Friday, August 30, 2013

Vegetable Garden Update

It never ceases to amaze me how you can plant some seeds and turn this:

In the spring. Bed #1 is on the left,
 bed #2 is front right, bed #3 is back right.

Into THIS:

Bed #2

Crazy, isn't it?

As you can see in the first picture, we have three beds surrounded by U-shaped wood frames. For the past two years we've been meaning to fill them in and have raised beds, but finances haven't allowed that. 

Well, this year turned out to be that year!

We did a mixture of half top soil and half compost in each bed. One weekend, a Monday, lots of back breaking work and about $300 later, we had beautiful raised beds. I remember telling Pete while mixing the compost and soil in the beds that this had better be the best garden ever, or else I was going to be mad. It seemed like such a lot of work for a garden, and as we've had mixed results the past few years with crops (disease, plants not growing, etc), I wasn't sure all the work was worth it.

Boy was I wrong!

I LOVE my raised beds. These are my top reasons why raised beds are the best thing ever:
  1. It's easier on your back. I have a lot of lower back issues, so bending over to ground level to garden hurt a lot. Having the gardens be almost a foot off the ground doesn't seem like it would make a huge difference, but it really has!
  2. Weeds? What are those? I'm the QUEEN of weed growing. I don't have pictures of the past few years' gardens because, couldn't see the garden, only a big patch of weeds. If I wasn't out weeding every day, they'd take over. Heck, they still took over! This year, I can go for a week if not more, and then get not one, but all THREE of my beds weeded in 20 minutes. That's 336 square feet of garden in that amount of time!
  3. Square foot gardening. Enough said. This was a new concept for me, but we tried it. We've been able to put more in each garden bed (our original plan had less plants but in the space of all three beds; we put more plants into two beds, so we turned the third bed into a new berry patch), and everything is thriving.
  4. Pests have a harder time getting in. Remember how I hate snakes? I would always find some in my plants, meaning that part would never get weeded, watered, or harvested. There have been two snake sightings this year, one outside of a garden bed, and one inside of a bed. That's a huge drop from the previous years, and it makes this gardener very very happy.
  5. There's less disease happening in my tomatoes. Every single year that we've had a garden at the house, I've had one disease or another in my tomatoes. A couple years it was blight, the others it was blossom end rot. Not this year! My tomato plants are big, bushy, and covered in tomatoes. I haven't changed my watering habits (I'm usually either too much or not enough; there is no middle ground!), so the soil is draining better (prevents blight), but still retaining water to keep the plants hydrated (prevents blossom end rot).
Here are the beds; some pictures are from mid-July, the others are this week:

Bed #1 - contains lettuce, spinach, corn, paste tomatoes, beets, swiss chard, bell peppers, carrots, and red and white onions.

Onions, carrots, and bell peppers (July)

Corn, spinach and lettuce (July)

Perky onions! Swiss chard and beets are in the back (July)

This week! Beets and carrots have been harvested,
and the onions are just about ready to be picked.

An overflowing laundry basket of swiss chard!
Look at the size of those leaves!!!

Bed #2 - contains various varieties of pumpkins, zucchini, excess red onions, hot peppers, and regular tomatoes.

Pumpkins and zucchini (July)

Baby pumpkins and zucchini (July)

The pumpkins are invading the onions,
hot peppers, and tomatoes!

Happy tomato plants

This week! Things have exploded in growth!

We're growing ghost pumpkins...

...Cinderella's coach pumpkins (which
you may notice is growing OUTSIDE
of the garden bed)...

...and a huge 18" pumpkin that we
named Linus! We're hoping for an
appearance from the Great Pumpkin :)

Bed #3 - contains newly transplanted golden raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

Little berry plants! (July)

Getting bigger! We have some blackberries that are
ripening, and the strawberry plant sent out runners :)

Our first strawberry! I ate it all myself.

We've harvested a lot already this year; we've decided we're going to need another upright freezer if this is what our garden bounty is going to be like every year! 

Did you plant a garden this year? How's it doing?

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