Summer produces veritable berry heaven

The strawberries are setting fruit — again. I really am impressed by the quantity of berries that John harvested from our two beds. We haven’t had strawberries the likes of this in many years. So I had to ask him the obvious: “Are you man enough to keep picking berries?” 

Not only was his answer affirmative but we got in the boat and headed across the bay to blueberry heaven. Three trips and who knows if we have enough to see us through the winter. We are delighted. The grands are delighted. Win/win. 

The raspberries are slowing down. The rain is holding them back. I have heard from a neighbor that the slugs are so thick in her raspberries that she has given up harvesting. Now that’s an ugly development. 

Two weeks ago I thought my Brussels sprouts situation was hopeless but they are showing some nice development and I am hoping for the best. Never again will I start them early. They go along with all the other cole crops. Lesson learned. I don’t think I even need to note that in my garden journal. 

Oh the tomatoes. They are glorious, and delicious. But, again, I have learned something this year. (I learn something every year and you should, too.) Too many tomato plants is not a good thing. From now on I will plant just one Brandywine, one SunGold, one Black Japanese Trefele. That’s all. 

Apparently I have inspired so many of my friends to plant tomatoes that I really don’t have enough friends left to give them to. Not a bad thing, just awkward. Here I come with tomatoes and cucumbers and they say “no thanks, we have so many of them!” Good. That’s the point of writing this column. I feel a sort of vindication. 

I made a remarkably quick trip to Syracuse, N. Y. last week. Two days travel, three days on the ground; hordes of humanity in the airports; a niece’s lovely outdoor wedding making it all worth it. Everywhere there were hydrangea paniculata in full bloom. And they were small trees the way I would love mine to be. But there it is, a healthy, dense shrub in bloom. Not quite in full bloom but making a good effort to achieve grandeur. Keep your fingers crossed. 

I am no longer harvesting chard for the freezer, it is all being eaten fresh. I doubt if it will put on another growth spurt. This is the third cutting, or maybe the fourth. Whichever. We have been eating a lot of chard and kale, too. 

I feel like the broccoli is being gleaned. Just enough for dinner tonight. I’ll keep it going and continue to glean. Why not? Broccoli is broccoli no matter the size of the heads. The Purple Peacock that I tried this year for the first time is taking up room. It was only OK. I might try just two plants next year. We’ll see. Just not enough bang for the buck. 

Speaking of plants that take up room: the artichoke is ready to harvest. The main bud is a nice size and ready to share if we aren’t pigs about it. The side shoot buds are coming on nicely but won’t get any size to them, which is fine, they are still delicious. But they do take up a great deal of room in a very small garden, with very little return. 

We have been harvesting potatoes. You do not need for them to bloom to make a harvest, or a freeze. Just eat them as you go along. Make your final harvest as late as possible so they are not stored forever. I planted two kinds: French fingerling and Yukon golds. Both have produced remarkable yields. The Yukons are huge, which is not what they are noted for. I have never seen such big Yukons, ever. What a growing season. 

 Carrots. What can I say? I feel like I’m bragging, perhaps even gloating but I know I am preaching to the choir. This season has been remarkable. And the results are delicious.  

I had friends over for coffee and a couple of them were amazed that the flower beds are still in bloom. Well, sort of. That’s the point of deadheading. The annuals will keep blooming in order to throw seed to the wind. That really is the beauty of annuals. They do such a great job of offering color when all else is over. The godetia, California poppies, nemophilia, phlox and cosmos are all lovely. 

For perennials the astilbe, filipendula Kehome, dianthus and the biennial dianthus barbatus are looking strong. This is the first year that the astilbe has performed with such confidence. I moved it last year and it is delighted with its new location. Should have done that years ago. 

The salvia has gone to seed but even so it is purple and lovely. I need to ask someone in the know if it seeds all over the place and should I deadhead it before I have a problem on my hands, i.e. salvia all over the place. 

 Put on your rain gear and keep harvesting, weeding, gardening. Stay outdoors as long as you can.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.