Organic Gardening: Updates from the Experimental NJ Gardeners

What’s happening in your NJ organic garden this July? We cleared the mesclun mix out, after enjoying a full spring’s worth of delicious, fresh salads. My husband took some cutting shears to some of the dead lower leaves on our tomato plants, and removed some yellowed leaves on our eggplant as well.

The peas that we planted in March have been giving us plump little pea-pods, and for the last 3 weeks or so we’ve been plucking them right off the vine and feeding the little sweet peas to our son.

In mid June, my husband brought in a bunch of broccoli crowns, bursting with color, which went into several different omelets and servings of broccoli and pasta with garlic. Within a few days of them having been cut, the broccoli plants formed side shoots which also made some enjoyable side dishes for us. The broccoli plants are now flowering so we’ll have to figure out whether to clear them out or replant new broccoli, and if so, when.

Our kale and chard is exploding, and I’ve made several pots of soup (we’ll probably slow down on the soup as summer heats up further).  Through June, we’ve flavored everything with the plentiful garlic chives and scallions from our garden beds, as well as snapped celery stalks right off the plants which also went into our soup and salads.

Now it’s July, and we’ve got some choices to make. The rest of the lettuce (red and butter lettuce) is pretty much done and it’s time to start from scratch again with more lettuce seeds. The onions have made flowers – we’re still not sure what to do with onions, must look this up, as the scallions have progressed into “teenage” sized onions – too big for salads, too small to flavor cooked dishes. We’ll just keep watching and checking, sacrificing a test onion here and there.

The chard plants still seem to be thriving but we know they’ll be next to bolt. We have one beet plant (the row of beets didn’t fare so well for some reason). It’s got a bunch of fat beets bursting from beneath the ground, ready to be boiled, sliced and pickled!

Our bell pepper plants have started to produce (we’ve gotten two peppers so far since putting them in the ground on May 15). If our pepper yield is anything like last summer, we’ve got plenty of peppers in store for the near future!

And of course… the little tomatoes are forming on the vines, getting ready to show us some color, hopefully by 4th of July for the Early Girl variety. And our cucumber vines are twining down the garden frame, making happy yellow flowers which will soon become cucumber fruits.

If you haven’t planted much in the way of garden vegetables yet, don’t worry – it’s not too late. We’ll be researching what plants to start in midsummer for what they call a “bumper crop” in September I believe… then we’ll get back to you. Happy NJ Gardening, Zone 6!