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Summer Garden Update

What a week, nearly 5 inches of rain following the hottest weather we have seen in 2 years. It certainly brings some challenges, but it also brings abundance.

Our gardens have begun the first of two major transitions; moving from spring crops to the vegetables of summer. This transition is usually completed by the 4th of July. The next transition will take place around the Labor Day holiday as we move toward shorter days and cooler temperatures. The good news is that there is plenty of good eating between here and there.

Lest you think we are headed off to the pool or out to play 18 holes at the local club, behind the scenes have begun the preparations for what will be the fall and winter gardens. The fall garden, defined as crops harvested by December 1st, will be planted starting next week. There are a lot of challenges keeping young seedlings going, even getting them to germinate, but it is time to start again.

Spring crops will be rotated out, beds recharged with fresh compost, and then replanted during the month of July. Along side of these plantings the winter garden will begin to take shape. These are crops that will be overwintered, harvested from December through April of next year. Careful planning is required of course since many of these winter crops will be in place for nearly 6 months from planting to harvest and require a good bit of garden space.

None of the crops receive any supplemental heat but with careful use of special fabric and plastic coverings we can eat fresh all winter long. Eliot Coleman (of winter gardening fame) has demonstrated that each layer of cover moves the growing conditions south one growing zone. With our coverings our plants will feel like they are spending the winter in Atlanta. Last winter while it was -10 outside, under cover our plants never froze, really remarkable.

Take heart, -10 is still a ways a way.

As the garden transitions to summer it looks to be a great season for all your favorites including those much treasured tomatoes. They got a slow start but are making up time and should be as nice a crop as we have had for a while. For the first time, we are growing all our tomatoes inside our high tunnel which will protect them from the weather a bit and help discourage diseases that can ruin a crop pretty quickly. Peppers, okra, beans, cucumbers and many more are coming on strong. Our club members have been enjoying our berries albeit quickly as the weather has been compressing those seasons as well.

One day when I discover what can be done with all these weeds, perhaps I will think about slowing down a bit. Until that happens it is pedal to the floor and hoe to the row as we look forward to a great summer of growing.

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