Monday, July 6, 2009
The first growing season in my kitchen garden has officially come to a close. It seems almost unbelievable to the northern gardener in me that July 4th weekend brings the end of the growing season, but it has.
It is just too hot. During the month of June we saw a number of record breaking highs, and at least a dozen days with temperatures above 100 degrees, and it just doesn't cool off all that much over night. When it's hot like this the pepper's won't blossom and set fruit, and neither will the tomatoes. The basil has bolted and gone to flower. And the eggplants just stopped. It seems really wasteful to me to continue to water plants that aren't producing foodstuffs, and so the watering has stopped, and the kitchen garden has shriveled.
Looking back it was a fruitful and productive growing season. My freezer is full of pesto and baba ghanouj. I had my first foray into canning, preserving a large batch of tomatoes, and a variety of pickled hot peppers. (I learned tons from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving ). I had enough greens early on to share with friends, and enough cucumbers to give some to pretty much everyone I know. All in all I'd call it a success.
Today we have had a relatively "cool" day, with temperatures in the upper 80's and completely cloudy skies. I took advantage of this break in the weather to put the garden to bed for the rest of the summer. I took down all the bird netting, and cut down all the shriveled plants. I took down tomato cages, and stakes. And I mulched.
There are a few additional things to do until the fall growing season rolls around: I will keep the perennial herbs watered, mulched, and alive. I'll start a new compost pile, and turn the one in progress. And I'll let the soil rest during these sweltering months.
Come September I'll plant the kitchen garden again. I'm planning the fall growing season with a mind towards preserving the harvest: green beans for pickling, tomatoes for sauce making, and carrots just for fun.
Until then, I'll be in the kitchen I suppose.