Saturday, June 18, 2011

In the Garden: Beginning and Up-to-date

So, friends will know that we moved from a townhouse to a real house last autumn. This means that for the first time ever, the spring brought with it the opportunity to plant a real garden. For those with townhouses, apartments, condos or whatever -- don't miss the opportunity to grow something! But I'm very grateful to have more land in which to plant. I had originally intended on posting on my progress as I went along, but alas... time got the better of me! So, I'll try and bring you up to speed.

First, I did a little research and decided that OCD-me wanted to have a super-organized and efficient garden. I discovered Mel Bartholomew's method of Square Foot Gardening ("SFG") that he originated in the 1970s. So I bought the book: All New Square Foot Gardening. If your interested in gardening, you should really look into this method. So far, so good.

Prepping the GardenSo with SFG it is recommended that you use raised beds - so I built two 8'x4' beds using 2"x6"x8"s and some handmade 4"x4" for stability and setting into the ground. As you can see, I had a great helper in building the raised beds. The materials for the raised beds were one of the most expensive things about the garden so far, but they can be used year after year. I'm going to look into some other options next year, too -- but I'm not giving up on raised beds. Because it helps with soil quality and makes the plants more accessible. Speaking of soil, it had to come from somewhere. Prepping the GardenMel recommends a three-part blend of vermiculite,  peat moss and compost. But I wasn't in the mood to hunt for these items in bulk and Lowe's was running an awesome sale on soil. So I stocked up.

Of course, I'd need a little more help moving them. So, I enlisted a friend to relocate the raised bed frames from garage to the yard.   With the help of a buddy, they were set and in came the soil. Gardening 2011This all occured pre-Kentucky Derby, as did my first plantings. But an ill-timed trip (when did I start considering vacation logistics based on planting cycles?) caused me to get my plants in the ground later than I had hoped.
Gardening 2011
The Garden - May 19, 2011
A number of the plants were in the ground by May 19. You can see the string that marks off the square-foot areas. Typical row-spacing numbers (plant 12" apart) helps to know that one plant can be located in each square foot; if it says 3" apart, I can fit 16 plants in a square foot (4 rows of 4). Most of the plants above take up a whole square foot (tomatoes, basil, parsley, Greek oregano, rosemary, peppers and egglant), but lettuce can be planted four to a square-foot. You can see that as of May 19, everything looked pretty sparce!

Gardening 2011
The Garden - May 22, 2011
I planted a zucchini and a squash plant, as well as some cucumbers. From seed, there are green beans, raddishes and carrots. I've never planted anything from seed. Oh, and the frames are for home-made trellises. Extra sturdy, according to Mel, they are made of electrical conduit and rebar (into the ground) as well as some trellis netting that I ordered from amazon. As far as a harvest, obviously nothing yet -- except we had started picking basil so the plants would get to be nice and hardy!

Gardening 2011
The Garden - June 7, 2011
By June 7, the tomatoes, lettuce and basil had really started to grow. Amazing how quickly things show growth! And, to make me really excited, my beets were already sending up little indicators of growth! The downside: eggplant fleas. This little buggers decimated my eggplant leaves; I tried concocting a homemade garlic-pepper spray per an online recommendation, but it was to no avail.Gardening 2011 I recently switched to a (gasp!) chemical spray with much success -- the eggplants look like they'll survive! And did I mention: my squash have begun to blossom! Check them out!

Gardening 2011
The Garden - June 18, 2011
And now check it out!! The tomatoes are doing great and the basil is spectacular! We are planning on doing a huge pesto batch this week -- can't believe I'm saying that in June!! I'm ready to start harvesting some squash and zucchini, and I just saw my first cucumber! The lettuce has been great (I also planted another variety from seed a couple weeks ago -- it has come up and is probably a week from harvest). Of course, all the herbs are great! We've added lavender in the herb department and watermelon in the fruit department. All the pepper plants (jalapeno (3), sweet banana, and bell (orange and red)) have blossomed and I'm waiting on the fruit.

I'm having a lot of fun and it has been a learning experience. For one, squash grows out - not up (so don't plant it next to the trellis -- save that spot for the watermelon which is out of control!! As my sister says, "Happy Eating!"

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