Clean(er) garden

I’ve been meaning to get into the garden for what seems like a month or two now. If it hasn’t been the sweltering heat and humidity, it has been the multi day rain events. Not to mention a big home project and all of the kids and work activities.

Enough of excuses, Sunday I made it out there and harvested the second to last vegetable and cleared out the dying and the dead.

Reach and pull

Reach and pull

I always appreciate some help in the garden. Gabrielle was excited to finally get to harvest the last of the carrots.

Gabrielle with the prize

Gabrielle with the prize

Posing with the bounty of carrots

Posing with the bounty of carrots

This carrot REALLY has to go to the bathroom!

This carrot REALLY has to go to the bathroom!

In addition to the carrots, it was a good time to finally clear out the old green beans, tomatoes and decayed spines of the squash and zucchini. I plan to replace the remaining two garden beds yet this fall and having all the old plants cleared out is a good first step.

All the garden structures removed and ready for transport to the garage

All the garden structures removed and ready for transport to the garage

Mostly cleaned up. Except for the green mass of sweet potatoes in the back corner.

Mostly cleaned up. Except for the green mass of sweet potatoes in the back corner.

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Spring planting for 2018

Over the last two weekends I was able to get all but one vegetable planted in the garden.

First off though, is this years diagram of the planting plan.  Nothing too radical this year, pretty much most of the same from past years just rotated so I don’t have things in the same spots.

Garden plan for 2018

Garden plan for 2018

The first weekend (May 5/6) was a bit rushed because I had to first get the second garden bed replaced.  I also had to move the lettuce from the back two beds to the second replacement bed.  All of that took a while. In the end, I had time to get the peas and radish planted and get the tomatoes out of their tiny pots and into the ground where they can have all the root and head room they could wish for.

In the years past, I never provided the peas and beans anything other than water and occasional fertilizer.  This year I am giving an inoculant a try.  When ordering seeds this year I threw Burpee Booster into the cart.  We’ll see if I notice any difference.

Giving the beans and peas a boost

Giving the beans and peas a boost

All six tomato plants with ladders

All six tomato plants with ladders

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Cherry Baby tomatoes

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

For the second weekend (May 12/13), the goal was to get the rest of the garden planted. The weather forecast looked like this.

Not a good forecast for planting

Not a good forecast for planting

As a result, I was up and in the garden before 8 am in an effort to get as much planted as I could before the rain arrived.  I’m happy to report I was able to get the garden planted.  In fact, it didn’t actually rain until Monday afternoon.  I had time to go to Lowes and get some sweet potato plants and get them in as well on Saturday. Between the vegetable garden and other needed yard work, we ended up being out until dark.  I was beginning to wish for the promised rain so I could be chased inside.  🙂

So, what all was planted this weekend…

  • Sweet corn
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Green Beans – Pole
  • Green Bean – Bush
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
Twelve sweet potato plants

Twelve sweet potato plants

All that remain are the onions. I’m still waiting on Burpee to process that portion of my order. I am tempted to just cancel the onions and try and find some locally.

Celebrating a milestone

This post marks the 300th post to Matt’s Garden Blog!

Who would have thought all those many years ago that I’d still be writing posts about that small patch of ground in the back corner of the yard.  My first post was all the way back in early April 2010.  The posts were not as detailed or consistent back then (that hasn’t really changed) and the images were not quite as clear.  The first image posted was a couple weeks after the blog was established using a now old and retired iPhone 3G.

First garden image posted to the blog.

First garden image posted to the blog.

The gardens have certainly grown and evolved since then. Most notable expansions are the two new garden beds and the perimeter fencing.

Installing the two new expansion beds

Installing the two new expansion beds

Garden with new perimeter fence

Garden with new perimeter fence

I’ve tried to grow a few different vegetables over the years.  I tired Broccoli a couple times, Brussels Sprouts a few years, Carrots most years, Lima Beans a couple, Onions most of the time recently, Yukon Potatoes once, Spinach quite a few times, Sunflowers, Sweet Corn for the second year, Sweet Potatoes quite a bit recently and Yellow Squash pretty consistently now that I started.

The permanent fixtures of the garden have been the Cucumbers, Green Beans, Lettuce,  RadishTomatoes,  Snap Peas and Zucchini.

I have to admit, if someone asked be how long I have been updating this garden blog, I would not have believed that this is now the start of the seventh year.  Will I make another 300 posts and/or seven years?  I guess you’ll have to stay tuned/subscribed and find out.

Happy gardening!

Time to order some seeds

First off, Happy New Year and welcome to the 2017 season of the garden blog!  I hope to do a better job keeping the blog updated this year, but a lot of that will depend on how busy I get with work and life.

The last couple years, I have been using some of the seeds I had purchased from past years.  While it did same me some money, last year I noticed some issues with germination and overall yields.  Irregardless, it was time to replenish the seed cache as I have used up most of the stock.

The order this year isn’t too much different than in years past but there are a few new comers and variety changes.  Most notably new this year is Kale.  We’re a bit late to the Kale bandwagon but have started adding it into the salad mixes and I must say I am liking the color and texture it brings.  It tastes decent and at least makes the salad look healthy right up until I dump too much dressing on it.

Other notables, while not entirely new, in the second year of growing sweet corn, I am going to a childhood favorite variety.  This year I am going to give ‘Kandy Korn’ a try.  I promise to not over plant the garden this year.

I’m also going to mix up the tomato varieties again this year.  ‘Oh Happy Day’ and ‘Cherry Baby’ will join the favorite of the past few years ‘Brandy Boy’.

Finally a new variety of cucumber will be tried. I was not happy with the cucumbers last year as they just really never did much.  This time around I am going to give ‘Burpee Hybrid II’ a chance.  The claim of being disease resistant sounds very appealing to me as I seem to constantly have some mildew or fungus killing off my plants before they get to the end of the season.

Below is the full list of seeds and plants ordered.  I’ll pick up Sweet Potatoes locally closer to planting time.

Item Number: 55610A1 Pkt. (200 seeds)
Item Number: 51474A1 Pkt. (2 oz.)
Item Number: 69501C3 Pkts (1 of Each)
Item Number: 68072A1 Pkt. (100 seeds)
Item Number: 53595A1 Pkt. (30 seeds)
Item Number: 13789C75 plants each variety (225 plants total)
Item Number: 53512A1 Pkt. (300 seeds)
Item Number: 60855A1 Pkt. (1000 seeds)
Item Number: 62450A1 Pkt. (25 Seeds)
Item Number: 61101A1 Pkt. (35 seeds)
Item Number: 51205A1 Pkt. (25 seeds)
Item Number: 54310A1 Pkt. (25 seeds)
Item Number: 63480A1 Pkt. (20 seeds)
Item Number: 61861A1 Pkt. (3000 seeds)

Annual family carrot harvest!

Well, except the annual part as we didn’t grow carrots last year. And minus two of the five family members. Other than that, the headline is accurate. 🙂

This weekend, I decided to dig under all the bushy green carrot tops to see what was hiding underneath and had two excited helpers.  Turned out, there were a few carrots hiding under there.

Gabrielle with her first pick

Gabrielle with her first pick

Julia showing off the first two carrots she excavated. One looked okay, the other... a little deformed.

Julia showing off the first two carrots she excavated. One looked okay, the other… a little deformed.

Quite the handful of carrots

Quite the handful of carrots

Three handfuls of carrots this year

Three handfuls of carrots this year

Time to clean up the carrots before bringing them inside.

Time to clean up the carrots before bringing them inside.

Tasting the tiny carrot

Tasting the tiny carrot

This was carrot number THREE. I think she is part rabbit.

This was carrot number THREE. I think she is part rabbit.

Turbo-jet washed carrots

Turbo-jet washed carrots

Final view of the harvest. Looked a lot more impressive with all the greens on top.

Final view of the harvest. Looked a lot more impressive with all the greens on top.

 

Catch up post

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately and hopefully this catch up post will get me back into the swing of things.  I took a family trip up to Chicago last weekend to check out my sister and her husband’s new house as well as give the kids a taste of a big city.  Before leaving, I took some pictures of the garden with the intention of writing a status update for the blog.  Well, that was a week ago and I am just now getting the post written.  Last week was the time in the garden where everything looks nice and neat.  Not overgrown, not overcrowded.  No troubles with insects or disease yet, just a happy time.  By the end of this month, that carefree time will be over.  Below are some pictures showing the state of the garden before we left for our long weekend.

Here we have the Bush Green Beans, Zucchini and two tomato plants anchoring the far end of the bed.

Here we have the Bush Green Beans, Zucchini and two tomato plants anchoring the far end of the bed.

Next up are the sweet potato plants.  I'm waiting for them to start vining out so I can bury them deeper with the mounds of soil.

Next up are the sweet potato plants. I’m waiting for them to start vining out so I can bury them deeper with the mounds of soil.

Sunflowers are starting to stretch their legs

Sunflowers are starting to stretch their legs

Brussels Sprouts.  Two good, one sick and one already gone.

Brussels Sprouts. Two good, one sick and one already gone.

Four Golden Egg yellow squash

Four Golden Egg yellow squash

Sugar Snap Peas all in bloom

Sugar Snap Peas all in bloom

Mess of onions

Mess of onions

Four more tomato plants

Four more tomato plants

Basil and Lettuce

Basil and Lettuce

Cucumbers with some lettuce and radish growing in the shade of the trellis

Cucumbers with some lettuce and radish growing in the shade of the trellis

Pole beans just starting to climb

Pole beans just starting to climb

Two rows of carrots

Two rows of carrots

Closeup of the blooming tomotoes

Closeup of the blooming tomotoes

Since the above pictures were taken last week, I have managed to harvest a couple more vegetables. First up was some peas which I finally had a chance to steam up tonight. Very tasty. I also thinned some of the onions and chopped them up for a salad and tacos.

First harvest of peas

First harvest of peas

A couple green onions to be chopped up for a salad

A couple green onions to be chopped up for a salad

 

Rolling the dice

I decided to take a chance on the garden today.  In the end, I think the risk will be pretty light. Today I planted about 85% of the garden.  What made me decide to take the chance?  With a 10-day forecast like looks like this?  How could I not take advantage and get the garden going.

A great forecast to start off the month of May

A great forecast to start off the month of May

(I couldn’t get the rest of the 10 days in the screen capture, but the remaining 3 days currently look just as warm.)

In the end, I managed to plant all but tomatoes, sweet potatoes and a basil plant.  The only reason I skipped those three was that I don’t have any sweet potato or basil plants yet and I still need to get some landscape fabric to put down before planting the tomatoes.

Armed with garden tools, seeds and the following planting plan I headed to the garden this morning.  Here is my original plan as designed back in March.

Original 2015 Planting Plan

Original 2015 Planting Plan

As many of you also know, plans have a way of falling apart as soon as they hit reality.  Apparently, I do not have the best spacial mental map of the vegetable plants and how much space they require.  I would think that after all these years in this garden, I would have it down by now and could work from memory, but guess not.  Working with the original plan and going from bed to bed, I was able to re-work and re-orient the plan to the following design. We’ll see how well it works as the plants grow.

Updated Planting Plan for 2015

Updated Planting Plan for 2015

Let’s get to planting this garden! First up green beans. This year I am actually planting both pole beans and bush beans. I’ve got big plans for canning green beans this summer and having a harvest of both kinds should well… I guess give me more green beans.

Ring of green bean seeds

Ring of green bean seeds

In addition to the new plants, I am also getting an second planting of some of the cool weather vegetables. Another round of spinach, lettuce and radish.

Shaking out some spinach seeds

Shaking out some spinach seeds

Time to get some of these plants out of the basement and into the garden. First up to escape the artificial light is the Brussels sprouts.

Basement Brussels Sprouts get liberated

Basement Brussels Sprouts get liberated

After planting Brussels sprouts, Sunflowers, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Bush Green Beans, Pole Green Beans, Cucumbers, Carrots, Lettuce, Radish and Spinach… I was tired. Oh wait, that wasn’t where I was going, after getting all those planted, the garden is about ready to explode with vegetables.

End result

End result

End result from a different angle

End result from a different angle

Now that all the new seeds are in the ground, I also took the time to check in on the other plants that already blazed the 2015 garden trail.

Radish with some lettuce and spinach in the background

Radish with some lettuce and spinach in the background

Peas are now starting to climb

Peas are now starting to climb

This years onion forest

This years onion forest

In the hopes to improve the pollinators in the neighborhood, I got this swanky Mason Bee house for Christmas. I placed it right back by the vegetable garden. If all goes well, I’ll hope to report later this summer of the new tenets.

An extra band to keep the house secure to the tree

An extra band to keep the house secure to the tree

And finally, I also updated the 2015 Planting Calendar.