A lot can happen in a month.
Here in mid-June in Tennessee, the peas, lettuces, radishes, turnips, spring onions, and spinach have given way to tomatoes, cukes, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, eggplants, beans, basil, and garlic.
Here’s what’s growing in my Italian kitchen garden this month.
Tomatoes are the stars of the summer garden. I planted twelve heirloom Cherokee Purples and an assortment of twelve other heirloom varieties.
I use the Florida Weave system of support for growing tomatoes. It requires 6-foot posts and a few layers of string woven in and around the posts; new layers of string are added as the plants grow taller.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on my favorite tomato plants where I described many varieties. Last year, I had a brilliant idea and decided to grow only Cherokee Purples because they were my favorites. So uniform in color, right?
With a single variety, the art part of my heart wasn’t as enthralled as it had been in seasons past.
That’s why this year, I mixed it up and planted an assortment of tomatoes. I’m going for a variety of color and shapes once again.
Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Patty Pans
Every summer, I try to figure out a new way to keep squash vines off the ground so they won’t rot or be devoured by vine borers. This year, I tried using new short cages I found at Home Depot. So far, they are doing the trick. Each cage has 5-6 seedlings planted in it. I meant to thin them out, but I have a hard time thinning because I hate to discard the rejects. Now, the cages are tightly packed with foliage, flowers, and some fruit. It’s a jungle in there. I plan to sow more seeds in the back garden, this time with three plants to a hill, as is recommended on the package.
The plants are just starting to produce.
I’m afraid I overplanted here, as well.
Eating cucumbers in a salad, making cucumber soup, and making pickles, are my favorite ways to enjoy cucumbers.
I did want to show the little supports I bought online to help attach viney vegetables to a chicken-wire fence. Note the dark green clips. I use them to support peas and beans, too.
Sweet Bell Peppers
I use the same Florida Weave system of support for peppers and eggplants as I do for tomatoes.
My large Black Beauty eggplants went in the ground late and have a ways to go before they flower.
The smaller style of eggplants, Fairy Tale, Hansel, Gretel, and Ichiban, are already producing and will provide eggplants for cooking while I await the larger Black Beauty.
String Beans (Bush Beans)
I planted these in between the lettuce plants and in front of the peas in early May. When I pulled the lettuce and peas, the string beans seedlings took off.
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Truth be told, I enjoy photographing chard more than eating it.
It wouldn’t be an Italian garden without basil. I throw it in almost every pasta dish I cook. There’s plenty to share.
The Back Garden
I’ve pulled the lettuce, radishes, spring onions, and beets.
The last of the spring onions.
We’re still harvesting garlic, kale, potatoes, carrots, and asparagus. Asparagus shoots turn into tall ferns if you don’t harvest them. This is year three for these Jersey Knights.
Commercial or Agricultural Crops
Every year, I plant a few new crops (mostly agricultural) to see how they grow. I have quite a few stories about commercial farming that I’ve written over the years. You can find them by browsing the Menu. In this next photo, I’ve planted sugar cane and rice (inspired by our trip to India), and peanuts and cotton (inspired by our trip to Como and the Delta in Mississippi).
In another raised bed, inspired by frequent trips to Kentucky, I’m growing: corn, tobacco, and soybeans. Some plants were grown from seed, and some are “roadsydia.”
Finally, there is a fairly robust crop of indigo growing from volunteers from last year’s indigo plants that I picked up at a Farmers Market. I’ve allowed the seedlings to mature so I can try my hand at making indigo dye.
I was playing with an indigo dye purchased at Eastertime, and I’ve been thinking about making a natural indigo dye ever since …
My first blackberry ripened today!
Can’t forget the chickens this morning.
That’s it for this episode of Morning Rounds!
What do I do with all of these gorgeous vegetables?
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