Summer in the Garden

Olives forming on tree in the summer garden

Hello summer, hello 2021!  We’ve had a quiet but lovely summer holiday break, enjoying some family time at home. Join us for our annual look at our summer garden, with our seasonal gardening update on what’s growing (or not!) in our own home garden and other family news.

Plums ripening on tree in the summer garden

Growing and Giving

Our homemade limoncello made with last year’s garden lemons (nicknamed Laura’s limited edition 2020 lockdown limoncello…) came out beautifully. Most was gifted to neighbours during the holidays, but we still have several bottles in the freezer for future sharing. It’s lovely chilled, but also superb as a drizzle on vanilla ice cream. Not that either is a frequent indulgence with our current health and fitness goals. Special treats only.  Still, I’m already looking forward to next year’s infusion experiments. We’re thinking about getting creative with some other blends. Any suggestions?

Cherry tomatoes forming on truss in a garden bed

Seasonal Success Stories and Top Crops

The edible garden is in full summer swing, although I reduced and staggered more plantings this season, so it’s a little more under control than its past over abundance. Crazy pumpkin plants and their squash cousins not withstanding. Oh my. If I suddenly go missing, I’ve probably gotten trapped under the pumpkin vine. It’s threatening to swallow the entire garden, no matter how often it’s tipped.  At least it has some big fat pumpkins growing under there, too. The zucchini is almost as rampant, and the scaloppini squash seem to magically expand in the blink of an eye.

It’s a little too early in the season to declare any successes, since I always share the summer update a little early after the holiday break instead of at the end of season. In addition to the prolific pumpkins and pals, the tomatoes are going well so far. Yellow cherries have been feeding us fresh from the vines since before Christmas and the first green zebras were taste tested on the weekend. We’ve had the first home grown capsicums and chilies of the year, too. Yum!

Peaches forming on tree in the summer garden

Seasonal Failures and Flop Crops

Yet again our garlic had to be harvested early due to the seemingly inevitable scourge of rust in our climate and proximity to potential spreading sources. I think I’ll just give it a complete miss next year and pick up what I want at our local farmers market from time to time instead!

After my springtime complaints about leaf curl on the peaches and nectarines, I’m pleased that we still have a small number of beautiful looking peaches fattening up on the young trees. The transplanted avocado trees are also settling in ok, so fingers crossed next year will be a better growing season on both counts.

Blooming and Bolting

Of course, everything wants to bolt as our summer temperature swings set in. Sometimes I give up and pull the plant, sometimes I try to delay the inevitable with pruning, and sometimes I just let nature do her thing.  Coriander is one of our garden favourites all year round, but even the slower bolting varieties are quick to bolt in the heat of our summer. I decided to let one of the rotational patches go for it this year, and perhaps I’ll save some of the seeds. Coriander flowers aren’t much to look at compared to some of the showier blossoms (although they’re stunning in macro), but the bees enjoy them all the same and coriander seeds are starting to form up.

Garden Pests and Problems

The Battle of the Birds

The birds are having an absolute feast and making an absolute mess of things. They’ve been decimating the berries, raiding the fruit trees, throwing mulch everywhere, and pooping fruity mess all over the place. Sigh. They don’t care about tapes, decoys, dogs, cats, people… I individually bagged some of my precious Black Doris plums to make sure at least a few were spare (hubby’s favourite). That worked well as a deterrent, but is rather labour intensive and somewhat risky with delicately anchored plums. He was suitably concerned about his plums that he bought me a giant toy water gun to help with shooing away our raiders. Maybe we need to consider fostering a pet falcon. Hahaha!

Bugs Bugs Bugs

Aphids, passionvine hoppers, and other unwelcome guests have been wreaking their usual havoc. I’ll occasionally use soapy water or dematiaceous earth in an effort to reduce our pests along with hand squashing, but try to avoid chemical sprays. We do have quite a number of mantids, lady bugs, and other predatory insects lending a hand so hopefully the bugs settle into a better balance as the weather stabilises heading into our late summer.
Praying mantis on hydrangea flowers

Our Furfamily

Humphrey is a happy little lad and such a joy to have in our world. He’s settled into being a solo dog after the initial adjustment phase following Oli’s passing and is doing well. He might not be able to keep the brazen birds at bay, but he can smell a freshly harvested carrot a mile off. Priorities. Haha! Dog-lovers might also enjoy checking out our partner dog blog Dalmatian DIY or its corresponding social media for more regular updates and photos from Humphrey.

Smiling Dalmatian dog on garden path lined by flowering hydrangea plants

The New Year Ahead

2020 was definitely a strange year.  In some ways, it feels like only yesterday that we were prepping the summer garden for my parents’ visit this time last year. And in other ways, last summer seems like a lifetime away after everything that’s happened in 2020. Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year all around.  From our family to yours, I wish you health, happiness, and good things for the year ahead. Happy gardening (and garden planning for our wintery northern friends). See you again soon!

Green in Real Life blog summer 2020/21 seasonal garden update

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