Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (June)

Again this month, I'm amazed at how much difference a month can make. Here are the photos from last month (go ahead, I'll wait while you check them out...).

Back? Right. Now check this out...

Bed 1 (4 x 4 shallow) - Not in full harvest, Bed 1 is still offering up some wonderful goodies. We are harvesting kale, lambs-quarter, sage, and green beans from this bed. We're still waiting on spaghetti squash, cucumbers, yellow squash, and basil, but they are not far behind as you can see particularly by the beautiful vines along the trellis. Those yellow squash we rescued from the trash bin at Home Depot are doing beautifully and they were FREE! Cucs and squash are just weeks away. I can just feel it...

Bed 2 (4 x 8 shallow) - This, of course, is our tomato bed. All 12 plants made it through the frost (although originally we thought we lost one of them) and all are producing beautifully -the tallest of the plants are well over 6 feet tall. I'm pulling off at least one tomato every day. There are 6 different varieties all in this one bed like tomato berry, razzleberry, celebrity, big beef, early girl, and jet setter. The first round of green beans were also in this bed and I just ripped them out last week, having made their last cycle of beans. Tiny green pepper plants still line the front of the bed, but they are yet too small to see in this photo.

Bed 3 (4 x 10 deep) - The plants are yet a little too small to show up in a photo, but Bed 3 is my sweet potato bed. I still have a few onions to harvest from it, but the rest of the bed is filled with 6 sweet potato slips that I made myself from grocery store sweet potatoes and coached along by a market vendor. The slips took to the soil perfectly and we're enjoying watching them grow (I'll enjoy eating them even more come fall!). 

Bed 4 (4 x 10 deep) - Nothing to show in this bed, but Bed 4 will also be a sweet potato bed. My sweet potato slips need one more week to root and then they'll be planted. I know. I know. That's a lot of sweet potatoes. But they are one of my favorites! Mmmm!

Bed 5 (4 x 9 shallow) - This is one of the two beds where we've seen the most dramatic progress. Last month, you could hardly tell anything was growing. This month, the chard, basil, green peppers, and green beans are alive and well. There is also sage growing in this bed though not large enough from which to harvest. Speaking of harvest, we're picking chard and basil from this bed almost daily, with green beans and green peppers not far behind. Yum!

Bed 6 (4 x 10 shallow) - Bed 6 has also come along rather well. It's covered in swiss chard, leaf lettuce, and collard greens. Other than a few green pepper seeds that I planted in a few empty squares, this bed is practically in full harvest. We're pulling some of these greens just about every day (and even giving away some of the excess - there's so much of it!)

Bed 7 (4 x 10 deep) - No picture here either. There's no soil yet in the bed so we'll be working on it through the summer months so that we can plant some fall veggies later this year. More soon.

The Orchard - Yep. That's right. We now have an orchard. That's 4 dwarf columnar apple trees. We're not sure how they'll do, but with any luck the Fall of 2010 will bring us beautiful and plentiful apples. One of them didn't make the shipping process (the far back one) so we're waiting on the replacement. Right smack-dab in the middle is one final tomato plant that a friend at the market gave me. It's a grafted indeterminate tomato plant that we planted so late in the season, we assumed it wouldn't produce until well into the fall. So much for that reasoning. It already has tomatoes on it just one month after planting. Go tomato plant, go!

So that's how the backyard garden is looking these days. The only things I really need to supplement my local diet is starches (rice/wheat berries/potatoes) and fruit. We've been getting a few things yet from the market like beans and corn, but I'm thinking I might just try those on my own later this summer to replace the greens in Bed 6. There will be plenty of room.

Over the past month, as I've delegated some of the responsibilities of my volunteer work to other volunteers, I've found much more time to spend in the garden. It's a beautiful relationship - one that gives as much as it takes. How could I have ever guessed that in 8 months, I'd go from no garden at all to eating primarily out of my back yard. And garden therapy not only feels good, it tastes amazing! I can only imagine what the next month will bring...


ttammylynn said...

Yeah, Sunday I worked on some of my garden beds, too. I don't have clean beds like you do(the weeds start coming in with a vengence after a few years and most of my beds are 5+ years old). But, I cleaned out several strawberries that had come to the end and planted seed for green beans, honeydew, and pumpkins. In two whiskey barrels, I cleared onions and set them to dry and put in one tomato plant(a Mr. Stripey, sp?) and one eggplant plant. In another bed, I cleared some broccoli that was done to make way for black beans, winter squash, and black-eyed peas. My herb bed obviously got the new cilantro seeds. I'm going to clear somewhere else for basil. I'd put it with the rosemary, but nothing does well in there--I guess that bush is too big, I'll probably clear more onions.
Later today, I'm going to get the pak choi to use for stir fry--grassfed sirloin, pak choi, carrot, onion, bell pepper, green beans and whatever else I can find. Everything listed is out of my gardens except the meat...
It'll clear the pak choi garden row and I'll have to decide what to do with it.
I have corn forming on the plants...with yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, onions, garlic, some strawberries, raspberries, rosemary, oregano, garlic chives, and new potatoes in harvest mode to some degree or another. Coming soon I will have figs, oranges, some blueberries and a pomegranite. Planted and coming up I have lima beans*, pumpkins, watermelon*, canteloupe*, luffa, winter squash-butternut and seedless grapes( * indicates flowering and/or small fruit).
I've had a columner apple tree for about ten years now but it hasn't really produced because the weather is so chaotic(it has bloomed nicely a couple of times). Most apple trees need more chill time than our climate provides. Of course, I hope that yours bring you better fortune. Having multiples might help with pollination, too. I was thinking I want to add a pomegranite for additional pollination to help the one that I have. It flowered very nicely and yet, is only making a single fruit. I think for trees, I want to add the pomegranite, a couple of pecans, perhaps another peach, and maybe some persimmons...then, I'll have mulberry, fig, cherry(if they ever make fruit), pear, kumquat plus all the above mentioned except persimmons unless I get some. I have date palms, but I started them from seed about six years ago so, they are still babies, but palm trees are nice. I should start some more... Also, did you know you can grow pineapple plants be rooting the top of a pineapple? It is unlikely to get pineapples here, but even the plant is beautiful. If the pineapple does form, it will grow on top of the plant...I've had one like this. That tiny pineapple was delicious.

Green Bean said...

Looking mighty fine, Heather!! Mighty fine!

hmd said...

Tammy - I'm looking forward to doing some beans soon too. Can you plant them all summer? Any special tips?

If you only have one apple tree, that would be why they don't produce. You have to have two. The pineapple plant sounds cool!

Green Bean - Thanks!

Sam said...

Ooo columnar apples! I'm excited to see how they turn out.

If you have too much to eat, will you be selling it at the market? What a journey it would be if you did!

hmd said...

Beany - I've thought about it, but I'm kinda waiting to see how to balance our needs first. I definitely need to be using more space for green beans and less for greens (like collards, chard, and lettuce). The excess right now is being given to friends and family. In the future, I'm hoping to learn how to achieve a better balance for our own consumption. But that's what the early years are for. Learning how things work, how much each plant produces etc. It's all very exciting. And who know. Maybe someday I will be selling at the market :)