June was a very productive month for our garden. We had good production from our plum trees, blackberry bushes, peach trees, and tomato plants.
I am particularly proud of our tomato harvest this year.
My favorite fruit or vegetable to grow is the tomato. In my mind, nothing tastes better than a sun ripened fresh tomato sliced and seasoned with a bit of salt or in a BLT sandwich. The taste has the biggest payoff versus store tomatoes bought because most store bought tomatoes cannot compete in taste or, if you buy expensive heirlooms at Whole Foods, they aren't always in the best shape after shipping.
But I have struggled the last three years growing tomatoes. Either the varmits got to them before I did, the plants were stunted, or the plants just did not produce much fruit.
That changed this year. We had so many tomatoes this year that I didn't know what to do with them all. I think that I can attribute this year's success to a few factors. First, I got the seedlings in the ground very early in the Spring. (I did not have time this winter to grow tomatoes from seed so I had to buy seedlings from the nursery). Second, I think I am finally, really building up my soil quality. Last winter, I added a significant amount of homemade vermicompost to particular areas of the tomato beds, and I saw much better production from the plants where the heaviest amount of vermicompost had been added. Third, I irrigated a lot more this year. Last year, I used small drip hoses to irrigate the tomatoes, but I transitioned back to pop-up sprayers this year. The pop-up sprayers put out a lot more water, and I think this was a signficant aid to the plants. The drip hoses just were not putting out enough water over a consistent area. (For my Fall tomatoes, I am going to use individual mini-spray heads for each plant to try and reduce the amount of spray that gets on the foliage and, consequently, late season blight or wilt.) Fourth, our plum and peach trees were ripening throughout June, and the varmits targetted the fruit instead of our tomatoes. Finally, I planted several hybrid varieties that really produced well for me. SuperFantastic produced a great number of huge beautiful, perfect, tasty tomatoes. I will be growing SuperFantastic again to see if I can repeat my success. I also had good success with Green Zebra, but I do not prefer the taste of Green Zebra and will not be growing it again. Maybe if I fried green tomatoes more often, I would have a greater appreciation for this variety.
Here are a few more photos of our vegetable garden in June:
In the bed above, we have zuchini, buttercup squash, and cucumbers growing.
In the bed on the left, you can see our Swiss Chard, butternut squash, and sweet corn growing. On the right is a bed with eggplant and tomatoes. The two trees in the background are peach trees.
In the bed on the right, we have okra growing in the foreground and artichokes behind them. I also have watermelon seedlings beginng to sprout in this bed along with some beets still left over from the winter. On the left, you can see several of our cucumber cages. The trees in the background are fig trees.
Here is a close-up of the artichoke flower heads.