Summer Kickstart Garden Highlights

I typically keep my posts information oriented but I would imagine it’s hard to find a source credible if you don’t know anything about their personal experiences. So, I’m going to give you a brief overview of myself as a gardener and then give you the rundown on how my garden is doing today.

This little munchkin, digging in the dirt with her dad, holding a handful of seeds, is me. My name is Megan Rice (@earthymrsrice) and I have been gardening my whole life. I grew up out in the country, 7 miles from the nearest gas station, surrounded by farmers and homesteaders alike. My grandmother was a Master Gardener and some of my earliest childhood memories include weeding her gardens in the hot summer sun with my cousins. Gardening is a part of who I am and I am proud of my green thumb. That being said, there isn’t a gardener on the planet that would tell you that 30 years of gardening makes you a magician. We all struggle to overcome hurdles and learn new ways of adapting to Mother Nature’s challenges each and every year. This year has been no different…

This is my fourth year gardening in the Mid-Atlantic. We moved here from Denver and the transition from the arid climate of Colorado to humid, fungus infested Maryland was difficult to say the least. The first year I lost my tomatoes, cucumbers and peas all to blight. Ouch! On the flip side I learned that some things thrive in this climate. Melons, peppers, potatoes, beans; many of my favorite crops. This forced me to be resourceful and put a little effort into my gardening strategy. Remember — they’re not losses, they’re lessons! I started looking for disease resistant varieties, exercising companion planting methods and I’ve moved some items from the disease breeding ground that is our local community garden, into containers in our small back yard. This year I even built a ground-level raised bed to fit more things in the back yard so that I could continue to garden later into the season and overwinter vegetables. (i.e. garlic) All of these efforts have helped, yes, but they’ve each presented their own challenges. Needless to say it has been a continuous learning process and I honestly would not have it any other way.

I began this season by starting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cantaloupes and various flowers inside. Our community garden opens March 15th and potatoes, onion plants (not sets), carrots, radishes and lettuce all went in the following weekend. The rest of my plants were all in the ground or their respective containers by the first weekend in May. This included peppers, tomatoes, melons, corn, cucumbers, beans and squash. Full transparency — I should have waited another two weeks on my beans and corn. We had an unusually long, cool spring and they both really struggled to get going. That long, cool spring also led to some nutrient deficiencies that I wrote about in my post, “Magnesium & Phosphorus: A Colorful Conundrum”. Everything else is right on time and seems pretty happy, with the exception being my squash. They have suffered from both flying pests and powdery mildew. I was able to cut off a number of affected leaves and they seem to be battling, but if they cannot overcome I will attempt a second crop. If you’re interested, there is more information about this ongoing battle in my previous post, “Squash: Planting, Pests, Pollinating, Productivity & Pasta Substitutions”.

I’ve included a few recent photos of some of my plants to give you an idea of where things currently stand. If you have any questions about what you see feel free to comment below or reach out via my contact page. I hope that you’re gardens are thriving and you have been able to overcome all of the hurdles that Mother Nature has sent your way. Cheers, friends!

White Paris Romaine lettuce, sown directly in my raised bed in early March. I planted one row every other week for 8 consecutive weeks, for 4 total rows.

Yukon Gold potatoes, also sown early March. See post, “Why should I grow potatoes and where do I start?” One bag of seed potatoes yielded roughly 20 lbs of spuds.

The Listada De Gandia eggplant seeds that I started inside (see “When Do I Plant These?”) on March 23rd have grown into healthy plants and they are starting to flower.
The Japanese burpless cucumbers, Summer Dance Hybrid, that I sowed directly into my raised bed on April 19th have climbed about 4 feet up my trellis and they’re covered in baby cukes. This is the most mature one of the lot.
Sugar Cube cantaloupes are my absolute favorite and they have started producing fruit, right on schedule! These were started indoors about two weeks before transplanting and they were the last thing to go into the garden. Melons do NOT like the cold.
Red, white and yellow onion plants (not sets) went into the ground early March and they have done very well this year. I will never go back to planting sets. I have already ordered seeds to start my own plants next year.
My corn was an epic failure, don’t tell all my farmer friends!! As mentioned above, I’m quite certain that this went in too early. Many stalks are under 3 feet tall and already producing tassels. We’ll call my corn growing skills a work in progress.
These are Hot Cherry peppers. They were started from seed, indoors in early January. They are only one of the 8 varieties that we are growing this year but they are definitely my favorites. They turn a vibrant red when ripe and are slightly sweet with an enjoyable heat. Great for stir fries and pasta dishes!
These are my mystery tomatoes! I have two Defiant plants (a disease resistant determinate variety that I’d started from seed in January) that are covered in beautiful baseball sized tomatoes. I was also gifted a plant from a colleague and she had no idea what it would become. It turns out, this plant is indeterminate and it is slowly producing clusters tomatoes. This is their current size, golf ball-ish, but I am excited to see if they continue to fill out before ripening. Stay tuned!!
My Purple King pole beans have made a full recovery from their phosphorous deficiency and they’re roughly 8 feet tall and still climbing! Plus, they are covered in these beautiful purple blossoms. We are going to have purple beans aplenty in the coming weeks!
Remember the dwarf zinnia seeds that I planted in the “Gardening Activity For The Kids!” post? I transplanted two of them into a long tin planter and they have filled out gloriously. These are great for edging as well as container gardening because they form nice, uniform mounds. Pollinators love them and they produce blossoms all season long!
Raised Bed Before & After: May 28th vs. July 4th

2 thoughts on “Summer Kickstart Garden Highlights

  1. I love your garden-so lush and productive-looks like you not only have a green thumb, but also accumulating the experience to grow these beautiful veggies!

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    1. Thank you! Some years are better than others but it’s always an adventure. Sharing my gardening experience with others has certainly helped me to learn new things and adapt more quickly to challenges; it has been a pleasure! 😊

      Like

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