A belated wish of Happy Independence Day! We had a wonderful time, celebrating with family and friends this weekend. With so much work to prepare for the big day, I’ve been a little too preoccupied to sit down and write my June garden update.
Heads up, this is a picture-heavy post! I’ll keep future garden updates more condensed, but there’s a lot to show this time! After spending nearly the last 6 years figuring out how we wanted to transform the homestead and set up our gardens, we’ve finally begun to make the progress that we’ve been striving for.
The secret garden is finally beginning to look like the vision in my head. There’s still a lot of work to do on it. The hügelkultur beds are all put together, planted, mulched, and growing well. I’m still trying to determine how I will boarder the beds to keep somewhat clean lines for mowing. The beds flanking the path have herbs and strawberries planted in them, while the other beds are largely flowers with a few herbs sprinkled in. There are some perennial edibles planted along the stream as well.
My brother is getting rid of the flagstone patio from around his house, and I’m taking it and turning it into some walking paths between beds in the secret garden. I still need to level out the ground, place the stones, and then I will plant something like creeping thyme or possibly clover between the stones. I still have more to collect from his house, but I’m very happy with how it’s looking so far.
Some of the kids planted gardens this year. Aaron is using half the kids’ garden. We still might finish clearing the other half for Paul to plant. Aaron’s is growing pretty well, aside from some small setbacks. The fence was damaged in a couple of places, and some wild rabbits got in and ate most of his bean plants. But his corn is doing fantastic this year, he has big, bushy tomato plants, the carrots have germinated, and his watermelon has sprouted.
The setbacks were a little disappointing, but he is very happy that things are growing so well. The horse and chicken manure we put on his garden made a big difference. In past years, things would remain rather stunted after reaching a certain size, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue this year.
Adeline planted a garden in the area we are calling the community garden. Carrots, peas, corn, beets, and cucumber, and everything has sprouted. She could have possibly had better germination rates on her carrots, but she didn’t mark the carrot rows well, and I don’t think they stayed wet enough during our hot, dry spell in mid-June. However, everything seems to be happy now. We just trellised her peas last week, and soon her cucumbers need to be trained.
I planted two gardens in the community garden area. I’m calling mine the barn gardens just to keep it straight when I’m talking with the family. Above are pictures of one of the two, taken a little over a week ago, since then, everything has become significantly more visible. The new area (not pictured) has corn, peas, beets, carrots, onions, and red beans planted. It’s probably close to 15’x30′ in area.
The garden space pictured above is beginning to look very garden-like. I caged the tomato plants, weeded between all of the rows, and everything has now sprouted. This area has cabbage, rutabaga, kale, lettuce, spinach, green beans, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, and onions planted. The onions are from sets that I bought on clearance from Walmart, and I am very pleased with how well they sprouted. I had to throw out about a third of the sets because they were no longer viable, but everything I did plant is looking very happy.
The pumpkin patch is growing significantly by the day. There are pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, corn, black beans, chamomile, and dill planted throughout this area. I wanted to try something along the lines of a three sisters garden this year, so I flanked some of my hills with sweet corn, and I planted black beans at the base of the corn after the corn was a few inches tall. I was doing a little reading on three sisters gardens, and I found out that the pole beans are not only supported by the corn, but help keep the corn supported in winds as well. I suppose it makes sense as they probably make for an extra anchor.
I’m excited and anxious about the pumpkin patch this year. I really want to get some tarps down between hills so that I can mow between the rows, and still keep weeds down around the hills. I also need to do some intensive weeding around the hills itself. Our patch looked so good last year at the start, and it was so disappointing when we didn’t get much fruit. I’d like to keep the vines as visible as possible so I can keep a closer eye on pollination this year, and hand-pollinate if need be.
The plants in the main garden are looking fantastic this year. And without all of the weeds, I can actually see everything!!! We’ve seen the first cucumber, zucchini and pea sets this year, the potato plants are big and healthy, and best of all, they’ve been hilled! Everything that is vining that I intend to trellis is beginning to climb their trellises. It won’t be long before I’m putting food up. It’s going to be an earlier harvest than ever before.
Below are two series of pictures. Each picture is of a row from the main garden beds. The first set of pictures is from the 22nd, and the second set is from the 29th. What a difference a week makes!
Bed one is red cabbage, kohlarabi, watermelon, lettuce, fennel, tomatoes, green beans and beets