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.