As most of you are aware, the Summer season (moderate climates) is less about the garden and more about the produce, but there are still a few action items, besides harvest. First, there is moisture maintenance - i.e., watering. If you remember my Spring edition, I have a fairly comprehensive 'soaker'-hose system, so hand-watering is fairly minimal and is reserved primarily for cooling-off lettuce on hot days and hitting the odd spot that is isolated from the 'soakers'.
Some crops, such as tomato plants, can develop fungus problems when watered from overhead, so best to assure that they are either supplied by the 'soakers' or water at their base with a narrow, low-flow stream. In any case water in the evening or early-morning; the middle of the day on a hot day just means that the water will evaporate more and penetrate the ground less.
In general we do not use much fertilizer, but we do scatter a modest amount of 16-16-16 water-soluble around the gardens, during the late Spring and into early Summer. Other than that, we pull weeds (not too many around, once you get the 'upper hand'.
Some crops can be planted successionally. In the late Spring, early Summer, we plant carrot, lettuce, beet, and bean seed at least twice with about a 3-week interval. Peas go in early Spring and then, again, in late Summer (Autumn harvest). Lettuce and swiss chard seed is also replanted in late Summer.
Some specifics for our garden: We plant 4 or more varieties of tomato. Part of the reason is to extend the harvest, and part is for the small differences in flavor. The majority are Roma, because we freeze them to make sauce in the Winter and Spring. The preparation is simple: rinse, bag, and freeze. (Best in my opinion to push some of the air out of the bag; they stack better, if nothing else.) - same with green beans and peas. Some folks advise to heat in water at about 80 degrees C to destroy enzymes that - they say - reduce the flavor and nutrition of frozen fruit and vegetables over time. We find that the unheated veggies are better for taste and texture.
This picture shows one branch of a Peach tree that was a 3-meter 'whip' three years ago. We took 40 to 50 peaches from it this year, and they averaged about 6 - 7 cm in diameter. And they were good - no substitute for fresh peaches. We don't spray this tree at all; and we give it about one pound of 16-16-16 soluble fertilizer spread around the trunk out to the 'dripline' per year. It is a 'leaf curl'-resistant variety, but, in the Pacific NW, that is the key to having peaches - not to mention live Peach trees.
This picture is from July and shows a large amount of dill plant near the middle of the photo. This was harvested and used, and the area was replanted with lettuce and beets.
Looking toward the corn - big mistake on my part this year. I sometimes plant peas among the corn for the Autumn harvest. The corn stalks support the pea vines. This year I planted the corn seed among the Spring peas, which then proceeded to stunt the growth of the corn. Don't know what I was thinking - of course, that was the problem - I wasn't thinking.
Same view - the grape arbor is to the right, and the apple tree is in the middle-upper. This picture was taken just before I started trimming back the grape leaves to allow more air circulation and sunlight penetration. Soon I will put netting over the top to keep the birds away. I didn't do that last year, and the birds got 95%. (The birds do OK around here without my grapes. The elderberries are almost ripe, which should mean that about 10 to 20 Cedar Waxwings will visit us soon.)
You might notice that the corn, cabbage, and lettuce appear to be relatively small patches. The same is true for the swiss chard, cucumbers, green peppers, and zucchini, even though you probably cannot see them in the pictures. The reason is that two people do not need many of these plants to have plenty of each for eating - unless you: 1) give away substantial quantities, or 2) you are wildly enthusiastic about eating one or more of these items for days or weeks. Corn also takes a lot of nutrients out of the ground for little return. (On the other hand a few fresh ears is a significant treat.)
Lettuce, cabbage, and swiss chard can be 'picked at', rather than 'picked'. Thinning the lettuce makes early salads; picking the outside leaves of maturing plants of all of these three types of vegetables prolongs the harvest. Particularly with cabbage - if you wait for the mature head, you will have cole slaw past the expiration date.
We grow some things - such as winter squash (butternut for us), potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, peas, and beans - in large quantities for storage. As mentioned above, we freeze the last three items, plus basil and parsley for pesto. If we're feeling ambitious, we cut up the squash and freeze the chunks, too. Thirty-plus years ago, we canned and jammed in the middle of Summer - a lot of hot work. When we realized how much better the frozen produce was, we switched strategies in a hurry. Now we make tomato sauce or jam as-needed during the Winter and Spring.
You probably can spot the marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers. Around the bird bath, we have red tulips in the Spring, then nasturtiums in the later Summer. Some say that marigolds help to reduce nematodes via some chemical that they release into the soil. I don't know, because I'm not sure exactly what a nematode is. The cosmos and sunflowers just reseed themselves, after the birds get what they want.
This picture shows the two fig trees out front. My wife dries the figs, then freezes them. This year she made fig jam - first time for us, and it's very good. I wish that we'd tried it earlier, because fig trees produce enormous quantities. Around here, though, there are very few Fig trees, so it's easy to give them away.
And that's about it for this time of year - harvest, eat, rinse and freeze, or rinse and refrigerate - or give it away. This year I am resurrecting our old garden on the east side of the house. I have four narrow raised beds there, and I also installed wires to support the plants. I just finished the deer fence around it today. This year we have potatoes planted there, because the deer usually leave them alone. This Winter I will plant my surviving raspberry plants, plus blueberry plants.