Monday, June 10, 2013

The Garden Tour

General Lee Cucumber (the history nerd in me loves this)
What a wonderful growing season we've had so far!  Compared to the horrible heat and drought of last year, this summer is looking promising. *knock on wood* It's not only the weather that has me feeling optimistic about the garden this year; I've also changed my garden philosophy.

OutRedgeous lettuce is gorgeous!
For the last few years, I've put in a few pepper and tomato plants, some pole beans, and that's been it.  I hadn't done much to the soil (even with my composter) and sort of relied on Mother Earth to do her thing.'t worked out that well.  I got a few tomatoes, some green beans, and a sad looking pepper or two.  Granted, the conditions were not optimal, but I didn't do much to put the gardening odds in my favor.
Basil - the only crop I could count on in previous years
This year, thanks to some awesome BBC shows (it's amazing how much cooler gardening sounds when explained in a British accent - thank you Alan Titchmarsh!) and a lot of internet research, I feel much more knowledgeable about all things garden.  My soil is full of nutrients, I've studied up on my companion planting, and I know organic ways to deal with common garden problems.

A plethora of pots
I've also hedged my bets.  Like any good businesswoman (or gardener) would do, I've diversified!  Instead of a few plants in one place, I decided to grow every kind of veg I could, in as many places as possible.  In addition to my two house-hugging plots, I've added a raised bed and rounded up as many pots as I could find (rather easy/terrifying in my 100 year old basement).
I've tried to separate each kind of plant so there's at least one in the garden and one in a pot. That way SOMETHING should survive in case of drought, pests, disease, what have you. For example, the kale planted in my raised bed has been devoured by white moth caterpillars (those small, bright green ones), whereas the kale in the pot has only been lightly nibbled.  It's probably a little early to really know, but I'm feeling pretty good about harvest prospects.

Here's my complete growing list:
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers 
  • Pie Pumpkins
  • Butternut Squash
  • Tomatoes - Roma, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear, Roma Cherry, and Brandywine
  • Peppers - Poblano, Apple, Sweet Yellow, Sweet Italian Red
  • Carrots
  • Pod Peas
  • Snap Peas
  • Pole Beans
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes - will go in when the garlic comes up in a few weeks
  • Greens - OutRedgeous and Bibb lettuces, Spinach
  • Herbs - Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Chives, Dill, Thyme, Parsley, Mint
Garlic - will be ready in a few weeks.
You know to pick when 1/2 the leaves
turn brown.
From left: rosemary, sage, and dill
I also have the same herbs planted directly into the garden, 

but I plan on bringing these inside as soon as it gets cold.

We've already made full meals out of the lettuces and kale.  We've picked some pretty beautiful radishes and I've used all of the herbs in some way or another - in bread, on fish, dip, etc.  I've tried to sow successive batches of many crops a few weeks apart so that we can enjoy our harvest throughout the summer (another move I'm trying).  Here's hoping it all works out!  For now, I'll just enjoy looking at how magnificent it all is!

I'm growing my lettuces between rows of trellised green beans.
As the beans grow, they will shade the cool-weather greens, at least until they bolt. 
Pod Peas - can you see the pod forming with the flowers?
Butterstick Zucchini
Radishes are some of the easiest and fastest crops to grow from seed!

As soon as you see the first flowers, you should prune the "suckers"
(the branches that appear between the main stem and the leaves)
to promote a strong main stem and direct the plants energy to the right places.
My pie pumpkin is taking over!

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