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Quite Contrary Gardens

how does your garden grow?

We’re in the thick of it now, the middle of summer, and I know the blog has been suffering from a bit of neglect because of it. At this time in the season, not only am I working hard to keep the weeds and the bugs at bay, but I’m beginning all over again– starting seeds for the next round, fall veggies. In the past three weeks, I’ve begun the last round of summer squash, beans and cucumbers, succession sowed the never-ending procession of Swiss Chard, and started the cole and leaf crops that love our Mid-Atlantic autumns so much more than the springs: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, collards, endive, leeks, lettuce, fennel and more. For the first year ever, I have run out of room in the main garden, started three new 100 square foot beds, run out of room in them, too, and am now plotting out even more space to set out the fall crops in. Needless to say, all this has been keeping me just a little busy.

But, even though I’m right in the thick of things at the moment and squeezing some planting and hoeing into every spare daylight hour, this is also the time of year that my mind wanders, always and without fail, to plans for next year. I saw a quote go by on Twitter the other day, something about “My garden is never as good as next year’s will be” or some similar sentiment and that describes me to a “T”. Already, I’m poring over the seed catalogs, planning where I’ll put this and that, deciding what new varieties I simply must try, mentally harvesting tons of colorful, shiny peppers, tomatoes, greens, eggplants and cucumbers from spotless, insect-free plants. I’ve made my list of veggies I never want to bother with again (Poona Kheera cucumber, for one; Coosa squash for another) and racked up a much, much, much longer list of wants: Honey Drip sorghum, black peanuts, Jamaican burr gherkins, an heirloom pink corn from the southwest, bright red celery and purple tomatillos, all big, perfect, bug and blight-free. Oh, this year’s garden could never be as fantastic as next year’s!

But, to come back to reality for a moment, there is more weeding to be done and blister beetles that need to be hunted down and squashed. There is early blight on the leaves of some tomato plants (but no sign of late blight yet, thank goodness!) and the early cucumber plants had to be ripped out because of a raging case of anthracnose. There are squash bugs hiding out there somewhere that I need to be on vigilant alert for and the flea beetles, well, I’ve just given up on them. Let them eat what they want. This year’s garden is work!

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