Early June Update - Part 1
With all the rain we’ve had this spring, things are growing at breakneck speed – not the least of which are the weeds! Our mild winters in the past couple of years have also been a bit of a curse as I firmly believe that they’ve resulted in weedier and buggier growing seasons. Even previously well-behaved ornamentals on the north side of our house such as sweet woodruff and lily-of-the-valley have become aggressive in their spread.
As is usually the case each year, I went from being on top of things in the early spring to falling behind - now I'm playing catch up. There have already been some setbacks in the veg garden but, overall, things are looking good.
In this post, I'll concentrate on what's happening in Area #1 and first up are the tomatoes. I’ve reduced the number of tomato plants I'm growing this year from 28 to 24 (which I spoke about HERE) and am spreading them out over 3 beds. One side of each bed holds tomatoes, while the other is planted up with a different companion (eggplant, basil or beans).
Tomatoes (right) partnered with eggplant
The allium bed in Area #1 is doing quite well. Thankfully, it didn't have any of the cutworm and/or bird issues that the bed in Area #2 did.
Onions in the foreground with shallots at the back
Spinach bed just before pulling
Total spinach harvest
Another bed that did poorly this spring was the early brassica bed. Last year, it was so successful (see this post) and I’m thinking that, once again, our cool spring weather had a lot to do with it.
Everything grew at a snails pace and most of the greens were still tiny in late May when I needed to get the bed cleared:
Spring brassica bed before harvest
Lots of sluggy nibbles; the result of our very wet spring
The one halfway decent (although by no means stellar) harvest was the rapini:
I tried to salvage some of the other greens by transplanting them to a bed on the hilltop – the arugula didn’t take kindly to the move and quickly bolted but the claytonia and mache are hanging in there.
This year, I wanted to grow more legumes so there are 3 full beds and several half beds dedicated to them.
In bed #2, I’m growing two new varieties of fava, Aquadulce and Witkiem-Monica, as well as a couple of climbers, both of which are also new to the garden - Mammoth Melting snow peas and Queen Anne black-eyed peas.
Favas with snow peas at the top left; the beans are newly sown
I actually forgot about these initially,
so they are a couple of weeks behind the other peas
The shelling peas occupy half of Bed #6 with cucumbers/tromboncino squash planted down the other side.
The shelling peas had spotty germination, especially the Aladdin. Take a look at this view - Sabre was sown in the top half of the bed while Aladdin was sown on the bottom.
Big germination difference between Aladdin (bottom) and Sabre (top)
The carrot bed (seen at the top of the 1st cucumber/pea bed photo) is being planted up in two parts this year. The first section was sown this past week and will be for summer/fall harvest. The second, larger section will be sown in late June and harvested in October for winter storage. The newly seeded area is covered with Agribon to keep it moist until the tiny seeds start to germinate.
One change to Area #1 is the herb bed. It was previously planted up with annual herbs such as basil and dill but also contained a few perennials (thyme, sage, chives). The problem was that this bed was shallow, being built from only one level of 2x6’s, so I kept having issues with grass invading the bed. It was impossible to remove from amongst the perennial herbs, so I decided to pull everything up. This will now become an ornamental bed and I’ve planted it up with numerous annuals that I grew from seed this year:
Transplanted last week:
Calendula, coleus, alyssum, strawflowers, cosmos and tithonia
I didn’t have the time to figure out ideal spacing for the annuals so I decided to roughly space them all at 6” apart. I also tried to place the taller plants in spots where they won’t shade out the shorter ones – or where they will, in the case of coleus which will probably enjoy a bit of shade.
The annual herbs (basil, dill, cilantro) will now be grown in the main veg beds. As for the perennial herbs, I’ll be starting from scratch with new plants and am planning on incorporating them into an ornamental border that is currently in the works.
Last year, I built a small bed next to the shed and it has also been planted up with ornamentals:
A variety of zinnias, calendula, tithonia, coleus are planted up in this spot
Wow, your eggplants look massive. And the allium, peas, and fava bean beds look great. It's too bad you had such a cool spring which put things behind. But I get a feeling everything will jump into action now that it's warmed up. And tomato plants are so vigorous they'll catch up in no time.ReplyDelete
I've never had such big eggplant transplants - almost made up for the tomatoes :) But I totally agree - Even when my tomato transplants do well, they always look a bit sad when I plant them in the bed. But it doesn't take long for them to settle in and go from tiny to massive in no time flat.Delete
I was forever playing catch up when I had my allotment. You only need to get a little behind and you never seem to be on top of things again all season. The onion bed's looking great. I think I find alliums the most amazing of all veg, seeing how something resembling a blade of grass goes on to produce what it does.ReplyDelete
I always tell myself that this will be THE year that I am caught up all season long. And then something happens or another project gets added to the list and my plans are out the window. Maybe on day :) And I completely agree with you on alliums - people are often surprised that I grow them and wonder why as they are so readily available and inexpensive. I always tell them to try it as I bet they will get hooked if they do.Delete
I noticed that the things I planted early between the new strawberry plants have lived but hardly grown. I am wondering too if it was not enough warm weather. My radishes were small also. NancyReplyDelete
I think the cool weather has set many of our gardens back this spring - hopefully things improve as we move into summer!Delete
I'm always amazed at your yields and the extent of your edible gardens. They look pretty, too! It's funny: You talk about reducing the number of tomato plants, but I only have four in my limited-sun garden. I'm jealous of your sunny spaces! Overall, though, the perennials are lush and growing fast here, while the warm-weather annuals and veggies are slow to get going with all the cool days and whipping winds. I'm hoping they'll take off now that the temps are more summery.ReplyDelete
Oh, thank you Beth - you may be jealous of my sun but I'm jealous of all the diversity in your garden! The veg areas are, in all honesty, a bit of a mess, especially the pathways. Too much grass and too many weeds keep popping through. I'm hoping that this will be the year when I finally get them under control. I am expecting a BIG load of mulch next week which should make for a good start.Delete
Lets keep our fingers crossed for some calmer, warmer weather for both of us in the weeks to come :)
Your spring weather sounds very similar to ours. We've had a decent amount of rain but when it rains, it pours and is really hard on the plants. I'm impressed with all you are growing! We've got tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and herbs. I still haven't gotten the squash and cucumbers in the ground. That is on the to do list this weekend.ReplyDelete
It seems perfect weather is elusive no matter where you live! I've planted up everything except for the squash and melons that are going in the straw bales. As with everything else, the bales are taking longer to get to a plantable state.Delete
We seem to see saw between being on top of things and being behind and playing catch up. It all seems to be very weather dependent.ReplyDelete
We sowed Oregon sugar snap peas this year but germination rate has been very poor and as they have germinated seedlings have suffered very badly from weevil damage as they have grown very slowly. The common Onward peas have done well though.
You are so right - so much of what can and can't be done is based on the weather. But once I fall behind, I find it difficult to catch back up. I'm not exactly sure what the story is with the pea germination as some rows looked ok while others have several plants missing all in a row. I'm wondering if something got to them or the seeds.Delete
I put off changing my fluorescent light bulbs for a number of years, and it seemed to be affecting my plants too. I changed them out this year before the seedling season began and it really seemed to help. I put in cool white bulbs, which were a bit cheaper than the full spectrum type which came with my light stand and seem to work just fine.ReplyDelete
I'm using cool whites as well as I can't really justify spending a lot more for the proper grow lights. I don't think they would make much of a difference for growing seedlings anyhow.Delete
Just wanted to mention that I've had good luck with following spinach with winter squash. I leave spots in the bed where the squash will go when I plant spinach in the spring, then plant squash seeds in the spots once it is warmer. The spinach is on its way to bolting at the point the squash starts taking off and needs the room.ReplyDelete
Now I had never thought of that...what a great idea - thanks! I've made a note for the future.Delete
Gosh, I've never changed my light bulbs! I run T5s and I have no idea if they need to be changed as regularly. I'll have to look that up.ReplyDelete
We had a particularly cold spring as well and everything likewise has grown at a snail's pace. I actually forgot that I have spinach, chard, and radishes because they hardly grew at all.
I'll have to try the Oregon Sugar Snap peas. Whatever I planted this year haven't tasted that great.
I tend to second-guess myself when things go wrong, trying to figure out if I did something wrong so it's reassuring when others indicate that the freakishly cool spring is impacting their garden as well.Delete
I also read somewhere that T5s don't lose their intensity very much over their lifetime compared to regular florescents (which is what I have), so you may be ok. I'm actually hoping to switch out mine to T5s and this may be a good excuse.
Your garden looks great, even if you are in catch-up mode. I'm thinking that you should run with the baby spinach thing, just plant lots of it and harvest it all young. I got seeds from Renee's for a baby spinach called 'Regiment' for a quick spring crop, but I got way behind also this spring and never got around to sowing it.ReplyDelete
I just pulled out the Aquadulce and Extra Precoce Violetto favas yesterday. The Aquadulce plants got to be as tall as me! It will be interesting to see how big they get in your garden.
Peas are funny, I have the same issues with germination and survival rates, there doesn't seem to be any consistency from one variety to another. And that's something that I didn't get around to sowing this spring either!
I am enjoying the baby spinach leaves in sandwiches and salads so I may very well try that next year.Delete
You had such a wonderful haul of favas this year! I've got my fingers crossed on mine as I've seen black aphids on a few and the ants are busy tending their crop. I'm going to try insecticidal soap to see if that helps.
What I don't understand about pea germination is that there always seems to be a lot of large gaps in the rows and it's not spread out - very strange.