May was probably drier than is strictly optimal for my vegetable garden but June has brought even hotter temperatures (particularly warm nighttime temperatures) and a more optimal amount of rain.
In my vegetable garden at the cottage I have even been lucky with weeds. I learned to identify the edible lambs’ quarters and the runner up for most prevalent “weed” is an unruly (though fragrant) crop of dill. My selection of vegetables has also been fortuitous because I have temporarily abandoned spinach and radishes–both lovers of cool weather–for more beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.
The broad beans (Witkiem) took off to an early start as the champion of this year’s garden. Last weekend I was concerned that while the bushes were tall and covered in flowers they didn’t seem to have any beans on them. Also, the flowers seemed to have an unusual black mark on them. After a google search–gardening, even more than cooking, is something I can’t imagine doing without google–and some closer examination I’m resting easier.
The black spots are normal for broad bean flowers and actually are remarkable as one of the only instances of a plant in nature having a true black colour to it–most are either very dark purple or dark brown. Also, it looks like about half the flowers lower down on the bean stalks have been pollinated and have withered to reveal a growing bean pod.
The small patch of peas and pole beans is thriving. I never have much luck convincing these garden climbers to grow up the stake that is put in front of them and this year is no exception. They have created an intertwined collection of vines but so long as the pods stay off the ground and out of the reach of insects and rot I’m happy.
Carrots (Nelson and Purple Haze) are really the only vegetable that is less well off than they were last year. They have germinated unevenly but better on the north edge of the raised tomato and carrot bed where the soil is shaded from direct sunlight and therefore retains more moisture. I have read about farmers laying burlap or even lumber on carrot beds to help retain moisture while the seeds germinate. It may be that I was just lucky last year with my carrot crop and will need to take some of these measures in the future.
Zucchinis are a great vegetable for the amateur gardener. Given a relatively small space (I use twelve to fourteen plastic pots) a bit of water and lots of sunshine and the cucurbita pepo (a species which includes most pumpkins and acorn squash as well as the summer squashes) will produce a confidence-building bounty. I like the container solution for zucchini because with their huge leaves and moderately spreading growth habit they don’t make good neighbours.
I was surprised this weekend to find one of my plants had already produced a good sized zucchini. Last year our plants produced well into September so if that trend is repeated this year I will be searching for good zucchini relish recipes.
Finally, tomatoes are another crop that is well ahead of schedule with a week and a half left in June. Not only have the vines grown large and bushy–fairly common for this time of year–but many have flowered and one even has a hardball-size, green tomato. The variety of this plant (Black Krim) is new to my garden so that might be a factor but I am still counting this as a good sign that we’ll have tomatoes ready to eat earlier in August this year.