It’s never too late to start an edible garden. Different fruits and vegetables thrive in all types of conditions, so you’re bound to find the perfect fit for your garden, regardless of the season.
In fact, some summer favorites can be planted now for a delicious late summer or early fall harvest. Make sure to use Espoma’s Organic Garden-tone when growing veggies this summer.
Consider these options for late June – early July planting.
These little red veggies thrive in conditions with warm days and cooler nights, making them perfect for areas with a mild summer climate. They can also adapt to grow in cool weather, making your harvest last through the fall and winter. Beets prefer full sun when possible, but still, produce leafy greens in the shade.
Aside from being delicious, beets also have a ton of nutritional benefits. With loads of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, and calcium, beets can help protect you from heart cancer.
Nothing says summer flavor like a delicious, crisp cucumber. Cucumbers serve as a perfect addition to any summer salad or cocktail, or they can stand on their own as a yummy snack. Cucumbers thrive in warm weather and that hot summer heat will give you delicious sprawling cucumbers in as little as 50 days.
Harvest cucumbers before they get too big to encourage continued growth.
Sweet, crisp, and crunchy – what else could you want from a summer vegetable? Sugar snap peas need at least six hours of full sun every day and thrive in sunny spots. As sugar snap peas grow up, support them with a trellis or stake. They will be ready to harvest within 60-90 days of planting, which will give you a delicious late summer – early fall treat.
Zucchini is definitely a fan favorite when it comes to summer squash. This fast-growing vegetable will be ready to harvest within 45-55 days after sowing seeds. Zucchini tastes best when it measures around 4-6 inches. If it grows much bigger, the flavor will become bitter.
Be sure to give your zucchini plants plenty of room to grow as they often produce lots of vegetables very quickly.
If you live in a climate where the hot summer heat lasts well into the fall, try planting watermelons in your vegetable garden. Watermelons are extremely pest and disease resistant, making them perfect for an organic garden. Watermelons typically need 80-100 days of hot, humid weather to develop their delicious sweet taste, so only plant if you live in the right climate.
For those in climates a bit milder, try planting honeydew or cantaloupe. These melons prefer warm weather but don’t require the same amount of heat as watermelons.
Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.
Take advantage of the peak fruiting season this July to celebrate this delicious little berry.
Not only delicious and popular, but blueberries are also one of the top 10 healthiest foods.
These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!
The secret to blueberry success is the Four P.S. — planting, pruning, picking, and protecting.
Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!
First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from Bushel and Berry, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds, or even directly in the garden.
Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.
Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.
Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.
Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.
Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.
It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant. Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.
Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
We recommend a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.
With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the payoff. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.
A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.
Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.
Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap, or a blanket.
Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.
Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them?
I was in a little bit of a jam last week, we were down a trailer because it was being serviced and I needed to move our mini excavator to a friend’s house; I was helping him level out his front yard. I called in a favor from Rose’s next door and they let me borrow one of their trailers. When I went and grabbed it, we took a walk over to check out the progress of their newly planted vineyard. Each grape has this blue tube around them which protects the plant, makes them grow up towards the wire support system, keeps water at the root zone, and creates a little greenhouse effect for each grape plant. Pretty cool, now you know when you drive down route 139 and see all those blue things, there are grapes in there! Walking back to the truck, I laid eyes on their strawberry fields, I couldn’t believe how many strawberries there were and so
many ready to pick. I immediately started laughing thinking of Nora and her friend Theo. Last year they went strawberry picking at Rose Orchards and Theo’s mom joked that they looked like extras in The Walking Dead. I told this to Jon and Nate, then I quickly retracted my statement, “I mean of course they paid for all the strawberries they picked they wouldn’t have tried any”. Maybe instead of weighing the container of strawberries picked they should weigh the kids before and after they pick!
Every time Nora comes to the farm she has to check out Papa’s garden and see the strawberry plants. My wife kept telling her that it is too soon for strawberries but Nora, being a toddler, has to check for herself. Our strawberry plants are pretty young and they will take a few years to become plentiful but it is amazing to teach Nora how to pick her own strawberries. “We only pick the red ones, right?” Nora is doing a pretty good job at not picking too many that aren’t ready.
Strawberries are Nora’s favorite and one of the few foods that we know she will never refuse to eat.
Now that strawberry season is upon us, I can wait for Nora and my wife to harvest their hearts out. Sometimes it means daddy gets one of my favorite desserts! Strawberry Buckle! Not quite cake and not quite a cobbler, aka an excuse to eat it for dessert or for breakfast. After a little persistence, my wife has let me share the recipe with all of you! Happy baking and happy strawberry season!!
Preheat the oven to 375
1/2 cup Smart Balance spread or other vegetable spread
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
21/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup French vanilla yogurt (we use stony fields farm)
2 pints of strawberries cut up
1/2 cup+ sugar
1/2 cup + flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup smart balance or other spread
Cream together 1/2 cup smart balance, 1/2 cup sugar, egg, 21/2 teaspoons baking powder. Stir in flour and yogurt a little at a time. Spread batter into a 9×12 Pyrex style pan and sprinkle strawberries over the top. In a separate bowl, combine softened 1/2 cup smart balance 1/2 cup + of sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Add cinnamon.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
** hint place a baking sheet under the pan in case the strawberry juice bubbles over.
Ryan Van Wilgen
Guess what guys?! Herbs are so easy! If you have never gardened before and you would like to make the foray into the world of gardening…go for it with herbs. Not only are they easy but they are fun, practical, delicious, and pretty. There is not a ton you need to know about herb care, thus the “easy” part. But, you know me…I can’t just say nothing! Really, I am only trying to help. Pinky swear.
A FEW TIPS FOR EASY HERB CARE:
- Your soil must be well-draining. Use a regular potting mix like Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix. Don’t use heavy compost or topsoil. If you are planting the herbs in the ground, be sure to lighten up the soil especially if it currently feels like brown pavement. Use some VW Planting Mix amended into the soil to keep it loose.
- Here is a little trick that your neighbors won’t know. Add a little Greensand to the soil when you are planting your herbs. Not only is it a natural soil conditioner that helps with drainage but it gives herbs the extra mineral boost they need.
- Herbs need fertilizer but don’t go crazy. I have two favorite fertilizers I like. Trick #2: Kelp Meal is great for adding flavor to your herbs. If you love to cook and what to really get full flavor from your herbs, hit them with a little Kelp Meal. It makes them more delicious. Van Wilgen’s Root Boost is the other fertilizer I use on Herbs. It is organic and well-balanced with Kelp Meal to boot. Use Root Boost every couple of weeks applied to the herbs foliage.
- Keep herbs damp daily. I know, I know, I said that the soil needs to be well-draining with herbs. This is true but they are also happier if the soil is damp every day. Confusing huh? What I am trying to say is that in the heat of summer, herbs need to be watered daily but the soil they are planted in needs to drain efficiently.
- Don’t be afraid to harvest your herbs. The more you use them, the more herbs you get. I used to make the mistake of taking off the bottom leaves of my Basil plant before the top. Silly me. It is best to harvest herbs from the top. You can even pinch herbs back ½ way down the stem. This keeps them from getting leggy.
- Don’t buy herbs if your main desire is for flowers. Yes, herbs do flower but the flowers are rather insignificant and if you really want to use herbs for cooking, letting them flower is not the best idea. Once herbs flower and go to seed, it indicates they are at the end of their lifecycle for the season. If a flower appears, pinch it right off. By cutting off flowers, herbs live longer lives, are better for harvesting and I think even taste better.
- Give them some sunshine. Most herbs are happier in full sun (5 plus hours) so don’t deprive them. Although, I do find that herbs in my yard do a little better if not all of the sun is afternoon soon. Some herbs can handle less sunlight like chives and mint.
- Only plant mint in pots. I love mint. Don’t get me wrong, making my own summer cocktails with Mojito Mint is so fun but mint in the ground is aggressive. If you are looking for an herb to take over a garden bed, then mint is your herb.
My final tip for easy herb care is just to have fun. Mix up herbs with annual flowers. Plant them in cute, little pots on your windowsill, fill a window box with herbs and flowers for easy harvesting, cook with them, and drink with them. If you are a beginning gardener or well-seasoned, herbs are for everyone.
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
*VW Potting Mix
*VW Root Boost