Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rest of the Garden is Planted - Finally!

I'm only a couple of weeks behind. Our last freeze is usually around the end of May, so I never plant most things until after the first of June anyway. But this year, what with going to Colorado and everything else happening around here, I'm a bit later than usual getting everything into the ground. But now it's done!

In this year's "early" bed, the last of the arugula has been harvested and replaced with kale plants, and parsley plants have been set in among the last of the spinach. The three varieties of peas (English, snap, and snow) are blooming, so I'll have fresh peas any day now.

In the "roots" bed, the potatoes - Yukon Gold and Russet, held over in the cellar from last year's harvest, are planted a few inches deep and then topped with a foot of straw inside a stake and wire framework. I created this method after reading about people putting cardboard boxes over their plants and then filling them with straw to make harvesting easier. I didn't have any boxes, but this way I re-use the wire year after year and the straw goes into the compost pile in the fall.

The blue bedsheet stretched over a wire frame and held down with another piece of wire is shading the carrot seeds. They dry out so easily that I never had a very good germination rate until I started covering them until they've sprouted. On around the rest of the bed are beet seeds, then cabbages, broccoli and calendula plants. One good thing about being so late is that I didn't bother putting the Wall-o-Waters around my tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants. When I set them out around Memorial Day, they need the protection because the nights are still so cold, and then I usually leave them on until the first of July. This year, I'll see if they get going ok without them. My plants are quite small compared to what people buy in the stores, but I think that lessens the transplant shock and then they catch up quickly.

We make a big compost pile every autumn, grinding up the green garden waste, leaves from our trees and the straw mulch, and from cleaning out the chicken coop. Before planting, each of my five garden beds gets an inch or so of compost dug in along with a light sprinkling of my fertilizer mix (equal amounts of bonemeal, bloodmeal, and greensand mixed together in a bucket). In the "fruiting" bed, the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers also get a big pinch of Epsom salts (magnesium) and crushed eggshells (calcium) in each of their planting holes to prevent blossom-end rot. In the "vining" bed - cukes, zukes, and squash - squash bugs have been a problem in the past, but last year I planted a big Chinese storage radish (called Watermelon radish) in between the squash plants and didn't see a single bug! I'm trying that again this year - the radishes grow to the size of baseballs over the entire summer under the squash leaves, don't go to seed, and then keep all winter long down in the cellar. Can't beat that!

Last of my five raised "S"-shaped soaker-hose beds is the "corn and beans" bed. I used to try seeding more corn every couple of weeks to extend the harvest, but that was bothersome and it seemed the earlier plantings were delayed by the cold nights so that everything ended up getting ripe all at the same time anyway. Now, I seed all my corn at the same time but plant different varieties. Some are ready in 60 days, some in 80, and some take 95-100 days. This works great - I eat fresh-picked corn for more than a month!


Anonymous said...

Oh I am so envious! Can't wait to watch your garden grow!
TX Poppet at Canned Laughter

Carla said...

Sadge! You have some great ideas here - that I wish I had known about this year, but will definitely include NEXT year. I esp. like the potato 'cage' idea - thanks!
Carla in Idaho