Well, the time has finally come…garden day! Our plants inside are very ready to get out and into the garden bed. They are huge, happy and growing like a jungle. We are fast running out of room for them all in the house, so those that can go outside are headed out!
It will be interesting to see how things go this year in comparison to last year. This year, we seem to be having a cool, wet May, which has us hesitating on doing some of the planting we had done this time last year. This time last year we were in the middle of a little heat-wave, so our plants did very well when we put them in. Well for the most part they did. I think the tomatoes were a little shocked by the heat, and I remember thinking that we might lose a few, but they pulled through. In comparison, the weather we have had, and are expecting for the rest of the month, looks to be a tad cooler, cloudier and wetter, which may result in a little slower of a start that last year. But, I am ok with it if it means that we have no major fire season this year.
We started our carrots and beets a few weeks ago, on May 1. We have a little frame that we built last year that we cover in plastic to help warm the area that we plant. The beets have come up, along with quite a few little weeds. The carrots weren’t coming up for the longest time. Last year it took them 10 days to start sprouting. We finally saw a few pop up recently. They are always so thin and small compared to the weeds that seem to spring into existence almost immediately after planting. We have to look carefully, which is also why we mark our rows. We try not to weed at first so that we don’t disturb the carrot seeds, but it will need to be done soon.
As noted in a previous post, our tomato plants are pushing close to 3′. I have been letting them sit on our deck during some of the warmer days to start hardening the roots. We also leave the deck door open most days, letting a breeze ruffle their leaves. Hopefully they have had enough time to get accustomed to the temperatures for their roots to be ready for going into the ground. We have 16 tomato plants in total, but we will not be planting all of them. Instead, we went with 5 big beef, 5 roma and 2 sweetie pie (cherry) plants. The rest of the tomato plants are going to my mom, sister and a friend of ours.
We got them into the garden on May 10. We started off by selecting the plants we wanted to put into the garden, and lined them up where we planned to put them. We have our big beef closest to the fence, with the romas next to them and the sweetie pie at the end closest to the corn. Kurt started at one end, and I started at the other and we started putting them in. Only 2 tomatoes were tall enough to reach the second braces, but overall, they seem sturdy enough with the first brace. I am sure I will need to add a bit of string to support some of the plants that are almost to the second brace level, but I will give it a day or two and see how everything does before I start adding strings. I expect they will look a little rough for the next week, as they always seem to look when transplanted. Hopefully we don’t lose any, but we will see.
My co-worker gave us a few crowns of asparagus that she didn’t have room for, so we decided to get those set in to the lower garden bed where the cabbage were last year. We had originally planned to put our broccoli there this year, but we are adaptable…especially when given something like asparagus! We always knew we wanted to add it to our garden, but hadn’t put a lot of thought into it yet. It worked out to get it in where we put it, and we will see how it works out. This one is new to us, so we did end up having to watch a YouTube video to make sure we were planting it correctly. Thank goodness we watched it, because I would have done it all wrong! I didn’t realize that you had to soak the roots first, and then the way you splay the roots out before burying them in the soil was not how I would have done it. Luckily we thought to check first rather than make assumptions. Fingers crossed that it works out. If it does, then maybe we will get to eat some by next summer.
We also decided to plant our cabbage and broccoli. These both could have gone out earlier because they don’t mind the cold weather, but I wanted to give them a little time on the deck getting used to the weather and breeze before plunking them in. We decided to put them in the larger area on the bottom bed, closest to the fence.
The cabbage went in first, along the edge of the bottom bed, closest to the fence. I was surprised last year, expecting them to take a lot more space than they did. This year, in the larger area, I was able to put more plants in. We planted 6 for now, which we will harvest and enjoy in salads and other summer recipes. Depending on if we are using them quickly, I may plant another couple for a fall harvest to make rotkohl for the winter months. We will see though.
The broccoli is a new plant for us. We have never grown it before, but the plants look very healthy and have lots of true leaves on them already. We have planted 6 plants and will freeze what we don’t eat or share with friends and family this summer. I have a feeling that we won’t be freezing much since we eat a lot of broccoli in the summer months either as a slaw, salad or with a dollop of hummus.
We were going to leave it at that, but then I decided that our celery needed to get into the ground. In order to get those in though, I needed to setup the cucumber ladders because we wanted to grow them in the shade of the cucumber plants again. It worked out so well last year in that spot. So I quickly re-assembled those, and planted about 6-8 plants under there. The containers had a few celery in each one, and I planted 4 containers. The rest of the celery plants that we started are being shared with friends and family for their gardens.
On May 11, I was working a later shift and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny morning, and I now had the gardening bug, so I decided to get some of our other plants started. Again, with our weather being a tad cooler, I am a bit behind compared to when we planted some of these plants last year. Though, it may still be too early, but we will see in a few weeks what comes up!
I started with our corn. Last year I planted it on April 30th and all but 4 plants came up. This year, I am a few weeks later but similar temperatures so here is hoping that the plants will come up. I do have some left in case I need to re-seed a few areas. Technically corn grows best in minimum 15* soil. I am not sure if ours is at that temperature, especially at night. However, I think the rock walls retain some heat and help heat the soil a bit more than a normal garden bed soil would heat.
Beside the corn, we are doing sunflowers again. This time we have gone with an autumn mix, which will be a bit shorter than the ones from last year, but will have a variety of colours. Depending on how they grow, I may plant more so that there are varying levels and points of flowering throughout the season. We plant the sunflowers and corn along here to help give out path some privacy, but in future we may add some trellis and do our peas along a section.
Within the corn and sunflowers I have planted some butternut squash toward the top by the tomatoes. The vines should run through the base of the corn. Where the sunflowers start, at the end of the corn patch, I have planted some cantaloupe. Depending on how that grows, I may stretch one up into the corn to meet the butternut squash and one down into the sunflowers. At the bottom of the bed, where the sunflowers end, I have added a some pumpkin. My hope is that the vines will thread between the base of the sunflowers and corn the way my butternut squash did last year. There was plenty of room last year for more vines, so I added a few more varieties of vining plants to try out this year.
Since I had my cucumber towers up, I planted those as well. One one side I am doing straight eights. They are the long green style that we had last year. On the other, I am trying a new variety called a patio snacker, which is also a long, green cucumber variety. Although I had lots of lemon cucumbers last year, we found them a little too seedy, so we are going back to a more traditional cucumber on both sides of the ladders. I did seeds of each.
Under the ladder, I planted our zucchini plant. It did so well there last year, that I figured it’s best not to mess with it. It grew nicely behind the celery, and didn’t encroach on the cucumbers.
We still have to get our onions in, but I am holding off just a tad longer since they seem to be making some headway with getting a little thicker, hopefully meaning that the bulb of it is getting bigger as well and will do better being transplanted.
We also need to get a potato bed setup. We are going to get rid of our towers and just do a traditional mounding of the potatoes this year, so I just need a small raised bed to do the potatoes in this year. Next year, they will have a spot in the new garden beds, but we aren’t ready with the walls, and I don’t want to wait too much longer to get them in the ground. This will be the last year with makeshift, temporary beds for some of our plants.