July can be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, months of the warm growing season.
Not going to lie, July is a hard month in Delaware. Pests and disease are at their peak and it can often seem like your garden is just dying before your eyes. I know I felt that. From vine borers to squash bugs, powdery mildew to heavy rain, I got it all. It was a stressful month, but I’m on the other side.
This is what my garden looked like at the beginning of July. It was still very green and lush. Pests hadn’t been much of an issue thus far and we hadn’t entered the dreadful drought and then heavy rain cycle that happens in Delaware every year. Fruit was just beginning to set on my plants and I was very hopeful and excited for my garden to produce.
And… This is my garden just three weeks later. Despite my best efforts to control pests and prevent and treat powdery mildew it was evident that my garden was just going to wane. While my cucurbits (squash, pumpkins, gourds) were losing a lot of leaves and struggling to continue to thrive, they were still producing fruit. It was truly a struggle, but in seeing them persevere and continue to grow fruit that ripened is amazing. Plants are truly incredibly strong.
This is my first round of harvest. The gourds aren’t all the prettiest, they suffered damage from the heavy rains and high winds we get at my property, but none the less I got quite a bit. I got plenty of gourds to keep for my family’s fall decorations as well as some to sell at my family’s farm stand. I’m not sure yet if I’ll decorate them or just sell them as is. Either way, I’m sure people from my community will like them.
While July proved to be trying for my squash and gourds, other plants in my garden began to take off! My tomatoes flourished because they now have more room and more sunlight exposure. My okra have grown and have begun to set pods. I think it’s important to remember that in your garden there will be battles you lose. I know it’s difficult to grow cucurbits where I live, but I can’t lose hope and give up because I’ll miss out on some much potential harvest.
I think it’s important to note however, that in going through my garden and harvesting the first batch of gourds and squashes, my plants are putting a lot of energy into producing new fruit. Every day I go out to my garden to check how big my new gourds and butternut squashes have gotten. I’ve also got two Red Kuri squash I’m still waiting to mature. My garden is a bit ugly right now and has been very stressed, but there’s still much more to come.
My garden (and gardening in general) is my greatest passion. It has given me so much including a great sense of accomplishment. It gives me something to share and teach with. It gives me fulfillment and joy. If you’re considering planting a garden, I highly recommend it. I can’t guarantee it’ll be an easy road (in fact, I’d venture to say it won’t be), but that is part of the experience. Gardening has taught me a lot of valuable lessons and it connects me to an amazing community.
If this is your first time tuning in to my gardening posts be sure to stick around! If you’ve been following my journey up until this point I hope you are just as excited as I am for what’s coming next.