Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May's Garden (2022)

It is done.  We have worked extremely hard this month and everything but the sweet potato and pepper plants are out. It has not been easy.  

One of my goals has been to focus on saving more seeds.  Scattered throughout the garden are labeled bolting plants. It seems attaching a label and tying them to a stake helps me resist the urge to remove them when they start looking ratty.

The front right corner bed has Early Rogue tomatoes which were advertised by the seed catalog to be the first to ripen. We shall see. Since they are determinate and will probably die after production the melons will be able to takeover this bed. 

In January, a new melon appeared in the grocery store. Unable to contain myself, I bought one at the inflated price of $4.79.  We loved the sweet flavor and saved every seed. A Dino melon is now growing with my other melons but has differently shaped lobed leaves. There isn't much information available but hopefully, it will produce well.

Dino Melon                        Banana Melon

The first row beside the lawn has the remaining cool weather vegetables.  The empty spots will soon get seeds from the squash varieties which have tough stems that can withstand the mighty army of squash vine borers swarming toward my garden.  

The second row has purple hull peas in the front section but the back has been planted with three different varieties of old field pea seeds in hopes something will sprout.  I'm still waiting for some signs of life. 

The sweet potatoes will be in the third row beside the Orange Icicle Tomatoes.  Putting them together should work since the potatoes won't be dug until after the tomatoes die from frost damage or until I angrily rip them up. These are the ones that have trouble with blossom end rot so if they start to suffer, they will be gone. 

Next is row four which held the onions, garlic, and romaine lettuce.  It became a jungle and was all my fault.  The lettuce was from saved seeds and grew so abundantly that I didn't have the heart to thin it.  The onions and garlic were able to reach the sunlight so I didn't worry until it was too late.

When hot weather hit they all bolted fast and developed huge thick stems with big roots. They were impossible to break and digging them out disturbed the onion roots. 


Thinning seedlings when they look healthy is difficult for me but this has been a hard lesson learned. Maybe the onions will rebound from my mistake.

The next row to the left is the thin row that held the early maturing vegetables which were to be followed by the peppers.  Hasn't worked. I misjudged their speeds of growth and our ability to consume the large amount. Later varieties are still maturing and are in the way. Some of the peppers have been planted in other rows but the rest will have to be squeezed in.

The Violet De Galmi Onions along the outside edge of this row that I started from seed are doing well. I was surprised by how easy it was and next year will start more varieties earlier. The seeds were sprinkled in a cup and grown in my kitchen window during the dark days of winter. They grew slowly and the green cheered me up.

The middle of the garden is beginning to fill with vegetables.

My unending quest to successfully grow summer squash continues.  Squash vine borers hatched out in my area on May 15th so the plants have been hidden under a row cover.  It was removed when the blooms appeared and a scent trap was placed on the corral fence. 

All of the squash varieties that are susceptible to the borers are planted close to the trap.  They are zucchini, c. pepo; yellow squash, c. pepo; spaghetti, c. pepo; Honeyboat Delicata, c. pepo; and Red Kuri, c. maxima.  The Zucchino Rampicante, c. moschata needs the corral for support.  All of the other moschata varieties will be further away from the trap. This will be the year I get more zucchini than we can eat! I will succeed!

In the back corner of the garden are small sprouting different green bean varieties. They are together so not to be confused with the young shelly bean pods at harvest. They look alike when small but shelly beans are stringy when eaten as a green bean. 

The potatoes don't seem to mind being in the shade.  I don't know if they will produce less because of lower sunlight or if they will live longer due to the coolness of the shade.

The rut between the potatoes and the row of assorted unknowns is almost full of composting weeds. Tossing stuff in the paths looks terrible but saves many steps. Being trampled speeds their decomposition.

The back left corner by the field has pole beans under the supports and bitter melon sprouting below the arch. 

We ate the spinach this month but left a few bolting plants for seeds.  Lettuce and beets seeds have taken their place.

It feels good to have the hardest part over now that the weather is turning hot.  It is time to sit back and maintain: water, weed, harvest, then repeat. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

April's Garden (2022)

This month I have pushed hard to get as much as possible planted early.  The higher food prices rise, the harder I work. Our last frost was a few days ago so now its time to focus on the warm weather plants.  

Bill was able to plow this section by stopping to rest and breathing carefully.  It wasn't easy, but he did it.  I'm so proud. We are slowly getting everything done.

Deep paths were dug between the rows to create water drainage if (when) there is a huge storm. The garden is situated on a sloping hill so rainwater runs down the field across the garden and into the woods. I learned this lesson the hard way after losing the whole garden my first year. Weeds, leaves, and twigs are going to be thrown into the deep ruts so eventually, the paths will become full. This saves me the trouble of hauling stuff to the compost pile, waiting for it to decompose, and then carrying it back to the garden.

Before        /        After

The first row on the right beside the yard has just been planted with cool weather vegetables, kale, cabbage, and Chinese greens. They will be harvested before hot summer arrives and then long vining winter squash will be planted in the empty spaces.  The plan, which is subject to change, is to let them grow over the short fence and take over the yard.  We need a huge amount to store and feed us through the winter.

The second row will be fast-growing beans followed by sweet potatoes.  The potato vines will be allowed to spread to the right over the path and into the squash bed. It will be a mess but should produce an abundance.

The third bed has just been planted with Orange Icicle Tomatoes.  

Below is last year's crop on June 29th.  They are covered with the first fruit of the season but it developed blossom end rot.  It was either caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil or the roots being unable to access enough calcium due to extreme water fluctuations from dry to wet. No other tomato, pepper, or melon developed problems.  Even the watermelon that grew below them was fine.  This variety of tomato is susceptible so I should have tossed the seeds. However, after being treated they recovered and produced more than any other plant. They are being given another chance.

This will not happen again, I vowed.

All winter long we tossed eggshells into these pots to decompose.  The compost will be added to the soil to make sure there is plenty of calcium.

The Orange Icicle tomato plants are spaced further apart so they will not need to fight for water.  Around the roots I added a pinch (1/2 teaspoon) of Epsom salt because I have been told it might help, internet opinions differ. Next, I threw in a little 13-13-13 fertilizer. Thank goodness I was able to find some. Lastly, a pinch of Calcium Nitrate was also added. If this doesn't work, nothing will.

The next row over is the garlic, onions, and romaine lettuce.  The lettuce seeds were saved from one plant two years ago. I didn't think they were viable and so I broadcast heavily.  Oh, was I wrong!  Every seed germinated!  It has encouraged me to focus more on seed saving.

The next bed to the left is a narrow row that has bok choy, napa cabbages, and anything fast-growing.  All will be harvested soon then peppers will be slipped into the empty spaces between the onions.  Come July, the onions will be finished but the peppers will produce until frost.

The next sections are in the process of being planted.

The assorted kales in the second to the last row close to the field fence are from the winter garden and are bolting. Some are being saved for seeds but there is too much for us to use so they will be frozen or shared.  Okra will be planted here and after it is tall enough, late beans will be put underneath.

At the beginning of this month, we dug four trenches in the back of the garden for potatoes.  As they sprout, the soil is hoed up around them.  This is the first time I have tried growing them like this.  Last year covering them in hay worked great but now I don't want to take a chance it may have been sprayed with something toxic. 

Three weeks later after a few warm sunny days, the potatoes sprouted. 

The back left corner has a patch of Bloomsdale spinach.  It is the first time I have ever been successful at growing more than a few plants. I learned the secret - plant early and plant a lot. 

"Scooter darling, will you please move over so I can take a picture and brag about my successful spinach?" I politely asked.

"Spinach is so boring." yawned Scooter.  "I am resting from working hard guarding my kingdom against a ferocious rat monster."

"Scooter, stop being sassy.  There are no rat monsters in my garden nor are any hiding in my shed. Don't create such wild tales."