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Well hello, friends!
Did June actually happen? I feel like it was maybe the beginning of May yesterday, and all of a sudden, June is over. I mean, I’m getting this newsletter sent out on the last day of the month, and I don’t quite understand how that happened. Don’t tell me I’m getting older because I think time is simply speeding up. Seriously!
June is the month that sees a significant transition from spring to summer in the garden. Many blooms come and go as the peonies and roses begin and end. Work outside changes from planning and planting to watering and maintenance. I just finished planting seeds in the garden and am now waiting for the explosion of summertime fruits and vegetables.
At this time of year, I forget the indoor work and spend all my time in the garden. But I look forward to this time once a month that we can spend together. So grab something to drink; maybe this month it’s iced coffee, and let’s catch up!
Let’s talk about the garden.
Each year promises something new and unexpected in the garden. Lately, at least here in Iowa, we seem to be on the drier side earlier and earlier in the summer. So many times this month, I watched the radar for promising rainy weather. And many times, I saw the rainclouds break apart before reaching my corner of the state. Thus, June was dry in southeast Iowa, meaning I spent a lot of time watering any of the specimens I planted this past spring.
When planting something new, remember it for at least the current year and the next. It’ll need regular watering if you aren’t getting adequate rain (like me). Since these plants don’t have root systems that can withstand dry weather, giving them the moisture they need is imperative. Even drought-tolerant plants need water until fully established.
The tomatoes have been in the ground since May 9. And with the heat we’ve had, they’ve put on much growth this month. There are two types of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. In my garden, I only grow indeterminate tomatoes, which means they get large. This size means they can get out of control if not managed.
I use a method to control this growth that removes the “suckers” that sprout. As the vine matures upward, a tiny sucker emerges where each leaf grows off the main stem. If left unchecked, that sucker becomes large, producing flowers and fruit. These are called suckers because they suck energy from the plant. They also cause the plant to become overgrown, making it hard for air circulation and sunlight to reach the fruit. Leaving the suckers on the plant does not mean the tomato crop will be a failure. Even if you do not choose to remove the suckers, you’ll still get tomatoes. I simply find this works well for me with the best results.
Don’t worry if you feel you had a late start in the garden. Just this last weekend, I finally planted my cucumber seeds. That’s right, I just planted them… in June! But I’m not worried. There will be plenty of time for these cucumber vines to grow their fruit. My delay was due somewhat to busyness but partly as a strategy. Planting vines in mid-June can help vine borers not be as destructive. I planted my squash and pumpkins on June 16 for the same reason. At this point, all of them are happy and growing.
It goes without saying that I’m hoping for a good year!
Let’s talk about some grilled food.
Summertime means that the grill will be getting some pretty heavy use. Growing up, we grilled most evenings. Dad would work late on the farm, and Mom would be out in the garden until sunset (at least that’s how it felt to my sister and me). When they came in, we often had either hamburgers or brats. While I don’t make these same recipes every evening, I still enjoy a good recipe for both (and I think you will too)!
During the winter, I roast everything in the oven. The caramelization that’s created adds so much intense flavor. But while the weather’s nice, I keep the stove off and grill all my vegetable produce instead. The grill acts in much the same way as my oven but adds a charbroiled flavor you cannot get any other way.
If you’re looking for something new to grill, try this! Douse whole carrots, halved zucchini, or cauliflower steaks with avocado oil (or olive oil). Then sprinkle them with your favorite seasoning blend. Currently, I’ve been using a mixture of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika or chipotle powder, and a good amount of salt (all in equal amounts, but adjust for the flavors you want). Rub that all over the oiled vegetable(s) and throw them on the grill until they’re charred. It’s what I honestly crave each and every day!
I’m also back on my game of making ice cream weekly. I was never really off my game, but ice cream making feels like a requirement in the summer. I use my vanilla bean recipe to stock the freezer, so it’s ready when fresh berries and (soon) peaches are on hand.
Speaking of fresh berries, I live close to an organic blueberry farm and will soon pick a bunch to fill up the freezer. I love to make my blueberry pie, which is a favorite of Mom’s and happens to go well with ice cream.
If you’re looking for new recipes, here are some other summertime favorites to try:
Let’s talk about Kip.
Kip has had a hard June. Early in the month, he fell while outside. I think it’s hard for Kip to remember what he can and cannot do. The fall caused him some pain in his right leg, but the X-rays showed no fracture or break. He was told to rest and heal.
Soon after the fall, Kip developed a stomach bug and had many bathroom issues. These issues have gone on a bit longer than is comfortable. A quick trip to my local vet reminded me that all the immune suppressants Kip takes make it much harder for him to get over little things, like a stomach bug. He’s healing and seems to be getting better, but it has been a slow process.
I’ll admit that I get overly anxious about Kip since he had such a hard time in 2021. Each medical issue can bring back those same feelings of anxiety I struggled with during his initial diagnosis.
Kip, and most animals, are incredibly adaptable. I’m continually impressed how Kip knows nothing different. He doesn’t act sad or down, but instead wants to go outside and play.
I’d like to think that some of Kip’s adaptability is rubbing off on me. I could use a lesson (or two) in adapting to situations I wish were different. I cannot help but think that so many things come into our lives that are teaching moments. Whether it’s a friend, family member, stranger, or even dog, we can all learn something new today and each day forward.
That’s all for this totally summer month of June! This coming weekend, those of us in the US will be celebrating the Fourth of July, which means it’ll be time for great cookouts and summer festivities. If you’re elsewhere in the world, I hope you also enjoy your season, whether it’s cold or hot!
Until then, let’s all stay positive and encouraging to others!
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