You know how you say, "I'm going to do this or that when I retire"? During the month of June, leading up to my retirement date, I looked at much of what needed attention in the yard and garden and said, "I'll take care of that in July, after I retire." Now it is July, and after one week of retirement, I'm exhausted!
In an attempt to protect the broccoli, I shifted a cage from the strawberry bed to the brassica bed, only to find the whole thing caved in, presumably by a big fat woodchuck. Everything that stuck through the collapsed fencing was eaten, plus whatever sweet potatoes poked through the poultry netting I had draped over them haphazardly. This past week, my SO finished lining the wood fence with poultry netting; we may replace the floppy chicken wire around the top with sturdier hardware cloth bent at a 90 degree angle. I've also been tossing dog poop around the shed where critters have created entrances. Maybe I should jack up the shed to discourage its use as a good hiding place?
My SO has also been helping with the weeding, him in the back, me on the public sides of the house. I continue to move plants from the patio beds, now to the south side of the house: crocosmia, catmint/nip, shasta daisy, monarda, coneflower, hysop, etc. Once upon a time, I tried to have a meadow-like area in the backyard, for birds, bees, and butterflies (3B), but it was too large to maintain. So I tried having two large beds by the patio, but they did not get enough sun. I was going to try using the south side of the house for blueberries but changed my mind, so now that area will be the new 3B area. One of many nice things about gardening is, except for large bushes and trees, you can somewhat easily change things around if they don't work out.
In the vegetable garden, the pumpkin and winter squash continue to take over, making the paths almost impassable. (Must research bush varieties.) The pole beans finally germinated and are climbing the corn as anticipated. I cleaned out the failed broccoli bed and plan to use that for root crops, as the squares I used for roots are now obscured by the winter squash. The cukes are climbing the trellis and blooming and almost ready to bear; the zukes have been finding their way into stir fries and salads. The onions and garlic look great, should be ready for harvest one of these days. The tomatoes plants are HUGE and fruit is starting to form, the potatoes blooming which means I could start feeling around for new potatoes if I get the urge.
I cleaned out the pea patches, which besides being ravaged by the birds had been overtaken with weeds. Usually, the weeds are not such a problem with the peas, but this year they were overwhelming. Still, I harvested a kitchen strainer full of pea pods, which was a surprise - the weeds had hidden them all away - so the crop was not a total failure. No snap peas whatsoever, though.
I always plant some flowers in the vegetable garden: marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, and this year something called bee's friend. The marigolds have been overwhelmed and the germination of the sunflowers and bee's friend spotty, but there will be zinnias. They benefited from being started in pots. I'm becoming convinced that, even if you don't want to start plants early, germinating them in pots when possible is a better way to ensure consistent germination than direct sowing.
I've been gardening off and on for about forty years. You'd think I'd be an expert by now, but there is always something new to try, a different method to experiment with. Every year there are some failures and some successes, some due to the gardener, some because of things beyond one's control (weather, I'm talking to YOU). Rarely is it not a challenge.