Two Week Check Up

Here we are, it’s been two weeks since the gardens proper have been planted, and we definitely have action.   I’ve been seriously fighting the squirrels though, as they seem very fond of Bed #1.  I replanted a good bit of it about four days after initial planting, because they just kept digging and digging!  As a result of that digging… well, it looks like I have weeds all over the place.  Some of them are weeds, I’m sure.  But some of them are also most likely the greens that I’ve never grown before, so I have no idea what they are.   I’ve had to rig up some bird netting to cover this bed and try to keep the squirrels out.  Its working, but I can’t raise it up any higher, and my tomatoes are pressing against the netting.  Don’ know what we’ll do when we go camping in a few weeks.  You can see the light green patches towards the back- those would be the mesclun growing very nicely.

Bed # 2 is also growing very well.  I’ve had excellent germination on pretty much everything except the carrots- those are taking their sweet time in all the beds.  I have some new-to me greens looking almost ready already.  The Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens and Mizuna could probably stand a thinning in the the next week.  The squirrels have not spent much time in this bed at all.  The large plants toward the front here are my sweet peppers with some radishes right in front of us.  Beets have also been slow, as there are a few of those in this bed.

Bed #3 is doing well, this is the hot pepper bed.   I also have my zucchini in this one.  I planted a bush zucchini smack dab in the middle of a four square patch- then planted radishes all around it.  That should give the zucchini a little space to sprawl when the time comes.

And then there’s the fourth bed.  Here, it looks empty, but again, I have a lot of carrots and beets in this one- both are slow to come up.  The carrots have begun poking through, but they look like tiny blades of grass at this point, and you really have to look for it.  I noticed today that the mache I planted here is also just starting to poke out.  I have one variety of cucumber that hasn’t germinated yet, and I so wish I knew which one that was.  Abigail planted the cukes for me, and while I know which three squares have the picklers in them, the rest are a mystery to me.  I’d plant more if I knew which variety it was…

All of the tomatoes I’ve planted in the beds are doing great.  I have a few blossoms on some of them- as well as the peppers.   I’m thinking about doing a Florida weave to trellis the tomatoes this year if Andy has time to get the poles attached for me.  Otherwise I’ll just use my standard flat cages and string.  The tomatoes I’ve planted with the herbs are perking up- all except the Pink Grapefruit.  I’m afraid that one is about to be removed, which is okay, because I forgot to plant a patch of new scallions, so I’ll pull him out and put the green onions in there.

I’m seeing great progress!  Our big camping vacation is in just a few weeks, and I fully expect that when we return from our week away we will be harvesting radishes, baby lettuce and broccoli raab to our heart’s delight.   Timing-wise, camping is going to work out great this year, as nothing will really be ready for harvesting while we’re gone.  I’m just worried about that first bed and the squirrels.  Maybe I can get Andy to quickly build me some a fence around the bed…


Blackberries And Sad Tomatoes

This morning I walked through the yard, and as I made my way out the door, I saw my blackberry canes sitting on the shelf- desperately needing to be planted.  I heaved a big ole sigh and then headed out, to survey and find a good spot for them to go.  My original intention for them is not ready, so I needed to come up with a plan ?”B”, and after a careful going over, chose my spot, and began the arduous process of ripping out weeds and working in some composted manure.

When I went to get the blackberries though, I found that 4 of my really, really sad tomato plants were actually still sporting green leaves.  It only took me a second to decide to go ahead and plant them and see if anything came of them.  I already had the dirt ready, nothing else to put in the dirt, and if the tomatoes die, it’s no big deal, as the ones in the gardens proper are thriving incredibly.

So today I planted six blackberry canes and then four tomato plants.  The pathetic plants I buried in the soil were my Pink Grapefruit, Green Zebra, Reisentraube and a Valiant.  The pathetic ones I’d put in the other gardens perked up and came to life, so we’ll see how these do.  The Pink Grapefruit has started looking worse since I put it in, but time will tell.  I also fertilized and gave that side of the yard a healthy watering.

As long as I was digging in the dirt, I also took the time to prep the corn patch.  The kids have been asking and asking if we could plant corn.  I told them that if Andy could get another bed built in time, we would plant corn.  Well, the bed’s been mostly finished for a few weeks now, but I haven’t had any time to do anything about it.  It still isn’t totally finished, but I went ahead anyway and got it ready.  First I had to remove weeds and roots, and then I worked in four bags of topsoil and one of composted manure.  Once my dirt was all mixed up, I planted three varieties of quick-growing sweet corn, and also nine pie pumpkin seeds.  I’m really not sure if we’ll have enough time for any of those, but I planted these specific sweet corns because they said they were quick growing.  Hopefully Andy can actually finish assembling the bed now that it’s planted.

So, how about some pictures!

This is another picture of the right side of my backyard.  This is the herb garden The red you see at the back of the picture are my old bar stools with pots on them.  One pot has parsley, the second pot I planted with Buttercup Squash today.


Here’s some new herbs- you can see the very edge of the tall onions to the right.  Then I have added Rosemary, Summer Savory, French Tarragon, and another Parsley plant.  The biggest plant towards the middle there is the parsley.  To the left of him I have three of my scrawny sick tomato plants- which you cannot see in this photo.

And here we have the left side of the bar stools.  There is another tomato plant which you can’t see.  The plant in the ground there is my rhubarb, and then between the rhubarb and that lattice panel I’ve planted the blackberry canes.  Today I also planted a row of Scarlet Runner Beans in front of the lattice.  It would be fun if those took off- they make very pretty flowers.

Here’s the new Corn Patch.  Once everything is said and done, there will be four of these small beds along the back of the yard.  Each of the kids will get one to plant next year, and then two of them I plan to use as cold frames.

And then here’s a last picture to kind of give you an idea of where the new Corn Patch sits in relation to the rest of the gardens, and my garden shed.

There will be more pictures to come soon! I discovered that I have some asparagus fronds peeking out from the asparagus patch, the gardens are full of sprouts and my plants are thriving beautifully.  I fertlized everything today and gave it all a good soaking, and I’m already dreaming of my first taste of fresh greens from the garden.

Planted and Thriving

Everything is planted and growing. All of the tomato and pepper plants were planted on Memorial Day. I ended up planting 4 of my tomato plants and 6 of my pepper plants. After planting I was out of town for the rest of the week, and got back late Friday. I took a look at my plants and all of them were looking good except for the ones that I started. I decided to go back to the farmer’s market Saturday morning and see what I could find to replace most of them.

The four tomato plants were pretty easy to find replacements for. I grabbed another Cherokee Purple, a Caspian Pink, a Thesolonika, and a Roma. I ended up picking up four pepper plants too, 2 Caribbean Red Habs and two more jalapeno plants. I hope the jalapenos produce, as they are the staple pepper in my salsa.

As Erika stated I had also avoided posting on here, as my starts this year were horrendous. By Memorial Day I still had 2 inch tall plants. It is like they decided to grow to 2 inches, and then sit at that size for 6 weeks. Some days it made me want to cry.

A user on one of the forums I frequent posted pictures the day before Memorial Day of some tomato plants that he had [i]sown[/i] on May 2nd. They were 10-12 inches tall and looked fabulous. I couldn’t believe it, I thought he must have typed in the date wrong, so I sent him a private message asking him. He said no, he did not have the date wrong, they were in fact sown only 4 weeks ago. Needless to say I now know his secret recipe, and I will be testing some tomato starts tomorrow using this special mix and see how it goes. If they start well I will probably throw two of them in some 5 gallon buckets in that same mix and see how much fruit I can get off of them even though they were started so late. We’ll see – I will be documenting the entire process and post progression pictures.

The list below is almost identical to Erika’s, we bought most of the same plants at the farmers market. Reading up on the varieties I am really looking forward to August! People really need to name their tomatoes better though. It seems like they don’t know how to tell one color from another. For instance, Pruden’s Purple is actually a pink tomato, and Dr. Wyche’s Yellow is golden orange, not even close to being yellow. It seems that orange and yellow are the biggest colors that you can’t count on the name to determine what color they are. We need some standards!

I have 4 super hots this year – I really enjoyed making and tasting my hot sauce last year and plan on making some more. I also want to make something in the hot range in addition to the absolute scorcher that I made last year. We will see if the habaneros have enough time to spit out ripe fruit for me. If not there is always an abundance at the farmers market in the fall for cheap. I think I will also add a few to some small batches of salsa to actually make a hot salsa. I made one last year that bordered on hot and another that was a strong medium. I might even try a mild this year, who knows.

Ok, on to the lists 🙂

Tomatoes 2011:

German Johnson
Purple Calabash
Cherokee Purple (2)
Striped German
Black Cherry
Yellow Brandywine
Green Zebra
Pruden’s Purple (Pink!)
Aunt Ruby’s German Green
Purple Russian
Sweet 100
Black Krim
Caspian Pink

Hot Peppers 2011:

Caribbean Red Habanero (2)
Bulgarian Carrot
Maule’s Red Hot
Joe’s Round
Orange Habanero (2)
Jalapeno (7)

No pictures with this post, but I promise some next week!

And Now For The Herbs

Today I managed to get a large portion of the herb garden tended and planted.  That was a bit of work!  Here you can see the before picture- what I had to work with.

Somewhere in there is a sage plant as well as a lemon thyme plant.  And way at the back you can almost see the scallions that are there.   This was a chore.  I had to go through and dig out all those weeds by hand- still digging out that blasted bishop’s weed.  Someday I will be rid of it all!   I pulled all the weeds to just past the scallions, and then I worked in 4 bags of composted manure.  I did manage to find the sage and lemon thyme alive and well, and then I gave them some friends.

I put in marjoram, thyme, lovage, two kinds of basil, and then the leeks and onions as well.  Once those were planted, I also planted some chive, fennel and dill seed in the patch.  Hopefully in the week to come I’ll find a little bit of time to dig out the weeds beyond the scallions and put in a few more herb plants.  Here is my after photo:

I have to say, planting all those onions and leeks by hand was really rather obnoxious.   And I just realized that I don’t have any new scallions- just the ones from last year, so I will definitely have to put those at the other end of the bed, along with some parsley, rosemary and whatever other herbs I can find at the garden center.  All the ones that went in today I started from seed.

One piece of yard at a time…

It’s A Garden!

I am just so excited to have my garden back!  Yesterday as I measured out my squares and carefully planted my seeds, it was like a reunion with an old friend.  I really love square foot gardening,  and trying to do without it last year was more than enough trying for me.  Never again.

I have four main garden beds, three of them measure 10 x4 and the fourth one is a few inches shy, so it’s more like a 9×4.  Total,  that is 156 square feet of growing space, and boy, did I plant a lot!

I have 21 tomato plants, 27 hot pepper plants- including one habanero plant, 7 sweet pepper plants and scads and scads of other edibles.  I planted tons of new-to- me greens, like claytonia, mache, mizuna, cress, two kinds of endive, and many different kinds of  lettuce and spinach.   There are 13 square feet of assorted carrots, kale, broccoli, chard, lots of radishes and 5 varieties of beet- some prized for their greens, some for the root.  I planted six square feet of pole beans, and then six square feet of bush beans, PLUS the 9 square feet that are half bush beans, half cucumbers.  The six varieties of cucumber will be trained up a trellis, and I’m hopeful that I’ll have enough picklers to make pickles this year.  We even plopped in a watermelon and a cantaloupe plant.  Not sure how those will do, but the kids wanted to try them out.

I made the decision that for this year at least, the herbs and onions will not go in the raised beds.  Rabbits pretty much leave herbs and onions alone, so tomorrow I will spend time cultivating the herb bed and planting what I have ready in there.  My basil, marjoram, thyme and chervil are all doing really well, and will be so happy in the ground.

It was so wonderful today to walk out to the garden and see that my pepper and tomato plants survived yesterday’s crazy wind all right.  Today I am a bit on the sore side from yesterday’s efforts, but I certainly feel that all is right with the world now.  The garden grows, and we eagerly await a harvest.

For the record, these are the tomato and pepper plants I have growing.  Most of these tomatoes are new varieties to me- I’m excited to try them!

Tomatoes 2011:

  • Tigerella
  • German Johnson
  • Roma
  • Moskovich
  • Lemon Drop (two of these)
  • Woodle Orange (this one is rather pathetic looking…we’ll see)
  • Purple Calabash
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Striped German
  • Black Cherry
  • Yellow Brandywine
  • Green Zebra
  • Pruden’s Purple
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green
  • Valiant
  • Purple Russian
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet 100
  • Black Krim
  • Ananas Noire (also rather sickly, but worth a shot)

Hot Peppers 2011:

  • Serrano
  • Cascabella
  • Bulgarian Carrot
  • Maule’s Red Hot
  • Joe’s Round
  • Hinkelhatz
  • Georgia Flame
  • Aji Cristal
  • Habanero
  • Jalapeno