Friday, May 8, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (May)

I'm not going to make you read the entire April post of Garden Therapy, just go back and look at the photos before you read any further. No worries. I'll wait...

Back? Ok, remember those photos as you read through this post and keep in mind that this is only a month's growth. Just one month! That's what a little Texas sun and a whole lot of rain will bring!

Now that the garden is so large, I'm going to have to restructure these posts. There are 7 beds now and I'll start with Bed 1 (the original bed we built only 6 months ago). 

Bed 1 (4x4; shallow) - Because this bed was the original one, it's in a constant state of flux in that when we finish with one crop, we immediately plant a new one in that particular square foot. This helps with soil development since we are constantly rotating crops. 

Anyway, this first bed contains the widest variety of plants. That's 3 cucumber plants and a spaghetti squash along the back next to the hog panel trellis; then lambs-quarter, the last of my green onions, and green peppers in the next row; followed by green beans plants in the 3rd row; and sage, green beans and kale in the final row. Everything is growing beautifully and I'm harvesting the onions, kale, and sage on a fairly regular basis. 

Bed 2 (4x8; shallow) - This is by far the most dramatic growth in the last month. The entire back row (along the trellis), and half of the second row, are about 6 different varieties of tomatoes and yes, I already have more than a dozen tomatoes growing just waiting to ripen and tons more blooms. It's VERY exciting! Finishing off the rest of the second row are the most mature of my green bean plants, covered in blooms and teeny tiny green beans. We should be eating green beans before long! Then the two front rows are all baby green pepper plants.

Bed 3 (4x10; deep) - I only have a few onions in this bed right now, but they'll be harvested before long to make room for the sweet potato slips I'm making inside the house. Mmm. Sweet potatoes!

Bed 4 (4x10; deep) - Nothing in this bed yet. It will most likely be full of carrots come Fall though. I may do a second bed of sweet potatoes. We'll see.

Bed 5 (4x9; shallow) - This bed has been completely planted, though the plants are all tiny at this point. Ignore the bricks. They are just there to help me measure the square feet until the plants get a little bigger. As for the goodies inside... The back row is all swiss chard; the second row is sage and basil; the third row is green peppers; and the fourth row is more basil and green peppers. They're all babies at this point, but I'm eager to see what difference a month will make in this bed!

Bed 6 (4x10; shallow) - Bed 6 is also completely planted. I spent extra time organizing the squares so that it would make a beautiful bed once it matured. Every third square foot is either lettuce, swiss chard, or collards. I'm hoping that by staggering the plants, it'll make for a pretty scene from the breakfast table. Again, these are all babies, but a month's growing should do wonders!

Bed 7 (4x10; deep) - This last deep bed also hasn't been planted, but come fall, it'll be onions and maybe some garlic. There's just nothing there now, but dirt. 

Of course, I mentioned that inside I am making two varieties of my own sweet potato slips for (there's a first time for everything). I have absolutely NO idea what I'm doing, but the Vaughns from the farmers' market are coaching me through the process. 

So that's what growing here at SGF Garden Therapy. I've learned so much just in the last 6 months about the life cycle of different plants, the beautiful diversity in different seeds, and how soothing it can be to nurse them from seed to harvest. And to think I'm 35 and just now figuring all this out. What new and exciting things are in store for me next? Stay tuned for next month's Garden Therapy to find out.


ttammylynn said...

My most exciting garden points would be luffa vines starting in the flowerbed(about six vines came up). Corn plants(almost a foot tall)w/ pole beans to twine the stocks(apparantly it is an old American Indian method). I have some flowers on squash, peppers, tomatoes and green beans, with a few snow peas that decided to replant themselves and start producing(they wanted to come back and give me snow peas so I just let them). The other vines, canteloupe, watermelon, cucumber--all look fine but they will take a while yet to produce anything.
I recently put in lima beans and they are already coming up. The strawberries have been giving me a few handfuls of berries each day(tart, flavorful berries).
I called Vicki and she said that the garlic should be ready in June but I can use it now(it looks like green onions, really). In the greenhouse, I have malabar spinach, green peppers and more tomatoes ready to plant...there are green baby oranges and many small, unripe figs. My fruit trees look like I will get pears, blueberries, mulberries, figs, raspberries,pomegranites and maybe seedless grapes. The peach, cherry blossoms fell due to late frost.
My pecan tree was looking cruddy cause an insect got hungry earlier this year but now has beautiful leaves all over it(so my little tree still lives). I have harvested a few baby potatoes and some more carrots, a few tomatoes, of course, onions and herbs.
I think even my husband is impressed with my garden this year. I think I spent less this year on it, but the rain has really helped, my greenhouse has been great to me and I think I've actually just cared a little bit more, in part because of the people who inspire me(this definitely includes you, Heather).
BTW, what else would you like to grow? It sounds to me like you have empty space, do you want some malabar spinach seed? It would need trellis(Vicki used old poles w/a bicycle tire rim on top, I believe) but of the seed I have(after all my planting), it is the one thing I think you should grow(because spinach is one of the tasty foods in the world, lol). Anyhow, I'll see you Saturday.

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

That is completely inspiring! Quick question for you - I am planting my garden tomorrow and I am using the square foot plan for the first time. I have researched how many plants to grow per square foot, but I am struggling with how to mark off my squares. I saw the bricks (something we surely have around here), but I wondered if that is all you used or what you have found works for you. Any other tips? I am thinking 2 squares per tomato plant - what did you do?

Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

Anonymous said...

i looove texas rain! my strawberry plants are covered in blooms, there are two teeny tiny pears on the new pear tree and we have been eating fresh tomatoes and bell peppers with nearly every meal. everything in the garden looks so happy lately. some of the taiwanese long beans are even ready to be picked. now i just have to figure out what to do with them :)

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - Your gardens sound great! We do have some empty space, but it'll be filled as soon as I finish making the sweet potato slips. Then we'll be full. It's very exciting. Thanks for the offer though! I'm gonna have to come see your garden one of these days. It's sounds huge!

I used twine on the first bed and it worked well although only lasts for 6 months or so then rots away. Once the plants are in and you begin transplanting every time one of the squares dies, it's easy to replace without a measuring device because you can visualize the space. It's just one square foot.

I used the bricks this time because it was less permanent and would give me a visual of the squares. Once the plants get a little bigger, I'll take the bricks away (probably this weekend).

As far as tomato plants. I did them 1 per square foot which is the recommendation. But it's pretty crowded in there. If you do 1 per 2 square feet, let me know how it goes.

Good luck!

Blondeoverboard - let's see, there's steaming, stir frying, salads... so many things to do with green beans! I just came back from the garden and it looks like we already have a few beans to pick. What to do first... :)

Sounds like your berries are doing well. We're thinking of doing that next year (or next fall, really)

ttammylynn said...

I have multiple gardens. I have a strawberry garden, an old strawberry bed where I let dewberries grow, a raised bed similar to your shallow beds, I have a sprawling flowerbed w/a fence trellis, then there is the main garden which is in three parts with a permanent trellis in the middle of the main part and shadecloth over the top. If that doesn't sound like enough, I also have the greenhouse and several whiskey barrel planters on the concrete slab in back(we filled in a swimmingpool because maintenance was expensive and very time-consuming)...also, pots of all shapes and sizes with all kinds of things growing. The fruit trees are primarily by the gardens in the front of the house, but the raspberries, grapes and cherry bushes are in the flowerbed by the driveway. It sounds confusing, but each piece I added one by one until I had this huge collection of plantings. It wasn't an overnight thing. The trick, of course, is keeping everything alive through the summers and winters.

ttammylynn said...

BTW, it used to intrigue me how some people could identify plants but after a while, it becomes second nature. I mean, if you have irises, lilies, pansies, petunias, lantana, hyacinths, hibiscus, sunflowers, roses, begonias, mimosa, and oleander growing--you learn each new thing, I have all of these, lol. There are only a few things I can't tell you what I have and I am not really a flower person. Vegetables are a similar experience. I can look at a baby plant and tell you what it is or what options of what it could be(families of plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc--sometimes there are too minute or no differences until production). I used to think I was going to be interested in astronomy and space, but I have been so down-to-earth in my adulthood, it makes me wonder about my childhood dreams. The things I love now are things I never gave a second thought to back then, lol. It is okay though because I get to change my mind. Gardening was a part of my life before I was born(my parents and grandparents all had huge gardens), I guess it just took a while before it sparked enough interest in my mind.

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - I know exactly what you mean. I've only been doing this for 6 months and I've learned so quickly to identify seeds, seedlings, and plants just by a quick glance. It feels so good to be more in tune with mother nature!

Heather @ SGF said...

Update - Things change so quickly in the garden...

This weekend, I rescued 3 summer squash plants from the trash can at Home Depot. They were originally in a plastic tray of 9 plants, but many of them had died and HD, I guess, had decided that they couldn't sell them. I planted the three survivors this weekend and as far as I could tell, they look GREAT!

I also received a gift of a grafted indeterminate tomato plant from one of the market vendors. It's too late in the season for it to produce this summer, but it should be a big producer this coming fall. There wasn't any room in the beds, so we just potted and staked it in the middle of the yard. Always room for more :)

Stay tuned! I'll be planting sweet potato slips in a couple weeks...