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!

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Post frost update 

After a very cold morning, the garden seemed to do well enough. In addition to getting the garden supports all back in place, I also decided it was time to put in a second planting of green beans. This time I planted a single row of bush green beans between the bean and pea towers.

Bush Green Beans to supplement the pole beans

Bush Green Beans to supplement the pole beans

The cucumbers were also not looking happy and I already lost one of the plants and one of the seedlings. I planted a few more seeds in the hopes that the warmer weather now will be kinder to them.

The rest of the garden is looking pretty good. Below are a few status updates.

Tomato glad to be past the frost and ready for the 80s next week

Tomato glad to be past the frost and ready for the 80s next week

Sweet corn a bit patchier than I would like

Sweet corn a bit patchier than I would like

Lettuce and radish looking good

Lettuce and radish looking good

Onions perked up

Onions perked up

Peas still looking good.  I think they liked the cooler weather.

Peas still looking good. I think they liked the cooler weather.

All in now

Another great day today and I decided to roll the dice and go all in with planting the garden. The 10 day forecast has nothing colder than 44 degrees and many more days in the 70s and even 80s. So, after work I went out to the garden and got to planting.

Planted today:

  • Pole green beans
  • Zucchini plants and seeds
  • Cucumber plants and seeds
  • Yellow squash seeds
  • Sweet corn
  • Kale

Most of these are just repeats of the tried and true from previous years.  I will record a bit more details about the Sweet Corn since this is just year two and last year didn’t go as well as I would have hoped.  This years variety is Kandy Korn.  Lesson number one from last year was to not over plant and make sure to leave a little room for the plants to grow.  This year I cut back on the number of seeds I planted and have about 18 seeds planted in each of the four rows.  I also tried to stagger the seeds by placing the adjacent row’s seeds in the middle of the two neighbors.

According to the Kale seed packet, it is recommended to plant it in a container.  I retrieved one of the old pots from the garden and planted some Kale in it.  I will follow up in a couple weeks with a second back to try and extend the harvest a bit.

Pole beans planted around the bean tower

Pole beans planted around the bean tower

Zucchini home for 2017. Plants in back, seeds up front.

Zucchini home for 2017. Plants in back, seeds up front.

Cucumbers. Three plants and four seeds planted.

Cucumbers. Three plants and four seeds planted.

Sweet Corn. This year's variety is Kandy Korn.

Sweet Corn. This year’s variety is Kandy Korn.

Watering the seeds

Watering the seeds

Spring seed starting

A little late with this blog post. I actually started the seeds back on February 26th. Since then they have been growing nicely.

I started off again this year planting some tomato and lettuce seeds. I always have way more plants started than I have room in the garden, so I cut back this year and just started four cells of each type of tomato and the same for three types of lettuce. That left me with two empty rows. After a few days, I decided to go ahead and try something new this year and start my cucumber and zucchini inside too.

Here are the dates so I can refer back to this again next year.

  • Tomatoes and Lettuce planted on Feb 26th
  • Lettuce emerged on March 1st
  • Tomatoes emerged on March 4th
  • Cucumber and zucchini planted on March 5th
  • Cucumber emerged on March 9th
  • Zucchini emerged on March 10th

Below are some pictures because, well, what is the point of a blog without at least a few pictures.

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)

Garden planting update, including planting plan and calendar

Busy couple days in the garden this weekend. Weather forecast looks like it should be safe to get the garden planted as well as take advantage of the free watering from Mother Nature.  Just about all of the garden is planted now. I just have to wait on sweet potato plants as well as get some carrot seeds planted.

New this year… Sweet Corn!!!!

For all the years I’ve had the garden, I haven’t been willing to dedicate enough space to grow sweet corn.  Well, this year I decided to give it a try.  One whole bed dedicated to sweet corn.  I’ve got four rows with about 160 seeds planted total.  I’m hoping that will have sufficient density to provide for a decent pollination.  I planted the Ambrosia variety from Burpee.  I hope it grows well, it has been a very long time since I have been able to have sweet corn picked and cooked within minutes of each other.

Marking out the Sweet Corn rows

Marking out the Sweet Corn rows

Row of Sweet Corn seeds

Row of Sweet Corn seeds

In addition to all the other planting this weekend, I decided to go ahead and get the tomato plants out to the garden. Same three varieties again this year, HoneyBunch, SuperTasty and Big Beef. The first two got the choice placement in the garden where they will get the most sun. Big Beef unfortunately got placed back by the peas where it is a bit shadier.

Placement of the front four tomato plants

Placement of the front four tomato plants

Tomato ladders ready and waiting

Tomato ladders ready and waiting

So, where are all these seeds and plants located? Here is the garden planting plan for 2016.

Garden Planting Plan 2016

Garden Planting Plan 2016

Finally, I created the new 2016 Planting Calendar and updated it for what has happened so far this year. Take a look here for the details.

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