Well, I thought if I was going to talk about the garden, and give some tips and ideas, one thing I needed to do was give a general update on how things are going this year. So here is a mess of pictures I took this morning.
Pickling Cucumbers. Last year our pickling cucumbers did not turn out at all. We only got a handful and they were pathetic and miserable. We think it was due to the dirt they were planted in not having enough nutrients for them, but that is just a guess. This year we planted an entire 2 x 8 box full of seeds and this is what we have going on our there now!
Another new addition this year is our tomato patch. We had an empty flower bed that was calling out for something. As far as the square foot gardening method, tomatoes need quite a bit of room to branch out, so they actually require at least 4 square feet if you are using the squares. We decided to give them their own entire section this year. We bought cheap concrete block, which matches our concrete fence, and filled it with a mix of compost and dirt. As you can see, the tomatoes (which we started from seed indoors in about February and planted outside mid-May) are doing quite well here.
The majority of varieties I planted this year are heirloom varieties with names like Mortgage Lifter and German Green. I have 12 plants over there. Clearly I am insane.
Tomatoes and basil are called "companion" plants, which means they grow well together and the basil helps keeps bugs away from the tomatoes. I have two basil plants (purchased starts) in with the tomatoes.
Look! They are taller than the fence!
Overview shot of the "jungle" garden.
This is a watermelon, planted from seeds I saved from last years watermelon. The tiny one in the background is a cantaloupe I planted from seeds saved from last years cantaloupe. I should say that I have yet to have any success with melons. They grow and get to be about the size of a softball and then just quit. I don't know why or what I might be doing wrong. I haven't looked into it. These are growing, so we'll see how big they get!
Chris has an entire box + dedicated to peppers. He has poblano, anaheim, new mexico, jalepeno, banana and bell. Some of them we planted from seeds and grew indoors starting in January, others we bought starts at the store. The starts are doing much better. Growing peppers from seed is difficult. They like to be very warm to get going. Very important to wait until it is good and warm outside before planting peppers!
Ha! This picture kind of cracks me up. This was our "pea" box. I planted three varieties: sugar snap, snow, and regular peas. I thought they were done (peas are typically a very early spring plant) but they have just kept going and going! I still have peas coming on. In and amongst the pea mess I have a couple of volunteer plants: a couple of tomatillos and a squash of some variety. A volunteer plant is one that pops up that the gardener didn't actually plant. They could come from our compost or with the help of birds.
Onions! The first time we planted onions we had no luck. This year they seem to be doing pretty good. No idea why.
This is a volunteer zucchini. I have a zucchini I planted, but this one just decided to pop up on its own. Looking pretty healthy!
Cauliflower. Our first attempt. I have nothing to add here except I hope they turn out! And the plants are huge.
Japanese eggplant. My first year planting eggplant. I bought this as a start and it has gone gangbusters with little help from me. It does need lots of water I have noticed, otherwise it gets wilty. Does anyone have a good eggplant recipe? I have a couple but could use a few more.
Cabbage. Our second try with cabbage. The first time we did cabbage they got eaten by the slugs something fierce! This time I planted some sage, another companion plant, to try and help minimize the bug attacks. Looking pretty good!
Broccoli. Same thing as the cabbage. The first year we had a garden the broccoli bolted (went to flower) before we ever got any broccoli heads. This year it seems to be really happy. I have no idea why.
Cucumbers! They are doing great. So happy. Cucumbers need LOTS of water or they are bitter.
Another jungle box. This one has beans, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, chives, thyme, sage, celery, and basil in it (I think that's it). Oh and a pepper plant, too.
Beans! These are supposed to be "bush" beans, which mean they grow close to the ground and don't need to climb. Ahem. They wanted to climb, so we stuck a bunch of climbing sticks out there.
Potatoes! We have four varieties growing this year. Red, white, purple and russet. The dead looking ones in the middle basically mean that the potatoes are ready to be dug out and eaten! YAY! Our potatoes have always done really well.
The two tomatillo plants ( of the at least 5 volunteer) that we actually bought and planted this year.
This is a picture of one of the jungle boxes with arrows and labels showing what stuff is where. Remember, you can click on the image to see it in a larger format.
Another jungle box: eggplant, volunteer tomatillo, green onion, edemame, zucchini, carrots, pepper, cauliflower, watermelon, dill, cantaloupe. I think that's it.
Spaghetti squash. We planted a whole bunch of squash outside of our garden area this year. We had an empty flower bed in the front yard that we thought would be a good (big!) place for the squash to grow and have room to spread out. I think the soil needs some work because the squash isn't doing as well as it could. Probably we will add a bunch of compost to the soil this fall or next spring and try the squash again next year. We do have a few things going, but nothing like what we could/should.
Okay! So that is an update on most things in the garden right now and what they are doing, with some comments about how they are doing this year versus in the past. I do believe that gardening in general is a lot of trial and error and there is a pretty significant learning curve. What works in Southern Oregon may or may not work someplace else with a different climate. It is important to pay attention to the frost dates (both last -in the spring, and first - in the fall) and what plants will survive a frost and which wont. Some plants actually aren't ready until after a hard freeze, like parsnips, which actually get sweeter after a hard freeze consolidates the sugars in the root. Anyway, the point is: pay attention to your climate!
More to come. Next up: how we are keeping things watered and fed.