We’ve been having record setting high temperatures the last couple of weeks, and while its been a bit tough on us and the chickens, it has been great for the garden. It seems like everything in the garden is a few weeks ahead of schedule this year. I tried to rotate the location of most plants in the garden this year, and I think that has also contributed to the success of the garden. I’ve picked lots of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, and I think I have about 8 quarts of berries in the freezer set aside for making jam later in the summer. We’ve been eating lots of chard and kale and also have put away several pints of kale for the winter. We’ve harvested the first of the zucchini, and there are tons of blossoms on the plants. The lemon cucumbers and the winter squash plants are all growing by leaps and bounds. The potatoes started off looking great, although they died back a bit in the hot weather, so I’m about to dig up a few and see if they are ready to harvest. At this time last year, I was bemoaning the sad state of my tomatoes, which got off to a slow start due to the cold evening temperatures and then suffered heavy flea beetle damage. This year the tomato plants are large and healthy, have all set fruit, and it looks like a few tomatoes are just starting to ripen.
We’ve had a few garden pests to deal with this year, mainly the birds who love the berries. Normally I wouldn’t consider birds to be a pest, but the first couple of years after I planted the berries we didn’t use any sort of bird protection, and I am not exaggerating when I say that the birds ate all but a handful of the berries. So the last couple of years we have taken measures to protect the berries from the birds. This year we covered the strawberry bed with chicken wire which worked well to keep the birds out but did nothing to keep the rodents from burrowing up into the strawberry bed and indulging in quite a few strawberries. I’m not sure what we will do to prevent this next year. The bird netting over the blueberries works pretty well, although occasionally a bird will figure out how to get under the netting to get to the berries but then can’t figure out how to get out, so I’ve ended up leaving one end of the netting open to give the birds an escape route. We are going to try a different type of netting and a different way of installing it next year to see if we can find a better system that doesn’t pose a risk to the birds.
This year we’ve been seeing rabbits at the farm for the first time. I see them most often at the edge of the grassy areas, within hopping distance of the safety of the blackberry thickets. I have seen a rabbit on the edge of the garden a few times, and it looks like it’s been sampling the chard and broccoli, but thankfully there hasn’t been enough damage to bother doing anything about it. It is fun to see rabbits hopping around the farm now and then, I just hope they continue to behave themselves and not do too much sampling of the garden goods!