It’s early June, which typically marks the transition here in Texas from Spring to Hell.
The cool-weather crops have pretty much run their course (I can maybe squeeze one more cutting of broccoli before I pull the remaining plants). The strawberries are done and the boysenberries are winding down.
[Funny how strawberries are called either June-bearing or Everbearing, meaning you either get a big crop all at once, or modest crops over a longer period of time. But in Texas, June-bearing actually bear in April/May. And I’ve personally never had good luck with Everbearing.]
The lettuce, spinach, turnip and pea plants have all been pulled—they’re done. Carrots are mature, but I leave them in the ground until I want to use them. I probably won’t grow turnips again for a long time—they just didn’t hit the spot this year, and it was an awful lot of effort just to wind up feeding them to the chickens….
Last week I harvested the garlic and Vidalia onions; they’re currently in a dark spare bedroom with the ceiling fan on low in order to dry appropriately. Some of the garlic bulbs are HUGE! The onions are disappointing in size but not in taste—wow! This fall I intend to plant the onions and garlic at the exact same time (mid-September) in hopes of getting larger onions.
The bush-variety green beans have provided their first huge harvest; there are still a few stragglers that can stand to get bigger, which will tide me over until the second (and usually final) huge harvest. Some of the pole-variety green beans already have some beans worth picking, but for the most part they’re still establishing their vines and setting blossoms.
We ate the first home-grown tomato last night, and are about to have a whole bunch more.
The corn has tassled and ears are starting to form.
The grapes are getting bigger and showing promise, and I FINALLY finished the bird guard in time to protect them (it remains to be seen whether I successfully made the structure rat-proof as well…).
My biggest sources of excitement are 1) actually harvesting blueberries (super-sweet and delicious!), and 2) actually having apples on my two trees for the first time ever.
It’s not too late to plant hot-weather crops like summer squash, okra, and peppers, but it’s also getting close to time to plant winter squash. If you want large-variety pumpkins (like for jack-o-lanterns), you should plant the seeds mid-June. If you want smaller-variety sugar pumpkins, you need to wait until mid-July. Note that you need to choose the correct kind of seeds as well as plant at the appropriate time.
If you plan to set out new tomato plants in the Fall, you’ll want to start those seeds indoors in just a few more weeks (I’ll send out Alerts on the Fall crops at the appropriate times).
A subscriber wrote the following, which I’d like to address publicly:
My strawberries are growing nicely, but produced very little. I didn’t really expect them to the first year.
My pumpkins: I think I planted too many too close, they got the mold. I’ve sprayed & cut many of the bad leaves off, but not sure if they will pull through.
My grapes seem to have an aphid problem. , I keep spraying w/water/dawn solution, but doesn’t seem to help much.
Strawberries are actually supposed to be discouraged from bearing the first year so that they put their effort into establishing strong roots and runners, which will provide a good crop the second year.
As noted above: your pumpkins were planted too early. The good news is that you can pull these plants out and start over at the appropriate times (mid-June for large, mid-July for small). I would not try to salvage the present plants as they will only attract pests to the area in advance of your next crop.
I need to follow up personally about the grapes (specifically, why they think it’s aphids vs. something else). My grapes are a magnet for white flies. Also, the grapes almost always develop what looks like a fungus on many of the leaves. I spray them with Neem oil just to feel proactive, but it does nothing to resolve either issue. Yet with that said, neither the bugs nor the discolored leaves negatively impact the plants or fruit at all! Grapes are amazingly hardy and prolific here.
If you do have an aphid problem, your best solution is to buy live ladybugs and introduce them into your garden. If you do this, please note the following: Refrigerate the little critters for 2-3 hours before you plan to release them (to slow their metabolism). Release them at late dusk into an area that you know contains aphids. Wet the plants first, and then release the ladybugs at the base of the plants (and even onto the soil or grass below the plant).
All this assumes you have not sprayed pesticides recently (6 weeks or more), and also assumes you will NOT spray pesticides in the future, because said pesticides will kill your ladybugs!