June Homestead Update

June is a busy month, as I’m sure I’ve said in the past: constant watering, weeding, pruning, and de-bugging (either with hands or a spritz of pyrethrin) of the crops, staggered companion planting, and finally, even a little bit of harvesting! Our crops are blooming and budding a bit later this year to a late frost in May, as well as a weird, cold, rainy week last week while we were gone, but copious sun and consistent afternoon showers this past week have been good for all of us.

And now, it’s picture time! Let’s start with the porch plants.

The back porch holds our extra parsley plants, for a total of nine parsley plants, because I can’t get enough of the stuff. Pictured on the left is husband’s cilantro, which is also doing quite nicely. He even got to use a sprig of it in his Thai curry the other day, and he assures me that it was delicious.

Remember our basil sprouts? They’re finally full-grown basil, woohoo! Pictured left is our gorgeous Genovese basil, while on the right is the Thai basil with a nice marigold protector from the bitey insects. We’ve managed to use both recently (grilled stuffed mushrooms and Thai curry), which has been fabulous.

Our other porch beauties, starting from the top left: my other five parsley plants, dill, spicy oregano, sage, a new black cherry tomato plant and marigold guards (as a hungry critter decided to make a meal out of every. Single. Sprout. In the container about two weeks ago. Rawr.), and thyme. I’ll skip the pun today, but save it for another thyme.

Couldn’t resist. Sorry not sorry. Onto the moon garden!

There’s more to the garden than is pictured (including the pedestal of a new gazing ball – thanks, in-laws!), but these are probably the most exciting things growing as yet that haven’t already been pictured: a daisy that’s over two, maybe three feet tall that I got on sale last year, borage back in action, bushy bee balm, and one of the moon flower sprouts that’s growing its gorgeous heart-shaped true leaves (which are apparently delicious to something out there)!

The moon garden always feels like a work in progress, especially as we have different seasonal blooms growing in it, and I’ve been experimenting with different seeds. I’m looking forward to the summer blooms, and hopefully some time actually sitting in its finished glory on a summer night with a full moon. A girl can dream, right?

Big garden? Big garden!

Starting with the first and second beds, we’ve got summer squash/zucchini flourishing, our first broccoli florets (yay!), and lima beans to add nitrogen for our eggplants in the second bed. Full disclosure: our eggplant seeds didn’t come up for the second year in a row, so we shelled out some (minimal) extra dough for five plant starts, because we weren’t going without eggplant again. They’re getting a bit chewed up by bugs, but they’re definitely growing and doing fine.

Bed 3 is thriving with daikon and sparkler radishes in the middle, as well as a few big okra plants coming in (the one pictured on the right is our biggest one so far). I made the mistake of not planting enough of our saved okra seeds (I didn’t realize that I needed to plant, oh, all hundred or so of them for even a few to sprout), so I had to do a little late planting with some new seeds to sate our okra addiction have enough crops to last us through the fall, winter, and spring.

Speaking of crops lasting through the not-summer months, we’re down to our last two jars of okra and cucumber pickles. We are both sad that we may have a pickle-free month after they’re gone, but also pretty stoked that our supply of preserved foods (pickles, jams, and the like) lasted us so long, even through the quarantine. You’d better believe we’ll be preserving even more this year (especially now that I have a pressure canner), and you should, too!

Row 4 has some promising tomato plants (we hope – the ones we started were a bit leggy, but they’re looking much better these days), with some Roma tomatoes already coming in, yay!

A bit of a blurry picture of one of our cucumbers who also live in Row 4, which we’re growing a little more, errr, judiciously this year. We were harvesting about ten a day at peak summer last year, so I figured it was good to cut back a bit. Two types: lemon and good old green (I think it’s Persian), with three to four plants for each. Very excited these guys came up and are doing well!

Row 5 is our exciting pepper row, and the hot weather has been good to these babies: some of our first flowers are coming in, yay!

Also fun about this row are the herb seeds I planted ages ago, not actually thinking they would come up successfully. However, as I was weeding a week or so ago, I smelled the distinct scents of dill and cilantro, and realized that yes, rows of them actually came up. Yay, companion planting! I’m looking forward to dill heads for pickling, for sure.

Ah, Row 6, the three sisters row. Right now, there’s corn down the line (of different sizes due to some wonky soil quality in the row), and pictured on the right is our tallest specimen so far (my hand is there for size reference), about three feet. We planted beans around them about a week ago, and just planted some fall and winter squash – candy roasters, pumpkin, and butternut squash – in the dug-up line you can see on the left picture. Man, I want some candy roasters something fierce, both for my own eating and using in baked goods for market.

Row 6 has sunflowers, nasturtium, and cantaloupes, yay! Dumb story time: I’ve never grown nasturtium, so I didn’t know what they looked like and mixed them up with melons, thinking that the squash-looking plants growing in this row were volunteer butternut squash from our compost pile. Turns out, the five or six plants that I pulled (!) were the melons. Gahhhhh! In my defense, the melons were growing in a scattered way (rather than a neat row, like I planted them), and were a bit slow and hard to spot due to the cooler temps outside.

The good news is, six of the melons survived my “pruning,” since I figured what the hell, I’ll let some squash grow, and those six happen to be spaced perfectly apart. I’m attempting to plant another small variety (Minnesota midget) to make up for the deficit, and hoping that we’ll have a late frost this year to make our growing season a bit longer. Here’s hoping!

Ah, the berries. The raspberries (the pink ones) are so close to being ripe. I do thank last week’s cold spell for slowing their ripening while were were out of town, so that we can harvest and enjoy these lovelies soon while we’re here! Pictured top right is our big strawberry plant, which has given us two delightfully sweet strawberries so far, as well as has been spreading feelers like crazy in the bed, as expected. Go, strawberry, go!

And the bottom picture shows unripe berries from our blackberry bush, which will ripen later. Go, blackberries!

As usual, I’ll leave you with some flower pictures. Once upon a time (last year), Laura threw some wildflower seeds in the unused bed next to the driveway at the beginning of summer, hoping they’d grow something. When they didn’t, she assumed they didn’t germinate, and continued on her merry first year of homesteading. One year later, the bed is full to bursting (literally – the left flowers have spilled into the driveway, the plant is so robust) with pretty specimens in the shade of a fruiting peach tree.

Life is good, y’all. Happy homesteading!

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