In gardening books, one point that is always mentioned is to “start small.” I understand that projects get burdensome if you take on too much. I understand that weeding is not fun. But I don’t know why this point is always made, because surely, anyone with big dreams is not going to listen. The only way to learn this point would be by experience: to determine what “small” means to you, how much time you have, and how dedicated you are to growing vegetables.
I meant to start small. I planted cover crops over most of the garden bed space, with the idea that I would just pull some cover crops as I found time to plant some vegetables. I decided to avoid root vegetables since I don’t know how “clean” the soil is (we’ve only been in this house a year and the neighbor uses pesticides, so root vegetables just didn’t feel right to me). I was approaching my vegetable gardening from the standpoint that it could all fail (lack of sun, insects/animals, disease, poor soil) and anything I will be able to harvest will be a wonderful surprise. And, I am just trying to have fun and experiment.
But I keep hearing this little voice in my head that says, “go outside! plant vegetables!” It’s this primal feeling to prepare the soil, plant seeds, keep an eye on the sun and rain, watch my little plants grow, and protect them. Do you have this feeling too? I also have an extreme curiousity about what the plants look like at different stages of development, how they respond to the weather, and what vegetables they might produce. So “starting small” wasn’t stimulating enough for me and I am ready to learn through experimentation if my vegetable garden efforts will be too much.
Addition to the nightshade garden:
* basil between the tomato plants (seedlings that I started in the basement, added 5/17)
* additional sunflower seeds (there were a few spots where some seeds didn’t come up, I’d like six sunflower plants to make a nice row)
Additions to the vegetable garden:
* nasturtium (in addition to the seeds planted, this is an organic seedling, planted 5/17)
* cucumber (seeds from SSE, planted 5/18)
* rosemary (seeds from SSE, planted 5/18)
* hidatsu beans (seeds from SSE, planted 5/18)
* tomatoes (five free seedlings from our church gardens, two unknown large-type of tomato and three cherry tomato plants, added 5/27)
* chocolate peppers (two free seedlings from our church gardens, added 5/27)
* additional hidatsu bean seeds (added 5/29)
* additional pea seeds (added 5/29)
A last addition to the vegetable garden is some twine to better mark the separation of garden and walking aisles. I found that I wasn’t planting all the way to the end of the garden space since it wasn’t obvious where that space ended. Now, I feel like my garden has grown outward a little and I won’t step on the garden space as easily. I would like to mark off square feet in a future season to better space plants, but this year I am just going to wing it.
Most of the seeds are coming up strong and the plants are growing nicely:
* The cover crops are getting big (especially in one spot of soil where an old brussels sprout stalk was tossed last year).
* The garlic is crawling out of the soil with two leafy tendrils.
* The ground cherry stems are looking very sturdy.
* The peas and hidatsu beans look great so I purchased some bamboo poles (six for $3 at Menard’s) to make teepees.
However, there have also been some signs of problems:
* minor blotchy patches on the first tomato seedlings and cucumber leaves (perhaps damage from cool nights)
* greater blotchy pathes on the tomato seedlings from church (I should have asked if they were hardened off)
* bite marks on the ground cherry leaves (probably rabbits, they are also attacking some other plants in the yard like hostas and flowers)
* the marigold plants haven’t grown much and are still look somewhat purple
* a couple of the lower rhubarb leaves have wilted
* rosemary seeds have not emerged yet
* holes on the leaves of the mystery flower
* if all the tomato plants make it, I’m going to need to buy more tomato cages
* the hostas that emerged into my nightshade garden are much bigger than expected (I want to transplant them out of there but don’t have a new location yet)
* a small green bug on a leaf of my kids’ swiss chard (problem squashed, I haven’t talked about my kids’ container garden with swiss chard and carrots yet, perhaps a future post)
It has been raining about every other day, so I haven’t needed to water the seeds or plants. Much of the rain has come along with thunderstorms. I read that lightning helps to change gaseous nitrogen to a more usable form for plants, so could it be that the vegetable plants have benefited immensely from being outside during these storms? I consider myself lucky that I planted early and was able to take advantage of all the rainwater and lightning.
These photos from five days ago are already a bit outdated as the garden is bigger now, but some visuals are in order to show the overall appearance.