Summer is upon us and the vegetable garden is in full swing. My pumpkins have taken over the garden space and the spaghetti squash is not far behind it. The kids and I are harvesting berries, green beans and squash every other day. I have […]
We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line and once that is done we will start clearing the center of our fenced area. I am really excited to finally be able to use our back yard. That ivy has been staring me in the face for almost two years. Once it is out we will be able to start working on landscaping the back and possibly adding our chickens.
North property line before ivy removal.
North property line after ivy removal. We took out a 3-4 foot buffer so that the fence company could measure. We don’t have room in the yard waste for the massive amounts of ivy we removed so we moved it towards the middle of the ivy patch where it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. Next week I am doubling our yard waste pickup so that we can fill up two toters every week. That may still take us all summer to slowly add it but it is our best option at the moment.
View of the north property line from the bottom of the hill. The slope is moderately steep here. There was also quite a bit of native blackberry mixed in with the ivy and I am looking forward to checking it later in the summer for berries. There is a huge patch of it on the slope below my neighbor’s house on the public part of the ravine.
We also spent some time removing ivy in the south east corner. This area is behind a landscaped section and was pretty jungle like. I found a large amount of holly back here which I am pretty bummed about. It looks like the previous owners chopped down a pretty big holly tree at one point but left the stump which promptly sent out dozens of runners. I am not excited to remove them. We also cut down some of the lower hanging branches on the hemlock trees in this area since they would have interfered with the fence and were pretty dead looking. I did not get a picture of those before the light gave out but it looks much better.
In the ivy jungle I found an abandoned bird nest. It was pretty cool to find it and I am really glad the birds weren’t using it any more. One of the reasons we are pulling ivy out is because it provides shelter for rats to live in. I do not want to encourage them to live near our house, especially if we get chickens. The ivy behind our house has seriously damaged several large trees and needs to be pulled down so that the trees can recover and not fall on our house in a windstorm. English Ivy is nasty stuff and it will take many years to remove it from our yard but many of our neighbors have neglected their large trees and I am really concerned several will come down in the future.
In anticipation of a new fence we cut some of the lower branches off of one of our hemlock trees. They were starting to grow over our path down to the ravine and parts of them were very dead looking. Basically they were hair-pulling spider havens so they had to go. We were told last summer that we should cut some of them out to allow more light into the back yard and quoted $500-600 for them to come out and remove them. It took my husband 30 minutes with a ladder and our tiny chain saw to cut four or so branches down and open up the pathway. He spent a little bit longer cutting up the branches a bit and burning some of the smaller ones but we do that sort of thing after every winter storm so it wasn’t a big deal. It really goes to show that if you have a little know how and a willingness to work you can save a ton of money doing as much as you can by yourself. I grew up cutting down trees and clearing land and I am really enjoying working out on ours. We will have to hire someone to remove trees since they are so close to the house but we can definitely handle the smaller stuff!
On a more positive note our gigantic hydrangea bushes are in full bloom. They are absolutely gorgeous. I love hydrangeas and I am really glad our house has such beautiful ones!
Some of our other plants are finally blooming. Our butterfly bush has a few blossoms and the fuchsias are just starting to flower. I am really glad the flowers are coming out because I am having a problem getting my squash flowers pollinated.
Because my vegetables aren’t getting pollinated very well I went out and bought some lavender plants to put next to the vegetable garden. I am going to take out our boxwood hedge and make a lavender hedge instead. I am hoping that will solve my squash problem.
My daughter also wanted me to take some pictures of her fairy garden. It is growing very well. Everything is blooming and growing fast. I may have to talk her into moving it to a larger pot next year. She checks on it every day and we talk about how the flowers are doing. It is really sweet to see her take ownership of her plants and care for them so well.
Our fruit garden is doing well. The apples are growing and looking very healthy. We have been picking a handful of raspberries and blueberries every day. Thanks to my kids they never make it inside but they have a lot of fun picking them and eating them. My son is not a fruit person but he will eat fruit from our garden!
Our tomatoes still have a few fruits on them. Many of the other gardeners in my local community are having trouble growing tomatoes this year. Last year we had such a bumper crop I am not surprised. We had way too many tomatoes last year so having way fewer is totally ok with me.
My sunflowers were doing so poorly after being attacked by slugs that I went out and bought a dwarf sunflower to plant near the squash. I am hoping it will attract some bees as well as grow enough so that we can get a few seeds from it. Of course after I planted it my other sunflowers started taking off but that is ok. They are nowhere near close to blooming so I think it will help to have them blooming at different times.
I have one large yellow zucchini but there are also now some smaller ones so I have a little hope! The new ones happened after I planted the sunflowers and bought the lavender and I can’t tell if they have been pollinated yet but keep your fingers crossed!
There are two spaghetti squash out in the garden and this one is getting pretty big. It is about the length of my hand right now and it has doubled in size over the past few days. I love spaghetti squash so I am really excited about this one!
There are a few female pumpkin flowers. Most of them shrivel up shortly after blooming. This one was closed mid-day so I am hoping it has been pollinated. I tried hand pollinating another one so that we will get at least one pumpkin this year. Hopefully it worked!
My squash are completely taking over my beds. I have had to corral the pumpkin ones several times. They keep trying to escape to the neighbor’s yard. I honestly didn’t think many of them would grow so next year I will know and plant only a couple of them.
Our bush bean plants are doing very well. They just started flowering and I did see a couple of bees on them this morning so we should get at least a few beans out of them.
Our green beans are still struggling. They were pretty eaten up by slugs but are recovering. I need to put some netting over our bamboo poles to help them climb. I changed the watering system around a bit so that they are getting more water and they seem to be doing better now.
Our freeloading ground cherries are thriving despite being stepped on almost daily. A few of them even have a few fruits on them so we are excited to eat some and see if they taste as good as last year’s.
The carrots have finally started taking off. They have really been putting out a lot of greens and I am excited to try drying the greens this year to add to recipes. I found this excellent article on A Modern Homestead that details how to use carrot greens in your cooking. I am really excited to try some of her ideas!
Whew. A lot went on in our garden this week! I am really excited that our vegetables are starting to take off and hoping to start harvesting some of the squash this week. We will be spending a bunch more time on ivy removal and clearing up what we can from the back yard. I am already thinking about projects for next year and what we will do differently in the vegetable garden.
What is happening in your garden this week?
We had a really busy week this week with playdates for the younger kids and prom for our oldest. There were errands to run and the one year old didn’t nap all week. Both little kids must be growing through a growth spurt because I spend a lot of time feeding hangry (yes hangry) kids who had been fed an hour prior and then having to run to the store because we some how were out of everything. There was a lot of cleaning up of messes and my husband and I spent all of Sunday working on cleaning out the garage. We made a lot of progress and I feel much better about it. We just need to add another shelf to the ceiling and some along the walls for our gardening stuff and we should be mostly done. Ug. It was both exhausting and fun hanging out with the kids this week but we didn’t get a lot of gardening done.
I spent most of my time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. I didn’t have a lot of time so I pulled the biggest weeds from the asparagus bed, around the fruit trees/bushes and in the back around the deck/huckleberry bush. I found the biggest Stinky Bob plant I have ever seen underneath the huckleberry bush. It was easily three feet across. They are native here so they are everywhere in our back ravine and luckily they are easy to pull once they get big enough. My teenager also spent quite a bit of quality time with her sister pulling ivy along our back slope in preparation for the back fence. Getting the back area clear will be a family effort but well worth it once the fence is in and we can let George out to roam. I didn’t get any pictures of her efforts because I was busy in the garage (which I didn’t take pictures of either because it was a huge embarrassing mess).
Our indoor seedlings are past the point of needing planting but I was waiting on our trellises to come in the mail. I ordered them from Gardeners Supply Store a few weeks ago but you can also find something similar on Amazon and they will come much quicker since I had to wait almost three weeks for them to ship which was kind of a pain. I am going to plant my Luffas along the red three panel trellis and my three year old and I planted some pole beans under the bamboo stakes to create a bean tepee for her and her brother to play in. She was very excited! I let her choose beans or peas. My kids love their vegetables and peas and green beans are their favorite. I am really glad she chose green beans because I am not a fan of peas and I have been having to eat them quite a bit lately so that I am modeling good vegetable eating behavior.
My Luffa plants are doing well. I have been hardening them off all week and they should be ready to plant some time this week. I am really excited about them but also nervous because we just started out gardening and these are a little unusual. I have some bottle gourds that are ready to plant as well but I am in need of another trellis for them to climb.
I used some Earth Staples to anchor the trellis and some of the soaker hoses down. I plan on anchoring more of the soaker hoses down but I am waiting for after I add another trellis or something for the gourds to grow on. I probably need to use a splitter with my soaker hoses so there isn’t so much wasted water but I am still trying to figure out a good configuration for them. I am afraid that if I bury them I will forget where I put them…
Our green bean trellis is looking good. I am hoping it will be fun for the kids to sit in and sneak eating beans while I work in the garden.
Our pumpkins and squash are doing well with new growth and lots of flowers. I am hoping to get at least one good sized pumpkin and I know that the zucchini will probably over produce so I plan on freezing a bunch of it for the winter since I am the only on that really likes it. I only have two plants in the garden and a couple still in their red cups but I don’t think I will be planting the extras since two zucchini plants it probably enough for us.
After I worked in the vegetable garden I spent some time looking around the rest of the yard while my husband and son watered the asparagus and the front garden bed.
My gigantic bush by our front door is abuzz with bees. It is really pretty with all of it’s white flowers and the way it is shaped.
We also have these pink flowers that are stunning. We almost killed these last year when we planted the asparagus. They die back every year and the previous owners must have cut them back before they put the house on the market so we had no idea they were there until after they had been stepped on. They did not bloom last year but this year the bush is much bigger and has several big blossoms. We have really enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for the flowers to finally open. Our three year old has been checking them daily for progress which has been fun to watch.
This week I am going to continue to do bi-weekly watering, try and plant my luffa plants and maybe the gourds or my leftover cucumbers. We also have a ton of cleanup work to do in the yard for the oldest’s graduation party in two weeks (time has flown by too fast!) and to get the back ready for a fence. Our strawberries are starting to ripen and we got one berry off of them this week which the three year old promptly ate. I did find some unwelcome visitors in the garden this week and I used a non-toxic solution to hopefully get rid of them but that is for another post!
Happy gardening everyone!
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Sunday was Mother’s Day and my wonderful husband ran to the nursery and picked up soil after work on Friday and played with the kids on Sunday so that I could get my seedlings in the ground that were ready to plant. We spent Saturday prepping for my oldest’s 18th birthday party and then visiting with people until bedtime so I had to get my gardening fix in between visits with my mother and mother-in-law on Sunday. Phew. It was a very busy weekend and I am going to need a few days to recover!
I have been spending some time each weekend walking around the garden looking at how our plants are growing, seeing what needs trimming and planning out my projects for the week. I am really pleased with how things have finally started growing now that the weather has sort of gotten warmer. The chocolate mint plant we planted last year is really taking off. I was afraid we had killed it with lack of attention and a dicey move to a bad spot mid-season last year (and yes we have somehow killed a mint plant in the past) but it is taking over the slope like I wanted it to. Hopefully it will keep the slope from eroding further.
Last week we spent some time removing everything but the tree from our vegetable bed. This week we filled our new planter box with soil, filled in the holes from plant removal, made mounds out of the new dirt for squash and planted all of the seedlings that were ready. I planted cucumbers, spaghetti squash, zucchini, two tomato starts, watermelon, broccoli, bush beans, Hula berries and the remaining sunflowers, pumpkins, and Marigolds. I am hoping to plant our luffa, green beans and peas next week as well as any remaining squash, cucumber and zucchini plants.
Our carrots have started to come up in nice neat lines although I was not able to get a close up picture of them. I planted a couple of rows of bush beans in the right half of the box that I will be massively thinning when they come up. Last year we had pretty good luck with our bush beans so I am hoping this year will be the same.
In the new planter I put our remaining two tomato plants, a couple of marigolds and a couple of rows of broccoli seeds. I am a little nervous about direct sowing but luckily it rained right after I planted so hopefully the squirrels weren’t watching me and will go dig up all of my seeds. I am probably going to start a few more broccoli seeds inside in a few weeks to do succession planting with. We love broccoli in our house so ideally we would grow it into late fall.
I planted the two remaining sunflowers and moved the first one closer to our pest control fence. I wanted them right up against it since they will not shade the garden there and they do not take up too much space. I might start more of these inside next week so that we have them all summer long. I know that my kids will love seeing them once they realize what they are. I picked the biggest variety I could find for maximum impact.
Here is how I laid out our remaining pumpkins, the watermelon plant, sunflowers and marigolds. I did not plan well when I planted the first few pumpkins but this year is all about seeing what fits where so next year I will know to move the rows farther away from the fence. I put the marigolds into the pot so that they will be taller than the vines and still receive enough light. I left one mound of dirt for another watermelon plant but I doubt they will germinate. I put our only watermelon under one of my makeshift greenhouse containers since I didn’t really harden the plants off and my daughter will be extra disappointed if we lose our watermelons again this year to the evil slugs.
Here is our lonely watermelon plant. I am really hoping we get at least one semi-decent fruit out of it. My eventual goal is to have a greenhouse where I can grow these babies long term since watermelon is my favorite fruit. I would love to have a supply straight from the garden but in the Pacific Northwest our growing season just isn’t long enough for many varieties.
Another view of the new pumpkins and the marigolds. Hopefully they won’t be too cramped along the fence.
I made two long mounds along the length of the garden and planted zucchini on the left and spaghetti squash on the right. We all love spaghetti squash so I am hoping to have a bunch grow. I put one of the zucchinis under a makeshift greenhouse since it was small enough to fit and so that maybe it would do better.
This lovely patch of bare dirt is where the peas and green beans will hopefully go sometime soon.
A pot of marigolds near the squash.
The cucumbers got planted in between the tree and the fence. I figured they might climb the fence a little but they also should have enough room to grow along the ground as well. Maybe next year I will try a cucumber trellis. Vertical gardening is very intriguing to me.
A view of the layout of the planter boxes.
We crammed a lot of vegetables into a small space so hopefully it will work out. I love experimenting with the placement of things and I am already excited for next year and trying to figure our where I will be putting things. I am happy with what we have done so far this year and I hope everything has enough room to grow. It is our first time growing many of these plants so we are not familiar with exactly how big they will get.
A view from the top.
Our lettuce continues to grow. It will need thinning soon but I am really happy with how healthy it is. Right after I took this picture the puppy knocked over the planter but thankfully the top layer remained intact and only the second layer of lettuce dumped out. My husband filled it back up and thinned it so hopefully the lettuce will recover. If not I can always reseed.
During my tour of the garden I stopped to look at the blueberry flowers. Despite being small they are very pretty and I was pleased to see that our bushes are covered in them. Our kids will definitely be sneaking over to this section of the garden to eat them all summer!
I planted the Hula berries in this empty spot behind the blueberry bushes and sort of near our pear tree. It is full of weeds but I pulled the biggest ones and hopefully the Hula berries will do ok there. I plan on mulching this area eventually but we are still waiting on our trees being cut down.
Our Asian pear tree looks a little sad still. The leaves are still coming out and it looks to have flowered a little bit but there is not much growth on it.
I am not sure what this flower is but every time I walk down the south side of the house I am struck by how beautiful the pink blossoms are against the dark green leaves. It is definitely a plant I will be keeping!
This bush is by far my favorite secret find from the previous owners. I have been eagerly waiting for it to flower and it looks like it is getting close. Luckily the previous owner left the tag on it and it is some sort of Korean lavender. When it blooms the sweetest most wonderful smell permeates the yard for about a week and it is heavenly. I can’t wait for it to be in full bloom!
After I worked outside I went back in and checked my seed starts. They were doing well and I found a few surprises!
Lo and behold a lone ground cherry seedling! I was beginning to give up on these but it looks like leaving them under the lights has possibly paid off. We have one super tiny ground cherry start and hopefully it will grow big and strong!
I also discovered my luffa plants are beginning to sprout. This is the first one and it looks like a couple of others are starting to break through so hopefully in a couple of weeks we will have several strong plants. I am really excited about these since if they are successful I will be able to give them as gifts or possibly sell them at a profit.
We got a lot done in the vegetable garden this week and hopefully by next week we can get the beans and peas in with new trellises. I am going to try and make a pea tepee out of branches found in the woods so hopefully there are a bunch the right size for the job.
Happy gardening everyone!