishing. The plants haven’t gotten at all big. By this time last year, we could eat kale twice a week. My best guess now is that July’s unseasonable heat has damaged these plants; kale especially likes cool weather.
The other cause might be a garden too densely planted for its own good. I’d applied for one of Morris County’s community garden plots, with the intention of putting all my root vegetables there. This would have doubled our arable land, but we were turned down. Instead, I planted the garden pretty densely. There’s a bit of room since I’ve harvested the garlic, but not much. Wine grapes do well when densely planted, but vegetables like elbow room.