Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (April)

It's been a busy month in garden therapy. Remember all that cedar we received as a gift last December? Well, now we have compost to match it (Thanks again to my Dad and a borrowed trailer)! Dave spent quite a few evenings and weekends putting all the beds together (an additional 4' x 10' shallow beds and three 4' x 10' deep beds), and I followed behind him and hoed up the grass, put down the weed cloth, and filled the beds in with a garden mix of soil and compost. At this point, every muscle aches in both our bodies but at least we're done with the expansion (1200% larger than our growing area last Oct - if you enlarge the photo, that's the original 4x4 bed way in the back corner).

To be honest, I haven't even begun to figure out what I'll be planting in all these boxes other than I know one of the deep beds will consist entirely of sweet potatoes. Mmmm! We also bought lettuce, chard, and collard green seeds for the two new shallow beds so before long, we'll have greens coming out of our ears, but what a wonderful problem to have! 

For now, though, let's concentrate on the two older (aka previously established) beds. In the smaller of the 2 beds (4 x 4), I've finished harvesting those beautiful cabbage. I'm sad to see them go, but in their place are cucumber and spaghetti squash (both growing well). I also have several squares of onions that just need to be picked, lambs quarter and kale that will continue to grow into the spring and summer months, sage (transplants from indoors), and 4 squares of green beans just starting to break the surface. I'll transplant some basil in the remaining squares (currently inhabited by onions) as soon as it warms up a bit more and I get around to harvesting the rest of the onions.

In the second bed (4 x 8) are all those juicy tomatoes. One seems to have fallen victim to our latest frost but the other 11 are looking healthy and happy and are starting to bloom! The rest of the bed is full of more green beans (a total of 16 plants) and green peppers (a total of 16 plants). The green beans in this bed have all been growing healthy for weeks. The peppers were just planted last week so you can't quite see them yet. They should be gorgeous this time next month though!

Indoors, I have quite a few seedlings to be transplanted when they're ready. That's basil, more sage, and some green peppers in addition to the goodies in the Aerogarden. 

You know, this whole garden thing has SERIOUSLY exploded since we built that first 4x4 bed in October. Was that really only 6 months ago?

All I can say is that despite being completely exhausted with all the grunt work we've been doing, the garden looks fabulous and the possibilities for planting are endless. It might be a lot of hard work, but the idea of being able to support our little family (mostly anyway) out of our own backyard (with a little bartering of the excess) will hopefully become a reality just a few short months from now. This is certainly not the life I dreamed of when I was a kid. Isn't it good then, that life has a way of altering our plans. I wouldn't trade this life for anything in the world. There's nothing a little garden therapy can't solve. Farmer Heather signing out!


Farmer's Daughter said...

I'm going to work on adding some beneficial flowers to my veggie garden this year. Flowers to attract pollinators or keep away pests, as well as other ones I just like for the heck of it.

If you've got room, I think you should add some flowers to your new raised beds!

Angela said...

Wow- I'm in awe of your resourcefulness and energy. And very envious of all those sweet potatoes!

Heather @ SGF said...

Farmer's Daughter - I've heard marigolds are good for a veggie garden. We could try those. What are your favorites?

Angela - I don't know about resourcefulness (although I scavenged through someone's trash pile to rescue the rebar we used to stake the tomatoes), but the energy - Pshew! I'll tell you. I've never slept so soundly in my life as I have the last 2 weeks with all this physical labor.

Right now, I'm trying to grow the potato slips but I understand that once I put them in the ground, they'll produce beautiful vines and flowers. I'll be sure to share the photos, although we're probably a couple months away from that. Something to look forward to...

ttammylynn said...

Sweet potato plants are so lovely that some people save one or two plants to grow just as indoor plants. I will probably forego them because I have too many projects going for my limited time.
Beneficial flowers include marigolds, nasturtiums, tansy, and some other herbs/flowers. Some people put onion or garlic among other plants for this too. Hot peppers and tobacco are well known pest deterents. You just have to keep reading and learning.
Personally, I'm just hoping I can grow a few things so I can cut back on the grocery bill and put some up to use later(oh and share with friends and family).

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - That's my thing. I want to have so many veggies that I'm visiting friends and neighbors, giving away the overflow. I love the idea of friends and neighbors taking care of each other like that.