Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The promised update

The greens bed
I've promised this update for a while, but I've let other responsibilities call me away from it. So here it is! My garden is both a source of joy and disappointment this year. The vegetables that I have planted are doing exceptionally well despite the extra rain and very hot temperatures, but I did not get some of my normal stuff planted in time (cucumbers and corn, notably). So it's a bittersweet update, I suppose.

Greens - side view
The greens are doing phenomenally in their new raised bed. Closest to us in the picture is "cut and come again" lettuce mix, and behind that are my collards, kale, and broccoli. The broccoli didn't do as well as I had hoped, coming up very slowly and then bolting quickly because of the temperatures. We did get a meal out of it, but after planting 12 seedlings, I expected a bit more. Ah well. We might yet get some side shoots. And yes, there ARE a lot of weeds in there. Between the rain and being on medication that forces me to stay out of the sun, I haven't made the time to go weeding.

The potatoes appear to be doing really well, but I admit it's taking all my will power not to shove my hands in there and see if there are any actual spuds forming. There are five tire stacks and seven plants in total, and they are growing just as they should. If all goes well, when the greens die back and we tip over those tires, we should find several pounds of potatoes in each. Considering these are grown from the potatoes we put away last year (the ones that went to seed), and are therefore 100% free, I think any harvest at all is a clear win.

Main tomato bed
This is the tomato bed, and is mostly cherry and grape tomatoes. I need to get in there and do a tiny bit of weeding and stake up the tomatoes. Several have fallen over. We're getting a ton of blossoms, though, and the plants look very healthy. I'm not seeing the lushness of greenery that I did last year, which is a good thing since last year we got beautiful greens and no fruit! I'm feeling very positive about these tomato plants. I feel a pot of gazpacho soup coming on...

Zucchini plants
Most large families plant one or two zucchini seedlings and count themselves lucky not to be over-run. We, on the other hand, put in six, and hope they all produce lots of zucchinis! So far, so good. These plants are coming up beautifully, and are just beginning to form a few flowers down in the shaded innards below the leaves. With any luck, we'll start seeing some zucchini in about two weeks. I can't wait, because we like zucchini boats, and zucchini bread, and zucchini with tomatoes and cheese, and zucchini lasagna and...

Hot and sweet peppers
Though you can't see it, there are baby peppers on many of those plants! All of the round pots you see have peppers in them. Some have one or two types, and others have a variety. They definitely need to be weeded, but other than that I'm happy with their progress. This weekend when the sun comes out, these pepper plants (and some of the other plants) will be getting a spray of water and epsom salt, upping their magnesium content.  This is said to create some really beautiful and large green peppers, so I'm more than willing to give it a try.

Pole beans, three types
I have three types of pole beans growing this year, in nine tires. Sis picked me up Kentucky Wonder pole beans for my birthday, and there are four tires growing them. The closest tire to us in this picture contains "unnamed pole beans" that I won in a contest last year from Adventures of a Thrifty Mama on a City 'Stead. Of the three types, hers are the most vigorous (and are a good foot taller than all the others so far!). The four tires farthest from us in this picture are Rattlesnake pole beans, a favorite of our family for some time. All the beans are doing really well, growing up their trellises.

Pole beans
Each tower is built inside a tire that has had the sidewall cut off. The tires were filled with well rotted compost, and planted. I put 12 to 14 beans in each tire, in a circle around the edge. My original plan was to put cabbages in the center of each tower, but I never got to it. The towers themselves are made out of green fiberglass poles that are about 8 feet tall. There are three poles to each tire, around which we've wound a good, coarse hemp twine in a spiral. The beans are quite happily growing up both poles and twine, grabbing on with their little suckers and pulling themselves up. With all the rain we've had, it's impressive watching the amount of growth these plants are going through. They're climbing up the poles much faster than I thought they might!

Bush beans
Speaking of beans, I ran across a handful of beans I'd saved from last year's organic green bush beans. I planted them at the end of the squash bed, figuring they'd probably do alright there. I was correct! They're growing apace, and they're already getting flowers! The only major challenge I have is keeping the squash vines from invading the bean area. I don't mind, though. It's worth it!

Acorn squash
The acorn and butternut squash are doing great. They're vining appropriately and are already putting out flowers. We've seen tons of pollinators (and our peas have proven that there's no lack of them here) so I know that fairly soon we'll see the first budding squash plants. We like to eat our acorn squash with brown sugar and lots of butter!

Beets and carrots
The beets and carrots are coming along well. I'm impressed with the beets, to be honest. They're very large, well spaced, and I'm hoping that the lush greens are a reflection of the developing beet roots beneath the soil. The carrots are in a variety of stages of growth. Some of them are large enough that they should head up soon, and others are still quite tiny. Hopefully they'll even out as the season progresses. I just found a new recipe for making beets, and I'm dying to try it. I might have to go buy some from the farmer's market...

The herbs
My herbs are doing quite well, but are also a bit on the weedy side. The actual tires need to be weeded, and I need to take the weed whacker over and clean up around the tires. Still, we have basil, cilantro, rosemary, dill, thyme, sage, parsley, several types of oregano and mint... There are very few herbs I will need to buy this autumn, which makes me a very happy critter indeed.

Despite not getting the corn and cucumbers in, I'm proud of what we do have. We'll have a year's worth of squash and herbs to harvest in the fall, and maybe enough beets to can some up as Harvard beets. We won't have enough tomatoes, but only because we use so many of them. The ones that are coming look amazing, though! Our peas are going to town, putting out huge amounts. I need to go pick them or they'll start to die back!

How is your garden doing? What favorite vegetable are you growing this summer?

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