August in rearview mirror

Kitchen garden in August

About a week ago someone on Instagram mentioned that looking at all the pretty pictures of other people’s thriving kitchen gardens and ample harvests can be somewhat disheartening if all your veggies are either suffering from disease or being munched on by critters. So for anyone thinking that our garden is a magical place where nothing ever goes wrong and that I know all the trade secrets, I am determined to give you the whole picture – the good and the bad, the successes and the failures.

august harvest
Lets start with the good:
We’ve been harvesting lots of crunchy cucumbers and hot chili peppers. The ever reliable chard gives us bunches of leaves every week. The basil that I planted in the cold frame to provide a little extra warmth, grew like crazy and we’ve harvested more than any year in the past, even after taking off the lights before our holiday.

cucumber "Masterpiec" and tomato Æ LosettoÆ purple and green genovese basil
We’ve been picking boxes full of blackberries and fall raspberries “Autumn Bliss” which would have cost us a fortune in the shop.

raspberry "Autumn Bliss" and blackberries
Our three year old “Glorie van Holland” apple tree produced the first fruits this year and though there are not many, they are huge and delicious. The mirabelle tree in our back yard was so laden with fruit, some of the branches were hanging to the ground.

mirabelle in our edible forest garden
We picked many a bouquet both from the perennial cut flower border and from my experimental 3 m2 with annuals.

annual cut flowers picking cut flowers
And now the failures:
This August has been the wettest month on record and it was not very warm either. On one hand this meant that we did not have to water the garden at all but unfortunately it also meant that our tomato bed never really took off. Before the plants grew to a decent size, they were blighted. The “Losetto” tomato once again proved to be the most resilient but even so, our tomato harvest this year was very poor. Yesterday we gave up and pulled the plants out. I gathered some of the better looking fruits, hopefully they will ripen inside.

Our two zucchini plats did start well and produced some great fruits and then more or less stopped. Hopefully they will pick up again if we get that fabulous Indian summer that’s being promised. The same goes for my butternut squash, it needs heat to set fruits and so far there are only several tiny ones – fingers crossed they will have enough time to ripen.
The bed bellow is companion planting of kale and citrus French marigolds (tagetes), the strong scent of the marigolds supposed to deter the many pests that plague all brassica plants:

French marigolds and cucumber

What? You don’t see any kale you say?

Oh, that’s right, the rabbits ate it! Apparently they don’t mind the smell of the marigolds at all.
They also ate all my broccoli, completely annihilated my edamame soya and nibbled on the French beans, parsley, late lettuce sowings and carrot tops.

French beans

They even started on the bitter endive plants. I had to put netting over the bed to save the crop.

rabbit-proofing endive
For the record: we do have a fence all around the garden that we check for any holes – we have not been able to figure out how the rabbits get in. Also, the damage is much bigger than last year before we repaired the fencing at the back of the plot.
The carrot and beets bed has not done well either, possibly due to the presence of this guy I discovered when pulling out weeds.

May bug larva The larvae of May bugs feed on plant roots and develop in the earth for three to four years.

To end on a happy note: this is the annual vegetable polyculture experiment in our community garden of which I showed you a pic last month. It is doing great despite there being lots of big slugs. The slugs ate most of two cabbage plants but leave the rest be and we’ve had some beautiful harvest from the plot shared between the volunteers.

annual vegetable polyculture harvest from polyculture
The other part of the community garden is productive too;

community garden hengelo netherlands
If you like, here you can see what the garden looked like a year ago.

What have been your successes/ struggles in the garden this past month?

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