July is over but during this month my gardens put on an amazing amount of growth. The winter squash now covers the trellis to a height of six feet and I think soon it will reach seven feet. My corn patches are at full height which for all the varieties is only five feet but every row is full of leafy plants with most sporting developing ears. I am looking forward to an abundant harvest of squash, fresh sweet corn, and dry corn.
During this month, which has been very hot, I have harvested all the garlic, onions, and shallots. These are drying now before going into storage. The garlic harvest was way down from previous years much as I expected. Last year a disease wiped out almost all my plants rotting the bulbs. As a result I had very little good seed garlic to plant. I will have enough to replant this year and an adequate amount for eating but no garlic binges this winter. Fortunately, the Stuttgart onions, yellow bunching onions, and shallots produced well with almost no loss from disease.
It looks like there will be a good apple crop this year. The trees which survived the rabbits and voles that ate off their bark during the winter of 2013/2014 have recovered and are heavy with apples. The wild plums have fewer fruit this year which I attribute to a cold wet week when they were flowering. But I know of many places in the area where I can collect wild plums from along roadsides so there will be enough for the winter.
Root crops, potatoes, cole crops, beans, tomatoes, all the squash and cucumbers are doing well. There will probably be close to a ton of squash this year. Like last year I will use the excess to feed my sheep and chickens through the winter.
The weather in July was very hot for Minnesota and on a few days the high was 90 degrees. Most of the time the highs were in the upper 80’s during the day and lows between the 65 and 75 at night. Coupled with high humidity this made for some muggy days that did not go well with weeding, pulling onions, or hauling and spreading mulch and spent bedding. But those things had to be done so I broke up the day into three parts: early morning work outside, late morning to early afternoon stay inside, late afternoon to sunset work outside.
This month was good for the monarch butterflies. The first ragged looking migrants appeared in June and laid eggs on the new milkweed plants. I counted about 30 caterpillars on the milkweeds throughout the month. Then they were gone having formed chrysalises somewhere in the bushes. This past week there have been several new monarchs with fresh colors flying around the milkweeds. Yesterday I saw a new monarch caterpillar so the next generation which will migrate south to Mexico this fall has already started.