Tag Archives: summer squash

Garden in July, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

July 2, 2015

I know I’m not the only one who is wondering how it is the beginning of July already. Craziness.

Beginning of JuneNieto Photography 2015Beginning of JulyNieto Photography 2015It did not rain here in Eastern NC for about a month. I also did not water. The temps were also in the 90s/100s most of the month.

The potatoes (and possibly the corn) are the only plants that suffered from the lack of water. That and the fact that I put my 6yo in charge of bug duty (6yos just aren’t as diligent as adults – imagine that), they all died back without producing much at all. Oh well, there’s always next year.Nieto Photography 2015The section above was also planted in a new BTE section, so that did not help. Nieto Photography 2015This section of potatoes that are dying off but are not dead yet were planted in a higher section, getting less rain, which is interesting – I would not think they would have done better. However, this area is a 2nd year BTE section so…

The old potato patch was planted in peas and salad greens. The peas have been ripped up and all that is left in that section right now are greens that are going to seed. Those will go to the chickens and this section, which is shaded most of the day, will house my fall and winter seedlings, if ever I get the energy to plant them.Nieto Photography 2015At the beginning of June, the cabbages were sizing up and I had not seen any cabbage moths so I uncovered them. BIG mistake. The cabbages, broccoli, and kale are now all ruined. Lesson.Learned.Nieto Photography 2015Some are still decent. Nieto Photography 2015Most are not. Nieto Photography 2015Check out all those cabbage worms. The ruined brassicas are being fed to the chickens each day. Between these and the weeds, which grew like crazy once we did start getting rain about a week ago, the chickens are getting enough food from the garden, they do not need any chicken feed. I still give them some because…I don’t know…I’m a slave to those spoiled egg makers. 😛

Last year I stopped giving them feed AND forgot to give them enough food from the garden some days and they did an early molt. Since I do not have enough energy (though I am getting more) to make sure they get garden food every day, we feed them chicken feed as well. One day, one day…

Speaking of weeds…The children spent May weeding all of the sections where I put fresh horse manure (NEVER.AGAIN.). Most of June, nothing was weeded because I did not have the energy to even tell the kids where to weed. At the end of June, it started raining a lot so the weeds have really been vigorous!

We have gone out there every day this week and weeded until we fill the garden cart, then we dump it for the chickens. This equates about 3 buckets per person. By doing this, we have gotten about 2/3 of the garden weeded in about a week. Very impressive! Now we need Daddy to haul mulch for us so the weeds won’t come back!

Anywho, on to more pictures 🙂 Here is the carrot/beet patch, turned into melon/summer squash patch. Most of the carrots and beets have been pulled, while the melons are sprawling and the squash plants are producing baby squash. Nieto Photography 2015I would LOVE a cattle panel to be able to grow the melons on but we don’t have a truck to transport it from the store to here so… 😛 Maybe one day we can bribe someone to do that for us. It would save SO much room! It is amazing how much watermelon plants spread! Check out the watermelon vine below. ONE seed and it is already spreading into my sweet potato patch!Nieto Photography 2015This section has tomatoes on the right, patty pan, zucchini, and spaghetti squash in the middle (along with a holey cabbage), and lots of weeds in the background (those were actually pulled this morning).

Nieto Photography 2015We are seeing some watermelon fruit, so that’s always fun 🙂 Nieto Photography 2015We are also seeing some fruit on our butternut squash.Nieto Photography 2015Whenever I plant seeds or seedlings, I NEVER leave enough room! It always seems like such a waste of space to space them out properly when they’re little! Then, in the middle of the summer, I regret such foolishness 😛 Like when it comes time to harvest cucumbers…

Nieto Photography 2015What else? Let’s see…our tomatoes are sizing up…The onions look like they will be ready to harvest soon (some are popping out of the ground).Nieto Photography 2015My first year of planting flowers and I have no regrets! I love seeing all the pretty colors 🙂Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015The sweet potatoes are starting to spread.Nieto Photography 2015 I need to plant the rest of the slips that are growing in the pots before it is too late. Nieto Photography 2015I also should be getting my late season potatoes soon from Sand Hill Preservation.

Lastly, on my garden list, is my corn, pole beans, and sunflowers. In years past, I have planted corn by itself (knocked down by storm) and corn with pole beans (less knocked down by storm but still some). Last year, I planted sunflowers for the first time and I noticed they never got knocked down by storms. So this year, I thought I would plant my corn with sunflowers! I thought it was genius. Not so much.

  1. The sunflowers grew faster than the corn and beans and subsequently shaded them.
  2. Someone told me (after I planted) that beans do not do well with sunflowers.

These beans were ones I grew and saved seed from last year. Now, they are not producing at all. Sad. The corn is pitiful. I don’t think we’ll get even an ear. Nothing I can do about it now except make a big, bold note about it in my gardening journal and learn for next year! (six year old stood next to the corn for reference)Nieto Photography 2015The section above has never had manure on it and was only covered in woodchips two years ago. That could have something to do with the stunted growth as well. Nieto Photography 2015However, this section never had manure in it and was covered less than a year ago. The corn is even more pitiful here but the sunflowers (same variety) are outshining those in the previous patch. Amazing how microclimates work! Nieto Photography 2015If you have been reading my other posts, you know we have had a critter issue this summer like no other. Our strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries were mostly taken from us. Very sad. I was not able to freeze any and normally I freeze 10 gallons easy. My next thought goes to the melons — I need to figure out something before they ripen and are stolen from us as well. Suggestions?


We are still hatching out chicks. Another hen went broody this week. Our first Australorp. Previously, we’ve only had Orpingtons go broody.

We had at least 3 chicks hatch out last week but something got into the dog crate, ate two of them and 2 eggs and got out somehow. I assume a snake but we don’t know how it got in (the last time a snake got in, the door was off the crate – this time it was on) and I don’t know why it would eat 2 chicks and 2 eggs but leave one chick (though I’m thankful).

Also, because of miscommunication, the door to the coop was left off one night and a mama hen and her two chicks were taken away by something 😦 This mama originally hatched out 4 chicks but left 2 out in the rain one day so they died. They were in a caged-in area in the coop so thankfully, whatever got them, could not get to the other chickens roosting in the coop.

Although we are upset about the deaths, we are thankful no more chickens or chicks have died because of whatever they were getting into before we moved the run.

With all of the broody hens (5 in total) and eggs put under them (25), we were able to collect 185 eggs in the month of June (about 6 eggs/day). It is interesting to see how few eggs we are getting compared to last year (our hens’ first year laying). Last year we were getting about 1egg/hen/day. This year we are getting about 1egg/hen/2days. The eggs are bigger but still…

As I type this month’s garden update, it seems sad that many things are not doing well. However, other summers when I have had morning sickness, I was unable to do a garden AT.ALL. So the fact that I am able to do what I can is a blessing.

This month I need to:

  • Continue to weed and mulch the garden
  • Plant the fall/winter seeds
  • Plant the rest of the sweet potato slips
  • Figure out a way to keep critters out so we will have some fruit (melons) from the garden in August and September

I will try to continue to succession plant but my energy level is just not there yet. Last month, I was not able to do anything in the garden. This week, I have been able to work for about an hour in the garden. When I get all of my energy back in September, watch out! But until then, I just have to go at this slow, baby-growin’ pace. Such is life 🙂

How is your garden growing? Any tips you would like to throw my way?

I am linking up with FarmHopFriday today


Transplant or Direct-Seed

May 20, 2015

Three years ago, I learned about making greenhouses in order to winter-sow seeds so I could get a jump start on the season. Over the past three years, I have used the greenhouses to winter-sow everything from onions and celery to tomatoes and green peppers and everything in between. It has been great…mainly because it gives me something to do during the winter months 😉

Last winter, I realized the spinach I winter-sowed and then transplanted did not help me get a jump start on the season at all. The direct-sowed spinach caught up with the transplanted spinach so quickly that I wrote in my gardening journal to NOT winter-sow spinach this year.

This year, I winter-sowed basically everything but spinach, carrots, and beets. Because seeds are so cheap, I also start direct-seeding early and often (every 2 weeks). You never know what kind of spring you are going to get, after all.

Here are some pictures of plants that were direct-sown vs. started in greenhouses and transplanted.

The green cabbage was direct-seeded March 16. The purple cabbage were transplanted from the greenhouses April 13. Look at the difference!Nieto Photography 2015Broccoli
I direct-seeded some broccoli March 16DSC_8421 and then transplanted the greenhouse plants April 13.DSC_8422Lettuce
I direct-seeded lettuce March 16 (one of the frosts killed some of the seedlings, which is why there are some ‘blank’ spaces)DSC_8420 and transplanted the greenhouse plants April 16. Both have been harvested from heavily.DSC_8414Tomatoes
Full disclosure: the greenhouse tomatoes were killed because of frost and replanted twice; therefore, they were not as large as they were in years past (when they were not killed by frosts).

However, the tomato seeds were planted March 30 (I wonder if being planted by a wooden board helped them not be killed by a frost we had the first of April – wind protection and added warmth?)DSC_8415and the greenhouse tomatoes were transplanted April 22.DSC_8417Summer Squash
Again, the greenhouse summer squash were replanted twice. That being said, the seeds were direct-sown April 22 (in a bed with fresh horse manure added – what a difference in weeding this makes!)DSC_8418while the greenhouse plants were transplanted April 20.DSC_8419The only plant I have not been able to direct-sow (yet) is green peppers.


I wanted to get a ‘jump start’ on more chickens this year and instead of waiting on a hen to go broody, I went ahead and bought 10 from the feed store. This meant having them in our house for 6 weeks, making sure the heat lamp was at the right temperature, having to put them in the coop on rainy, cold days so they would not die (3 did), etc, etc, etc.DSC_8426If I had waited just a little longer, we have had 4 hens go broody in the past 5 weeks and they are hatching out chicks left and right. We do not need to keep them warm, safe, or even fed, for the most part because their mama does all of this wonderfully!

Nieto Photography 2015


Back to the Garden…

Even with all of that evidence, I am having a hard time making a firm decision to not winter-sow anymore. Why do I fight so hard to do difficult things when something much more simple is presented/available? I listen to videos of Paul’s tours all the time and one thing he talks about is working with nature instead of against it…using a cover instead of ‘leaving the skin off’, not planting in a greenhouse (at least not with the roof on), etc.

Paul still tries to push the boundaries; but for the most part, he tries to do it naturally. He grows grapes along a firewood pile, which creates a heat-sink…he grows a fig tree in a south-facing area with trees on the north side to protect them in the winter…he grows kale under his cherry tree in the winter so when he gets snow, the branches break the blanket of snow so he can still harvest kale.

He still uses transplants for tomatoes and peppers but for the most part, he direct seeds. Listening to him is always inspiring in many ways. One aspect that has been coming loud and clear as of late is that when I try to rely on man’s wisdom (trying to ‘get a jump on the season’), it is more labor-intensive and I find I am not getting the intended results. When I do things in God’s timing (in His seasons), I see the plants tend to be healthier.

Now, I know I will get comments about ‘I live in an area where I HAVE to start seeds’, etc. I am NOT at all judging anyone who starts seeds or saying you shouldn’t. This is a blog about our garden and all I am doing is sharing about our garden and what God is teaching me through my time in the garden. 🙂

He has been impressing on me: patience – about His seasons and my ‘need’ to rush things or try to hold onto them…thankfulness – that in every season there is something to be thankful for; instead of focusing on how I wish x,y,or z would happen like last season, be thankful for what is going on now…and oh so many other things.

I grew up hearing about ‘tree huggers’ and basically that if anyone loved nature, they were not worshipers of God. As an adult, I have never learned so much about God and His nature before gardening. There are so many parts of the Bible that never made much sense before I had a garden (pruning comes to mind). I love it!

What are you learning lately as you spend time in God’s creation? Today, I am linking up with green-thumb Thursday