Now that we have finally passed our average last frost date, the garden is fully planted and beginning to get going. It still wont look like much for at least another month, but it is nice to have some green around here!
We are in the height of pine pollen season, so you will notice the yellow dust covering many things around the homestead. It is not our favorite time of year, that’s for sure. We are anxious for it to be over and washed away.
The Vegetable Garden
The tomatoes took a hard hit from the cool overly wet spring, despite the wall-o-waters over them protecting them. They would have completely died without the WOWs on them. So they look pretty scraggly at this point, but there are some buds on them and we are hopeful they will come back strong and quick enough to produce before the first frost.
The cabbages are loving their pest control tent, and so far it is working well and we haven’t had any pest damage. There are also some carrots for seed in there that I overwintered in the garden this year.
The other carrots for seed are also coming up well. Both areas of seed carrots had many more carrots overwintered than are coming up, but I see that as an excellent natural selection process. The carrots we get seeds from this year will have proven that they can overwinter in our cold climate with only a straw covering.
The volunteer chives that didn’t get any winter protection at all are doing excellent. We have enjoyed them in many meals over the last 3 weeks or so. They are now putting on flowers.
The peas and lettuce are finally growing. The very cold spring really held them all back from sprouting and growing, and now I am afraid the hot weather will be here before the peas have time to produce. We had this struggle last year too with the peas. It was too cold for good growth in the spring, and then the heat hit too fast and they didn’t produce well.
The lettuce this year had another challenge besides the cold wet weather, the barn cats also dug up all the seeds after the first planting. So they are a few weeks behind because we had to secure the back yard to keep cats out, and then re-plant.
And as you can see in the above photo, once the cats were closed out of the backyard the local mice population spread the word that there was this wonderful area that was safe from cats and full of delicious green food. So we have had to put traps all around to keep them from eating all our food. Word travels fast in the mouse world.
The Herb Garden
The herbs really loved the grow lights and we have a great start on the herb garden this year. The best start we have ever had!
I am not happy with the mint variety we have going (in the wheelbarrow on the right). So we will be getting rid of that and starting over with new mint in there in the next few weeks.
The thyme and basil are doing especially excellent after their privileged start under lights.
Somehow I didn’t end up with any parsley. Not sure how that happened. So I will buy some from the farmers market soon and plant it in its spot.
The herbs we currently have in the garden are sage, cilantro, basil, rosemary, comfrey, thyme, oregano, dill (new experiment), and the mint that will be replaced.
Berries and Grape Vines
The Valiant grape vine we planted last year is doing awesome. It has a bunch of new growth on it. You can see last year’s vine is grey, and the new growth is green.
It currently has EIGHT flower clusters on it. We are finding it hard to believe we could end up with 8 grape clusters in only our second year – wouldn’t that be great!?
The other grape we planted last year, a concord, is not as hardy and is not doing well. It is still alive, but hasn’t put on any new growth and only has one tiny leaf bud so far. We are likely going to replace it with another Valiant or a Reliant sometime this summer.
The strawberry patch is thriving and we are anxiously awaiting our first berries.
In the above strawberry patch photo you are getting a sneak peek at our current project…a backyard path/boardwalk made from pallet wood. More on that coming soon!
The current and gooseberry bushes are all doing well and put on flowers and have some immature berries too.
The honeyberry bushes are alive and putting on new growth, but they did not put on flowers this year at all. Not sure why. If they don’t produce next year we will call it a failure and replace them with something else.
The Onion & Garlic Patch
Last fall we decided we were going to rebuild the onion and garlic patch and fill it in with better soil. It is currenly very clay-like and we haven’t had much success growing in it. We never were able to get to that, nor did we finish harvesting it. So this year we have a bunch of last year’s plant coming up. We are going to let them go and see what happens. Maybe next year we can rebuild it.
I planted the rhubarb seed experiment seedlings in the livestock trough behind the onion and garlic patch. One plant is doing very well and two others are doing good. We will see how they do. We also put some bunching onions in there because we ran out of space elsewhere.
The West Garden
The west garden is our experiment at keeping pests off of our turnips, spinach, and beets. We lost most of last year’s crop to pests. It includes a wooden planting box with a screen lid (that is where the turnips and beets are), and another bed planted with spinach that we are trying a pest control tent cover on.
So far the tent is working and the succession plantings I have done with the spinach are growing well. There is no sign of leaf miners.
The turnips have sprouted well, but the beets are not doing well at all. I don’t know why the beets haven’t sprouted well. Unfortunately, we are already seeing signs of flea beetles on the leaves of the turnips though, so the screen box is not preventing them. We will see what happens as the season moves forward.
That wraps up the garden update. We are enjoying the start of a new year of gardening, and the hope of a good harvest!