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July garden updates -- staying cool?

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July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/2/2010, 1:50 am

How are the European gardens growing?

Summer has FINALLY arrived in Europe, with a vengeance. Today it's supposed to be 34C/93F in the Paris region -- and just 10 days ago we turned on the boiler because we were cold. What changes have you seen this month?

My early lettuce bolted overnight -- we were enjoying lovely lettuce one day, and the next day it was 25cm/10" high and had tried to start blooming. I only had one head left, though, so it's not an enormous loss. I'm trying to start some heat-tolerant, but I think it's just too warm for the little guys to really start well.

Radishes (2nd crop) and carrots (only crop, and amazingly slow) are finally approaching ready to harvest. We'll see how the warm weather has affected that radishes that were so wonderful the first time around. Need to find a faster carrot variety -- these were the first thing planted, and they're still not quite ready!

I picked about 250g/1 cup of gorgeous peas yesterday, and put them in our couscous salad for supper (see my recipe post) -- oh, they were so sweet and tender, just letting them steam for a few minutes in the couscous was enough time to cook them perfectly! I'd like to think they'll continue blooming, but with the heat I think they're probably finished for this year.

My tomatoes are threatening to take over the entire SFG - I have 4 Moneymakers planted (indeterminate), and they are about 160cm/5' tall already. If all of the blooms produce a tomato, I'll be very busy making salsa, pasta sauce, and eating tomatoes until we fall over. It's a tough job, but I think I can do it!

My green beans are just beginning to flower - I don't think there will be a very big meal with them, but I'll put them in something else, I'm sure.

In the northern US, they judge the progress of sweet corn (mais) with a little rhyme -- "knee-high by the 4th of July" -- mine has achieved that and a little more, and is looking strong and healthy.

My Sugar Baby watermelon and my cucumbers are still tiny (7-8cm/2-1/2" tall) -- I'm just hoping they mature yet this summer before the autumn arrives.

My pumpkin has finally awakened from its slumber - it has a stem almost 2m/6ft long, with enormous blooms. We'll have a couple of Jack o'lanterns for Halloween, I think.

the jalapenos and bell peppers are much slower than I recall...I think I need some fish meal or dried blood for them -- they're healthy, just not very big and not ready to bloom yet.

The potatoes tried to set blooms last week, and I (sadly) plucked all the pretty purple blooms -- I want more potatoes! But the plants are enormous and strong, so I'll be planting more potatoes next year, for sure!

I think that's all I have going at the moment... as much as I despise the idea of getting ready for winter, I'm starting to read seed packets -- what will you grow in the fall? Will you have a cold frame? (things learned -- do not leave your protection fleece out where the sun can get to it...it degrades into dust. ) My husband laughed at me the other day because I've asked for a small greenhouse for my birthday -- he said he never thought he'd hear that from me!

What have you learned from SFG this year? Will you "do" SFG again next year? What will you do differently?

I think I'm going to build a second box this fall, and build a better first box -- I want more peas and green beans! I knew one box was probably not enough, even though it's a double box -- but I figured one box was a good trial...and it has been. I haven't ever had success growing things, and this year, almost everything has been a huge success. It's given me the confidence to dig up and renovate a big bed in the front garden that had been long neglected, and it's rewarding me with nicotiana (tobacco plant) and petunias in all colors of the rainbow, and I saw yesterday that the marigolds and nasturtiums (capucins) are ready to bloom. I've always liked gardening, but this is the first time I've had enough success to truly enjoy doing it.

Stay cool, drink lots of water, and enjoy the summer...

(A quick note to the non-European readers -- most of Europe goes on holiday in July and August, as we get 4-5 weeks holiday by law....so don't be alarmed if you don't hear from one or more of us for a few weeks at a time...we're still around, just on vacation!)

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  Chopper on 7/2/2010, 2:42 am

Who would take a vacation from their garden? LOL.

Re: mais/corn. We had an exchange student (actually a young man - it was a business exchange, not school) stay with us. When we inquired if he didn't like the corn we served he replied, "We feed corn to our cheekenz". I inferred that corn is not a popular French food. Has sweet corn become more well know and accepted since then?

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/2/2010, 3:20 am

I'm growing sweet corn because it isn't easy to find here. There's a u-pick farm not far away that says that they'll have it this year, so we're planning on a visit!

Sweet corn is a garnish here -- on a salad and believe it or not, on pizza -- but no, they don't sit down and eat it as a vegetable unto itself. I can buy it in cans here -- Green Giant is renamed Geant Vert, but he's the same jolly green giant we Americans know and love.

There are some ethnic neighborhoods where it can be found fresh, and there are some neighborhoods where street vendors sell corn roasted on an open fire, but it's not frequent. KFC sells it, too -- but it's tough and not very sweet...if that's the only exposure they have to sweet corn, then it's no wonder they don't like it!

(It is grown as a crop, though...and I keep wondering about a midnight raid to ensure high quality....)

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  Megan on 7/2/2010, 10:43 am

Chopper wrote:Who would take a vacation from their garden? LOL.

Re: mais/corn. We had an exchange student (actually a young man - it was a business exchange, not school) stay with us. When we inquired if he didn't like the corn we served he replied, "We feed corn to our cheekenz". I inferred that corn is not a popular French food. Has sweet corn become more well know and accepted since then?

That is funny. When I was a senior in high school (mid 80's), my French 4 class spent 6 weeks in France. That fall, some of the students whose families had hosted us came to America to visit us. I distinctly remember Christophe turning up his nose at corn. We teased and teased and goaded him into trying just ONE bite of corn on the cob.... I think he ended up eating about 5 ears that night. Very Happy rofl He couldn't get enough of it after that!
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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  Chopper on 7/2/2010, 3:47 pm

Megan wrote: I distinctly remember Christophe turning up his nose at corn. We teased and teased and goaded him into trying just ONE bite of corn on the cob.... I think he ended up eating about 5 ears that night. Very Happy rofl He couldn't get enough of it after that!

I think, and LaFee, correct me if I am wrong, that the only corn the French (and Europeans in general b/c my Russian s-i-law won't eat corn either, he just isn't snotty about it) have known is the very starchy corn used for feed rather than the more refined sweet corn that we are used to - and a lot of that is relatively new to the market.

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  Megan on 7/2/2010, 4:06 pm

Chopper wrote:
Megan wrote: I distinctly remember Christophe turning up his nose at corn. We teased and teased and goaded him into trying just ONE bite of corn on the cob.... I think he ended up eating about 5 ears that night. Very Happy rofl He couldn't get enough of it after that!

I think, and LaFee, correct me if I am wrong, that the only corn the French (and Europeans in general b/c my Russian s-i-law won't eat corn either, he just isn't snotty about it) have known is the very starchy corn used for feed rather than the more refined sweet corn that we are used to - and a lot of that is relatively new to the market.

Feed corn is pretty yuck, yes.... not sure whether it is flint or dent? When I was growing up on my parents' farm, we had a deal with our neighbors, who were dairy farmers: They did our hay for us, and in return we let them use a few fields for cow corn. I was hugely impressed with the cow corn and really wanted to try some. (Mind you, I was about 8 at the time.) Finally my mom cooked me an ear... just to quiet me, I am sure. Ewwww!! Very Happy

I am curious about how to make my own cornmeal, though....?
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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/2/2010, 4:23 pm

No, sweet corn has been around for at least the last couple of decades -- as above, used as an add-in for salads, couscous, pizza....just not eaten as a vegetable unto itself.

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  Chopper on 7/2/2010, 4:27 pm

Thanks LaFee! In that case I think the French have lost their place as the premier spokespeople regarding food appreciation and excellence.

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/2/2010, 4:35 pm

Um, no.

They only do that so the rest of us think they're not perfect.

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  jtwenting on 7/6/2010, 1:51 am

After a few days of scorching heat last week, everything is dead. All was lush and green before, after weeks of rain, but less than a week of hot humid weather turned my vegetable patch into a barren wasteland Sad

Only the onion plants seem to have survived, but there's still no onions there, just a few green sprouts.

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/6/2010, 1:53 am

Oh NO! I'm so sorry to hear that.

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Another update

Post  Mirjam on 7/7/2010, 3:50 pm

Hi All,

I've been busy lately, so I haven't been very much online... The hot weather has been keeping me away from the computer. In the mean time a lot has happened in my garden, let's see - I harvested about half of my potatoes, they aren't very large, but they taste great. Each pot or square has produced more than enough small potatoes to make a meal for four (or five, + sometimes leftovers to bake the next day), so I'm pretty content with that. Now maybe next year I can get them to fully mature before the plants die out on me Smile
The Vitelottes Noirs are still going strong, those are starting to bloom by now. I don't get to harvest those until the end of august or so, but I'm really curious if they will grow bigger than the other variety did.

My bell pepper has a lot of flowers, and already one fruit on it, my tomatoes are starting to form, the cukes are blooming (no fruits yet), and the squashes are finally speeding up a bit. Oh, the eggplant is also blooming.
Keeping in mind that temperatures have been below 15 Celsius until only 3 weeks ago, I think they're doing okay - but I would still like it all to go faster! My tomatoes are no way near your 1.60 m... but apart from being in the cold, they were also shaded by the peas ans snaps, so maybe now they will catch up (no pun intended)

I harvested all my peas ans sugarsnaps, especially the sugarsnaps were SO good...last week I ate about a pound of them right of the plant while reading a book in the shade of the plants. I felt so rich!
I discarded the plants, and planted some cauliflower and brussels sprouts (both purple varieties) in the four spots. And I sowed 4 new squares of sugarsnaps for a fall harvest.

I also took out the last bits of lettuce and rucola (rockette?), because they were starting to bolt. I already miss my daily-fresh-from-the-garden-lettuce, but hey, summer will soon enough be over so I can plant some more.

Oh, and we ate the broccoli! I had forgotten what real broccoli tastes like, wow, it's so much better than what you can buy at the supermarket! We had three meals worth from two plants, so not a bad result. I've already started some new seeds outside of the garden, so that I can plant them out by the end of august... I guess there will be vacant squares by than.

But there have been disapointments as wel; my turnips were eaten by some sort of maggots, my beets didn't do anything (too cold maybe? I've started a new square of them last week to try again - that's one of the beauties of SFG, you always have enough seeds left for another try) and my carrots are still so teeny tiny, but they should have been "ready" 4 weeks ago or so... I'm still hoping for a growth spurt, and I don't need the squares yet, so I'll let them in for another week
My broad beans have been wonderful while flowering, but they only produced a handfull of beans... they were good though, but it would have been nice if we could have had some for dinner or so. They were grown from old seed, so maybe that's why. Doesn't matter, we've enjoyed their colours in early spring, that's also worth something, isn't it?

Well, I guess that's about it... I'll try to log in a bit more often, to keep in touch, but in the end it's still more fun to actually be in the garden than to just talk about it...

Oh, I forgot: the garlic have fallen over, so I guess they're almost ready to harvest, as are the onions...
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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  LaFee on 7/7/2010, 4:28 pm

and more heat coming this week...

We seemed to never really have spring - we went from grey and raining and damp with the furnace on, to hot and sticky, with nothing in between!

Oh yes -- congratulations on the Dutchies making the final -- just a few minutes ago, it became clear that they'll be facing Spain. My German friend is gutted, but my Dutch friend is over the moon.

It's our first time to be in Europe during the entire Cup madness, so we've enjoyed it. I'm sure in two years it won't be such a novelty!

Glad to know you're still around once in a while -- and wow, you've had loads from your garden! Next year I'm going to build another 4 x 8 box, so I'll have double the veggies from mine.

I have a jack o'lantern pumpkin growing, and some tiny thimble-sized tomatoes...but it's a start.

I let my best friend's 7-year old daughter pull some of the radishes and carrots today. They were small, but healthy and bright-colored -- and she was just in love with her little baby veggies, and wanted to pull them all. Her mom was hoping that it might make her want to eat them tonight for dinner! (also fun to watch her eyes light up when she realized there was a carrot under all that fluffy green stuff)

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Re: July garden updates -- staying cool?

Post  jtwenting on 7/9/2010, 5:04 am

Country is divided. About 40% wanted to fight Germany, 40% Spain, and 20% wants nothing to do with it all.
I was firmly in the last category (the media madness is way too much for me) but now that we've come this far, I'd have liked it to be Germany so we could get revenge for the debacle of 1974 (they're our traditional enemies and have been for centuries).

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