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!

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

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)

Mid summer garden update

I’ve continued to take pictures of the progress in the garden but just never get around to posting them. I’ll use this post to try and catch up a little.

Sweet corn experiment has been very educational. Biggest lesson so far is that I planted too much corn for the garden bed. While the plants have grown well enough, the overcrowding appears to be resulting in small and not fully formed ears. I hope to be getting my first few picked ears in a couple days and will post more details then.

Baby Sweet Corn

Baby Sweet Corn

As has been typical in past years, the yellow squash and zucchini get off to a good start, but it is only a matter of time until the squash vine borer puts and end to it.  I’ve already pulled one of the squash plants and executed the squash murderers for their crime.

Yellow squash and Zucchini

Yellow squash and Zucchini

Always nice to get some red splashes in the garden. These cherry tomatoes were the first to break the red barrier.

First red tomatoes

First red tomatoes

Not a bad haul for one night in the garden. A good chunk of these will be passed around to the neighbors and coworkers.

More vegetables than we can eat

More vegetables than we can eat

I suppose if there were no pests, gardening wouldn’t be much of a challenge and therefore not much fun. Would be nice to not have to fight them all every year.

Can you spy the pest?

Can you spy the pest?

So far this Tomato Horn Worm has been the only one of its kind found so far this year.

How about now?

How about now?

Finally a view of the sweet corn from a bif of a distance away to see how tall it has gotten. If nothing else, we should have some decorations for Halloween this year.

Sweet corn is nice and tall

Sweet corn is nice and tall

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.

Vertical Ventures

After watching the garden grow over the past few years, I came up with a couple ideas to take advantage of the airspace above the garden.  The first idea is to try to get the yellow Golden Egg squash to grow up instead of out.  Last year the plants ended up trailing off outside their home bed, across the walkway and up into the neighboring bed.  They don’t appear to be a vining type plant, so I imagine it will take a bit of coaxing to grow vertically, but I figure I’ll give it a try even if it means tying the plant up to the trellis.  Nothing too fancy for the trellis.  I just bough a 4 ft folding panel trellis from Gardener Supply last year when they were on sale.  I liked the fact that it had larger openings which I think will help give the plant some room to fit.

Trellis for Golden Egg Yellow Squash

Trellis for Golden Egg Yellow Squash

View of the opposite side of the experimental squash trellis

View of the opposite side of the experimental squash trellis

The second idea has to do with sunflowers and pole beans.  Having grown sunflowers the past couple years as well as pole beans, I started to wonder if perhaps I could get a second crop of beans using the tall stalks of the sunflowers as supports. Today, I decided to give the idea a try. I had some leftover pole bean seeds and planted them along the already well established sunflowers. I’m not sure if the beans will like to grab a hold of the sunflower stalks or not. I’m also not sure they will get enough sun tucked under the fairly thick canopy. In the previous years, the sunflowers were always planted in a single row going east-west. This year I have a double row running north-south. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’m thinking the orientation could be better than what I have this year. Oh well, even if it is a fail, I am only out about a dozen bean seeds.

Organic pole bean towers

Organic pole bean towers