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 […]
We have had some excitement in the garden this week. Our plants are continuing to grow super fast from our week of excellent sun and we harvested our first few strawberries. I got some more seedlings planted and we spent quite a bit of time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. Whew. It was a lot of work but well worth it in the end.
Our first ripe strawberries happened this week. Our daughter ate a few of them but the rest were stolen by our thieving squirrel. I had to chase him off twice and just now when I went out to turn on the soaker hose I discovered he had left a half ripe one on the sidewalk. Luckily we are all strawberried out from picking them last weekend so our daughter didn’t even notice. Usually she is way more on top of that sort of thing.
The lettuce in the top of our strawberry tower continues to flourish and our three year old continues to be the only one eating it. She spends most of her time in the front yard randomly telling me she is going to eat a piece and then running over there and chowing down. It is awesome because she will not eat lettuce in the house. We haven’t been eating a lot of salad lately and I honestly prefer romaine lettuce but I should really pick some of it so we can eat it. Maybe I will put some in my salad next week. I need to buy more seeds so I can do some succession planting. I have a long planter I want to fill with a variety of lettuce but just haven’t gotten around to.
Our apple tree has a couple of apples. I was really surprised since we planted it only a year ago. I thinned a few of the smaller ones but I am on the fence about the remaining ones. I have heard conflicting information about whether to leave apples on the tree before the third year and honestly I haven’t had time to look it up again to double check. So far of the 5 varieties on our combination tree the only two with fruit are the Gravenstein and the Gala. I will probably end up removing them. I think we also need to prune back our tree a bit since it is a little leggy so I will definitely have to read up on my apple tree care this week!
Our bush beans are doing well. I thinned them a bit after I took this picture but I am still having a hard time ripping seedlings out since they are all so healthy. I know that they will be too crowded though so eventually we will be down to about 4 based on the space available in the bed. I will continue to pull a couple out every week until we are at a good number.
Our carrots are doing ok. They are finally growing a little bit but not super fast. We didn’t have much luck with these seeds last year. There is a lot of room in this bed so I may grow some fast growing plants such as radishes on the edges while the beans and carrots grow since I am running out of room in my garden. I have heard that is a way to increase your crop yield but it may need more soil amending than I am ready to do.
Our broccoli seems to be having a hard time getting started. All of our seedlings are still small and a little leggy so I may start some other plants inside for crop succession since we eat a lot of broccoli. I am just really short on time and a little concerned that the garden will get away from me if I plant too much.
The luffa plants are in the ground with their trellis and doing well. I may have to guide them towards the trellis with some string but they have grown a couple of inches since I planted them a week ago which is fabulous!
So I am only partially certain these are both cucumbers. We may have mixed up our seedlings since I only labeled the front of the rows and I didn’t warn my husband when he brought me some and then I may have forgotten and mixed them up even further but hey, it will be a nice surprise later? I don’t have enough trellises so I planted these two along the fence hoping they would grow up the fence if they needed more space. I am quickly realizing we need a much bigger garden if we are to grow the amount of food I want to.
Our green beans are starting to come up under our tepee and I am really excited about it. The little kids are going to have a ton of fun sitting in there while I garden sneaking fresh green beans. I really with I had room for a bigger crop of green beans so that we could freeze a bunch but maybe next year.
Our squash continue to do well. The zucchini is really taking off. I was slightly crazy and planted my last zucchini plant so we have four total with a couple of yellow squash and possibly some spaghetti squash. That is a lot of squash for us. I put some Mylar firecracker decorations in the squash and pumpkin beds because I suspect the squirrel is eating some of the blossoms. I did some research and Mylar strips are supposed to keep both birds and squirrels out and we happened to be at the craft store and saw these with the Fourth of July decorations. They are pretty garish but I love them. Hopefully they work.
Both our Shortcake and our mystery raspberries are doing well. We have a number of berries on the larger variety and I am hoping I will be able to freeze some of them.
The blueberries continue to look delicious. I am really excited to eat them later this year!
My gigantic Hydrangea bushes in the front are covered in blossoms. They seem to have grown at least two feet in the last month as well and I can no longer get even close to trimming them back to a decent height. I am pretty sure I will be majorly chopping these back this year and probably won’t get any blossoms on them next year but I am ok with that because they are completely taking over the space and it is going to be a nightmare trimming all of those flowers. Last year there were probably a third of the blossoms and I spent several hours a week deadheading these bushes alone.
I thought I would post a picture of our small herb garden. We planted Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage last year. They Rosemary didn’t make it through the winter and I have yet to buy another plant. For some reason I keep not liking the ones I see in the store or they are tiny. We also have some garlic in there that we planted last spring that probably should have been harvested. I will probably pull one up at the end of the summer and see how they are doing. We are going to have to redo this section after a little bit since the plants are starting to crowd together.
I think the next few weeks will be interesting as the garden really starts to take off with the nicer weather. We are planning on removing all of the ivy in the back by mid-July so we can install our back fence. We have made some progress but there is quite a bit of it and we haven’t had time with all of the end of the school year stuff going on. I also really need to weed the side yards and start trimming all of the bushes that tend to overgrow. I need to move or find homes for several bushes in order to put the fence in and that will take some time as well.
What’s happening in your garden this week?
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!
This past weekend we started our work on completely overhauling our front bed. It was originally planted with all ornamental plants and last year we removed a couple of large bushes and installed a planter box we were gifted from our neighbor. After a winter of neglect it was pretty much due for some major work. My eventual goal is to remove all of the plants up until the boxwood which are planted along the property line blocking the sewer drain from sight. I do not particularly care for them but they do their job well and require very little maintenance besides trimming them twice a year. I am at a loss as to what to do with the tree. I have no idea what it is and it isn’t particularly pretty nor does it shade the area so it isn’t really in the way. I would hate to cut it down but I have nowhere else to put it. I am still debating what to do with it so it may stay there until next year.
I moved one of the butterfly bushes down our hill to shade a large south facing window. I am re-homing it there temporarily until I figure out what to do with it. There were two gigantic butterfly bushes in the front garden bed originally that took up way too much space. The other one is going to be planted at my mom’s house. I cut these back at least two feet last year and they are still taller than me. We have had a cold spring so far so I don’t anticipate a huge growth season this year.
The roots on all of the bushes I took out are mysteriously shallow and I am having very little trouble pulling out large bushes. I think we have very shallow top soil that the previous owners must have covered with some high quality soil since everything grew so much last year. It makes me a little bit nervous about planting any more trees since we get quite a bit of wind for most of the year.
Here is where we added the planter box last week. My kids have been using it as a sand box so it is well weeded and the soil has been turned over quite a bit. I am going to have an issue keeping them out of it when I plant my seeds.
I bought some Marigolds as a pest deterrent. I planted one in each corner of our first box and I will add a couple to the second box once we get some good quality soil in there. The rest I am going to put into pots around the plants I am putting directly into the soil. I am concerned they will be covered up by the sprawling vines.
A sunflower! Hopefully it won’t get eaten!
I had a few plastic containers I am using for mini-greenhouses since the weather has decided to be cold and yucky again. I only found a few so I put them on only a couple of plants. I did not get around to removing the stickers on them but my seedlings are already almost to big for them so they won’t be on there long.
Our son helping out in the garden. He was fascinated with Daddy changing the oil in his car. We also started to put up a pest control fence but were only able to get some of the stakes all the way in. Our kids got hungry so we ran out of time and we will hopefully get to it next weekend. It makes me a little nervous that we didn’t get the fence up since last year some sort of rodent at all of our non-nightshade seedlings within a few days of planting them. Luckily they left the tomatoes, beans, ground cherries and spicy peppers but our daughter was very disappointed they ate our very healthy watermelon plants.
I planted about half of the pumpkin seedlings and covered two of them with my makeshift greenhouses.
I did not get around to thinning my seedlings which I know is a big no no but they were too intertwined to separate at this point so I kept them together. We are still taking baby steps towards figuring out how to grow our own food so a lot of what we are doing is mostly trial and error. I think next year our children will be older and we will have more time to prep the soil over the winter so we will have a more organized year for sure. This year we are still trying to figure out what works.
Healthy pumpkin seedling.
Here is a view from the bottom of the bed towards the street. It still looks a little messy and hopefully we can get some mulch down soon but I am really happy with what we got done this week.
Another view from the top. The red plant and some of the smaller ones will go in the planting strip near where the fence will go in and the larger bushes still need homes. I have no idea where I am going to put the biggest one but I have more people coming this week to dig up extra plants along the side yard so I might put the extras there.
A view of the beds and the seed starts. I am probably going to add a row of squash along the rock wall to the left of the pumpkins.
Last minute I added three rows of carrot seedlings in the larger garden bed next to the Marigolds. I am probably going to plant a couple of pea plants in here and I wanted something low that wouldn’t block the light.
After the kids went to bed I checked on our seedlings in the laundry room. We have two cucumbers popping up in the tray I planted last week.
There is also one and part of another watermelon seedling coming up. My ground cherries still are not germinating so I am definitely buying some starts this weekend at the local plant sales. Our lettuce seeds are starting to germinate as well in the strawberry planter but they were way too small to take a picture of! We are planning on buying more Marigolds and I was talked into some Hula strawberries by the three year old so I will be planting those some time this week as well but I have no idea where since I already planted strawberries. Have you seen the Hula-berries? They are white strawberries that taste like pineapple. I am not sure about the taste but our daughter will love them and we love to have our kids excited about healthy food! Gardening is the best way to get your kids involved in what they eat and it is a ton of fun!
My plans for the next couple of weeks are to get the beans and peas in, finish our fence, empty out the rest of the ornamental plants from the vegetable beds and plant the rest of the seedlings from the laundry room. May and June are super insane for us normally but this year we have the added craziness of our oldest graduating from high school so hopefully we can fit in all of our gardening plans.
Happy gardening everyone!