Filling In

It has been about a month and a half since we put our first seeds into our new garden beds. Those garden beds were years in the making, requiring us to build rock walls to trellis our sloped yard, so we are SUPER excited to be at this point this year with planting our garden in the permanent garden beds. For the last few years, we have been testing out certain areas of the yard to see what grows best, as well as when the best times to plant are. Most people in our area say it is safest to wait until May Long weekend, but we often jump the gun a little on that as we are in the base of the valley and we choose our time to plant based on the forecast.

The early seeds often go in during April, once we have finished seeing frost. It can be a little bit of a chance in April as where we live is the convergence of 4 valleys that bring a lot of different weathers together. It can snow in the morning and then be shorts and t-shirt weather in the afternoon during the spring. We usually play it safe with carrots, beets, and other root vegetables we have planned for the year. We build a little greenhouse cover for the area that we plant the seeds to make sure that even if we do get a chance cold snap, the seeds should be ok. This year, we planted carrots, golden beets and onions on April 12. The beets and carrots were under a cover up until around May 13. The onions have not been covered at all this spring, and are doing great.

As of yesterday, the onions, carrots and beets are all well established and growing fast. I am looking forward to a nice harvest of each. We will start more carrot and beets throughout the summer for some later summer harvests. The green tops (leaves) will be enjoyed throughout the summer while we wait for the base (bulb) to fully mature into delicious onions. Next year we will do a variety of spring onions, shallots and sweet onions.

The rest of the plants that we were starting from seed, went into the garden beds on April 30th. As a reminder, those were our sunflowers, butternut squash, corn, cucumbers and zucchini. We were concerned for a while as the plants did not come up as soon as we had expected, resulting in us planting a few more seeds on May 13, thinking that the others were planted too early and wouldn’t develop. Nope, we should have just waited.

It turns out that they just needed a few days of heat and suddenly everything was ready to pop out of the ground. We now have a few more cucumbers, squash and zucchini than we had planned for, but that is ok. We are going to leave them in and see what happens. The cucumbers will have plenty of space to stretch out, over a few trellis’ that we built. The butternut squash can run up the bed between the sunflowers and the corn. The zucchini is the only one that may have an issues as they are under the cucumber trellis and 2 plants may be too much for that space. If it turns out to be the case, then we will remove the smaller of the two plants and let the larger one thrive. Perhaps we will be able to transplant the smaller one to another location. Either way, we are happy that we got an early start to the plants.

On May 9th, we planted the veggies that we purchased at a local nursery. One day we will try them from seed, but we have limited indoor starter area, so we will see. We added brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, red cabbage and strawberries (top up of our previous years plants). All the plants took happily to the garden beds with no issues and no losses.

Today, they are all looking great, growing rapidly and hopefully going to produce a nice harvest. We changed a few things in the permanent bed in the hopes of having a more successful crop of some of these items. The brussels sprouts last year did not do well. I believe part of it was they grew to heavy and the stems lined along the ground, and we had a bug infestation that killed them off. This year we companion planted them, added some supports and a few marigolds to hopefully keep some of the bugs away. Already they look like they are growing nice and tall with minimal curving of the stem. Once the sprouts start showing, I will start pruning the lower leaves to give room for the sprouts to grow. We haven’t tried cabbage or cauliflower in a few years, but they seem to be taking to the new garden beds really well.

The tomatoes were started in the house on March 15, popped up out of the soil between March 21 – 23, grew big and strong, and then went outside on May 13. As noted in one of our previous posts, we almost lost all of our roma plants, but they have come back and are in full swing of growing and being happy again.

Already, we are looking forward to next week when we will likely have to add some more bracing for the plants as they grow big and tall. Many of the cherry & pear tomato plants have flowers, with the romas still focussing on getting fully back to health. It won’t be surprising if we see flowers on those plants by next week.

Our rhubarb, strawberries (driveway & tower) and cherry tree are all trucking along. The rhubarb is large and in charge, almost ready to pick. The strawberries are all doing well. We had a lot of plants come back and supplemented with a few new ones from our local nursery. The cherry tree is full of cherries. Being it’s 3rd year in the yard, it is definitely into full production. It is unfortunate that we are going to have to move it, but we will do our best to give it away to someone who would like a full-size cherry tree. Our plans are to put in espaliered fruit trees, with a gazebo in the location of the current cherry tree. It was given to us by our neighbours because they didn’t have room for it. The difficult part about that, was that our plans as usual have changed for the development of our yard, so the cherry tree can no longer stay where it is. This is also the main reason we have not planted any trees yet, as they will need to be one of the last additions to the yard. Either way, it will be a good harvest this year.

We decided to wait a little longer this year before planting our peppers. We have had luck with our hot peppers every year but our bell peppers never seem to grow any bigger once outside and the peppers themselves are small. So we planted them in much larger pots this year and have been topping them up as the plant has grown tall. This is the biggest any of our peppers have ever been going into the garden.

On June 1 we decided it was time that they go in. It felt really late already but we had spent the last few weeks making sure that they were hardened and would do well. We also checked the weather and planted them on an evening when it had been hot all day and the night wouldn’t get very cool. The irrigation system is setup so there were only a few minor adjustments to make sure that they continued to get a good soak each day. The result is great. The plants were just as happy, bushy and tall the next morning and into the day. Fingers crossed that this will result in bigger peppers.

We also fell way behind with our potatoes this year. My coworker had spares and gave them to me a month ago. We have created a make-shift location where our one raised bed was, over by our strawberry tower. In the future the towers will likely be over on the other side of the yard close to the compost area.Unfortunately due to having to change some of the irrigation, we only just planted them on June 1. In 2020, we had them in the ground on May 9, so we are almost a month late. We did manage to harvest in early September, mid September and mid October last year. Likely we will wait for the first harvest until late September this year. We will see.

The garden is finally fully planted. Although it has come in phases it will be interesting to see how our timings work out for this year. They may become our timings for future years as well.

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