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We are hitting a bit of a transition point in our growing season where the early summer garden is either near or past its peak in many respects, leaving way for the heat-lovers such as okra, black-eyed peas, and sweet potatoes. There is still a surprising amount of life here, despite the triple digit temperatures we have been encountering, but a noticeable shift is occurring.

Every year, when the seed catalogs arrive and the garden plans are discussed, we strain our minds to try to remember exactly what worked and what didn’t in last year’s garden. Maybe next year this blog post will remind me.


The bean field. It was one of those things that we knew was a bit ambitious when we first tilled it up and honestly it was originally a possible potato field. Well, early March rolled around and it simply wasn’t ready so we planted potatoes elsewhere. Then May rolled around and it became a probable bean field. Other things came up and I just couldn’t get to moving enough of that hay out of the way to plant. So, four rows of black-eyed peas went in and less than half germinated when we had heavy rains and much of the rows were in a low spot.

So, maybe next year?


Sweet potatoes. We hadn’t even planned to plant sweet potatoes this year and frankly I didn’t know that we’d be able to even get some in if we did have slips. Well, the Lord had other plans and we ended up with couple of small bunches given to us. Elijah and I managed to move enough hay to form an L-shape with the aforementioned beans so we got around 30 plants in the ground.

Cucumbers. This is our first year growing cucumbers in Texas and we couldn’t have been more shocked by the results. Something changed in our soils a couple of years ago when we discontinued wood chip mulch and began adding more hay and manure. So we planted these Armenian Yard-Long Cucumbers since they seemed heat and drought tolerant and boy are they ever. We’ve been harvesting 3-4 huge cucumbers per day, the equivalent of probably 8-10 regular cucumbers. So daily cucumber salads and over two gallons of fermented pickles might just be the beginning with these guys.

Verdict: Saving seed and definitely would plant more next year if the Lord allows.


Bush beans. I think we’ve tried bush beans four of the six summers we’ve been here and never really had a great turnout. Those first few years, of course, I supposed it was the soil that was the problem. Well, this year the plants got huge and super bushy but so far the leaves seem more productive than the beans. There are a lot of flowers and smaller beans on them all of a sudden, though, so perhaps I am not being patient enough?

Verdict: Give it a few more weeks and compare yields to the pole beans in the Pallet Garden.


Okra. After we pulled the garlic, we planted the okra in the same bed not 24 hours later. There sits three long rows, the most okra we’ve ever planted. I just thinned it this week and it surely needs a great deal of weeding but so far it seems to be loving the heat.
Summer squash. This very weedy row contains somewhere between twelve and sixteen plants and it has been surprisingly productive. When the heat set in, I thought it was done because, despite the plants overall vigor, the blossoms all but stopped. But mulching and some epsom salts seemed to perk it back up so we’re still harvesting. Between canning and fermenting we will be eating this stuff for some time to come.

Verdict: Saving seed and Stewart mentioned doubling the amount we grow next year to feed to pigs and chickens since it is just so productive.


Pumpkins. If I counted correctly before the vines of these Seminole Pumpkins began to take over, we may have 16 plants in the patch. This is one of our least-worked areas in the field and these pumpkins have surprised us all. There are now fruits throughout the patch so we will see how they survive the rest of the summer.

Verdict: If these continue as they are, we hope to save seeds and plant again next year.

So now I guess we just wait to see how the okra, beans, and pumpkins do through the summer heat. What’s growing in your garden?


Oh Texas June, you befuddle me with your shiny garden produce set to the backdrop of triple digit days. Summer technically hasn’t even begun yet but the green beans and squash and tomatoes are needing extra water and mulch to survive the heat. Whereas I was once picking strawberries and peas on warm Midwestern June days, I now find myself at the tail end of summer harvests and watching the okra reach for that mid-day sun.

And so here we are, picking giant cucumbers and making pickles, the lettuce and radishes and peas long since replaced. It is full and it is rich and it is surely summer if we get to eat just a handful of red ripe tomatoes here and there, right?

But it isn’t even summer yet!” remarked Elijah this morning, ever the knower-of-facts and corrector-of-Mamas. True, but if it’s over 80, it’s summer… and who decides that summer starts the same day in Minnesota as it does in Texas anyways? I’m sure there is a logical explanation somewhere but unless it involves tomatoes, it is lost on me.

So I think I’ll just pick some green beans, eat this salad, and call it summer, even if Elijah and the calendar say otherwise.


Cucumber, Tomato, and Golden Beet Salad

Note: Raw beets are wonderfully delicious and healthful but we have only had success with a small patch this spring. Because we prize them for their nutrition, we use these golden beets from Azure as a great addition to the vegetables currently coming from our garden.


  • 2 yard-long cucumbers (or 4 smaller)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large golden beets, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 green onions
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste


Chop the cucumbers and beets into bite-sized pieces and toss into a medium mixing bowl. Mince the onion and cilantro and add to the vegetables along with the tomatoes.

Toss together and then drizzle in the vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste generously with salt.

Let sit for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld before serving.