Thursday, June 2, 2011

Garden Update - Brown Thumb Turning Green

I suppose I left everyone hanging on the whole garden thing (if you need to catch up to speed check out this and then this blog post). We did get 'er done and plants have been planted. I was a little hesitant to continue updating because I am a little scared of mass, semi-public failure. You see, prior to this whole venture I haven't grown anything beyond some basil and chives in a planter before. I seem to recall a cactus collection when I was younger, but plants that rarely require watering don't count!

Now that it has been a few weeks and I have managed to not kill everything (so far), I am slowly gaining a little confidence. I am most definitely the type of person that likes to research most ventures that I start. For some reason, I have not done any reading on gardening at all. I figure I'll give it a go this year, and hopefully I'll have some success. If all goes really well, I will thank my lucky stars and keep doing what I'm doing next year. If I am a complete failure, I may have to start actually looking into what I am doing and figure out the problem. Truth is I'll probably land somewhere in between so maybe I will try to do some reading before next year's planting.

If you recall, we went from planning a basic 12' x 8' rectangle bed to this more stylized design with three different tiers:
That continued to be the plan until hubby started to actually build it. Part of the way through he had put a board on incorrectly. He was going to take it off and fix it, but I suggested simply changing the design to fit what he had already built. We ended up with this:
It actually works out better this way. With the first design, the highest tier would have cast a shadow over part of the middle tier. With this design, all the tiers get sunlight without blocking each other.

The garden was built the weekend after Mother's Day. Unfortunately, this year we had a doozy of a spring and we were still getting frost warnings overnight so it didn't really matter that it had taken us several weeks to get the garden built. I was finally able to do some planting the following week.

As far as plants go, I tried several different options. I started a few plants from seed packets inside, I planted a few seeds directly into the garden, I purchased some plants from the Menards' garden center, and I purchased some others from the local farmer's market. I did about half of the planting the week after the garden was built, and I did the rest just yesterday. I do want to get in a couple more plants in the top tier but otherwise everything is good to go.

I tried my best to stay within the planting guidelines that came with the plants and seed packets, but I know that it is overplanted. Hopefully the fact that I put about 300lbs of composted manure in with the dirt will help with that. I know that next year I will have to add a bunch more too.

Mother Nature has been on my side. To everyone's disdain, we have had a lot of rain recently which has been great for the plants. I didn't have to worry about doing any watering for the first week or so. We have had sunnier days this week though and I have been very good about watering everything. I even watered the freshly transferred plants twice yesterday. I also had to do some weeding before I did the transplanting. One of my biggest concerns is that I will get lazy and let the weeds get out of hand.

Just FYI - Be careful when weeding around a two year old. Little Dude loves to copy what I do so when he saw me pulling plants out he went right over to my radish seedlings and tore out a handful. I quickly redirected his energy to loosening up some soil, but I was more watchful over him after that.

So without further ado, here is a real life shot of my garden:
The dirt pile to the left will be gone after this weekend BTW.

Here is what is planted:
A.   12 Tomato Plants of 4 varieties - All transplants - Some purchased from Menards and the farmer's market. Some grown indoors from seeds earlier in the season
B.   Large Leaf Green Basil - From Menards
C.   Rosemary - From the farmer's market
D.   Chives - Transplanted from an old planter I had. The plant I have had for a couple of years now.
E.   Cucumber - Seeds were planted in a mound just yesterday.
F.   Spinach - From the farmer's market
G.   Celery - From the farmer's market
H.   Eggplant - From Menards
I.   Bell Peppers of 3 varieties- From the farmer's market
J.   Brussel Sprouts - From Menards
K.   Carrots - Seeds planted directly into the ground
L.   Radishes - Seeds planted directly into the ground
M.   Green Beans - Seeds planted directly into the ground

There are also several marigolds planted all over (especially the edges) to help deter bugs and bunnies. Some of those I started indoors from seeds, but most of them were from Menards. They were on sale six plants for $1.50 so I scooped up several. That is it for the plants in the garden. I put in some stepping stones on each tier so that I can access all plants once they start to grow. I want to add more basil plants to the top tier. I'm hoping to find some purple basil. They had some beautiful ones at the farmer's market last year so hopefully I'll find some soon. I would also like to grow oregano and cilantro, but may put those into separate planters to prevent further overcrowding. Those herbs don't compete as well anyway. 

Here are a few snapshots from the garden.

My green beans that I grew from scratch. . .  Me!. . . I grew something from scratch!!! ((tear)):

Radishes also grown from scratch! Luckily the ones that Little Dude pulled out seem to have recovered:

Celery and tomato plants:
The tallest tomato plant is a purple heirloom variety. I'm crossing my fingers that it actually produces some good tomatoes.

My beautiful rosemary plant is absolutely thriving:
I have already been using it in my cooking and it is amazing.

Other than the garden itself you might remember my Topsy Turvy plants. They are doing really well also. I did plant those too early and the result was that four out of six tomato plants died. The two that survived looked scraggly for the first couple of weeks but have since started looking really nice. Just yesterday I filled in the empty four holes with new tomato plants so hopefully they take off as well. The strawberry Topsy Turvy has been doing great the whole time. A week or so ago it started flowering and just this week I can see the little strawberry buds growing.

This was pre-planting:

Freshly planted before some of the tomatoes died:
I also had a basil plant growing out of the top of the tomato tree. That died right away thanks to the cold.

The strawberries now:

There will be strawberries soon:

The tomato tree with two big healthy plants and four freshly transferred new plants:
I put a marigold on the top instead of basil this time.

That is that for all things garden in my world. Yesterday I gardened for a good couple of hours with both kids. Little Dude keeps himself entertained by "helping me". I give him piles of dirt to dig or weeds to play with. He also loves to go around with the watering can and water the plants. Baby Boo is a little harder since she likes attention. Yesterday I gave the kids watermelon and that honestly kept her happy for a whole hour. She was quiet as a mouse munching on these giant chunk of watermelon and ingested barely any grass. The rest of the time I let her pull up on the planter and play in the dirt. She keeps her pacifier in her mouth so she doesn't eat the dirt. . . for a while at least. Most days I try to get the gardening stuff done while she naps.

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