It is hard to believe that today is the summer Solstice already! The summer solstice is actually the anniversary of when my husband and I started dating. That first summer he surprised me and bought me a bunch of pepper plants for my garden. I knew then that he was a keeper! Here we are seven years later growing a 7000 square foot garden together.
In Montana, our summers are so short and they seem to fly by in a blink of an eye. Luckily this last week we had several days and nights of much needed steady rain. We finally got most of the drip irrigation installed so next time we do need to water I can simply turn on the water pump outside. No more endless hours of hand watering!! Despite the drought conditions we had been experiencing, there is life and growth in the garden!
This evening Little A and I went out to the garden for the first time in a few days. We were thrilled to find our first ripe strawberry of the season. It wasn’t huge and had an odd shape but it was our first homegrown strawberry on the new homestead. She wanted to eat it immediately so we shared this divine garden treat and savored every sweet, juicy bite!
We planted over 30 strawberry plants in the garden. Since it had been so dry, their spring growth was rather slow. Now that we had more rain the plants are looking much bigger and heartier. We’re hoping they will continue to provide us with delicious fruit throughout the summer now that we have a better watering system for them.
We planted over 50 raspberry canes along the back fence line of our garden. We have a 120 foot long raspberry bed and can’t wait until they start producing fruit. The leaves are finally starting to come in nicely.
We also have a hearty rhubarb plant that I moved here from our old house. This plant is over 50 years old and I became the caretaker for it back in 2006. I feel honored to continue nurturing this plant in the garden!
Last month I bought several bunches of asparagus roots at a greenhouse in town. Somehow they made it through the drought conditions and are taking root. I am so thrilled to see little green asparagus shoots popping up all over the asparagus bed!
A few weeks ago I planted two different types of seed potatoes. We are doing the traditional hill method to grow potatoes. I was pretty excited when the green growth of leaves started popping up through the soil in the little hills!
I will confess a big mistake I made in the garden. I always sketch out my garden plan on a piece of paper each year so I remember which seeds I planted where. Well, one day while I was out in the garden I deviated from my plan and forgot to make a note on my paper. When I went out to plant the potatoes, it was at the end of a long, tiring day and I wasn’t thinking too clearly, or much at all. I didn’t notice the markers on the ends of the garden beds that I had placed after I planted 60 feet of bush green bean seeds. What did I do? I planted potatoes right down the middle of the bed! We’re curious to see if any of the bean seeds actually come up and if they do we’ll try to transplant them to another area.
After the bush green been fiasco, I decided to plant another variety of green beans so we would at least have a green bean crop to harvest. We decided to plant pole green beans. Someone had given us a big pile of used wooden tree stakes. We used some in our orchard for our new trees but still have a bunch left. My husband created several wood tipis for the pole green beans. Luckily a bunch of these green bean plants actually sprouted and are growing strong!
The heirloom tomatillos I started from saved seeds in the greenhouse are also doing well. This makes me so happy since I planted them the same day I planted out the cucumbers that I mentioned died en masse in this post. We put up a simple fence trellis for them since they really start to vine out as they grow.
I grew over 100 onions from seed in the greenhouse. These were also planted out about two weeks ago. They are thriving in their new garden beds.
The same day I planted out the pea seeds I planted over 50 beet seeds. The beets actually germinated and are growing strong now that they have more water, although they do still need to be mulched. I love to can pickled beets and eat them all winter long so I’m thrilled they grew. Now that we figured out the birds ate most of our 100+ pea seeds I’m not surprised the beets grew since the birds probably couldn’t see their little brown seeds!
I grew over 30 tomato plants from seed in the greenhouse. Then a good friend gave me about 25 heirloom tomato starts from her greenhouse. We planted well over 50 tomato plants out in the garden. In a few months we’ll be busy making and canning salsa, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes!
We also have some kale that was struggling in seed pots in the greenhouse but thriving in the garden.
Our pear tree in the orchard is hanging full of tiny red pears. Last fall we had an abundant pear harvest from this tree so we’re looking forward to another healthy crop in a few months.
Oddly enough all three of our apricot trees don’t have a single apricot that we can see. We had such a heavy crop of apricots last year we didn’t know what to do with them all. We were expecting a similar crop this year so we’re pretty disappointed that we didn’t see a single apricot on the trees. We’re pretty baffled by this.
On a positive note, the old apple tree that produced five wormy apples last year is hanging full of apples! We were hoping that by having honey bees on our property this year that it would help with pollination and produce more fruit for us. Now if only we can keep the worms out of the them!
Even though we had a rough start to our 2014 garden season due to the drought, we feel like we’ve made a come back. There is definitely life in the garden! This summer solstice we have so much to be grateful for. A portion of our seeds never germinated in the drought, but many of the other plants are alive and well. I still plan to reseed the carrots and spinach that never germinated. I also have a variety of squash and pumpkin plants in the greenhouse that need to be planted out.
What’s growing in your garden?
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