Rambling About the Garden

Do you every have ambitious plans that don’t quite work out?  I had every intention of building potato towers and designing a new trellis system for my peas, but gardening season rolled around this year without those things ever taking place.  I’m having fun with plants, though.

PlanterInstead of hauling an old barbecue to the dump, I turned it into a planter.  There are flowers in the main section of the barbecue, as well as chamomile in the little basket in front.  The hanging baskets hold peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, and variegated lemon balm.  Those plants all tend to be invasive, and I’d hoped that containing them would let me enjoy those herbs without them trying to take over.  I like the look, but have decided that hanging baskets are too labor-intensive because I don’t like having to water them every day.  I also like the look of thyme & oregano in pots on the side-shelves, but the pot on the left has a tendency to fall whenever horses reach over the fence and try to eat the plant.  Once I even found the pot on the ground on one side of the fence, and the thyme plant in a big, unpotted, half-chomped clump on the other side of the fence.  Instead of killing the horse, I moved the flowerpot.

I’ve also been working on some landscaping and more veggies.  In February, I started artichoke and lettuce (romaine & red romaine) seeds in my greenhouse.  Once weather started warming up in March, I moved the lettuce to the center of a raised bed.  Note: nobody needs two 8′ rows of lettuce.

Planting peas on both sides of the lettuce provides shade, which in the past has always kept my lettuce from bolting.  This is the first year that hasn’t worked.

PEAS and LETTUCE

I should know better than to plant peas without having trellis supports already in place, but planted my second bed with supports only down both edges, not in the center.  Oops.  It gives new meaning to the phrase, “a mess of peas.”

PurplePeas

Brussels sprouts went in mid-March, too.  They’re near the sage & rosemary, toward the right of this photo:

Herb Bed

GreenhouseIn April I started corn, pumpkin, zucchini, tomatoes, and acorn squash in my greenhouse.  I even tried staggering the corn, planting one package of seeds per week for a month, thinking that staggering the planting would stagger our harvest this fall.  That might work if you’re direct-sowing, but starting indoors then transplanting out doesn’t appear to work that way.  When I set them out in May, there was an obvious difference in their sizes/ages; now that they’ve been in the ground for six weeks, they’re all about the same size.  Even though I won’t get a staggered harvest, it was much easier planting a little bit every week instead of a ton all at once.

Corn-set outI have three vegetable plots.  The one about a quarter-mile from the house is where I put this year’s corn.  Taking tips from square-foot gardening and companion planting, I made loose-form beds just less than four feet wide, and in every bed planted five rows eight inches apart:  two rows of corn, one row of sunflowers, and two more rows of corn.  The corn is now three feet high and doing well.  Pumpkins and acorn squash are also in this garden plot.

Potatoes, celery, carrots, tomatoes, basil, and zucchini are in the plot behind my house.   This afternoon I stuck my hand under some of the potato plants and pulled out tiny blue potatoes — no need to wait until the plants die to begin harvesting.

Garden by house

The photo on the right show tall potatoes in the back, and very short ones in front.  I hadn’t planned to experiment, but in mid-May, shortly after I moved all my warm-weather starts outside, a local nursery advertised their remaining seed potatoes at 50% off.  I bought a bunch.  If they produce as well as the potatoes started in April, next year I plan to wait until they’re half-price before making my purchase.

A few times I’ve mentioned mulching.  When I set out the squash & celery, I mulched that entire section of the garden quite heavily with grass clippings (about 8-12 inches).  It’s been six weeks now. I have not needed to pull any weeds from the mulched section of garden:

Mulching

TomatoBasilAnother idea I took from companion planting:  tomatoes do well with carrots, and also with basil.  The tomato rows are about one foot wide.  In one, I planted basil between the tomato plants.  In another horizontal row of tomatoes, I made short vertical rows of carrots between the tomato plants.  This conserves space and makes all the plants healthier.

TomatoCarrots

Out in the front yard, I put in some evergreen huckleberry plants.  Once they’re full-sized I should have a nice 4′ hedge.  I’m under-planting the huckleberries with lingonberries.

Future Evergreen Huckleberry HedgeHuckleberries are related to another berry that is supposed to be helpful for RA, so that’s just one more reason to enjoy them!  I also put in five blueberry bushes, and a white currant.

Along the driveway, just beside the currant bush, is a huge row of artichokes.  They should produce for four or five years before needing to be replaced.  I intend to add a few taller bushes to break the monotony, but probably not until next year.

Artichoke

And, if you just scrolled because this post got waaaaaaayyyy too long, it boils down to:  the garden is growing.  I keep playing in the dirt so that I know there aren’t strange pesticides in my family’s food.

Hope life is treating you well.

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18 thoughts on “Rambling About the Garden

  1. Oh my. You’ve both worn me out and brought back wonderful memories of my father’s gardens when I was growing up. It would feed the entire family all summer as well as provide canned goods for the fall and winter months. How do you find the time and the energy??!!! This is wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing. (And to think, just this morning I was proud of planting some basil in a pot … LOL)

    • :) I do a little bit at a time, not all at once.
      Basil in a pot? I’m impressed! I tried that once, but the basil died. It seems to be doing much better this year out in the garden.

  2. Socks, I love your garden and am jealous of all the open, flat land you have to do this. The alpaca’s head looking over the plants in one photo is a real hoot! So glad you have this as a tool for feeding your family and for recreation.

    • I remember Seattle’s hills. Our ground is sloped, but just enough to provide good drainage, not to make gardening impossible. Isn’t the alpaca something else! I hadn’t realized he was there when I took the pix :)

  3. What incredible veggie gardens, Socks! And I know from experience how much work planting and maintaining them takes, though it’s really satisfying work, isn’t it. I guess you must spend a month or two at harvest-time putting up all that produce for eating throughout the year. I’m impressed–and glad you’re feeling well enough to do it all. Bravo! Have a glorious summer!

    • What’s funny is that it isn’t nearly as much work as I remember it being. I just work at it a little bit at a time and before I know it, there are plants everywhere! You’re so right about it being satisfying work. My kids help with the canning in the fall, which makes that easier than if I had to do it all alone :)

    • Thank you. I’m told that it will take 3-4 years for the huckleberry plants to double in size; they’re very slow growing. I’m planning to top-dress heavily this fall and again in the spring, in hopes that it will spur them to grow more quickly :)

  4. I am SO jealous! I wish I had the energy and the room to have all these plants. When I was a kid we had a huge vegetable garden. I loved getting the vegetables straight from the garden. You will be eating well this summer and fall.

    • The first couple years after I was diagnosed, there is no way I would have had the energy. We even had a few years with no garden because it was all I could do to make it from one day to the next. Those with limited space can look into square foot gardening in a 4’x4’x6″ box. I’ve even seen container gardening done in pots on apartment balconies :)

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