Spring has come and gone, and it’s time for me to share with you our 2019 summer garden!
Since we already had a nice sized plot from our spring garden, all we did to get it ready for summer was: cut down the spent crops, re-till the land, and clean up any weeds that were leftover. This took only one evening of work and then we were ready to sow some seeds.
Starting from Seed
For our summer garden, we returned to our local independent garden store to buy seeds. Instead of buying the commercial Botanical Interests seeds, we purchased the local Wyatt-Quarles seeds. They were much cheaper, around $0.75 per 1/4 oz of seeds bought.
Here is a listing of the seed varieties we bought for the summer season:
Cucumbers – Straight 8
Green Beans – Blue Lake Bush
Watermelon – Sugar Baby
Cantaloupe – Honey Dew
Zucchini – Black Beauty
Summer Squash – Yellow Crookneck
Almost all of them are from the cucurbita family, which grows well in summer heat!
The seeds were directly sown mid-May, and started sprouting in early June.
We planted the cucumbers and green beans in the first row. In the second row, we planted zucchini and yellow squash. The third row we planted cantaloupe and watermelon.
First Summer Sprouts – June 3
Overview +Bonus Cat! – June 18
Blooming Day Lily – June 20
Squash Coming in – June 27
Blooming Rose – July 3
Giant Zucchini! – July 9
More Zucchini – July 10
Squash Blossoms and Harvest – July 15 & 16
Cucumber and Squash Harvest – July 22
Cucumber-Pyramid AKA Cukamid! – August 3
The cukes I couldn’t grab last night – August 4
Evidence of a Garden Thief – August 4
What’s Growing in the Garden & Cucumber Harvest – August 10
Squash Issues – August 10
Lovely Sunflowers in the weeds – August 10
Garden Thief Strikes Again! Plus More Harvest – August 11
Results and Lessons Learned
Here is a summary of our summer 2019 garden successes and failures (or opportunities for growth):
- Organic growth – I’m not sure if the seeds we purchased were organic or not, but we did not use any pesticides during growth. We did not use commercial fertilizer for that matter either, just our own home-made compost.
- Automated watering – We kept the same automated watering system from spring, with a schedule of running for 10 minutes at 6AM, and again at 6PM.
- Amount harvested – here’s the estimated & quick rundown:
- 76 cucumbers
- 20 summer squash
- 8 giant zucchinis
- Harvest details: I didn’t keep count of each cucumber harvested but from the photos I took, I can see that I got at least 76 of them! That’s a lot of cucumber salads and pickles! Of course I ended up giving away many of them to friends, family, and coworkers. One even mentioned that I should sell them since they were so nice and fresh! The summer squash was fair, producing about 20 gourds. As for the zucchini, there were only about 8 very large ones harvested because I didn’t catch them while they were small enough to get a more prolific crop.
- Money savings – Of course due to the large harvest, we saved lots money on cucumbers. For one average cucumber, it would cost around $0.60 at our grocery store. So if I were to buy 76 of them at that price, I would have to pay $45.60. I spent less than a dollar for the seeds used, and the rest is just our own labor to pick weeds and harvest the fruits.
Opportunities for Growth:
- Pests – The zucchini and the yellow crookneck squash ended up being victims of squash bugs and squash vine borers.
- Disease – The same zucchini and squash plants also fell victim to powdery mildew.
- Garden Thief – Although I don’t mind sharing, we had a visitor (raccoon? rabbit? deer?) who liked taking one giant bite out of our cucumbers and so we did not get our potential full harvest.
- Weeds – We did not effectively manage the weeds from the spring season, so it was even worse than before. You can tell by the pictures above how crowded it got. Of course this made the perfect hiding spot for small pests.
- Failed Crops – I’ve only seen immature cantaloupe and watermelon, so perhaps those still need time to mature. But the green beans were taken over by the cucumbers and weeds. I only got to pick and eat one pod!
What we’ll try next time:
- Use plastic sheets as mulch for our crops to combat pests and weeds.
- Companion planting to reduce pest issues: marigolds, nasturtium and radishes are good companions for the cucurbits.
- Switch the water schedule to only run in the AM to keep our crop’s leaves dry at night, to prevent powdery mildew.
- Increase the space between plantings, giving each crop enough room to grow.
- Use a trellis for the cucumbers and maybe also the zucchini.
- Build an exterior fence for the garden to protect from larger garden thieves.
- Pay more attention and pick the crops sooner! Ultimately, we had a lot of overgrown vegetables because of this. Despite not all of the cucumbers I harvested being small, picture perfect, dark green ones, they were still good and we used them all up so it’s not a complete failure.
All in all, our 2019 summer garden was a success! 🙂 Let me know your favorite way to eat cucumbers in the comments below!