What a fantastic June garden we have had… bundles of rhubarb that were picked and shared among the neighbours, followed by strawberries and then raspberries and blueberries. But by far my favourite are the peas. I no longer grow rows and rows of peas, instead relying on local markets for any quantity. But I do grow a few plants that gives me two weeks of fresh peas to eat as I traverse my garden every morning. There is nothing quite like the fresh taste of peas right off the vine. Another early summer treat is adding nasturtium flowers to our salads.
Garlic Scape Pesto was again on my agenda for late June. This year I minced up the scapes, added nuts, cheese and olive oil to it and packed some into a jar for fresh use and the remainder into the freezer in 2 tablespoon size scoops. Drying the garlic scapes is another option. This is also a good time to pinch back the basilico and whip up a batch of fresh pesto sauce.
Tomatoes can also use vigilant pruning at this time of the year. Doing so can result in an earlier and more abundant crop.
Frittelli di Fiori di Zucchine are an early summer delicacy. Since the flowers are open in the morning, they are best plucked then, as they become harder to clean when they close up. The female zucchini flower only fruits into a zucchini, so some people pick the male flowers only. Stuffed with cheese and dipped into a batter made with flour, eggs, baking powder and some parmesan cheese and garlic, these fritelli may be pan or deep fried.
Garlic harvest arrives in July. Once garlic leaves begin to yellow its time to dig up the garlic and begin its curing process. Waiting for hard neck garlic to bend over is not recommended as the heads begins to loose its outer skin and storage time is therefor lessened.
Lettuce in the summer heat some times poses a problem. Growing lettuce in shadier regions of the garden is one solution. Other solutions include growing it in the shade of other plants (garlic) or under trellised cucumbers or other vines.
Ferns and white geraniums growing along the east side garden of our house gives us a cool and calm area in the garden. The combination of white geraniums and the cool lush ferns surrounded by a wood chip or mulched pathway not only solves the problem of what to do with a long narrow garden but also gives us a quiet retreat while we work at our potting bench.
Water Lillies in our garden provides us with another cool area. We have three ceramic pots plumbed from below, running water that is pumped from an old pond. By keeping the water flow very low and by choosing a miniature Lilly we are graciously rewarded by blooms all summer long.
Second year peppers and artichokes are doing well. In the fall of last year, instead of composting my peppers and artichoke plants, I dug them up, removed all the foliage, root pruned them and placed them in pots on the floor of my greenhouse. This spring I began watering them and watched their progress. I am pleased to report they have all made great progress and I now have the first artichoke buds and baseball sized peppers… both way ahead of this year’s seeded plants. Will I be able to repeat this for a third year as I do with my geranium plants?
Life-long Gardener Don Rampone shares his tips and advice for gardening