This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means […]
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Travelling has always been something that we have wanted to do as a family but we have never actually done much of. Before we had the youngest we took 2-4 small trips a year spread between Oregon, the Washington Coast and Vancouver, BC for a […]
It has been a while since I have done a gardening update so I though I would take a few pictures and talk a little bit about them. Our family has been super busy with travel, kids, work and the frequent birthday parties that happen this time of year so not much gardening has been going on. I have made an effort to do some weeding and mulch some areas of the garden but time is limited and the garden is still rough around more than a few edges.
Our Peonies came up beautifully this year. They seem to be recovering from their accidental stomping the first spring we lived in our house. We bought our house in the fall and a large number of dormant plants popped up during our first spring that we had no idea were there. This particular plant was stepped on as it first started emerging while we were digging our asparagus beds. Last year it had one blossom and this year there are several which are very beautiful! We have two Peony plants and honestly even the second year one of them was so damaged I didn’t really see it until much later in the season. Strangely one only one of our Peonies is blooming and almost done. The other has several blooms ready to pop, and even the bees are trying to get inside but they have not opened yet and it has been a couple of weeks. It is pretty interesting how these plants are probably about 20 feet away from each other but they each have their own micro climate and are blooming at different times.
Our strawberries are coming along nicely. We planted one of these Alpine Strawberries we inherited from the neighbors a couple of years ago and now we have several plants along with many, many June bearing plants that have all taken over one area of our garden. These tiny tart strawberries were our son’s favorite last year and the only fresh fruit he would eat. So far this year he has not been as interested but hopefully he will come around eventually!
Our gigantic bush that shades our front door is blooming beautifully this year. In the afternoons it is buzzing with the hum of dozens of bees.
I finally got around to planting annuals in our gigantic pot. It is really heavy and under the cover of the roof so every year I plant annuals in it since watering can be tricky. I also filled most of the pot up with Plastic milk bottles before I added soil to cut down on the soil used and to keep the pot from getting too heavy.
We did official fairy gardens this year for both kids. My daughter had only a couple of hens and chicks left in her pot and some of her fairies were broken so we added a couple more to her pot, some more hens and chicks (a girl after my own heart) and some annuals. I like to do annuals in the kids’ fairy gardens because they love choosing plants every year. Since we use smallish pots there isn’t a lot of room but it is nice for the kids to have a little piece of their own gardens.
My son got to make his own fairy garden this year. He was too young the first year and last year we never got around to it so he was very excited. He picked out mostly pink and red flowers and they look really good. He also picked the red gnome because he looked like Santa Clause which was really cute.
I bought some vegetables for the kids to plant as well. They picked out some squash, snow peas and cantaloupe which is tricky to grow in the PNW. I fully intended to plant them immediately but when I got home I discovered that my garden beds are missing quite a bit of dirt and are at best half way full. I am going to get more soil this weekend so I can get these in the ground before I forget.
I should probably show you a few of my weeds that popped up despite the mulch I laid down. Next fall my goal is to lay down cardboard and mulch and try to keep the weeds in check for next year.
Most of the gardening I have gotten to has been in the front yard. This picture is of my side yard…there is supposed to be a path through there but clearly it is super tiny and mostly non-existent. This area was way over planted by the previous owners and is prone to weeds, despite mulching and regular weeding. I have taken out about half the plants but everything that is there overcrowds. At some point I will probably take out everything on the right hand side but I am hesitant since a lot of those plants bloom later in the year and they feed our resident hummingbirds and healthy bee population.
Despite my lack of time to garden ours is flourishing. How is your garden going this year?
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Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden. We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and this year we will definitely be making some changes. This year is our third year working on the garden and every year we learn a little bit more and improve our garden space.
Some things that worked for us last year were squash, green beans and pumpkins. Our pumpkins took up way too much space though so next year instead of planting four plants I will just stick with two and I am going to put them in the side yard so they can grow all the way down our hill. We loved our green beans and squash but I am embarrassed to say we did not eat all of it in time. Since we didn’t get enough each day to make a meal out of it or to freeze in a decent sized batch, some of our beautiful produce ended up in the compost bin. We still have one pumpkin, two decent sized spaghetti squash, and a few tomatoes that slowly ripened on our window sill left but other than that everything is gone.
My plan for next year is:
1. Organize my garden planning with a garden journal
This has been on my list for the past two years and I just haven’t followed through. I even bought a beautiful notebook and colorful pens to make wonderful drawings of all the plants we will grow but besides a few lists of what we planted (I think) it hasn’t been touched. I am pretty sure I wrote down what I planted at the beginning of the season but my notebook has been collecting dust since last spring so at some point in the next week I will get it out and start recording for this year. This year I want to have some simple diagrams of where we plant things for crop rotation and a better list of what grew where. I absolutely love how organized Annie over at 15acrehomestead is. She has tons of great posts for organizing your homesteading projects. I especially love this one where she lays out how to plan your projects for 2018.
2. Plant enough zucchini, green beans and peas to freeze for the entire year
This one is a little ambitious. We did not plant peas last year so I don’t know how well they will do in our space but I am hoping to find somewhere they do well. We need probably two more zucchini plants for a total of four to grow enough for the winter. I am the only one who eats it so we don’t need a whole lot but the challenge will be getting it processed every day. Last year we got quite a few green beans but the way I planted them made them hard to harvest and we did not inoculate at all (whoops) so I think as long as we get enough plants growing at the right time and I stay on top of picking and processing them we will be able to produce enough green beans to feed us all year. I am really excited about the possibility of green beans from our garden next winter! It turns out they are the only green beans my son will eat and it was a sad day when I cooked the last of them and then he refused the ones I bought at Costco as a replacement.
3. Remove the ivy from all of the trees in our backyard
We got a good start last summer pulling English Ivy off of the trees in our backyard and this year I would love to finish. I would also like to remove all of the ivy off the ground which is doable but it will constantly grow back so it will be an ongoing battle. English Ivy is a horrible invasive species here in the Pacific Northwest and many of the trees in the greenbelt behind our house are covered in it. If we don’t girdle the ivy on the trees near our house at some point the ivy will weaken the trees enough to cause them to topple over in a windstorm. We have frequent windstorms in our area so the possibility is definitely real. Every day I drive down the street behind us and look at these giant trees that are covered past their lower branches with a ring of ivy at least 3 feet thick all the way around. I know some day soon at least one of those trees will fall and completely block the road. I am really hoping that nobody gets hurt when it happens.
4. Continue to replace our high maintenance ornamental bushes with food producing ones
The lady that lived here before us densely planted these gorgeous ornamental bushes that are very pretty but require constant pruning and I am sure fertilizer. They also require a large amount of water in the summer which is pretty wasteful to me. The one thing I love about all of our flowery bushes is the healthy bee population they support. All spring and summer our yard is buzzing with friendly bees that easily pollinate our fruits and vegetables. The amount of pruning and watering they require is too much for us though so we are slowly replacing them with lower maintenance native plants.
5. Continue to keep our berry bushes and fruit trees in top shape
We love our fruit at this house! Last year we planted some raspberries, a pear tree, a blueberry bush and some strawberries in addition to the apple tree and blueberry bushes we already had. At this point we really don’t have room for much else without a major front yard overhaul so our goal is to keep them healthy and producing throughout the summer!
We have really enjoyed having a yard for the kids to play in. The back is pretty steep though and requires some skill to navigate safely so this year will be the first year our son is able to walk around back there on his own. The kids had fun helping me pull ivy last weekend and I introduced them to the cool space I found underneath a bush that could definitely be a fairy hideout. I am looking forward to spring and seeing the yard come alive again. What projects are you working on this year?
We have had a super busy summer and I was really bummed that we missed the July blueberry picking season. Our bushes are only a couple of years old and don’t produce anywhere near enough berries for us to freeze. They were eagerly eaten every […]
This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding. We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied. We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff […]
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?
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 […]