It’s June already and I’m behind. I’m sure some of you have already said this, but it seems to be my favorite saying this time of year as it always seems to repeat itself. Summer has snuck up on me again. I have to admit, I am actually in better shape than I have been in the past. The gardens are generally weed free, and everything is in, growing well. I only have about half of my tomatoes staked and tied, but they are all in good shape regardless. I will be able to finish this up sometime over the next week.
No major catastrophes this year so far except for the fact that something (groundhog?) got all of my muskmelons (cantaloupes) and about half of my watermelon plants., I have about six remaining, so I should still get a good yield this year. It’s a shame though, I tend to give a lot of them away, so I wont be able to do as much this year.
So, what tasks are we completing in zone 6b this month? Here is the checklist:
- The winter and early spring crops should be either picked or ready to be picked. I am preparing to start cover crops in the empty spaces. I like to use buckwheat this early in the season because I can usually get them to seed in about 6-8 weeks before replacing this with another cover of winter rye. I’ll save the seed from the first round and use next year. I am strongly considering adding some daikon radish to the cover mix this year as well. I have been researching the tilling properties of daikon and am very interested to see the results.
- As I mentioned before, tomato staking and pruning are always at the top of the list this time of year. I have about 30 – 40 left to go (75 total) but it is rather smooth sailing once I get in a groove.
- Fertilizing existing plants are a must for me for my in ground beds. I have reasonably good soil after a few years of work, but I still need to supplement feedings during the heavy growing season. I generally side dress with more compost during the middle of the season and then spray with a mixture of fish emulsion, seaweed, and epsom salts every two weeks until harvest.
- Neem Oil. The Japanese beetles are starting to emerge and I’m ready for them. I hand pick as many as I can, but I can’t get them all, therefore I use neem oil every 10 – 14 days or after any heavy rain. This combination really has been working well for me this year. Last year my rose bushes and cherry trees were skeletanized from beetles and I have vowed never to let that happen again.
- I have had good success with the neem oil, however, this is also a good time of year to be using Bt for any caterpillar pests. Traditionally these pests have been know to ravage my corn, cabbages pumpkins and melons, but like I mentioned, neem is doing the trick so far. I’ll keep this up for the rest of the year and see how it goes.
- Peas are already harvested. Broccoli has been taken as well, except for the few that I let go to seed so I can save for next year.
- Now is the time to consider your fall garden. Toward the end of the month, I will be direct sowing cabbage, peas, and broccoli again for another round. Next year I think I may just stick with a summer to fall crop of these as the spring just gets too busy around the homestead. This is one way I can borrow from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak; devote my spring time to getting everything ready for summer, and as the season is dying down, the fall cool weather crops should be coming in nicely.
- Beets are almost ready, I will be pulling them sometime this week, and in their place Ill put the broccoli for the fall. We try to pickle and can as many beets as we are able, our friends and family really love them, and they are a nice treat over the winter (Pickled beets and eggs).
- The cucumbers are a little sluggish this year, but I think they will pick up very soon. I built a few trellises this year for them, so I am very anxious to see how they grow up instead of all over. Pickles are the intent for these bad boys. My wife make a great bread and butter pickle, a real treat. Too bad my horseradish wont be ready until next year, I discovered bread and butter/horseradish pickles this year and love them. I’m really looking forward to making a few batches of those.
- Potatoes should be ready in a week or so. The tops are dying back, so hopefully soon, we will have our first serving of Yukon Gold baked potatoes. These things are fantastic, truly night and day compared to anything you can buy in the store.
- Our garlic is looking good as well, I would anticipate taking a harvest from these beds over the next few weeks.
- I have an array of peppers this year (150 total) and all or looking very good. Banana, cayenne, Jupiter, Jimmy Nardello, orange bell, and jalapeno. Most have small fruit already, can’t wait for the picking. Aside from the salsa we always make, Im going to dry and grind a bunch into pepper flakes. I did a small sample last year and absolutely loved it. These combinations of pepper flakes is fantastic.
- Turkeys are getting big, they are almost 10 weeks old and in another 10 weeks, they will be in the freezer. I build this “tractor” earlier in the year, I call it Ft. Knox. Last year I had a significant issue with a predator, killing all of my turkeys and eight of my chickens. I have had no issue this year now that my rooster is an adult (and very protective) and Ft. Knox is doing its job.
Well that’s it for now, see you again in the garden in July.