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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Garden Goodness

Jessica Walliser
Hobby Farms Contributor

Potatoes are among the load of garden crops Jessica Walliser harvested from her garden this year. Photo by Jessica Walliser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

This has been an absolutely incredible year for the garden! The cooler temperatures combined with regular rain has made for one of the most productive gardening years I can remember. The only veggies that haven't enjoyed this summer's weather are the melons. It hasn't been hot enough for them. Everything else, however, is thriving.

There has also been a noticeable lack of pest insects in my garden. Normally, my roses, blueberries, hibiscus and raspberries are plagued with hoards of Japanese beetles, but this year I have only seen four of them in the entire garden. I haven't spotted a single Mexican bean beetle or Colorado potato beetle, and only a handful of squash bugs are to be found on my pumpkin vines. I was commenting to a gardening friend that it seems almost freaky to not have all these little critters around. Not sure why they aren't here, but I'm not about to argue.

I've already made three batches of bread-and-butter pickles and frozen a dozen or so bags of green and yellow wax beans. Because of the cooler weather, the tomatoes are really just getting started. I hope there's enough time remaining in the season for all the fruits to ripen. The vines are loaded with immature, green fruits.

I dug my potatoes a few days ago and managed to get a decent crop of All Blue and Rose Gold tomatoes. I dig them two weeks after the vines have completely died back. This two-week period is necessary to harden off the tubers and thicken their skins for long-term storage. I did steal a few new potatoes earlier in the season as well. These are harvested when the plants are still green by partially digging up the plant and nabbing a few young taters from around the edges. Their skins were buttery thin so long-term storage is impossible, but for fresh eating, they can't be beat!

Most years, my container-grown plants peter out by late summer no matter how much I water and fertilize them. But this year, they just keep growing and growing. I think my red banana tree has grown 4 feet this year! Again, I think this is due to consistent rains and a complete lack of heat and sun stress.

I hope the weather blessings of this gardening season continue well into the fall. It would be wonderful to not have to drag the hose and sprinklers out a single time this entire summer. Unprecedented and wonderful!

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