The garden is so lush right now; it has seemingly caught up after its late, slow start. Many people are starting to say goodbye to their peas by now, but ours are just beginning. The beans are ready for their first picking; the corn is starting to grow tassels; the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, and I found baby squash on the vines just yesterday. We enjoyed our first cucumbers the other night and are excitedly awaiting more. The Brussels sprouts have set their babies, and the cabbages have lovely little heads. The blueberries are ripening and require daily picking, and the grapes have set an abundance of darling little clusters of grapes. I am still holding my breath, but this year may be are very first harvest of grapes. The area beneath my bird feeder is crowded with sunflowers that have self-seeded from the seeds that have dropped from the feeder. I'm looking forward to the very first blossoms.
Along with enjoying the abundance of our garden, we are also battling the pests. The weeds are growing just as fast as the vegetables, if not faster, and an army of Japanese beetles has arrived, attacking the grapes, roses and pole beans. They have figured out if they target the plants up high, they are out of reach of the guinea hens that faithfully do their job battling the bugs every day. I have been paying the Littles to hand pick the beetles, putting them into a jar of soap and water, but it seems the more we pick, the more we see. I'm also on watch for a late blight that I have heard has hit the area. My tomatoes are doing well so far, but my mom has just noticed signs of it in her plants. The spinach was doing wonderfully, in spite of the heat we have been having, and only a few plants were starting to bolt. We had been having it in salads almost every day and enjoyed one meal of it steamed. I recently went to the greens garden to collect some only to find that it was completely gone...withered up, brown, dead on the ground. I have no idea what happened. My only thought is that it didn't like being flooded by a torrential downpour we had during a thunderstorm last week. I have always had a difficult time with spinach, I don't know why. It never really produces very well for us, and I thought that changing its location was going to be the ticket for us this year. Not so. I may consider planting much less next year, just enough for salads and try planting Swiss chard instead. I remember eating Swiss chard at my grandparents long after the spinach had stopped producing and helping Grandma freeze bags and bags of it for winter use. I think it tends to be a bit hardier in warm weather and continues to produce tender leaves through-out the season without bolting.
Oh, the flowers...they are beautiful right now too, but I must save them for another post. I simply love this time of year when everything seems to be so lush and verdant. Yes, this is definitely my favorite time of year. I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, and I would love to hear how your garden is growing.