Welcome to the newest segment on the blog! Besides Field Trips, Garden Projects, and Plant Spotlights, we now have an additional recurring post topic called ‘What’s Growing on in the Garden?’ In this monthly segment, I will be blogging about what’s happening in my gardens: what’s growing, what’s not, what pests I’m battling, what I’m harvesting, and what flowers I’m enjoying. Think of it as a monthly garden summary, including all the ups and downs that a gardener (yup, that’s me) faces.
If I had to sum up the July garden experience in one word, it would be ‘weather.’ Here in my zone 5 gardens, the weather in July was erratic, to say the least. Over a few weeks, we had fifteen plus inches of rain, several heatwaves, plummeting temperatures, high winds, and humid days. It was a weather and precipitation rollercoaster. Unfortunately, the extreme amount of rain and humidity were ideal conditions for Septoria leaf spot to come in and ravage several of my tomato plants. As a result, fungal issues will be ongoing in the garden this season, I’m sure.
Pests that I have been dealing with this month are the dreaded Japanese beetles who decided to nibble on my zinnias, sunflowers, and raspberries, among other things. In addition, cucumber beetles have landed in my pumpkin patch, and I have grown to loath the sight of them. Daily hand-picking and squashing have kept both beetles in check thus far. Slugs and snails have also made an appearance, chewing on my precious dahlias and ripe blueberries.
It also seems to be the year of the rabbit in my yard, despite the Chinese calendar deeming it the year of the Ox. Baby rabbits are everywhere! The rabbits must be, well, breeding like rabbits. They are so adorable, yet, they try my patience when they chew holes in the blueberry netting and go in to get a snack. As soon as I fix the hole, there is a new one a few inches away. Plus, they invite their friends, the chipmunk, and the grey catbird, to join them in the feast. And don’t even get me started on the mosquitoes! Fungus isn’t the only thing that all this rain brought to the garden. Mosquitoes line up like I’m an all-you-can-eat buffet!
However, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom in the garden this month. Despite the extreme weather conditions and pests, some varieties in the garden persevered. The garlic and shallots were harvested in early July and, after curing, cleaning, and trimming, are now ready for storage. Our blueberry crop is doing amazingly well this year, and we have picked over 50 pounds of berries from our twelve bushes to date. There are still a few late-season varieties that are ripening. I have peppers, a few remaining tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, and raspberries all on their way. In addition, I succession sowed carrots and cucumbers, and hopefully, they will succeed.
In the flower department, I’ve also had some successes. The hydrangeas this year are stunning. The bushes are loaded with blooms, and the colors are brilliant. For the first time in several years, the rabbits and groundhogs left my rudbeckia alone, gifting me with a dazzling show that has lasted all month long. The nasturtiums filled in nicely, and the bees are frequent visitors to their colorful flowers. My pollinator playground garden is doing very well, with cosmos, zinnias, and dahlias all in bloom or about to be. I love watching how many pollinators visit each day. I hope to go more in-depth about this garden in a future post.
I have also added a few new plants to the garden this month, including several bearded iris varieties, two gorgeous purple coral bell cultivars (Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ and Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’), and my favorite new addition, a Summersweet shrub (Clethra ‘Sixteen Candles’). The Summersweet’s fragrant white flowers are a pollinator magnet and look beautiful in the landscape.
July was a hectic gardening month, as it always tends to be. Crazy weather brought difficulty and mountains of weeds to the garden. Throughout July, my days in the garden were spent deadheading, weeding, beetle squashing, and fungus mitigating. But, they have also been spent harvesting, taste testing, flower admiring, and pollinator watching. The garden overcame some adversity and succumbed to others, but it was a pretty good month in the end. After all, my belly and freezer are full of blueberries, so it wasn’t all bad. So, now that you know what’s growing on in my garden, what’s growing on in yours?