All our hard work, money and effort is beginning to pay off now that late July has arrived.
The Magical Earth is producing beans, carrots, greens, herbs, first-crop potatoes, and many other delicious and nutritious vegetables.
The wild and cultivated flowers are at their colorful peaks, and the wild or cultivated raspberries, and are ready for the picking, and the blackberries will be next month.
I’m still keeping my fingers crossed about the four dozen tomatoes I planted both in the garden and in five-gallon buckets in front of the house.
Those in the front keep getting dead/yellowish leaves, which I snip off almost daily. The garden tomatoes have yet to have many yellowed leaves, but those are snipped off, as well. They are also the ones I started from disease-resistant seed, so maybe they will fare well. I sure hope so, as I have visions of making tomato juice as well as regular canned ones and salsa.
But as several people have told me, don’t count your tomatoes before they are ripe.
While many vegetables and herbs are ready for the eating, I have had to do battle with a huge variety of beetles, particularly Japanese beetles. For the first time, we hung a couple of beetle traps at opposite ends of the garden.
It is organic because it uses the sex scent of these beetles to draw them into the bag.
The bags are getting full of these destructive and shiny insects, but I still get more than enough of them on my garden vegetables, flowers, and on the wild raspberries.
I have found a pesticide that is made for organic gardening that seems able to kill the Japanese beetles, as well as the cucumber and potato beetles.
Called Captain Jack’s Deadbug, put out by Bonide for organic gardening, it seems to eliminate most of the beetles as long as I faithfully apply it after a rain.
Because there are so many potato beetles this year, I still patrol the potato patch and squash as many as I can. That’s probably the best, although time-consuming, way to eliminate these pests.
Other things to think about and try to do during late July include:
*Trellis the vine crops. Trellises can be made from virtually anything, and if you don’t mind a seemingly nonprofessional device, simply tie long twigs or small branches together, then tie strings every foot or so, and place near cucumber vines or small winter squash vines, such as sweet dumpling. For larger squashes, we have had good luck building a stronger device horizontal to acorn squashes using larger branches and heavier rope, such as baling twine. That did a good job of saving garden space and keeping the underside of growing squashes from getting too wet, and possibly rotting, while letting the acorn vines grow where they may. The same holds true for gourds. Constructing a gourd trellis works wonderfully well as it is much easier to pick them once a frost hits.
*If the tomatoes aren’t yet staked, now’s the time to do it. In addition to saving space, stakes also keep both tomatoes and leaves from lying on the ground, and can help deter disease.
*In my Three Sisters clusters, the centered corn is supposed to support the fast-growing pole beans. If the corn isn’t quite tall enough or strong enough, place some sturdy, five- or six-foot poles at the base of the beans. Large, mammoth-type sunflowers also provide lots of support for pole beans, plus, it makes it much more fun to try to find and pick the beans in a couple of weeks or so!
*Continue to weed everything, and hill the potatoes or place more hay on them if using this method. If potatoes aren’t thoroughly covered, the sun will turn them green.
*If you are fortunate enough to have raspberries growing the back yard, they should be ready to pick and make into jam, pie, or some other fantastically delicious treat. If not, now’s the time to find a pick-your-own berry farm and gather what you’ll need. In another week or so, the high-bush and wild blueberries will also be ready for the picking; oftentimes, the same farm will raise both.
*Thin the carrots. The small ones pulled from the carrot patch are among the sweetest anyone can eat.
*Be sure the onions in the onion patch also have enough space to grow. This is also a good time to fertilize onions again.
*With zucchini almost ready for harvest, pick them when they are no larger than four or five inches long. They are much more tender and flavorful when they are small, than when they look like baseball bats. Same holds true for crook-necked, straight-necked and summer patty pan squashes.
*Harvest the garlic. Simply pull the entire plant, brush off a little of the soil, then hang in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks before removing the stalks. Once dry, remove stalks and the outer “skin” and store in a dry, above freezing closet. Basements or cellars are too damp for garlic to remain good for several months.
And most of all – enjoy that nightly walk into the garden to gather for supper what our Magical Earth has grown for us.

Eileen Adams has been gardening for decades and is always excited about the growing season. She continues to be amazed to see a small seedling or seed transform into a lovely plant. She may be reached at [email protected]

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