Project #5 – Growing a Garden

August 30, 2013

Here is what happens when you plant a bunch of melons too close together!  My little helpers love searching the vines to find hidden treasures.

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We have gotten a couple of pumpkins.  Is it too early for jack-o-lanterns?

2013-08-30_12-45-49_286 2013-08-30_12-46-08_215August 7, 2013

We couldn’t keep up with our zucchini, so we grated and froze it.  Here is what 33 cups of zucchini looks like.

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August 2, 2013

The hot weather has been making for excellent growing conditions for our garden plants.  Here are some pictures of the watermelons:

Here are some watermelons beginning to grow:

Now, just a few days later, the same watermelons:

The black landscaping cloth has been working great and has dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to pull weeds.

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June 29, 2013

Here is the latest update on the garden:

  • The spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and zucchini are growing great.  We have harvested some spinach and lettuce, but are still waiting for the tomato and zucchini.
  • The peas are finished.  I ripped them out in preparation for other plants (watermelon and pumpkins).
  • The carrots have sprouted and are growing, but the weeds are really trying to chock them out.  I’m really good at growing weeds.
  • The onions and marigolds have been completely choked out by the weeds.  I started these from seed.  I think next time I’ll transplant the onions to give them a fighting chance against the weeds.
  • The cucumbers have been slow to grow, but are showing signs of revitalization.

I decided to try something new (for me).  I used landscape fabric for a small section of the garden where I planted some watermelon.  I was inspired to do this after visiting an experienced gardener at his garden.  I visited him to look at his trellis system that he has for his cucumbers.  This was the first time I had met the gardener, and he must have been 80-years old.  As expected he had lost some mobility, but was still an avid gardener.  One way that he keeps up with gardening is by using landscape fabric to block out sunlight to weeds.  He said that if he had to pull weeds, it would be too discouraging for him to continue gardening.  I had a good visit with him, and hope to post pictures soon of his trellis system. He was inspiring, and I aspire to someday garden as well as he does now.

My hope is that the fabric will keep the weeds at bay and allow the watermelon to grow big fat and juicy.  Here are some pictures:

May 29, 2013

Our pea plants didn’t turn out as large as last year, but they are still producing lots of peas.  The kids love roaming through the pea isles searching for pea pods.  They tend to pick some that could use a couple more days on the vine, but they enjoy them.

We planted the following seeds into the garden over the past two weeks:

  • Carrots (Danvers half long)
  • Onions (Tokyo long bunching)
  • Spinach (Space hybrid)
  • Lettuce (Black seeded Simpson)
  • Cucumber (I lost the packet..and don’t remember the variety…sorry)
  • Marygold flowers (it is touted as a companion plant to repel insects…and they look nice)

We also bought some zucchini starts and transplanted them into the garden.

The tomatoes are doing fine, but I’m already worried about the carrots.  I wasn’t aware that the sprinklers were not working for a couple of days.  The seeds might have dried out, since I haven’t seen any sprouts appear yet.  If they don’t show up soon, I’ll probably plant some more.

We also planted some seeds indoors in a 72 cell mini-greenhouse seed starter.  Here is what we planted:

  • Cantaloupe (Hearts of gold)
  • Watermelon (Sugar baby)
  • Pumkin (Big Max)
  • Peppers (Grill master hybrid)
  • Sunflowers (Mammoth)

Here is a link to how we started the seeds indoors.  The plan is to transplant the indoor seed starts outdoors about the same time the peas are finished producing.

I don’t know why we decided to plant sunflowers.  I don’t think we have ever harvested the seeds.  I guess we just like to see the big tall flowers.  Last year we transplanted some sunflowers to the south side of our house in a sunny spot, and the sunflowers grew very tall.

Sunflowers with little helpers

Sunflowers with little helpers

May 14, 2013 – Weeding

I spent some time weeding today.  I came to the realization that weeding is a little like bad breath.  I did some research on why weeding is important, and found some useful tips on how to keep the weeds at bay.  You can read all about it here: Why weeds are like bad breath.

May 11, 2013 – Soil Tilled, Trellis for Peas, and Tomatoes Transplanted

Today I borrowed a “garden tractor” (AKA rototiller) and tilled up the ground where we will be planting the garden this year.  I usually do this with a shovel, but decided to go ahead and see if I liked using the rototiller.  I am now a fan of rototillers.  I was able to turn up the soil a lot faster and better with the rototiller than I could by hand.

My garden inspector helper searching for rolly-pollies.

My garden inspector helper searching for rolly-pollies.

We were also able to get a trellis up for the peas.  We used welded wire fencing, and used 100 feet.  We are still short about 30 feet.  I may use some chicken wire (if I ever get to building the chicken run). I used wood posts to hold the fencing up, but I don’t really like it.  I think metal posts would do a better job and be more secure.  With my helpers running through the pea isles, I’m sure to have a few trellis casualties.

Trellis fencing for the peas.  Notice the weed fest behind the peas before the rototiller.

Trellis fencing for the peas. Notice the weed fest behind the peas before the rototiller.

We have some good gardening friends that give us tips and this year some tomato transplants.  Thanks friends!  We transplanted the tomatoes using a method that may be a little different that the way you have done it.  You can read about it here: One way to transplant a tomato

Here are the types of tomatoes that we now have in the ground: ‘Mortgage Lifter”, “Yellow Pear”, “Jubilee”, “Tomatillos”, “Pruden’s Purple”, and “Beefsteak”.  Is this going to be enough?  I don’t know.

I’ve already put the tomato cages around the new transplants.  I built them last year, and they are still in great shape.

May 1, 2013 – Preliminary Garden Plan

We put together a preliminary garden plan.  Here is a sketch of what it looks like.  Emily was in charge of putting it together this year.  Last year I put the plan together, and made sure to draw everything up to scale.  I don’t really see a need to do that now.

Preliminary Garden Plan

Preliminary Garden Plan

The peas are on the south side of the garden, and the tomatoes are on the Northeast side of the garden.  We tried to think about shading of plants (i.e. keep the tomatoes from blocking sunlight to other plants).  Once the peas are done, we will start thinking about summer plants such as watermelon and cantaloupe.

Emily wrote a great article on determining what climate zone you live in and how this affects your planting success.  You can read the article here: Garden Climate Zones.