Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Garden Charges Along

Not easy to photograph a garden in July!


Late July is certainly the "time of truth" for gardens in the Mid-Atlantic.  Temperatures and humidity are consistently high, rain is unpredictable, and every garden pest ever conceived is hard at work destroying what someone has planted.  By the same token, if fruit and vegetable plants aren't well-rooted, substantial, and pretty happy overall, they're not going to be.......this year.

My peppers aren't doing fantastic, but that has a lot to do with the fact that I planted them inbetween lettuce plants this spring, which turned the peppers into slug food.  Other than that, the usual summer crops are doing either moderately or very well - cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and okra particularly.  I also have a pretty extraordinary collection of native mint species planted as bee and butterfly attractant, most notably my first bloom on the bizarre looking lemon bee balm (Monarda citriodora):

I collected and stored these seeds from one successful plant in 2010, and while I love the plant, I'm really trying to urge on a few Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata) plants that I grew from seed this spring.   Spotted bee balm is the most finicky mint plant I've ever come across, so we'll see if it actually blooms.  Here's the prize:

Photo: prairiemoon.com
Speaking of prizes, and speaking of garden performance, all of the City Farm gardens will be judged again this week, in the annual "City Farm blah blah blah Awards."  Last year, I was totally thrilled to win "Most Beautiful Garden" on my particular City Farm, and to come in second or third throughout the city (out of about a thousand garden plots) in that same category.   However, the award I would have loved even more would have been "Best Garden Design."   Alas, I don't think I'll be in the running for that one in 2011, either.

There are so many factors involved in gardening, that it's hard to tell if my garden is on track with last year's epic performance (click here for a sample of that).   I mean, my garden (photo at top of this post) looks fuller than late June, 2010........

But I am definitely nowhere near July 25, 2010's impressive stature:


I'm not sure whether the 2011 garden is experiencing some under-performance due to lack of fertilization this spring, different weather conditions, or even whether this is a year-long damper on production or just a delay in production.  Time will tell!

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