The garden is in full bloom & i mean that literally. It feels so good to see the fruits of our labor come springing up from the ground to fill our bellies. i did a blog post a while ago talking about planning the garden. i am really happy i took that time for it has paid off in the long run to be a little overly organized. However my garden is not without its moments of learning and i can already see improvements i need to make for next year.
Some things i learned
- Start planning the garden in January so you can get the cold items in
- Birds + fruits = them eating your strawberries
- buy twice the size tomato cages than you think you'll need
- everyone had an opinion of what you should grow
- bugs are annoying, except ladybugs
- Ladybugs are so cool
- one Zucchini/Summer Squash plant is enough
- a daily trip to the garden is healing
- you can grow lots of stuff in one 3" x 6" bed
- growing vertical is both rewarding and completely frustrating
i decided to number my beds and keep records of what grows in them each year. i have read in enough places that i should rotate my "crops" every so often. i have a pretty good memory but it's just easier if everything is written down. So i bought fun house numbers and added them to my beds. i then marked off the bed with twine to plan out my square foot garden. it may seem like overkill but it really helped me keep the areas straight and made it easy for planting. Plus i really like the pretty numbers!
i used both seeds and transplanted plants i purchased from the local farms/farmer's markets. Planting the seeds seemed tedious at first (how far apart should they be? how deep do they need to be planted, how many seeds in one spot, do they need to be soaked over night?) but once i got into a routine, it seem to go much faster. Phil, the Father-in-Law, made me and Kari these awesome planting guides we spotted on pinterest. i was so easy to space the seeds as needed.
A sprouting seed is such a fun event. Every time i went out to the garden it was like a little present to see those beans pushing up through the dirt.
Fairly soon my garden had all kinds of veggies sprouting. i had so much fun watching them grow and photographing them as they did.
After the last frost, the tomato plants went into the ground and then i added the colorful tomato cages. When i transplanted the tomatoes, those cages looked huge. i went with four different colors for my four different varieties.
But now, not so much. i had to find a solution to hold some of those tomato branches so i got a new trellis. The cherry tomatoes like to grow all over the place even though i have been pruning diligently. i found this tip online about using epsom salt every two weeks with tomatoes and i must say, my tomato plants are flourishing. It could be the great starter plants, the good soil, the abundance of rain, but i do think that salt plays a part. Next year i think i will skip the cages for the cherries and use the string method to tie them up. The cage worked well for the Roma so i might use them again next year for that type of tomato plant.
The vertical planting was a bit frustrating. i let myself be talked into a vertical frame that i just didn't like. As it turns out, it didn't work very well either so i ended up scrapping it and started over with a more functional art approach. i decided wood and some pretty powered coated metail trellises were more my style and i am happier i made the switch. The peas were frustrating to train. One day i would have them nicely wrapped around some twine working their way up the trellis. Overnight they would move and wrap themselves around another plant. Gah!
It is fun to make trips to the garden to see what is ready for harvesting. i find it a healing daily routine and look forward to this time of the day. The kids often join me and i find that lots of time the food doesn't even make it to the table. Anthony loves the peas in their pods, Cheyenne eats up all the cherry tomatoes (especially the black cherry), Alexi is impatiently waiting on the carrots, and Jake loves the fresh broccoli & snowpeas.
When we do manage to get the produce to the table, it tastes amazing. Seriously fresh & tasty. Andrew declared the beets were the best he's ever tasted.
Here's what i planted this year
- Beets (Early Wonder & Chioggia)
- Onions (Red, Valencia, & Chipollini)
- Peppers (Snack Size in Red, Orange, & Yellow)
- Carrots (Mixture, Little Fingers, Scarlet Nantes)
- Herbs (Sage, Basil, Purple Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Oregano)
- Cherry Tomatoes (Sungold, Black Cherry, BumbleBee)
- Roma Tomato (San Marzano)
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Sugar Pod Snow Peas
- Pole Beans
- Cucumbers (Marketmore)
- Spinach (Bloomsdale)
- Broccoli (Nutri-Bud)
- Kale (Dwarf Blue)
- Baby Greens
- Summer Squash (Early Prolific Straighneck)
- Zucchini (Black Beauty)
i love how it's progressing & producing, so much so that i have shared with friends & family. i am already thinking of changes for next year and what i want to grow in addition to these awesome veggies. i am really happy i took the leap into the art of gardening!