June in the garden.

Here it is almost the end of June and I’m not even thinking it’s summer with summer solstice yesterday slipping by like a whisper. But the days are so long I should have known.

We have 6 interns now and they are a joy to have here, learning, working, laughing. The internship program I set up many years ago has turned out to be a huge success. So far 5 of my interns have farms now, and they have gone on to other accomplishments, which I consider part of mine as well hopefully having brought on some inspiration.

We have expanded the food forest this spring with two added beds, 10 new trees, and the rest of the east side of the hill all card-boarded and covered with wood chips. This makes my husband happy because he hates to mow the lawn on our steep hill. I have been teaching my interns how to sheet mulch to make soil, and working on awareness because a great deal of gardening is awareness. Looking for the health or problems with plants, checking for bugs and disease, remembering to keep the soil covered with mulch or plants, watering and knowing when to, looking to harvest or wait, and just picking up on the feeling of the space. I can walk by a plant and know it’s distressed or humming with health. That comes with experience.

The pear tree is loaded with fruit this year again for the second year. Before that we only had a few coming in. But last year it was a bonanza. The apple tree has a growing number of fruit but the peach tree has zero fruit having lost its baby fruit in the unexpected freeze we had this spring. However the blueberries are going great guns and we’ve been taking a quart or two every other day or so. Blackberries are likewise producing but not as strongly (they’re wild and I don’t regularly water them or pay them much attention.)

We have had a few tomatoes but we got the plants in late this spring so it takes them awhile. But we have lots of green ones waiting in the wings. The herbs are doing very well and I have had to resort to using the front porch to dry them when my dehydrator runs out of space. I have panels of metal edged, metal fabric screens which make nice drying spaces. Once the major part of the moisture leaves, they are diminished in size and I can fit the remainder into the dehydrator. I had so many ground ivy I had to fill 3 of these large panels. And the big plants of catnip had to be put into a large tree type planter until I have drying space. However, they were all flowering so I had bees coming into harvest the nectar for 3 days after picking which is why they were on the porch and not in the garage. I try to help my bees.

We have been getting zucchini, yellow squash, a few cucumbers but more are on the way, lots of various medicinal flowers which we harvest and dehydrate, but not too many at a time so the bees continue to have their food. I’ve been making tinctures and saving up various herbs to make salves and ointments later when I have time.

The seeds from the winter greens such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach etc are now getting to the right stage to gather and label and process them for seed saving. When I have too many seeds for planting, for these crops, I save them for sprouting in the winter for fresh salad making. We need our Vitamin K1 for health and in the winter, what comes in the grocery store has been sitting in storage for too long for my sense of well being. So, fresh sprouts are a wonder and delicious.

There is a rhythm to a garden which one works with. Right now it’s a matter of keeping the beds watered and weeded (but I mulch heavily so we have few weeds), watching for bugs and picking out of the leaves the little bronze squash beetle eggs or catching and hand squishing the adults (I am no longer squeemish about this, the little bastiges who eat my plants). I look for mature squash and other vegetables, and pull the carrots and beets as they get big enough from fall planting. I also have to make sure I don’t waste open space as garden bed space is precious. I practice sequential planting of new stuff.

The back kitchen deck is my propagation center and there I have lots of babies waiting in the wings to put out when a space opens. I wish I had enough flat space of easy access to put in a green house, but alas, we are Hillside Gardens, emphasis on HILLside. Not flat, not even close.

My corn is getting about knee high now planted among the pumpkins, squash and gourds for a 3 sister guild (guild is a companion grouping of plants that aid each other), and it’s about time to plant the pole beans among the corn for it to supply a support. The 4th sister which people rarely know about is the sunflower which should be grown around the edge of a 3 sister bed, and mine are growing nicely.

We have accumulated a lot of tree prunings, and other organic matter which needs to be put thru the chipper and used later as mulch or soil building so that is another chore to get done soon. My husband’s friend and he bought a lovely Troybuilt big chipper together a couple of years ago which is kept here, and we use it often. It makes a lot of piles disappear pretty quickly all nicely munched up.

We’ve had rain and it comes in unexpectedly even when the weatherman says it is supposed to be sunny and clear for which I am grateful. Saves using city water on my beds and the plants like it so much better, especially when it has been thunder storming – which elevates the nitrogen in the rain water leaving green lawns and happy garden plants.

Hope you are gardening and have the bounty of the earth to make you smile.

Diann

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