The Takeover

We have switched gears from building to growing…sort of. We are still doing some building but more of our focus in the last few weeks has been getting all of our plants into the ground and all of the irrigation run, checked and running. The only challenge was that we have so much more that we wanted to plant than beds or spots to actually plant in, resulting in some new areas for growth.

The left side of our yard is still heavily under construction, with the new walls next on our list. K had set us up to get a good head start on them this spring by digging all the terraces last fall, but then COVID happened and I convinced K to landscape the front garden instead. Something I am happy we did, but has now set us back with our walls. Not to worry, we will be cementing posts tomorrow afternoon and then the next week or two will be hauling rocks.

Since we are still using our raised beds and won’t be digging on the right side of the yard, I decided to get a little over-zealous with plants. So, when it came time to find homes for everything, we came up short of space. But, our yard has plenty of space, we just needed to do some preparation first.

I took my cucumber patch back this year. We had planned to get rid of it last year and I had a terrible cucumber year with only a couple small vegetables produced. It’s not likely that we will be building in that patch this year, so I planted my cucumbers back in the garden bed that they have been so successful in past years. This year though, we decided to try growing them vertically so that the cucumbers end up long, skinny and unblemished from sitting on the ground. It never affected the taste but we thought we would experiment this year. I built a simple trellis/archway with netting and already have cucumber plants climbing. They had started their climb in the indoor greenhouse so it was an easy transition for them.

In our raised beds we have carrots, beets, onions and peppers. The raised bed on the left will only be growing carrots and beets. We have staggered the rows by a few weeks so we should have veggies coming off staggered as well. To ensure our carrot bandit doesn’t decimate the crop and enjoy the harvest by herself, we have temporarily turned our temporary greenhouse cover that went over the bed in early spring, into a fence around the bed. My plan is to build something a little easier to open and close, but for now this will keep her exploratory snooter out of the bed. Also, she has a habit of running through the beds when she doesn’t think there is food in them, ruining our first planting.

In the right side bed, we planted peppers and onions. I mistakenly bought the wrong onions to begin with and ended up with spring onions. That is what I get for shopping as quickly as possible in a store during the early days of COVID. Not a problem, we love green onions and tend to eat the tops of our sweet onions throughout the summer, despite the size and fibrous texture. These spring onions will be much better. Next to those, I planted our sweet onions. Last year we enjoyed those well into the fall. On the other half of the bed, we have sweet peppers, hot Hungarian peppers and banana peppers.

Our potato towers have been planted, however may need a replanting. My starter potatoes had decent eyes on them, but they don’t seem to be poking through. We are going to give them another week and see if the heat helps sprout them. If not, then we will replant with some seedlings that have better eye growth.

The tomatoes were large and in charge this year having been started in the house. We spent a few weeks with them going out on our deck for the day to harden the roots and it payed off. The plants are strong and continuing to grow quickly. They also smell amazing. Walking through the tomato towers smells like the plants should already have tomatoes on them. They are very pungent. this is our first time growing Roma’s, so we will see what the harvest ends up being.

The strawberries made almost a full comeback. A few of the tiers didn’t make it, but those that did are strong with very large flowers, abundantly sprouting. A few more weeks and we should have some good runners that we can transplant into the empty spaces. We also have a little rogue strawberry patch that has taken root along the edge of our driveway. The strawberries are small but like little candies. We have decided to leave them as they have been thriving there the last few years.

A new space had to be made for brussel sprouts. We love brussel sprouts, so this year I wanted to give them a whirl to see how they do. I know the ones we buy from our nursery in the fall are always chalked full and grow successfully. In order to find space for them, I decided to clear our old compost corner. Seemed a shame to let that beautiful soil go to waste. A lot of cleanup was needed. There used to be a woodpile there, so there was a lot of wood and bark debris that had to come out. The soil also was excellent for growing weeds and grass so I turned all the soil, excavating grass roots that were sometimes a few feet long. I then had to build a make-shift temporary fence to keep the dogs out and ensure they didn’t poop in our new garden bed. Next year we will be putting up a gazebo with cement pad, but for this year, a brussel sprout bed!

I also started some butternut squash plants and needed to find a space for those. I decided to dig out a flat space by the tomato towers and decided to also grow those vertically. I put together another trellis/arch and got them nestled into their new home on the hill. I thought I had a few plants but it turned out I only had one, so we put a few seeds in in the other side so that we hopefully have a plant on both sides.

Last year we did Peter Pan squash, which grew like a weed and produced so much squash we couldn’t keep up with it. But we missed having zucchini, so due to limited space, we went with zucchini this year. Next year we will do both as we will have a lot more space to play with. Our zucchini plant went in just behind our path wall, next to the butternut squash.

While I was at the nursery picking up flowers for all our planters, my nephew begged for some watermelon plants. His brother had gotten strawberry plants the previous trip, so we let him pick out his own sweet treat to grow. At first, we had found the sugar baby watermelons which are smaller, but then he found the plants for the larger melons and wanted to trade in. I like the sugar babies, so I decided to find a place for them in my yard. Since the space behind the path wall had backfilled, I plunked them in next to the zucchini. I again built a trellis/arch for it and will try to grow them vertically. As the melons grow, I will have to add slings under the melons so that they don’t rip from the vine as they still get heavy.

All of our herbs went out into the herb planter. I removed the dividers this year and will let them all mix up with each other if they like. My rosemary is doing so well inside that I am going to leave it inside. Once we have a permanent location for it, I will likely plant another rosemary plant outside. The herb planter has purple basil, Italian basil, oregano and thyme. The little planter that I made from scraps is going great and doesn’t show any sign of weathering after being left out for the winter.

Yesterday, our neighbour passed along a rhubarb plant. Not something we are ready for, but hard to pass up, so we found a spot by the tomatoes and strawberries. We had an old stump that we needed to remove anyways, so we dug it out and put the rhubarb in. Luckily the stump was really old and fell apart as we dug it out. I think the soil will be great for the rhubarb. Our neighbour also gave us some manure fertilizer to put in the hole for the roots, so that will help.

I think we are done planting vegetables, but you never know! I may end up finding a few more temporary spots this year. We may also do some lettuce in the shade of our cucumbers, squash and watermelon, but we will have to see how the summer goes and if they climb as well as we home they do.

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