This year’s garden from the beginning…

While I have been finishing up the semester, I have also been beginning the garden. Now that it is June, we are way past the beginning, so I thought I should write a little bit to catch up.

I discussed my early plan for the garden in a previous post, but ever since the garden opened I have re-planned and come up with the new design that fits the dimensions of our plot more exactly. The newest plan created using the growveg.com garden planner software can be found here and is pictured below.

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A few reasons why I planned and planted the way that I did:

I love experimenting with companion planting. After scouring the web, reading books at the library, and having one year of gardening under my belt I am slowly gaining opinions about what should be planted together in the garden. The thinks I like so far:
– tomatoes, marigolds, and basil (did so well last year!)
– nasturtiums and squash/cucumbers (not sure of any real benefit but they look very nice together)

Combinations that I am testing out this year:
– corn, beans, and squash (the three sisters)
– peas and cucumbers
– brassicas (broccoli and cabbage) and rosemary and thyme
– melons and oregano (apparently oregano deters pests? we will see!)

I was very excited to try doing a three-sisters planting. Sweet corn is an amazing part of summer (although traditionally three sisters planting is done with field corn), and planting that along with spaghetti squash (which Andrew got me hooked on) and some beans to dry for the winter, I was totally sold on it. The process: plant corn, plant beans to grow up corn, plant squash to cover the ground keeping in moisture and keeping out weeds. I found this website very helpful in planning everything out.

I also read somewhere that a trellis for your peas can double for your cucumbers once the peas die in the heat of the summer. I love it when things have multiple purposes (see my garden doghouse trellis)! Not to mention it will give me a reason to take down my old peas before the birds decide to nest in them like they did last year.

I feel like I could go on and on about my plan and why I planted them the way they are, but maybe I will go on in another post. Now to move on to the actual planting and growing that has been going on over the last month and a half. (Hopefully from now on I will post weekly instead of monthly to keep the posts shorter and sweeter 🙂 )

It is always great starting with a fresh slate, and this year I felt prepared from the very beginning to carve out the rows and know (mostly) where things were going to go.

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A view of my empty three-sisters plot and my pea/cucumber trellis.

The first to go in the ground: potatoes, peas, carrots, and spinach! Not much to see in those pictures except some wet ground, but they started to emerge from the ground right about when I was planting out the onions, broccoli, and cabbage I started from seed (around the end of April).

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First spinach sprouts!

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Onion transplants

This was also when I began to harden off the tomatoes and peppers (they were getting wayyy too big and needed to go outside!). I had killed (or nearly) the celery that I had tried to start from seed, so I ended up purchasing some from the farmer’s market (that along with a miniature variety of cucumbers were the only things I didn’t start from seed). The herbs I started indoors were looking great, although quite small.

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Tomatoes getting adjusted to the outdoors with a guest appearance by the pups.

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I was afraid the tomatoes were root bound, since they were coming out the bottom so much, but when I took them out to transplant they looked just fine.

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Herbs I had started indoors.

Once they were planted outside, everything flourished beautifully, except the eggplant, which AGAIN got eaten by those pesky flea beetles. This year my plants were big enough to survive the first heavy wave of them, so I think they will recover. Next year I think I will wait a bit longer to plant them in the ground.

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On the day of transplant: the sweet pepper plot with a tomato, chives, basil, and parsley.

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Mid-may look at the garden.

I had also started some cucumbers, zucchini, and melons indoors. Last year I had done cucumbers and zucchini and they really didn’t transplant well, but they eventually recovered and did great. So I thought I would do it again this year, with the idea if they didn’t work out I could just directly sow them in the ground. I also thought I would start some outdoors as well in order to stagger the planting a bit (at least for the zucchini that ended up producing in heavy waves last year). The cucumbers got really leggy inside and I don’t think I hardened them off well enough so they unfortunately didn’t survive the transplant, and I lost a melon too. I really don’t feel so bad, as it is all just a big experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Compared to buying plants from the farmer’s market, a pack of seeds comes with a lot more potential, even if it is a bit more work.

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Before transplant….

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After transplant… yikes!

The beginning of May also brought the planting of the corn and flowers from seed (nasturtiums!), and watching the things continuing to grow. Most things are planted now that it is June, however I decided to take on another small plot in the garden to plant another three-sisters (this time with popcorn, a different variety of beans, and pumpkins). I also have some extra space for more carrots, flowers, and more herbs. I couldn’t resist the idea of Lime Basil when I saw it in the Seed Savers Catalog (which I think will be my secret ingredient to my salsa, but we will see how it comes up).

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My favorite kind of Romaine Lettuce (really the only kind I have grown so far) from seeds savers exchange – Forellenschluss.

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I love nasturtiums! These Milkmaid Nasturtiums were also purchased from seeds savers exchange.

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I have three lonely bean seeds leftover from last year (not sure where the rest went or why I didn’t plant them last year), but they went in!

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Stowell’s Evergreen corn. I cannot wait to try them!

With summer now in full swing, I am really hoping to post once a week about the gardening activities. I follow a few bloggers that do ‘Harvest Monday’ posts on what their garden produced over the last week, and I really like that idea. We will just have to see. I find myself spending more time in the garden then I really should (pulling weeds more than taking pictures), and so that time takes away from other things. It would be nice to be able to write short full posts rather than long ones that always feel like I am leaving out so many fun details. I guess that will be one of my summer goals. It is going to be a great summer! Lots to grow, lots to eat, lots of fun! (Hopefully not a lot of barking… but lots of adventures!)

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