Dateline: 21 July 2013
|Summer Squash in July|
When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs, back in the 1960's and early 1970's, my family had a garden. A lot of people in the housing development had gardens. Everyone planted their garden in the spring, and that was it. As far as I can recall, people did not plant seeds in their garden in July. But I think gardeners these days have become a lot more savvy about planting later in the year.
I have planted some summer squash, zucchini, beets, carrots, cabbage and chard in this month of July. I was going to plant some kale but when I opened the top of the seed packet I looked in and there were no seeds. There were no seeds because the bottom of the packet had somehow opened itself. The seeds had all fallen out and were somewhere on the ground, but I couldn't find them. That was a first.
The fledgling summer squash plants pictured above were planted in a large Whizbang sidewall cloche. Sidewall cloches (small and large) are discussed on pages 45-47 of The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, (and for those who have purchased a copy of the book, you can see and learn more at the book's hidden online Resources web site).
Sidewall cloches are a simple, inexpensive contrivance I developed several years ago. Gardening without them would be hard now that I have grown to depend on them to get so many plants off to a good start.
I planted the seeds about 1/4" into an "1899 Violet Purton Biddle puddle" (see page 60 of the book), and covered them with some vermiculite I had left over from when I made my Planet Whizbang rocket stove for steam fryalizin' compost (page 109). Some steam fryalized compost would have worked just as well, but I need to make another batch.
The seeds were planted 9 days ago. They haven't needed any watering and, as you can see, they are not being bothered by any insects. By the time the plants grow to fill the cloche structure, and I remove the cover, they will be off to a great start. They will be able to withstand any insects that might take an interest in them. But, by then, the insects that might have terrorized them in the spring will not be around.
Planting late to avoid insect damage is a very old gardening technique. On page 2 of my Idea Book For Gardeners is a short but wise quote from the 1892 edition of Leavitt's Farmer's Almanac:
"Squashes planted late are not so likely to be infested by insects."