Is it just me, or is it hot out here? The heat of July, combined with its exquisitely timed rain showers, has been an incredible blessing, and welcomed change, on all of our gardens, I’m sure. Warmth-loving tomatoes are exploding, giving us our first red gems by now! This year’s peppers have already dwarfed those of last season, and the all-around vegetative growth of all things squash is a sight to see!
We’re including a number of gardening tips and suggestions here that will hopefully help your garden give you the best harvests and most luscious growth possible! Of course, we at Urban Eatin’ Gardeners’ Co-Op will be extraordinarily happy to come and take care of any of the hard work!
One section of our gardens behaves differently when the summer gets mature and the heat starts a’ cookin. Leafies – lettuces, mustards, spinaches, and the like – are shooting their seed heads to the sky in hopes of propagating themselves once again. Now is an excellent, and some would say crucial, time to harvest harvest harvest!! Cut your greens down, make the enjoyable summer salads we wait all winter for! You will find that during their attempts to seed, their taste can often change to a more bitter and rigid experience. If you have the desire, and love a particular strain that you’ve grown, let a few plants go to seed and save the little guys for a future crop, which could be as late as next spring, or as soon as TOMORROW! We can easily sow a second wave of leafies for the summer, filling in a lot of newly opened spaces in the dirty beds.
During the season, we will most certainly find that the feeling, appearance, and texture of our dirt can evolve into a more rigid, hard-packed layer. These things are normal but can, and should, be combatted
– Cultivate : The roots of your plants will definitely benefit from having the soil around them broken up, aerated, and cultivated. When the soil becomes hard-packed and dry, water can either run right off or run right through. The roots can also have a hard time penetrating the relentless clay. Using a cultivating tool, the soil can be broken up -fluffed, if you will – to regain its porosity and gentleness.
– Clay Bust : Products like peat moss and coco earth can be forked into the soil to further increase water retention, drainage, and porosity
– Compost : This is a perfect time to slather on the reserves of compost onto the soil for the purposes of water retention, aesthetics, and nutrients!! Compost can be bought by the bag (for small applications: inexpensive total purchase, high quality), by the truckload (for your whole garden: SUPER economical, great quality), or YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN, for FREE!
– Mulch : Straw, grass clippings, uprooted weeds, leaves, or compost make excellent mulches for the garden. Mulch will serve to suffocate weeds, help the soil retain water by lessening evaporation, and give your garden an attractive maintained look!
Many of your herbs are probably dying to be pinched back at this point. Many varieties of basils will be wanting to flower in the coming weeks. Cut these flowers off to lengthen the plants’ lifespans, preserve the sweet basil taste. Cutting back a lot of herbs from the top will benefit you by exponentially increasing your harvest of tasty herbs by encouraging the plants to grow more bushily!
Drying your herbal harvests is as easy as hanging bunches somewhere with good air circulation, or placing them in a paper bag.
If you are into smudging, an effective way to repell mosquitoes from your immediate vicinity is to harvest your prairie sages and wormwoods, tie them in a bundle, and stake them in the ground, burning them slowly away.
Other plant maintenance
Tomatoes : If it isn’t already done, tomatoes should be trained and your indeterminates pruned to make the plants more manageable and high-yielding!
Potatoes : Mound mound mound! Build up the soil around the base of your plants to bury the leaves, creating a far higher yield of yummy tubers!
Thinning : Evaulate what is taking over what! Some plants might need to be cut back or thinned a bit in order to provide better growing space for some of the underdogs!
Filling spaces : Bedding plants are ULTRA CHEAP at all nurseries right now. It is a great way to fill in the spaces between new and slowly growing perennials while you wait for them to fill in, and to replace herbaceous plants that are just being harvested now!
Weed!!!: Get those weeds out!
BATTLES YOU MAY BE FACING
We all know that while the summer strengthens and nourishes plants, it also provides a great environment for pests & fungi. Keep your eyes peeled and be ready to identify symptoms of an ailing plant as soon as they show up.
This issue’s Disease-Of-The-Week–Award goes to: Powdery Midlew!! – A nasty white fungus that will show up on the leaves of plants, slowly destroying and halting growth. Attracted to mints, bergamots, and all things in the squash family. Powdery Mildew likes the rain we’ve been getting, and the low, shady leaves that hug the ground and bask in stagnant, breezeless air!To Combat: My favourite weapon against this fungal foe is a product called Neem Oil – Biologically safe “leaf shine” does a number on fungi and many pests. Mix the solution with a few drops of Tea Tree oil for that extra bite! Careful not to apply in the heat of the sun, rather wait until sunset.
If you have sick plants, call us to diagnose and recommend the best treatment!
Here are a couple of recipes!
Garden Pea Risotto
1 cup fresh shelled peas
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup cubed butta
salt and peppa to taste
In a medium stock pot, begin sauteing onions in olive oil. After 2-3 minutes, add rice and continue stirring. When onions are translucent, add white wine. Allow alcohol to cook off. Have vegetable stock ready in separate
container. Add peas and begin adding half cup increments of the stock to the rice, ensuring that the rice is just submerged. Continue stirring. Continue process for approx. 20 minutes or until rice is cooked to taste. When ready, remove from heat and stir in butter and grated cheese. Serve hot.
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
10 zucchini or squash flowers
Select flowers that have recently opened and are in good condition. Wash flowers gently and pat dry. Stuff flowers with
cold left-over risotto, pinching flower shut around filling. Dip in tempura batter and fry in oil.
Have recipes you want to share? Let us know, and we’ll shoot them to everyone in our next newsletter!
The team at Urban Eatin’