Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice Harvest Day

This harvest sun medley includes Evans sweet/sour cherry, Red Lake current, a garlic scape, the first zuke of the year, some mint, a couple gooseberries, a josta berry and Long Red cayenne pepper.

Happy longest day of the year everyone!

My harvest today consists of lots of berries which is surprising if you know that my children are nicknamed 'Worse than the Birds.' Thankfully, my hubby asked them not to eat ALL the cherries before I returned from my trip, anticipating that I'd like to capture the moment. The strawberries were not so lucky or perhaps I should say are adding their antioxidant goodness to my children's bodies. Currants and gooseberries are going as fast as they ripen. Actually, they go a smidgen before they are completely ripe which is perhaps why the birds miss out.

The Cayenne peppers are mostly from last winter's flowers but there were a couple fruits that started in early spring. This plant, I am happy to report, is 5 years old! It is not large but it keeps pumping out the peppers like a trooper.

Summer Solstice Sowing

Just as there is a tradition of wintersowing on the winter solstice, you can make do a little sowing on the longest day of the year too. It is a good time to start long season fall garden crops like Brussel Sprouts, fall cabbage, cauliflower and some peas. You may want to start your brassicas in pots or a nursery bed to avoid slug leveling. Some roots such as carrots and beets can also be started now for a sizeable crop to cellar. As for greens, kale, chard, even quick maturing leeks and other biennials can go in the ground now but I would avoid annuals that bolt in hot weather until later in the season. Some of you may be removing your spring greens or peas if you are not waiting for the seeds, so replace those crops with something that matures best in the cool weather of fall.

Unlike spring, the temperatures may be soaring and the ground drier, so make sure to keep the ground moist. Some tricks include, planting seeds in the shade of another plant such as in polycropping*, using a germination board, or planting in hollows or furrows. Consider a sunken seed bed and mulch well when the seedlings are up and growing.

The ideal time for planting your fall garden depends on the plant with some needing to go in the ground around the beginning of June and some not until near the end of August. Take the amount of time that the crop generally takes to mature in your garden and add a couple weeks to compensate for lowered amount of sun and cooler weather. Then remember that every year is a series of weather surprises so don't take schedules too seriously except as I say when it comes to the longest maturing crops and bolting annuals. Experiment, have fun, sow seeds.

* There weren't any straight forward links to the definition of polycropping but it is quite simply the opposite of moncropping - ie, planting more than one crop together. For example, I have read of interplanting beets, beans and corn - a variation on the three sisters. The plants are given adequate space that they can all thrive with beans climbing the corn and the slightly shaded beets poking out between.


For more info on when I usually plant vegetables

Mother Earth News on Grow Your Best Fall Garden

Animation of Summer Solstice


Allison at Novice Life said...

Great Solstice tips, thank you!

Angela said...

I was wondering how you got peppers so early. Can all pepper plants live for so long? Do you have your in a pot and take it indoors in the winter?

Jane said...

Beautiful cherries, berries and zucchini! It's hard not to eat the berries right out of the garden. My strawberries and figs rarely make it into my harvest basket!

Mac said...

Holy moly, your pepper plants is 5 yrs old? I have the same question as Angela.

That's a colorful harvest, love the arrangement.

Daphne said...

I never thought about sowing on the solstice. I usually start my fall crops about now, but not this year. I have no place for a fall garden for a while now, so I just have to be patient. Next year I'll have a fall garden again. I might decide to start a few things though and plant between the tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

A true summer solstice harvest. Lovely peppers, they are very early crop.

This year I’m trying to keep my garden very busy, so I have just pulled out my peas and planted beans. I hope I will be harvesting them in August.

Robin said...

I really like your veggie photo!

michelle said...

A 5 year old cayenne plant, good job! I had a 3 year old die this last winter, that seems to be about as old as I can get them. I did just sow seeds for some of my fall/winter brassicas.

Dan said...

I really need to start some fall brassica's, thanks for the reminder. Last year I started them June 1st and it worked well. Hopefully a few weeks later will be okay too :-)

Emily said...

Beautiful arrangement. At first glance I thought your cherries were tomatoes!

Thomas said...

I get a bit envious when I see other people's cherry harvest. I would love to have a tree. Maybe next year. I'm glad you got to have some when you returned home.

Martha said...

Your harvest is lovely. Glad the strawberries did not go to waste and that there were cherries left for your return. Love the peppers. I was planning on bringing some of my herb plants indoors this winter. Maybe a pepper plant, too? I have to try that.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Yes, I keep it indoors in the winter in a southish facing window. I was quite surprised by the longevity of this one too!

miss m said...

Such a beautiful and colorful harvest ! Excellent post as usual, thanks for the tips !