May 18, 2010

May Garden Tour: The Main Garden

It seems that almost every blog I visit has lovely photos of gardens in progress. I feel delinquent in that regard so without further ado, here are the beginnings of my 2010 gardens.

Main vegetable garden in early MayThis shot of the main garden is taken from the bottom of the hill. The house and front yard are just behind the dark shadowed hedge. I started my planting at the top, and have been working my way downward. The white square is the first of my cardboard mulch. The little stakes mark hills where buttercup winter squash was recently planted. The growth on the right is out of control "weeds" trying to encroach!

The garden itself looks pretty weed free here, though I am having problems with blackberry vines, which just don't want to go away. The other thing is the annual rye cover crop, i.e. what didn't get tilled under. Some stubbornly survived and in spite of my best efforts, popped up seed heads which I'm sure will be a headache in the future.

My lone pea plantEnglish peas went in first. Sadly, only one seed out of a double, 30-foot row grew! Very disappointing. At least we can have one salad with fresh peas.

Early garden crops of cabbages & onionsEven though I ordered cabbage seed, it arrived to late for me to start indoors. I ended up purchasing plants, which you see growing on the left. To the right of those is broccoli. And of course onions in front of that. I have onion seed for fall planting as I would like to try to make my own sets for next year. I am proud for you to see that these have all been mulched! Behind the broccoli are the remains of daffodils, vetch, and out of control grasses.

I'm happy with my potatoesMy potatoes are doing well. As you can see, I am in the middle of mulching the rows.

1st Potato flowersThe top rows are starting to bloom.

My amazing horseradishAnd my potted horseradish! It's growing like crazy! I'm worried now that the pots will be too small. Unlike the three roots I planted in a bed, which have been a no-show.

Mixed bed of early salad crops I have a mixed salad bed with Romaine lettuce, chives, radishes, and a later planting of broccoli. We've harvested almost all the radishes.

Sweet & crispThese are Cherry Belles , and I have to say that I've never grown such beautiful radishes.

Double row of Swiss chardSwiss chard is doing well. It needs to be thinned and then mulched when it's a bit taller. I like a good thick mulch, so I have to be careful to not bury the little plants in it! I do also use newspaper and cardboard, though my supply of both of these is limited.

1st bean patchThese are bush beans. The seeds were a substitute. I originally ordered two types of beans for dried shelling: black turtle and white half runner bean. We love black turtles, but I was hoping to find another dried bean to like. I've experimented with them and know some we don't like (adzuki and kidney for example) and some are just blah, like pintos. The white half runner is a popular dual purpose (both fresh green and dried), southern variety which does well in our heat. I'm guessing Shumway was sold out and so substituted State Half Runner, a green bean type. I've already planned to plant Kentucky Wonders for that, from my saved seeds, but figured I'd give them a try anyway. I don't know if these are an open pollinated type, but should check, just in case we really like them.

I should get a good crop of paste tomatoesMy Roma tomatoes grown from seed are doing pretty well. First I was worried that I'd started them too late. Then I didn't think they would make, but they are looking good now. I admit that I did use a tablespoon of tomato fertilizer on each plant to give them a boost. Now that we have chickens and goats, (i.e. manure machines), we should be able to crank out more compost, which is my preferred fertilizer.

I have some marigolds scattered between my tomatoes, which are just seedlings at this point.

One of my early started green pepper plantsFive of the six green peppers I started from seed survived.

Row of sweet potato slips Can you see the sweet potatoes amongst the weeds? Probably not. I have to say though, that weeding has been pretty easy, thanks to my new hoes. Eventually I plan to get it all mulched. The sweet potatoes are Porto Rico bush, which are supposed to do well in my part of the country. I could have made my own slips, from grocery store sweets, but really wanted this particular variety. Making my own will be next year.

Watermelon vines, or will be vines when they grow a bit moreI started watermelon seeds early, and about half of those made it. I recently planted more seed directly into the ground, to extend our watermelon harvest.

My sweet corn though, has made a very poor showing. That's disappointing.

Sorry looking sweet corn patchCan you see any corn in there? Or just weeds. Cat included for size.

Close-up of growing cornThere are quite a few gaps in the rows. I was planning to plant my Kentucky Wonders here, but now I'm not sure there will be enough corn stalks to serve as bean poles.

Planted but not up yet:
  • Black turtle beans
  • cucumbers (actually just sprouting)
  • nasturtiums
  • sunflowers
  • Buttercup squash
  • sweet basil
Still to plant:
  • summer squashes
  • maybe more winter squashes
  • Kentucky wonder pole beans
  • pumpkins
  • dill
  • fennel
  • misc flowers & herbs
  • something new & different for me, as challenged by Maggie (Please Be Edible)
I'm not sure when I'll get the rest of the planting done because it rained Sunday and Monday, and there's a light drizzle today. I'm not especially early on my plantings, but I'm not late either. Hopefully the weather will cooperate soon and I can get everything else in soon. Then it's on to mulching!

May Garden Tour: The Main Garden text & photos copyright May 2010 by Leigh at


Theresa said...

The garden looks like it is off to a very good start, and I promise I won't have garden pics of my own to compare to! ;-)
BTW, nice goats, hope you are having fun with them.

Nina said...

Your garden looks lovely! The horseradish is spectacular. Aren't potato flowers rather pretty? Officially our last frost plant date isn't until next weekend, so not much in the garden yet.. onions, leeks, garlic, early greens, woad and madder.. More coming though!

maggie said...

Aww, thanks for the shout-out, Leigh. :) I am trying not to be jealous of your enormous garden plot. (one day) I am also curious why you planted some things with the paper collars above ground? I would expect that to act as a wick pulling water away from the root ball. Is that supposed to protect against some critter? Also, are you sure your peas didn't come up? I have to cover them here, until they get a couple inches on them, or the critters will eat them as soon as they even think about popping a leaf above ground.

Julie said...

Wow you are so far ahead of me! We are still trying to get water up to our garden but I did get alot started inside and as soon as hubby is done out they will go!


I'm learning way too much about veggie gardens from you. We planted some more peppers and I harvested the garlic, well if we can call it garlic. I'll have a post for that this week.

Sharon said...

I showed Ian your horseradish in the pot. Does that keep it from being so invasive? Wonderful huge garden. I assume you're planning to preserve a lot of your produce. Will you be drying any?

Leigh said...

Theresa, thanks! The goats got used to me pretty quick and we really like having them around. We've had a few adventures, but I'm saving that for another post. :)

Nina, I envy your woad and madder. I'm trying to get my herb gardens established by starting out small. Unfortunately, I'm not getting a very good showing so far. :(

Maggie, your welcome! I think others would enjoy your blog. The paper collars are to protect newly transplanted seedlings from cutworm. I'm not sure why cutworms only attack transplants, but it is devastating to have them wipe out all the tomatoes in one night.

You may very well be right about those peas, though there's no evidence of critter meddling. Not that that can't happen! The seed was old, so it could have been either or both. I have new pea seed to plant this fall.

Julie, I don't reckon there actually is an "ahead" or "behind" considering we all live in different parts of the world. Of course, it's not like you don't have a lot of house projects going on. ;)

Deep End, my heartfelt hope is that what you're learning is motivating you! I'm far from being a truly knowledgeable gardener, but I'm willing to experiment and learn. My motto in the garden is "something is better than nothing," and even if it comes to naught, I still learn something from it.

Sharon, yes, I'm hoping putting the horseradish in pots will keep it from spreading where I don't want it, but also because I've read it helps potatoes. Since I don't want a permanent potato bed, I figured the pot would let me move the horseradish around when I rotated the beds. Next year though, I may need some bigger pots!

bspinner said...

Wow!!! You've sure been busy. What a great garden. I love your radishes!!!!!! They're so pretty and so good to eat.

Katrien said...

Love it! You have so much room - I'm a bit jealous...
Are you going to use the horseradish as a fodder or compost crop? It looks immense.

Leigh said...

Barb, I was just about to give up on growing cherry belles, but changed my mind. Last year's cracked so easily but this time they are as in that photo. I can't help but think that the soil made the difference. Last year we did little to prepare it, this year we followed the recommendations of the soil test. A good lesson learned.

Katrien, I do feel fortunate to have as much land as we do. OTOH, it's a lot to take care of!