An Update on Our Backyard Garden
Previously on "Garden Wars"....
Our little seedlings were chugging along. Some of them had been transferred to the garden. Others were waiting for the big trip to the backyard.
Well, a lot has happened since then!
Some plants are thriving. Others have died (moment of silence, please). And we've even harvested a few things.
Our little seedlings all matured and were transplanted out to the yard. Here's where things stand:
We've actually already eaten a salad using lettuce we picked from our own backyard, which seems like a great accomplishment. We don't love the variety of lettuce we have, but then again we didn't choose it -- the seeds came free with our order.
Tomatoes are a mixed bag so far. What was once our most promising plant withered up and died. It's hard to explain, but it's as if the root itself withered, shrinking from healthy, green stem to a small, white thread. We have no idea what happened, but we mourn that little tomato plant.
But we're not mourning too much, because we have eight other tomato plants that are thriving. Five of these are plants that we raised from seeds, two came from our green-thumbed pal Trevor, and one was a purchase at the farmers market this past weekend, to replace the dead plant. None of our tomatoes are large varieties; they're all akin to sungolds. The plants are flowering and we hope to see tomatoes soon.
We're worried, of course, that we'll have the same problem as last year -- varmints stealing our tomatoes off their vines before they can mature. We'll cross that rodent bridge when we get to it, but don't be surprised if you stop by our backyard and find one of us sitting out by the garden with a BB gun...waiting....
Our Golden Sweet Snow Peas and Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas are another success, at least initially. The vines grew strong, producing perfect little snow peas. We've harvested a handful of the yellow ones, but the plants seem to be dying now. We suspect it's because the weather has gotten so warm and the plants don't perform well in high heat. The green snow pea varieties are doing better, but seem to be on their way out, too. We'll likely replace these plants soon with something else that will thrive in the heat, then perhaps re-plant peas at the end of the summer.
Our beets are robust and healthy, which excites us since we do so love a beet. We have five bunches that are going strong, or at least their tops are. We've noticed that some beets at the farmers market have very large greens, but fairly small beets. We're waiting until our greens are pretty large before we harvest.
Our pole bean varieties are doing pretty well, too. They've flowered and have just sprouted tiny, fuzzy beans. We expect to be harvesting some within a week. Insects seem to be eating some of the leaves, but not to the detriment of the plant. We're not using insecticides, so we're closely watching to see if it remains a problem.
The two red okra seedlings that survived the greenhouse are flourishing outside, growing larger by the day. To replace those that didn't survive the greenhouse, we planted new okra directly in the ground, and those have shot through the soil. After they get a bit larger, we'll thin them out (Sophie's Choice: Okra Edition!) so that they have plenty of room to grow.
The item that's flourishing the most in our garden is probably the basil. We have beautiful basil plants. Most of these came from seeds. Others came from Trevor (who had extra seedlings) and from our CSA (which gave away seedlings in the initial shares of the season). We also picked up a beautiful purple basil plant at the farmers market this weekend. It was too pretty to pass up.
The item that has struggled the most has been the parsley that we grew from seed. This struggled in the greenhouse, and has done even worse in the garden. One plant withered and died. Another is struggling to keep up. We were excited about having big bunches of fresh parsley available to us. Perhaps we'll sow once more, directly into the garden, and see if it does any better.
Lastly, we have a few pepper plants that are thriving, though not yet showing any signs of actual peppers.
We've done a bit of maintenance, too.
With our friend Trevor's help, we did a PH test on our soil, using a small test kit he had purchased online. The results were good! The soil mix we had put together was perfectly neutral. Since tomatoes respond well to more acidic soil, we plan to scatter some coffee grounds in the areas of the garden where they're planted. Other than that, no adjustments seem to be needed to the soil.
We compost in our backyard, in a tumbler, and we haven't yet pulled any compost out since the weather warmed up. We plan to do that in the next week, spreading the compost around in our raised beds to heighten the nutrition in the soil.
Watering our garden is a constant source of hand-wringing. Last year, we were likely overwatering. This year, because we're in raised beds, we've been watering nearly every day, as the soil seems dry when we stick our fingers down into it. Still, we constantly fear over- or under-watering.
The amount of sun available to our plants is a similar source of concern, but we've given up worrying about this one. Short of chopping down the trees in our yard and bulldozing our neighbors' fences, we're stuck with six or so hours of sun a day. It'll have to do.
It's a marvel how much can change in a garden in a month. We can't wait to see where we are in a few weeks.
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