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June in the garden

by Peter Heffelfinger

Tomatoes & Peppers


Juliet Tomato

My hoop house is now full of my favorite tomato varieties, including the Italian heirloom Cuore de Bue (beef heart) for slicing, Viva Roma and Marzano paste types, as well as Juliet, a large sized cherry tomato that dehydrates exceptionally well. My garden partner has put in standards such as Big Beef, Joe’s Nursery Special, Sungold, and Early Girl.


There are also the standard green/red salad peppers, as well as a new, very long red pepper for frying called A Bridge to Paris, a de-hybridized variety developed in the Hudson Valley. (To decipher the origins of the unique name, which has nothing to do with the river Seine, consult the Territorial or Uprising Seed websites.)

A Bridge to Paris pepper

Other roasting varieties include both a red and a yellow variety of Bull’s Horn, a green Marconi, and a new Shishito that is consistently hot instead of varying in heat level. There are Jalapeño, Padrone, and Anaheim peppers for spicy dishes, and a new, dark-colored hot pepper called Pathfinder, which I will see how it stacks up on the capsaicin heat scale.


Basil indoors

Early on, I had two pots of basil starts in the hoop house, but it was too cold for them during the latter part of May. So, I have a second batch of basil in pots inside the house for now, next to a sunny window, where they are much happier. Always nice to have fresh basil to welcome the first ripe tomatoes.


Irrigation System


New this year is an automated drip and soaker hose irrigation system installed by my garden partner to ease the chore of hand watering a large garden and also to conserve water from the artesian well. The difficulty is delivering the proper amount of water at the right time to plants with different needs. Tomato plants require more water than peppers, which involves installing different size emitters; also, the whole system needs to be monitored according to the weather as temperatures begin to rise.


Market More Cucumber

I also do a bed of trellised cucumbers in the hoop house, which has a soaker hose system on a separate switch to keep the trellised vine bed well supplied. Cucumber varieties include the standard Market More, and a long, thin variety Tasty Jade, for slicing or for making Tzatziki, a dip made with shredded cucumber, garlic, and Greek style yogurt. I am also trying Armenian cucumbers, a light green delicacy known as snake melons in the Middle East.

Bulb Fennel and Spring Leeks


Soaker hoses will supply the corn, planted in a single block, the early potatoes, and a bed of spring leeks and bulb fennel. Until the full system is installed some hand watering will be required for the beds of onions, beans, cabbages, broccoli, and lettuces, as well as the perennial beds of asparagus and artichokes. Overall, it’s a slow-moving transition involving lots of different hoses going in all directions. And then there’s the winter squash beds still to put in, which will require another layer of black pipe, connectors, and emitters. I also have a 30-gallon drum of water, open from the top, for quick filling of watering cans for spot watering as needed, including the first planting of dahlias that surprisingly survived the winter cold snap, or the sunflowers that will go in somewhere soon. It's hard to automate everything all at once.


Edible-Pod Pea

The Oriental Snow peas have already grown above the four-foot wire fence, requiring a higher set of posts and string as support for the vines.




Garlic scapes beneath Mt. Erie

My 2023 hard-neck garlic crop got black mold on the roots from the wet conditions at the Mt. Erie site. The bulbs cleaned up well enough for long-term storage all winter, but I couldn’t use the affected bulbs for planting last fall. However, I was lucky to find another site up the road at a higher elevation with better drainage, where garlic has been grown successfully for a number of years. My fresh stock of seed garlic, Red Chesnok and Music, is looking healthy so far. I applied blood meal fertilizer in March to supply readily available nitrogen in early spring when the soil was still cold. The heavy rain in late May and early June will help bulk up the bulbs. The garlic will then need 2-3 weeks of no water to develop strong outer skins prior to harvest in late June or early July.

Garlic scapes


On June 1st I harvested the first crop of garlic scapes, the seed/stem tops that should be snapped off as soon as they appear in order to direct plant growth to the newly forming bulbs. To round off the year-long garlic cycle, I had just made a springtime vegetable soup using the last frozen packet of last year’s scapes as a base, along with carrots, a few leaves from my hardy bay tree, a bit of concentrated chicken bouillon, and white wine. A garlic scape, baton-style handoff from one allium season to the next.


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