It is time! We finally put all the plants into the wall garden beds. We have been thinking of this moment since we put the last wire in to tie off the last section of wall we filled. We have more vegetables this year, more variety and more excitement at what the summer will bring! It will get us through the task of building the walls on the other half of the yard….or at least give us the boost we need to get that side done by fall. My plan had been to get them done by June, but with the fences, running new irrigation and Kurt hurting his shoulder, we are realistically looking at it being a fall task. My hope is that I can at least get the posts cemented into the ground by the end of June, but we will have to see how Kurts shoulder does. He is the digger, and although I did a little digging, I am much slower and he is much better at it.
Anyways, back to the garden beds. Back on April 12th we got the carrots, beets and onions into the bottom level and built a little greenhouse cover for the carrots and beets. On April 30th we added our mammoth sunflowers, peaches n’ cream corn, butternut squash, lemon and long english cucumbers, and zucchini. It felt a little early doing those as we usually wait until around this time in May, but the weather has been warm, and no frost, so we decided to go for it. Then a few weeks passed and nothing was coming up, so we began to think it was a lost cause, we went to early and we would be re-planting at our “normal” time. Well, we had the sunflowers start popping on May 9, a cucumber and some of the corn started popping on May 13th, and on May 15 a few more of the cucumbers, the squash and the zucchini all poked through. It was slow to get here, but with the really warm week we have had, it gave them incentive to show their heads.
On May 13 we got almost the rest of the plants in the ground, as well as re-planting a few of the plants that we didn’t think were going to come up. I re-planted the butternut squash, most of the cucumber and the zucchini. Due to them showing up a few days later, I am guessing we may have a few more plants than originally anticipated, but that is ok. We also finally decided to put the tomatoes into their new homes in the top bed. We had to build some new towers as we wanted to start fresh in this bed. The old ones would have been fine if we had left them where they were, but age and getting hauled out of the ground definitely took its toll. So, I made some new ones. Because the tomatoes will be planted much more closely together, I made 2 – 6′ x 1.5 x 6′ towers. They almost look like the frames for some shelves, but they will be excellent support for the new tomatoes.
Building the towers took a bit of time because I had to rip some wood that I had in the shop down to 1.5″ strips. I wasn’t about to go buy more wood when I had some that could be used in the shop. Lumber is astronomically priced, and I just need a simple box to hold my tomatoes steady, so we made due. One of the 6′ towers has 5 plants and the other has 6. Our tomatoes did really well in the larger pots this year. I topped them up with soil to help the tomatoes grow strong and healthy. We let them enjoy the days on our deck for the last few weeks when I was working from home to get them used to the heat, wind and other elements before getting them into the ground. We had planned on planting last weekend but there were a few storms that were supposed to roll through this week, so we held of a bit.
On Thursday, I took the day off work with Kurt to go fishing at one of our favourite lakes. We were home in mid-afternoon and decided it was a good time to get the tomatoes in. The area we planted them in was shady and we gave the soil a good soaking before we put them in. We had to use some of the beautiful sifted soil from the pile that had resided in the back corner of our yard for the last 5.5 years. It had all sorts of plant matter from when they pulled the junipers out of our yard, and looks rich in colour. We are hoping it is as good as the landscaping company assumed it would be after sitting and breaking down for a few years. We will find out this year!
We bought about 30 basil plants of differing variety with plans of adding them all over the place. We added a few of the cinnamon basil, red basil and Siam queen basil in with the tomatoes. We also added a few marigolds to help with pest control. Marigolds also went in with the brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions. We will see how they do at keeping some of the bugs away. My most concerning is my cabbage family plants and cabbage bugs. I am not 100% certain, but I believe they got the brussels sprouts last year. To also help the brussels sprouts this year, I have added some old tomato cages around them. My co-worker added some supports to theirs last year and they said it made all the difference in ensuring thick, strong stalks that the delicious brussels sprouts will grow on. Fingers crossed that I have better luck this year. Especially since I love them so much that a plate of roasted brussels sprouts is often considered dinner.
We had tried cauliflower in one of our first years growing in our yard, and they did ok, but not great. Hopefully now that we have the proper setup, with proper irrigation, we will have better luck with nice, solid heads. I have never grown cabbage before, but rotkohl is a winter must-have, so growing our own cabbage also became a must. Again, we have the proper setup, so we should be successful enough to get a few decent heads.
We also have some celery varieties. The ones by our brussels sprouts is called peppermint celery and the ones by the cucumbers are tango celery. I’m not sure there will be much of a difference, but it was worth trying a few!
I also managed to get a good variety of herbs this year. I noted all the basil and the different varieties, but we also grabbed coriander cilantro, cilantro delfino, tarragon, sage, winter thyme, tuscan blue rosemary (smells soooooo good!), Chinese chives and Italian oregano. Our basil varieties are mammoth basil, red basil, cinnamon basil, Siam queen basil, floral spires white basil, and Rutgers devotion DMR basil. Mixing and matching, we filled the two planters by the air conditioner, the herb planter and another planter by our outdoor dining table. I’m looking forward to trimming throughout the summer for some delicious meals.
We are going to pickup some dill and peppermint when we pickup our flowers later this week as we couldn’t find them at the nursery we went to for the majority of our vegetable plants. Those will be added to some of the planters and the beds. Eventually I want all my herbs in a little wall bed, but it isn’t finished yet, so for this year they are in planters. Next year I will have a space in the walls for them, and hopefully they will re-seed themselves and come back every year.
This next week we will get our pepper plants into the top bed, and the potatoes into their towers. We have been short on time this last week to get the potato towers setup in their new temporary locations for this year, so we are a little behind getting them to ground. The peppers, we have been holding off on, in order to give them time to grow big and strong. I will start putting them outside during the day this week to harden them and get them used to the different weather patterns. My hope is for the best pepper season yet. My hot peppers always do well, but my sweet peppers are usually undersize, though tasty. The plants are about double the size they normally are when we put them out, so I feel they have had a really good start this year.
Lastly, we need to get the irrigation run to the new beds so that the plants can start getting a really good soak every night and we can get straw laid down on specific areas. Our tomatoes could especially use their straw blanket to help keep the moisture in. Hopefully we will get that done later today, or tomorrow. I look forward to sharing how the growing season goes in our new, permanent garden beds!