May 20, 2011

May Garden

My garden is coming along slowly. Everything got planted late because of our April rains, so things are still in the beginnings of emerging.

Looking up at several terraced beds
Our winter wheat is at the top

May has brought a lot of rain to the Southeast, but not here. Not to our county. Every day is at least partly overcast and the forecast is always for rain, but we haven't been getting more than a sprinkle here or there. The deeper soil is still holding moisture, but the surface soil is dry. Consequently I have lots of seeds needing moisture!

Bed of cucumbers, broom corn, & a volunteer marigold

Most of my terraces look like the photo above, plants sprouting but not tall enough to be mulched yet.

Potatoes for summer eating & their companions

My early potato beds are the farthest along and I've been able to get them mulched...

Everything seems lost in the leaf mulch!

Both beds contain fingerling salad potatoes. I planted Red Pontiacs too, but much later for keeping. The bed on top also contains cabbage plants and marigolds. The cabbages may be a loss because something has eaten out their slow-to-develop centers quite thoroughly.

The potatoes in the lower bed share it with cowpeas and petunias. The cowpeas I'm planning to try for chicken feed, as one of our goals is to feed our animals as well as ourselves. The petunias are supposed to repel Mexican bean beetles, so that's why I planted them there. They are also supposed to repel cabbage worms, so perhaps I planted them in the wrong bed!

To mulch, I used the leaves I collected last fall. Some layers of leaves had gotten rained on and these were beginning to decompose in the pile. They made bands of lovely black compost. Next year I'll be sure to wet the layers of leaves as I rake and add them, to promote this. 

Companion planted tomato bed

My indoor started Roma tomato plants look good so far, and a few are even sporting flowers. In between those, I'm waiting on Ruby Chard, cinnamon basil, calendula, and flat leafed parsley. The parsley looks like a no-go however.

Wando peas on tomato cage trellises

One thing we've been enjoying has been our English peas. I planted Wando, which tolerate heat fairly well. This is good because it seems that we always go from chilly to hot weather all too quickly. The other night we enjoyed a pea and pecan salad! Yummy. The pecans were from our trees of course.

Strawberries in various stages of ripening

I've already shown you some of the things I've been doing with our strawberries. Actually I'm amazed that they did so well, considering I had to transplant them in March. There were some expected bird pecks, but also some unexpected black beetles burrowing their way through some of the berries bite by bite. We got fresh berries from about mid-April through mid-May. Some plants are everbearers though, so we should get more on occasion throughout the summer. 

Of this year's garden, I have most of my planting done, but not all. Making the terraced beds takes time. Next year, preparation and planting should be quicker. If the weather cooperates, it should be earlier too. So far, my companion group garden chart looks like this ...

click to biggify

The fall garden (pink beds) is a weedy mess! I've been too busy making terraced beds to do anything about that. It's mostly harvested except the garlic. The lettuces, radishes, carrots, beets, broccoli, and turnips I'm allowing to go for seed saving.

The last two things I want to show you are ....

Winter wheat

...our winter wheat. It is beginning to turn yellow. It can be harvested when the berries are no longer soft and doughy to taste, but firm and crunchy.

The other thing is our field corn!

Our first field corn

There are some bare spots but germination has been pretty good. We planted half of it last month, and the other half yesterday, for a total of 5 pounds seed. This is an arbitrary amount, intended as a starting point. It will give us a good idea of how much we need to plant next year. I'm going to plant some pole beans and pumpkins in there soon. In the rest of the plot, I'm going to plant black oil seed sunflowers, also for feed.

That's the gardening update for our little corner of the world. How is your garden doing in yours?


Lynda said...

Your garden is coming along very well. Your Wando's and strawberries: YUMMY! I'm still has been so wet and cold...but yesterday and today in the 80's! My weekend will be spent in the garden PLANTING.

Renee Nefe said...

I'm always so in awe of your garden.

I had intended to get my garden started, but since my daughter's play has ended we've had nothing but cold temperatures and rain (with snow and hail too!)
So instead I transplanted the tomatoes into larger pots and took them out of the mini greenhouse. Hopefully I can get them in the ground next week?
I had to move the onions outside as they were breeding gnats and our venus fly trap couldn't keep up. no idea where the gnats came from.
I'm going to try spinach inside as when it finally does warm up here the spinach bolts too quickly. So far 3 out of 6 seeds have sprouted. I'm hoping to keep planting as I harvest if this experiment works.
If it dries out some I can go turn the compost into my garden and get these seedlings planted.
my apple & cherry trees all flowered up nicely and the birds didn't get greedy and eat the flowers! YAY now to just keep them from eating the fruit.

m said...

We have our first few strawberries turning red. Old brassicas from last year are still providing spring greens. The peas and beans are growing, but not flowering yet. We have a little rhubarb, but it is still too new to crop well. Some apples have taken, but it is too early to tell what the crop will be like. The potato plants are looking good, but the carrot seedlings vanished overnight a few days ago. Gooseberries and currants have a modest crop slowly growing. Salad stuffs have taken well too. We have several rogue squash/pumpkin plants in with the strawberries and newly planted asparagus. These may need thinning yet. Tomatoes and pepper plants are still too small to quantify. Everything here is about 3 weeks ahead of normal, and we have had next to no rain for a couple of months. Despite that it all looks pretty good.

Geodyne said...

I'm going to be so interested to see how your winter wheat and field corn get on. Especially after the predation issues I had with my wheat.

Evelyn said...

Your garden look so organized! Planting out time is almost here for the Northwest areas, but it has been a very cool spring. I loved the strawberry shortcake photos - my mouth was watering. ;)

Pricket said...

I have been following your progress for months. I like your spunk. As regards your parsley and several other plants, are they not highly susceptible to root knot nematodes? I remember from an earlier post you had problems with them. It is a sad sad thing if you have them as they cannot be eradicated ever. It takes a great deal of additional planning and trying to find resistant or tolerant varieties of plants to use. I have been fighting them for years and have had to come to terms with the fact there are many food families that I cannot grow. It is a problem that can be devestating in coming hard times if gardeners with the problem do not adapt there planting to them.

G-d Bless and may the sweat of your brow richly reward your table.

Sherri B. said...

Your terraced beds look great and everything looks to have a pretty good start..Something ate our cabbage early on last year and it was fast, very disappointing.I didn't know about the petunia and the cabbage so we might try that. I enjoy your posts with all of the good info you provide..Thank.

Leigh said...

Lynda, too bad I couldn't trade a little of our dry and hot for your wet and cold, LOL. Sounds like a better balance would be good for both of us.

Renee, aw shucks. Sounds like you've been busy with gardening activities anyway. I'll be interested in your spinach experiment. We have trouble with bolting as well. In fact, I'm about ready to give up trying certain things in the spring. Have you tried New Zealand spinach? It's supposed to tolerate hot heat better than regular spinach. I truly hope you beat the birds to some fruit this year!

Mary, your garden sounds wonderfully productive. It's difficult when it doesn't rain for so long. We're going on three weeks with a forecast for rain everyday. I may have made a mistake by trying to wait and not water sooner. :(

Geodyne, so far so good! I'm delighted with how well it's done so far. Hopefully the weather will cooperate when it's time to harvest.

Evelyn, thanks! I hope your planting weather cooperates!

Pricket, welcome and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your kind words. Good remembering about the nematodes. They plagued the carrots in my first garden, but since moving it to this location, I haven't seen any evidence of nematode activity. The parsley packet said to soak the seeds, which I didn't do. Actually, I've only gotten parsley to grow well once (many years ago) and then tiger swallowtail butterfly caterpillars ate it all. :( Having to fight them like you have must be very difficult. I'd be curious as to the various things you've tried. In the end, gardening wisdom is as you say, planting in cooperation with one's garden rather than fighting it.

Sherri thanks! In the past I've used Pyola spray very successfully (available from Gardens Alive!) but this damage caught me by surprise. I'm thinking I should try surrounding each cabbage with a ring of petunias. Who knows, it might work!

Sharon said...

Leigh, your garden always looks so wonderful and organized. We've had so much rain it's been hard to even think about gardening.

I do love the terracing you've done. We will probably be doing something similar as we don't have much very flat ground. This year we'll only have a couple of 4x8 beds. We'll grow that next year. One step at a time :)

Mr. H. said...

Your gardens look to be off to a great start, isn't that leaf mulch great.

Mama Pea said...

Don't give up on your parsley yet! It's been my experience that it takes FOREVER to germinate.

Do you stake your tomatoes or put cages around them?

I can tell you've been doing a tremendous amount of work in the garden. Good luck in reaping MANY benefits and great harvests.

Woolly Bits said...

Leigh, I think you did trade the weather - we have so much rain now, that I can't do anything outside:(( why is it always one extreme or the other - never something down the middle? I did start as much as possible in the tunnel, but I'd really need a few dry days to pot up or put out.... we'll see, first we're going to get a hefty storm tomorrow:(( but your garden looks like it's shaping up nicely!

Tom Stewart said...

I love the way your garden looks. The logs give it that rustic look and borders the planting area well. I read your comment about harvesting the worm casts and I will get a post made with pictures Monday or Tuesday. The leaves make a great bedding matriel and they also provide soom food to the bed too.
As far as my garden goes...
We got a lot of rain in late Febuary and early March, But the garden beds are in and the plants are doing well. We endded up with a lot of volinteers this year and the worm casts have given eveything a big boost (take a look at my last two posts...lots of pictures!)
And I will be making a post about my "COLORADO COLIMBINES" soon.
Looking forward to your next post.

Leigh said...

Sharon thanks! It seems to me that making permanent beds is making it easier to feel organized. I'm not sure why that is, but I'm finding it to be the case. And your right, it is one step at a time! (My favorite motto. )

Mr H, oh the leaf mulch is fantastic. My only complaint is that it tends to blow away in high winds, LOL

Mama Pea, I hope that's the case! After I planted it, I read on the packet that the seeds should be soaked 12 to 24 hours. Duh. I'm just watered the garden, so may that will help.

I use both cages and stakes. I like the cages but only have so many. After I run out of them, I stake the rest.

Bettina, we're never satisfied with the weather, are we? The tunnel is a good idea. Something on our to-do list too.

Tom, I'll definitely have to take a look at those blog posts. I've contemplated a worm bed for quite a while, but have yet to take steps. I'd love the worm casts and the worms.


Your garden is looking great!

Leigh said...

Bety, thanks!