First Year Family Garden

The Wordy Bit

It's all wordy bit today. I know I haven't posted in a few weeks, and that was not intentional. I took a brief sabbatical from social media (and a lot of the internet, to be honest) over Mother's Day weekend. I needed the break from all the bonkers things I was seeing. I, instead, focused on my family, making phone calls, tending my garden, and taking in the quiet. 

If you follow me on social media, I've shared my garden before. Even before all the pandemic madness began, my husband and I wanted to try our hand at gardening. We have an amazing portion of our backyard that gets sun from the moment it rises until just before it sets. We figured we would plant there, and since we didn't know how things would go, we decided for a raised garden. We used cinder blocks as our base, and on top of that we placed grow bags and surrounded them with a cedar frame (to help them hold their shape). We started with four plots that were 4' by 2', as well as a potato bag. After putting the frame up, we had enough material left over to add a 2' by 2' plot on the end. 


I initially started seeds indoors, but the majority of those didn't do well. I'm thinking I started way too early, and I don't think I gave the seedlings enough sunlight. In true farmer fashion, though, I am keeping a journal detailing what works for me and what doesn't. I've got quite the spreadsheet going...and it keeps growing. I'm adding notes on everything so that I don't forget and so I can plan better for next year. The biggest takeaway for me, so far, has been a better understanding of timing the plantings to coordinate harvests. 

My Veggies

So far, my biggest and most beautiful grower has been my potatoes. I used certified Yukon Gold seed potatoes. They're planted in a 20 gallon potato bag (I planted 3 small seed potatoes in the bag). 


This beautiful behemoth has been "hilled"  three times! Once it hits about 8 inches tall, you can mound dirt about halfway up the plant. This is supposed to increase yield and give you the most potatoes for the starts. I've done this three times, and I would continue...except I've hit the capacity of my bag! From here, I'll reserve any further dirt or mulch adding strictly for covering any high growing spuds. 

I planted some spinach, too, but I vastly underestimated how much I would need for a meal. So far, of the spinach that I have started to harvest (one plot of 9 plants), I have harvested enough for a small omelet twice. I had a couple plots of broccoli that wouldn't sprout, so I tilled it up and planted a larger area of spinach. Here's the 9 spinach plants sitting in front of my zucchini (that I'm hoping to vine-train and grow vertical) and next to some thyme.


The rest of my veggies are slow-going, but that's okay. I had a few set backs due to some late-season frosts. The bell pepper plants are just starting to bud, and I spied our first pea-pod this morning. The upper corner are my bell peppers next to some tomatoes. In front of the peppers, is a small broccoli and some dill (that's still too small to see clearly).


Here are my peas. Oh, these peas....I had no idea when I planted them that they would attract every single aphid in the whole damn state. The taller ones look plain pitiful because I've been fighting an infestation. I was trying to just use Neem oil to control them, but it wasn't enough. I eventually had to get some Sevin's garden granules for the soil. The damn aphids had laid eggs in the soil and the babies were eating the roots and seedlings of everything! You wouldn't believe how mad I've been over these things. BUT! They are under control, now, and this morning during my morning check, I only say 2 aphids and thankfully...they were dead. 


The bases of the older plants are sprouting new growth, which I take as a good sign. The tops of the older peas are filling up with flowers, with one already forming a pod. 

I've also tried planting carrots two ways. In one plot, I gave them their own square (I'm using the square-foot planting method to maximize space). They are flourishing, but didn't handle transplanting and thinning well, so they are much more dense than I would like. Here those are, surrounded by peppers on three sides and basil on the left.


In the smaller 2' by 2' plot, I tried planting a row of carrots in the divider between the front plots and back plots. I knew when I planted them that I wouldn't be able to thin them, so I planted them more sparsely. They're doing very well. Here they've got spinach in front to keep them company with jalapenos and cucumbers behind them.


My tomatoes are doing well. I've got them going in two different beds. One near the basil and one near the peas. They seem a little short, in my opinion, like the bell peppers...but time will tell. I knew it would be different since I'm planting container varieties. Here are the tomatoes behind the parsley and basil. 


My Herbs

I've shown you some of my herbs, so far, since they're co-mingling with my veggies. My dill is doing really well, and I'm glad I planted even more of it. I hope to use it in some of my cooking as well as in my first attempt to make pickles (hence, the cucumbers just behind it).


Now, I haven't had success with starting everything from seeds. Oh, I forgot to mention that...everything you've seen so far, I've started from seeds. I did have to relent and buy a couple of herb starter plants, though. Oregano and rosemary have not grown well from seeds for me, and that's okay. My starters transplanted beautifully! Here's the oregano in front of some impressive broccoli. 


I don't have a picture of my rosemary. It is in a bag by itself on my patio. Currently, the rosemary neighbors my bag of lavender that survived the winter.

Wrap-up

It's not the most impressive garden, I know, but it is ours. We're learning more about gardening, and I'm able to teach the little the value of growing your own food. Also, I get to show her how much work it takes from seed to table. She's really enjoying watching it grow, and that makes it all worth it to me. I'll keep you updated on how it goes during the growing season. I'll also get back into the habit of posting more often. Next week, I think we'll start talking about painting. I'm still not finding that much time for crochet, so those projects are slower going than usual. 

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