Well, I took the plunge and rented a 25 x 25 plot at our local community college to grow a second garden this summer. For the last 5 years I have been practicing my garden skills at home in the 8 x 10 raised plot that Jeremy built for me back in 2007. I have been devouring all types of gardening books and trying out new tricks to get the best crops. While I am still a novice, I felt confident enough this year to fork over the cash ($30...what an incredible steal!!) and rent my very own plot in the community garden. I am beyond excited to see how it turns out!
In an attempt to chronicle what works and what doesn't, I hoping to blog about it on a weekly basis. Judging from the fact that I have posted once since 8/2011, the "how my garden grows" series may or may not come to fruition. I wanted to take weekly pictures too, but my camera was dead. Nothing really exciting to see yet anyway!
I am liking the fact that I don't have to cram everything I want to grow into this tiny space. With 5 people in this family, what once seemed like a lot of space is not enough. Here is what we've got in the ground:
Onions: I sowed a row of green onions from seed. I like being able to run out and pick a few for the texas cavier that we love to eat. I planted these on the south side, and I swear it helps keep the rabbits out!
Carrots: Last year was the first time I had success with carrots. Turns out you have to have patience to enjoy these. I've read up on some methods to winter them, so I am hoping to have fresh carrots year round. We'll see how that pans out.
Cucumbers: Even though these take over like a forest fire on a windy day, I had to plant these at home. Every year we get SO many cukes, which literally multiply overnight and so it just makes sense to have them in the yard where we can pick them daily. I learned you also have to pinch the male flowers early and often or risk getting bitter cukes (which was sometimes the case last year), so another reason why they need to be at home. Noelle and Ty eat these like candy bars, and I'm sure Alexis will be no exception this year.
Cherry Tomatoes: I'm going to try this for the 3rd year now. Each year it seems that the hairy, nasty, black spiders take over my tomatoes and I've read up on some remedies for that. They area fun for the kids to pick and great for dinner salads!
Green Peppers: Another favorite of the kids. I have 5 plants in and think I have the hang of growing some great green peppers! I like to freeze the extra to use throughout the winter in chili, stirfry, fajitas, etc.
Beans: I think I've finally mastered the art of planting beans in waves to ensure fresh crop all summer. I still remember the first year when I planted a ton of seeds at the same time and we were eating beans for a few weeks straight and then had nothing for the rest of the summer :-) Easy to grow and delicious!!
Strawberries! This is a new crop this year. I haven't tried growing any fruits, so we'll see how it goes! I'm going to plant these on the hill out back. Building another raised bed is too expensive right now, so I'm going to see if I can actually grow these before I invest in a structure to contain them.
Chives and Lettuce: Both are growing in pots. I haven't had success with either before, mainly due to the dang rabbits. I'm hoping that they will grow well since I have them off the ground.
Sunflowers: These are by the side of the house. Our topsoil, or lack there of, is such poor quality that I'm not sure they will even grow. One of the downfalls of building your home...I prepped the soil a bit with fertilizer and topsoil, so time will tell if it helps, I guess.
Noelle and I went out today and spent 4 hours weeding, prepping the soil, and planting the seeds of our crops (Jeremy accidentally left with our plants, so we'll have to get those in the ground tomorrow!) We found a fennel plant among the weeds, so we decided to keep it :-) All the crops here are ones that don't require frequent monitoring. I planted a TON of them (25 x25 is an incredibly large space). My hope is that I can blanch the beans, corn, and tomatoes and freeze for use throughout the winter.
I made sure to really prep the soil because I have no idea what was planted in previous years. I raked in some of my favorite fertilizer, started a little compost pile in one corner of the lot, and broke the soil up as well as I could. While weeding, I saw zero pesky bugs under the top layer, which is a huge bonus. No grub worms, beetles, etc. that like to eat up the plants. I also didn't notice any worms, which I was sad about. This indicates low organic matter in the soil, so basically crappy soil! I am hoping to remedy that as the summer goes on.
Onions: sowed a few rows of seed and a few starter onions. I have learned how to store these over the winter, so we planted a lot of them with the hopes of not having buy any from the store. I am going to plant these in waves, as well as the beans.
Beans: sowed 2 rows of beans, with wave planting every 2 weeks until mid-July.
Corn: planted 4 rows of corn. This is my first try at it, so I didn't want to take up too much space in case it was an epic fail. I'm curious to see how my spacing will wind up...not sure how the pollination of the plants will go, but I followed the directions on the package, so hopefully well.
Tomatoes: planted 3 big boy tomato starters. I am hoping the spider fest (see above) takes its party elsewhere. I've love to freeze the extras for chili and sauces throughout the winter.
Cayenne Pepper: Jeremy loves these and grow them every other year. One plant produces about 200 peppers, so we dry them and keep them for the next year too. These things are HOT and I am glad that they are in this plot and not the one at home. One touch from the kids would be a nightmare.
And that, my friends, is how my garden grows!