Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (July)

Another amazing month in garden therapy has passed and our backyard garden is as dynamic as ever. We've been harvesting, supplementing the soil with molasses and new compost, and planting all month long as 6 of the raised beds are in a state of constant rotation. Here's the scoop:

Bed 1 (4 x 4 shallow) - The cucumbers plants are producing, but not much; and we only have one spaghetti squash on the vine. In talking with people at the market, I'm wondering if I don't have a pollination problem, so Dave and I are talking about planting some flowers in the back yard to attract bees. Other than that, this bed is doing well. We harvested many green beans from this bed and have planted new seeds. The sage is harvested routinely and I've been drying it in the dehydrator so I'll have plenty over the winter for tea. And the lambs-quarter, we'll it's gone crazy because I'm just not harvesting often enough. The next month, hopefully will change that as I really need to get its size under control...

Bed 2 (4 x 8 shallow) - With temps in the 100's for the last couple weeks, all 12 tomato plants were looking pretty shabby. I pulled up 3 of the 4 determinant plants once I had picked the last of their fruit. And I've started trimming the 8 indeterminate plants so that they'll grow and produce again in the fall. Of course, I was interrupted earlier this week in my pruning when I sliced into my pinky finger with the scissors I was using to trim the dead leaves. Dave confiscated my scissors for awhile, but he finally gave me another tool to finish the job. There are also small green pepper plants in this bed. The are finally starting to grow (I was wondering there for awhile). Perhaps the tomatoes were just demanding too much water. Who knows? I'm learning as I go here...

Bed 3 (4 x 10 deep) - The sweet potatoes have SERIOUSLY taken over! Six slips were originally planted in this bed. As the vines grew, I buried them every 6 inches or so to create a new rooted plant. Now just over one month into the planting, the bed is covered in vines. Something tells me these sweet potatoes and healthy and happy...

And as it turns out, one of the commenters on a previous post mentioned that we can eat these lovely leaves. I've not tried them yet, but with so many vines now jumping out into the yard, it won't be long!

Bed 4 (4 x 10 deep) - Another full bed of sweet potatoes. These have only been planted for two weeks so it's not quite as expansive. I also need to pack more dirt into the bed (it's only about half full right now, but I'll add more dirt as the plants grow taller). Thankfully, this isn't a problem for growing potatoes.

Bed 5 (4 x 9 shallow) - I've been harvesting green beans, basil, and chard out of this bed constantly. The basil is dried for the winter. Any green bean plants that were producing though, have since ceased production so we have about 30 seedlings in various states of growth. This is also the bed where most of my green peppers plants are. They look gorgeous, but they just aren't producing. Again, I'm thinking this is a pollination problem. Other ideas?

Bed 6 (4 x 10 shallow) - This has by far been the most productive bed because it was full of leafy greens: chard, collards, and lettuce. Of course, with it being over 100 degrees outside EVERY SINGLE DAY, they've pretty much all bolted and the bed is now in a state of transition. About every 10 days, I pull up 8 squares worth of plants for meals and am replacing them with green beans and black beans. In the next month, however, I'm also going to try banana peppers and corn in this bed.

Bed 7 (4 x 10 deep) - Still nothing in this bed (not even dirt), but I'm hoping to fill it in the next month so that I can plant red potatoes there this fall. Yeah, we love potatoes at the SGF house.

The Orchard - We have two new additions to our little orchard: two Goji berry plants. What? Yeah, that was my first reaction when my Dad brought them over. What are goji berries? Well, with any luck, we are going to find out! I planted them just this past weekend next to our apple trees and am looking forward to harvesting lots of fruit in the years to come.

So, other than slicing my finger open, the garden has proved to be wonderfully therapeutic - taking part in our food from seed to plate, building strength and muscle as I turn and sift our compost, and the view from our breakfast table, as I take in the entire garden, is breath-taking.

In the meantime, I'm learning all about how much a plant produces (less greens and more green beans this fall, for sure!), how to make my own sweet potato slips (a full post on this soon), and how to find joy in pulling weeds. Can it get any more zen than that?

6 comments:

Michelle said...

Gosh, Heather - it is amazing to see all of that growth and goodness when you just started about what, a year ago? Or less? What a great inspiration!

Heather @ SGF said...

Michelle - Not even a year. I just started last October. It all happened so quickly...

Brandy said...

Lovely garden!! I too got Goji berry plants from Gardeners Supply... Goji berries are good for health!!

Heather @ SGF said...

Brandy - That's what I hear. I'm looking forward to trying them! How long have you had yours?

Nick said...

Good luck on keeping up with that sage! I found this info on tips for drying herbs . It seems alike a good primer on how to get started drying.

Heather @ SGF said...

Nick - Thanks for the link!