How to Make the Most of Your Garden’s Potential at High Summer
High Summer - Time for Harvest
As mid-summer approaches and the garden moves into full swing, it's time for harvesting and relishing the fruits of your labor. Plump cherry tomatoes, amazing romaines, salad onions, basil, parsley, broccoli, cabbages, eggplants, squashes and beans, early peppers and the first of the corn are all coming in the kitchen door at once!
Time to make up lots of gorgeous summer salads, ratatouille, and brighten up the day with fresh vegetable juices and spiff up the iced tea or lemonade with sprigs of fresh mint, lemon balm (melissa) or a twist of lemon grass. If you have fruit trees it is also time to make fruit smoothies, the first of the apple-sauces and begin canning and freezing all this incredible bounty from your garden.
What is your favorite method of preserving fruits and vegetables?
Canning is an easy and cost effective way to preserve high-acid foods such as apples, peaches, cherries, and plums. Low-acid foods must be canned with a pressure canner. Make sure to read the directions of your canning kit and canning recipe.
Don't Forget to Plant Your Fall and Winter Crops
In all this overabundance of mid-summer harvest, don't forget it is also time to start planting a few crops for fall harvest.
Just as we may be a little too cautious when it comes to harvesting those early lettuces, green onions, and tender greens that will keep right on producing as outer leaves are harvested; so too can our excitement of full on harvest distract us from continued succession and late crop plantings.
We tend to be so caught up in the deliciousness, excitement and creativity of harvest and new ideas for preparing and preserving our beautiful vegetables that we forget that mid-season is also the time to be planting the crops we will harvest in early and late autumn and often right into early winter.
What We Plant for Fall and Winter
In our vegetable garden, in late July new shoots of baby celery, carrots, beets and greens are just poking up their heads in the green/shade house. New flats of starts for fall greens really should be planted before the first week of August. Depending on your climate, the trick may be to locate a cool enough spot to start these tender goodies in mid-summer. A shade house, back shaded patio or edge of a garden along a sheltering fence or tree can provide the answer.
In our relatively mild climate the all-time winners are the kales, collard greens and chards in the greens, while potatoes, turnips, radishes, rutabagas, beets, carrots and celery will all do well with a second planting for fall and early winter harvest. These will produce exceptionally well right into winter and if protected with straw or a make-shift cloche can easily winter over and still be producing in spring.
Keeping The Balance
Adding these late season harvests to the garden schedule provides an excellent way to extend the fresh produce-eating season well into late fall, as well as adding to your larder to last until the first harvests of the next growing season.
One excellent way to keep your balance and your garden on schedule is to consider taking one action each day to prepare for fall and late season crops as well as one action toward preserving some of the bounty of your mid-season harvest. This way you will not find yourself at the end of the summer with overwhelming amounts of fresh produce you cannot possibly consumer or preserve quickly enough as well as extending the growing season of your garden.