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!

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

 

Lift off!

With a week of nice and warm (almost hot) weather, the seeds planted last weekend have almost all emerged. Okay, to be honest, not ALL seeds have emerged, but at least a couple from each vegetable planted.  Forecast shows some rain expected over the weekend an decently warm weather continuing.  So far, off to a good start in the garden this year.

Bush green beans muscling their way to the surface

Bush green beans muscling their way to the surface

Zucchini trying to sneak out

Zucchini trying to sneak out

First cucumber spreading its leaves

First cucumber spreading its leaves

Pole bean fully out of the ground

Pole bean fully out of the ground

Fuzzy leaves of the yellow squash

Fuzzy leaves of the yellow squash

Hard to believe that this little sunflower will grow to over 10 feet tall

Hard to believe that this little sunflower will grow to over 10 feet tall

 

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.

Sunflowers for roasting

Wow, have I been slacking on the blog. Work has been consuming just about as much of my spare time as possible. If I’m in front of a computer, I’m most likely working.

Anyway, enough complaining. Tonight I carved out enough time to decapitate three of the sunflowers.  I’m planning to take them into work with me and see if anyone there is interested in roasting their own sunflower seeds.  To make things even easier, I’ve even printed a recipe.  I tried this one last year and the seeds turned out tasty.

If anyone else out there is thinking, “Aww, man!  I want to roast some of my own sunflower seeds.  I wish I had a sunflower head of my very own.” Feel free to let me know, I have a few more that have not been cut down yet and would be more than happy get one too you.

 

Look at all the seeds

Look at all the seeds

 

Plenty of seeds for roasting

Plenty of seeds for roasting

Here comes the sun

Do do do do.
Here come the sun… flowers.

The first sunflower has bloomed!

First sunflower bloom of 2014

First sunflower bloom of 2014

The image quality of the iPhone is pretty good normally, but in order to get a close enough picture of the flower I had to zoom the camera to its fullest extent. Unfortunately, that resulted in a pretty crappy picture. I should have either gotten out the full sized camera or a step ladder.

Unzoomed picture

Unzoomed picture

Sunflower surveying the garden from on high

Sunflower surveying the garden from on high

One day later, fully opened and visited by a bumblebee

One day later, fully opened and visited by a bumblebee

Gabrielle dwarfed by the giant plants

Gabrielle dwarfed by the giant plants

Side note, you can see the poor, powdery mildew ravaged zucchini at the base of the sunflowers. The zucchini and yellow squash are getting hit very hard at the moment and I have been busy and neglecting them. Not sure if much can be done at this point to salvage them.

How tall are those sunflowers?

I had to resort to getting a ladder and a helper to see how tall the sunflowers have gotten.  The tallest one now measures 10 ft 6 in.  Being in raised beds, they appear to be at least another foot taller than that.

Getting hard to measure.

Getting hard to measure.

 

Even with the ladder, Ethan isn't as tall as the sunflowers.

Even with the ladder, Ethan isn’t as tall as the sunflowers.