There is something so invigorating about the change of seasons. I'm already excited about our summer plans which will include a couple of mini "real" vacations (ie time away from home), but also other events that make summer what it is (Hollywood Bowl, the beach, etc.).
One of the things I'm really looking forward to is seeing my first real vegetable garden grow and mature. (That was what the change from winter to spring did to me - inspired the start of a garden!) Today my square foot garden is a month old.
I've grown a few vegetables in the past, mostly herbs and peppers in pots, and of course the obligatory tomatoes. I've done a large floral cutting garden and tended fruit trees, but raised bed vegetables is a totally new adventure. It's been a lot of work, but totally worth the time and effort. So far, we've enjoyed sprouts from thinned salad greens & radishes, a few herbs, and then baby greens and then some radishes. I think the next thing that'll make it to the table will the tomatoes. We've got a few beauties that are just getting bigger and more enticing with every passing week. The zuchini, yellow squash and eggplants all have had blossoms on them so hoping to see some fruit growing on those plants soon too.
Here is a little week-by-week peek at how the garden goes and grows over the first month...
Spot chosen, raised bed kit ready to be assembled
The site I chose was a mostly bare spot in the northwest corner of the yard. Last fall, we had removed some "pretend" trees (they were those volunteer/suckers that come up without rhyme or reason, but these had been let go long enough that they'd grown into something of a forest). What I like best about this spot is that it is a pretty sunny spot, and there was very little grass to be removed. The bonus: a garden would help disguise that eyesore of a phone pole. I decided to use the two existing orange trees as my boundary markers.
Beds in place, grass removed
Building the kits was a snap - no sweat! That was because I handed the job off to the fellas. They even made some noise about removing the grass in my little plot too. In fact, DH made a half-hearted start at the job, but after he lost interest in the project, I took over. It wasn't much grass, but oy! That was a lot of physical labor for an out-of-shape gal like me. (See the piles of grass to the right of the sprinkler - not much, but it felt like a mountain when I was done!)
Plants in beds - hooray!
Next came the dirt and getting the poor little plants into the beds. I had made the (mostly bad) decision to buy small plants before the beds were completed thinking it would motivate us all to get it done. It took real effort to keep those little babies alive while they waited for their new home, but I guess they did do their job of keeping me busy at getting the beds done. By the time I took the pic above I'd placed most of the tomatoes (heirlooms in big pots at back, Romas & Beefsteak in bed at left). I'd also transplanted the peppers (hot ones in bed at left, sweet ones in bed at right) and the squash and a honeydew (bed at right).
The garden is a week old!
Not much changed in the first week, except that I added some marigolds after learning that they help with bug control. Oh, and a trellis for the melons to grow up. At this point, I'd sowed some salad greens, radishes, beans, green onions, carrots, and watermelon from seed directly into the bed, as well as starting some seeds into a seed "nursery". Even though I knew the seeds in this bed would sprout in time and the other seedlings from the "nursery" would need to be transplanted to these beds, it was very difficult to resist the urge to go out and buy more plants to make my little beds look more ... gardenish. I'll be the first to admit it - I'm not a very patient girl. I was really eager to see my garden in a more flourishing state. But it took all my self-discipline to not give in to the urge and instead I directed my energies to other things that needed doing, like getting the other pots & planters filled and finishing the mulch walkway.
The seed "nursery"
Here are some of the plants I started from seed. Using an egg carton to start seeds in was a *BIG* mistake. Not only was it next to impossible to keep moist, it was a bear to get the plants out of. The little cells are just too short and are an awkward shape. Plus some of the seedlings had embedded their roots right into the fiber of the carton. I was so worried I was killing the delicate little plants as I pulled them out.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers (mine aren't)
This is about 2 weeks after the beds went in - finally, some gratification! (You can see the little pepper blossom getting ready to enter the world, can't you?) And below the first of the tomatoes.
Heirloom tomato twins - can't wait to have a taste
These are from a plants found at Costco. They were in a three-pack and were reasonably priced and all of them larger than any of the other tomato plants I'd picked up at Home Dept. Plus they were HEIRLOOMS - how could I pass them up? Wish, I'd done more research on these 'maters before planting them, though. As far as I can tell, I planted the most vigorous grower of the group in the smallest of my three big pots.
The garden at 2 weeks old
Another week passes and week 3 begins. The seed-sown-directly-in-beds has emerged. The surfaces of the beds look a bit greener, don't they? By this time, I'd gotten a little further on my mulching too. My hubby has added some of that plastic lawn edging to keep the lawn out of the beds. Hopefully between, that and the mulch I won't have much to yank from the ground. We ran out of edging and mulch around the same time, so that was a work-in-progress.
The garden is 3 weeks old now
By the start of week 4, I've nearly finished the mulch walkways (still waiting on hubby to finish the last of the edging.). The walkways are covered in rubber mulch and I just LOOoooove the way they feel under my shoes - nice and cooshey. Very comfortable to walk and work on. I've also picked up a couple of arched trellises (or is that trelli? or is it trololo?) When I drew up my garden plan, I'd always planned to do flower beds against the two block walls. My first plan was to just plant directly into the ground with some bender board to separate the "beds" from the walkways. But I changed my mind (woman's prerogative, ya know), and decided on raised beds. There aren't kits for the sizes I wanted so it was time to put the boys to work again. (Phase I: convincing them to help!)
During the interval between these last two pics, I'd also picked up a dwarf lime tree (so I now have two fruit trees waiting to be transplanted since I'd also picked up a dwarf pear at Costco when I got those tomatoes). Also, I've added the last of the tomato plants to some planters. I put cherry tomatoes in one of the red planters and "Early Girl" in the other. The wooden planter has two "Better Boys" with some basil. Oh, and I transplanted herbs and started some more salad greens in plastic planters.
The garden is a month old! Look how big the heirlooms are
This is the most recent pic of the garden. Notice the new beds along the block walls? They are taller than my veggie beds and thank goodness because I had forgotten how deeply one needs to plant gladiola bulbs. I had just enough room. The guys did an awesome job on my new beds - I love them!
Also, I didn't go with all flowers. My friend Allison started a garden recently too, and after seeing what all she'd planted, I decided to devote one of the new beds to corn. I have to admit I was a little afraid of growing corn and it wasn't even something I'd considered early on. (I wanted to start with easy stuff that I could be sure to succeed with.) But why not be a little adventurous? What's the worse that can happen? I'm out a few seeds (not even a dollar's worth) and the cost of water and I come out wiser (hopefully) on the other side. Today, I noticed that lots of the corn is peeking up through the soil so that's a good start, I guess.
Here are some close ups of the month old garden space:
Hangin' with my gnomie
The start of a honeydew (I hope)
Ichiban eggplant blossom
Long flower bed for hollyhocks, coneflower, cosmos & glads
Small flowerbed for fragrant flowers & cosmos
Corn, beans, cucumbers & squash - 3 sisters and a stepsister
Looking out from the inside
Well, in the words of the immortal Porky Pig, that's all folks. Hope ya'll have a great summer! (that last part is all me.)