Garden report 4: Post-holiday

Pickling cucumbers are flowering and fruiting.

For more than a decade, early July has meant a road trip for David and I.
An annual vacation requires a little strategic thinking when it comes to the edible garden. First, you need to find a neighbour, friend, housesitting service or local kid with an entrepreneurial spirit to do some watering.
Second, you want to plan your plantings so that you don’t miss the harvest.
For example, the garden at our old house included a sizable (and naturally, aggressively expanding) strawberry patch planted by the previous homeowners. Strawberry season in that part of Ontario usually lands in early July – which meant most of our crops were consumed by the birds. The friend who often watered our garden (and was instructed to please please pick and eat whatever was ready) during our absence was allergic to strawberries. At our current house, I planted blueberries and raspberries.
Third, you want to do some pre-holiday prep.

Freshly picked lettuce greens, ready for salad, sandwiches or even soup.

In the week leading up to this year’s vacation, we ate lettuce – in salads, sandwiches and even a fantastic soup (recipe to come, I promise) – nightly. The night we left, I picked, chopped and bagged for the freezer any suitable Swiss chard as well as the small amount of pak choi I was able to rescue from the beetles. I will use both is soups this winter.
I also weeded diligently, trimmed the last of the scapes from my garlic and ensured the tomatoes were supported by their spirals.

I am always amazed by the results of two weeks of summer sunshine on my garden. I came home (more than two weeks ago now) to tomato plants doubled in size and weighted down by (mostly still green) fruit, replenished Swiss chard and lettuce greens and jalapenos, beans and zucchini ready to pick and eat.

The start of the cherry tomato harvest.