It's time to record how my organic vegetable garden is performing. This year we are growing sugar pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes (all heirloom), basil, oregano, watermelon and mini cucumbers.
We also have an apple and pear tree, raspberries, blueberries and a strawberry bed. It keeps us busy from May to October.
|wide view of the veggie garden|
I use raised beds for my vegetable garden. Around them, I place mulch that I get for free from companies that trim trees. One of these days, I will get fancy and purchase cedar-chips. However, I find the free stuff works great and the tree trimming companies are happy to deliver rather than paying to have it dumped.
My vegetable garden isn't the tidiest space. Some of this is on purpose, but I also run out of time to do some of the maintance projects. The plus side is that a garden that's too tidy won't provide homes and safe places for the pollinators that I try to attract. I don"t clean out the vegetable or flower boxes until late winter because they host the good bugs that overwinter, like sweet little bumble bees.
I always dedicate a few of my raised boxes for wildflowers. The bee's hang around and then help pollinate my vegetables too! We are a no pesticide garden. Beneficial bugs eat the bad bugs and there are ways to minimize bad bugs in the vegetable garden without chemicals. For example, rotate where you plant your nightshade and squash families every year and use companion planting methods.
But, back to the pretty stuff...here is a look at my wildflower boxes:
A few years ago, I used a wildflower seed packet that included borage. Now, borage pops up everywhere. I keep most of it because the bees love borage. It really seems to be their favorite bloom.
|honeybee on borage|
The bees like to sleep in the borage as well.
|I found this guy still asleep when I ventured out early in the morning to take pictures.|
Here are some close-ups of the wildflowers from this year's garden:
|bachelor buttons and honeybee|
There is also a box of borage. Pictured below is a space where a flower box was removed this spring as it was falling apart and needed replacing. It clearly had borage in it last year as the plants have grown in the spaces where seeds would have fallen over the side from last years plants. I didn't have the heart to pull them up.
All of the veggies I'd hoped to grow are thriving (well, except the watermelons) and in some cases, giving me more than I expected to have. For example, the sugar pumpkins have about 13 little pumpkins started. In the past few years, I was only able to get 5-7 (which is fine for processing enough pumpkin meat for yummy Thanksgiving pies). Looks like I'll have plenty to pumpkin meat this year for bread and muffins too.
I use an organic fertilizer after planting my veg starts in May. We then cover the open spots of the beds with hay. It helps to suppress weeds and retains moisture longer after watering.
Speaking of watering, I have found that deeply watering every 2-5 days (depending on temps) brings me the best results. Currently, we are starting another week of hot temps the next 10 days. it's forecasted to be above 90 degrees everyday. I will monitor the soils moisture closely and may need to water more frequently to keep those veggies growing!
|baby sugar pumpkin|
|the pumpkin bed with grapes and blueberries in the background|
The peppers have taken off and are beginning to ripen. I am growing sweet varieties. I haven"t had success growing bell peppers and will fully admit I'm afraid of hot peppers. I have four varieties of sweet. I'm thinking of making a sweet salsa with them.
The basil plants are ready for the picking! Homemade pesto is a family favorite. I have tried to keep on top of snapping the flowers off the basil to induce more leaf growth. Pretty successful overall.
I am growing four varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year. I find heirlooms are the most flavorful. I grow different colors for the fun of it. We do eat some fresh but mostly they are sauced. Once you've tasted homemade tomato sauce, it's quite impossible to go back to store bought.
We have been coaxing the watermelon plant along. Despite the heat, no little melons have appeared. But we have flowers...so maybe we'll luck out before the end of the growing season.
Oh! This is where I am suppose to sit back and enjoy the gardens. It's been such a busy summer that I haven't visited these chairs yet..
I'm trying out mini-cucumbers this year. They are to be harvested when they are 3-4 inches long. Pretty yummy!
We also grow raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and apples. The pear tree is very young, so we have a few years before there will be pears to harvest.
|A second flush of raspberries are ripening in late July. Delicious!|
|apples...they are ready to pick!|
Our pooch, Tillie, likes our fruit as well. She will scavenge the berry bushes and eat low hanging fruit. She also plucks low growing apples. Naughty dog! ;)
I'm thankful to have a large backyard to grow all of this food. It's a lot to manage in between full time jobs and soccer coaching and summer tournaments, however, I can't image not growing a vegetable garden. As it doubles as a pollinator garden, it's a win-win. Urban gardens play a huge role in helping maintain our beneficial bug population. I'm happy to do my part for the bees and butterflies..and get yummy homegrown food in the process.
This concludes the state of the vegetable garden - I'm off to pull weeds and water.
Thanks for showing us the state of play in your veg-garden. You seem to have achieved a good balance between the various aspects of Nature, and with your own busy working/ social lifestyle. Constant watering seems to be the theme of gardeners around the world this Summer!ReplyDelete
Hi Mark! It has been a dry summer. I have been following weather news out of the UK and northern Europe. Your weather has been hot and dry as well. Just saw last night that parts of Japan were over 110 degrees. I've never seen that before. Best to you and your veg-plot! CheersDelete
I don't know how you manage such a busy life but manage you do and the results are an inspiration.ReplyDelete