Summer Solstice 2020: Garden Update

What a wet and dreary June it has been so far. We have had some lovely days, but all in all, it’s been pretty grey and somewhat drizzly. And it’s the Summer Solstice, too!

It was drizzly this morning; but there was a little window in there without rain, so I went out and took photos of the garden, and other growing areas we have happening. And there is a lot happening!

Now, the sun has come out, and it’s looking like a fabulous Summer Solstice day out there after all. I might have to just write this later, and go out there and enjoy it. (I did!)

summer solstice garden update
Our little garden, June 20, 2020.

What I’m eating from the garden

Salad and stir-fry greens have been on the menu for some time now: lettuces, mustards, kale, beet tops, chard and turnips greens feature regularly in lunch or dinner time.

And now, I’m so excited to be able to add snow peas to the menu! I’ve been waiting for these. I do love fresh snow peas; and I’m happy to add a protein source from the garden. Peas are amazing. One day you’re marvelling over how many flowers there are on the pea patch; and it seems like the next day there are 2-inch peas!

I also have herbs that make their way into every veggie dish. Oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, chives, cilantro, lemon balm, and lovage; and now parsley is almost big enough to start harvesting from.

Turnips are making an appearance in meals, both raw and cooked; and going into ferments.

summer solstice garden update
There is a lot of kale growing in the greenhouse, as well as plenty of chard, beet tops and carrots. All of these were planted a bit earlier than things went into the garden.
summer solstice garden update
Beet tops, onions, carrots and turnips.
summer solstice garden update
Well, it just ain’t summer without peas! The snowpeas are finally ready for eating. Yum.

What’s coming up

I’m a very much looking forward to broccoli and carrots. Baby carrots will be coming ready soon, but I’m going to leave the bulk of them to grow on, so I can use them in ferments.

The cabbage is slow growing. We just don’t get sun early enough, and it’s taking some time. Next year I’ll start it early, instead of direct seeding. It was an experiment. Now I know.

The Black Turtle beans are growing well. They didn’t get too much slug damage. The Scarlett runner beans, on the other hand, well . . . some didn’t make it. But the ones that did are doing well, so I hope to get a bit of a crop.

Summer solstice garden update
Black turtle beans, grown from seed I saved last year. Pretty pleased with the growth so far, and not much slug damage. Yay!

And the tomatoes! I counted 60 tomato plants, either in the garden, in the shop roof planter, in pots on the balcony, or in the roof top bathtub. That’s a lot of tomato plants.

But they’re all doing well; and I hope to see the first ripe cherry tomatoes soon. The romas are getting loaded with tomatoes, and I’m excited to can them all up in the fall.

Summer solstice garden update
Roma tomatoes beginning to form on the shop roof tomatoes.

I was also given about 30 onion sets, which are doing well. I don’t even know what kind they are; but it doesn’t really matter. Onions are good for ya, so they’ll be used up.

And potatoes! I’m really looking forward to new potatoes. I have quite a few planted, in a special bed under the shop eaves, as well as in the garden. It is an experiment, as some of them are pretty shaded. We’ll see what happens.

Summer solstice garden update
Potatoes planted in the shady corner of the garden. An experiment to see how much production we get.

The flowers

I am LOVING the nasturtiums in the tomato planter. I just knew that was going to look great. And the hummingbirds love it too. I see them visit every day. Lovely little things.

The jewel colors of the nasturtiums are stunning. They really stand out in the evenings, when the sun has gone down behind the trees, but there is enough light to make them glow. There is some serious gorgeousness there.

Summer solstice garden update
The nasturtiums I planted in the shop roof planter are GORGEOUS! They are starting to trail down, and the humming birds have found them. I foresee many a leisurely hour watching them.
Summer solstice garden update
Such a variety of beautiful colors. But these mottled ones are my favorite. These are from seeds saved last year; and I don’t recall seeing the sort of coloring last year. Really gorgeous.

I put most of the flowers in one area of the garden this year, to leave more room for food. I did plant an excess of flowers in the garden last year. But it sure looked awesome.

This year there is self-seeded borage, nasturtium, and calendula everywhere. I have transplanted some, and let some grow until it is in the way, and then it goes into the compost. I need all the greens I can get for the compost!

Summer solstice garden update
The corner of the garden reserved for flowers and herbs. And a few broccoli. You can never have too much broccoli…

The rest of the flowers in the garden right now are things that I have let go to seed. Kale and mustards are both blooming, along with chervil, cilantro, chives, thyme, sage, and of course the borage and calendula. Soon the summer celery, beets, chard, and lovage will bloom.

These plants are great for bringing in the bees and other pollinators, and beneficial insects. And you want to bring in as many beneficials as possible!

Summer solstice garden update
The mustards are starting to bolt. I don’t mind if they cross pollinate. It will be interesting to see what I get next year!

The herb rockery

The herb garden is doing very well. Oregano, lovage, thyme, sage, bee balm, borage, arugula, and some flowers are all living happily together.

I built a last-minute bed in front of it for the extra tomato plants. They were only about 4 inches tall when they went in, so they’re doing pretty good, even though they don’t get sun until about 2:00. It won’t be my biggest harvest, but I’ll get something from them.

Summer solstice garden update
I really love this little corner of the yard. It is quite bountiful, and alway buzzing with buggy activity.

There is a nice little garter snake living here, and he likes to sun himself on the rocks. I hope he brings his whole family, so they can help with the slugs around here.

Summer solstice garden update
My little garter snake likes to sun himself on the flat rock on the right.

I planted some tulsi seeds in the herb garden, but I haven’t seen anything come up yet. Hoping they do.

Other projects and . . . stuff

I have been helping Rich (landlord) around the property, cleaning up some areas, and clearing stuff out.

Projects

I did a little bit of land reclamation this past week. It’s just a little nook that is outside his kitchen window.

I went to work, cleaning it up, and making a couple of beds. And exposing the big rocks at the back. I built a little family of inuksuit (plural form of inukshuk) to live there.

Summer solstice garden update
Sweet little inukshuk family. I love how they turned out.

Then I suggested that it needed a bench. He had a piece of cedar that he had milled long ago. It was too warped to use for anything else, so now it’s a bench in this little semi-grotto area. Looks nice right?

We transplanted a couple of sad little rhododendrons that were getting shaded out by bigger ones. Hopefully they’ll be happier here in their own beds. I’ll plant some other stuff in here, and it will make a really nice view out the kitchen window.

Summer solstice garden update
I am so pleased with the way this little nook is looking. Still more to do. It will be a lovely cool spot to sit and contemplate life, the universe, and everything. : )

There is another area at the bottom of the driveway where I made another little garden. I do like to make gardens.

This one is pretty much all shaded, with light dappled sunlight coming through in the afternoon. So I transplanted some periwinkle, and some other shade-loving ground cover to live there. And another inukshuk. I’ll take photos as this area develops.

Cooking

I now cook all of my meals on the rocket stove in the outdoor kitchen. And I do all of my baking over the fire pit. I am going to be making my first video next week, all about how I cook with fire.

It has become quick and easy to fire up the rocket stove for a quick pot of oatmeal, reheat leftovers, or cook a full meal. Sure, it takes a little longer than turning on the stove, but it’s far more satisfying. And I cook all of my food using just sticks!

cooking on a rocket stove
Dinner cooked on the rocket stove: basmati rice, sole with cajun spice, fresh garden greens topped with fermented veggies. Mighty tasty.

I recently did an ‘upgrade’ to the rocket stove, so I can cook two things at once! It works great, and I’ll be sure to feature it in my video next week.

I do my baking (I quit smoking, so I make a LOT of cookies now), using a regular ol’ stainless steel roasting pan, with a few modifications. I recently upgraded one of those elements as well, which I’ll show in the video.

There is something extremely satisfying about walking through the garden to pick my dinner, and then cooking it outside on the rocket stove. It’s really a great feeling. And food just seems to taste better when you cook and eat it outside, don’t you think?

cooking over fire
Yep, this is how I bake cookies! Works fantastically, and doesn’t heat up the house in summer!
baking over a fire
Oatmeal cookies baked over the fire. I make a lot of these since I quit smoking. Not sure how I’m gonna quit cookies… : )

Peace in the garden

In these crazy times of upheaval, fear and confusion, the garden is my solace and place of peace. Just walking through the gate puts me in a good mood. Working in the soil gives me purpose, and makes me happy.

Harvesting homegrown, healthy food, and eating it fresh from the garden is something I wish everyone could do. Well, everyone CAN do it, but it’s sometimes hard to get started.

That’s what I want this website to do for people: give them the incentive, inspiration, and motivation to grow their own food – wherever and however they can – and become good stewards of this planet we live on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little garden tour. And I hope that you are enjoying good harvests from your gardens. Drop me a note, and tell me how it’s going. I’d love to hear from you.

Health, Hope & Happiness

Tracy

Summer solstice garden update
Borage and lovage in the herb garden. Lovely.

2 Replies to “Summer Solstice 2020: Garden Update”

  1. Everything looks so beautiful! I’m really looking forward to seeing how you cook on the rocket stove. We have a little one we made out of bricks, and it’s a lot of fun, but also quite a bit of work to keep going while I cook! I’m far more accustomed to cooking on a woodstove, but that’s not really an option when it’s hot outside!

    1. Thanks, Nicole! Yes, the garden is really rockin’ this year.

      I do love cooking with fire. It does take some getting used to, but once you have a system, it’s pretty easy. The main thing I find is that I have to make sure I have all of my ingredients, and things I need, before I start cookin’. Then it goes pretty smooth. I’m looking forward to showing people how easy it is to cook with fire.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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