It is August already and the garden is in full swing. Tomatoes are starting to come in and I have picked so many zucchini and string beans that I have had plenty to give away and to preserve for use over the winter. I have made zucchini pickles, vacuum sealed grated zucchini for bread and sliced zucchini for stir fry. Beans have been sealed and frozen and dill beans have been canned. Basil, tarragon and parsley are being dried and garlic and onion ropes hang to dry.
The zucchini plants are starting to slow down a little, which, by now, is a blessing. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen, which is a miracle considering how much rain we have had in the Northeast this summer. I don't think we had more than five days in a row with temperatures in the high 90's, which is unusual for us. Tomatoes love the hot weather and do not like excessive water, so I need to keep a look out for end rot and mold, which can kill the plants and compromise the harvest.
Because the summer has been cooler than usual, the lettuce mix is still producing, so salads are often on the menu, especially now that the tomatoes are ripe. The eggplants have small eggplants on them and the cucumbers have produced so many cucumbers that I have made two batches of pickles from them already!
Broccoli has produced since late July and are still producing due to the cooler temperatures. The basil is producing so much from the new variety I grew called Lettuce Leaf Basil, that I have been gathering pine nuts and walnuts to make pesto, which will begin soon.
My free range hens and turkeys have been keeping the excessive seasonal bugs away from the garden. I haven't seen a single Japanese Beetle this year, and I give them all the credit!
Perhaps the best fertilizer I have ever found is a what I call "super straw". I use hay to cover the chicken coop floor which soaks up the chicken "litter". I gather the hay and distribute it over the garden plot during the winter for cover and to allow the seasoned droppings to release their nutrients into the soil. This protects the soil over the winter, and, as the hay decomposes over the garden plot, it releases vital nutrients into the soil. During the winter months I allow the chickens to get into the garden plot, and, as they do what chickens do, they scratch up the soil and turn the hay, helping it to decompose even faster. By Spring planting season, the soil is fully charged and ready to support the new crops. During the summer months I gather the super straw and add it to my compost pile...another favorite place for chickens to scratch around!