June 25, 2013

Ah Yes, The Garden

The biggest gardening challenge this year has been the rain. We've had over 45 inches of rain so far this year, 22.65 inches of it since the beginning of April, when summer planting begins. In the negative column, it means late planting and mud, mud, mud. On the other hand, it means everything is growing like gangbusters, including the weeds. Here's a photo tour...

Popcorn, volunteer chicory, and volunteer parsnip flowers

Popcorn with orange cushaw winter squash, sugar beets in front

The last of the spring lettuce and strawberries

Winter lettuce flowering for seed & multiplier onions flowering too
Volunteer marigolds behind them and flax behind that (closeup below)

I wish I'd gotten a shot of the entire flax bed in bloom. They are
making seed pods now. Heirloom volunteer marigolds in front.

I had a good harvest of Pink Beauty radishes

I've just started harvesting cabbage and making cole slaw. I've had very
little insect damage, just what you see here. I wish I'd planted more. 

My potatoes are plagued with blight. I harvest them as they die back, even in the
mud. These are destined to become potato salad to accompany chevon burgers.

Swiss chard (mostly for the goats) and volunteer 4 o'clocks front right.

Spring peas drying on the cattle panel trellis (lower left), with the first
cucumber flower and more volunteer 4 o'clocks ( AKA Marvel of Peru)

Also in the trellis bed, volunteer dill, on which the peas haven't minded growing

Funny, how nice my garden looks through the eye of the camera. When I go out there, all I see are the pathways overrun with grass of various varieties and overgrown plantain. I see the wiregrass taking over and everything that needs to be weeded and mulched.

I mention volunteers in quite a few captions. As part of my work-smarter-not-harder companion bed planting, I tend to let all volunteers grow where they may. Sometimes I'm just curious to see how well they'll do with their new neighbors. Mostly, I find that volunteers are usually hardier than the seed I plant myself. Most importantly, I know that if the ground isn't growing something I want, then it will grow something I don't want! Those heirloom marigolds cover the entire walkway between two beds, and create a living mulch. Not much else is growing there with the added benefit (besides being pretty) that when planted in beds, those marigolds help deter nematodes.

I'm still hoping to get a few more things in the ground. And soon, it will be time to begin fall planting. Amazing how time flies, isn't it?

Ah Yes, The Garden © June 2013 


Tami said...

You said "Funny how nice my garden looks through the eye of the camera."

Never have truer words been spoken... @;)

Bill said...

This post sure resonates with me. We've had the wettest rainest spring I can recall. It's been raining steadily since March, making tilling impossible and leading to an explosion in weeds. I spent hours yesterday trying to remove enough grass and weeds to give my eggplant room to grow, for example.

Love your photo tour. We have lots of volunteers this year too. I leave them alone as long as they're not going to interfere too much with the planted crop. So I have a garden intended to be green beans that is green beans and cherry tomatoes instead. Our squash garden has volunteer turnip greens and potatoes in the alleys.

Thanks for sharing what's going on in your gardens! Weeds or not, it seems you will eat well this summer. :)

DFW said...

It does indeed look lovely. I really like the fact that you are experimenting with the volunteers. Those that thrive, & are hopefully not intrusive, are really meant to be in that spot.

Leigh said...

Tami, almost every garden post, I tell myself I'm going to expose the weedy truth. Somehow, I run out of room for pictures before I get that far. :p

Bill, hurray for volunteers. They certainly make things more interesting, don't they? Actually, some things were left unplanted, thanks to the rain. Seems there's never enough time in the day.....

DFW, it's so much better to fill the garden with volunteers than what wants to grow there otherwise!

Michelle said...

I always let volunteers grow as well. You have a great, green garden!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Everything does look better through the eyes of a camera, but even with a camera, it's hard to make ugly look that pretty and abundant and healthy.

thewovenspoke said...

Ah Leigh, at least you have a beautiful garden. You have rain, we haven't had any rain since the first week of March. I do however have 2 squash aand 4 tomatoe plants that are surviving with daily watering. I envy you your garden this year.

Renee Nefe said...

I need to get some pictures of my garden taken and posted.

In the old garden I've got volunteer lettuce, onions, carrots and parsley. There was spinach but it bolted and I think the birds ate the seeds I put in there.

In my moved garden I've got beans, squash, tomatoes & peppers. and possibly some basil & oregano.

Crg said...

I have been following your blog for a little over a year now I believe. I truly enjoy seeing what is possible with 5 acres and a dream. I too have a similar dream, but more around 10 acres hehe. One day!

I finally decided to comment because I read a line you wrote that made me want to reach out as a fellow steward of this beautiful garden of eden we call Earth. "Funny, how nice my garden looks through the eye of the camera. When I go out there, all I see are the pathways overrun with grass of various varieties and overgrown plantain. I see the wiregrass taking over and everything that needs to be weeded and mulched." I return to that with a quote from Jane Davenport's book The Garden Guardians, "The best thing you can do for your garden is to let go of the idea of it being perfect." Being a good steward and maintaining is one thing, but don't get to hard on yourself. Hope it helps and causing a smile with warm waves of relief.

Leigh said...

Michelle, thanks! Gotta love those volunteers. :)

Candace, there's truth to that. Besides the rain, I have to credit my goats for the lushness I'm enjoying this year. Rain means they stay inside, which means more manure to collect for the compost!

Thewovenspoke, that's such a good example of something being better than nothing. It's a shame the weather isn't more universal in what it does and where.

Renee, yes, do! Birds are why I usually plant two to three times the seed I think I'll need!

Crg, thank you so much for your comment. I'm delighted that you did. I'm not familiar with Jane Davenport, but I love the quote! It is so true, and something I know on one level, but can't always put to practice. I reckon as long as I can find what I planted, the garden isn't doing too badly. :)

I do hope you find your 10 acres. That was on our original wish list, but alas, we only got five. Still, I'm thankful for those five.

Woolly Bits said...

with some plants I have to rely on volunteers, because when I sow them they grow measly if at all! dill is one example and st john's wort another. I don't know why, but they do - so I let them:) another freebie are violas black molly - which look very pretty, and selfseed profusely. at first I tried to get rid of them, until I discovered that the flowers dye a lovely mint green:) so now they pop up everywhere... your garden might not look perfect to one of those garden magazine people - but I'd say for you and the wildlife it's close to paradise! enjoy it!

Ed said...

Seems like you are in the same boat we are. We've had more rain this year than all of last year which isn't as much as it sounds since last year was one of the worst droughts in our history. Still, it is plenty wet up here.

Sandy Livesay said...


Time sure does fly, soon it will be time to replant those wonderful fall gardens. I love the idea of having volunteer flowers growing in between your vegetables. This deters bugs, makes the garden look amazing, and provides less work.

My Kale and Swiss Chard is being attacked by birds, are you having the same issues?

Hannah said...

Your garden looks wonderful. I have trouble starting and transplanting lettuce so don't get much. I also have trouble getting cabbage to head. So I grow more kale, collards, mustard, arugula, chicory, and turnips. I also start tomatoes very early and can get some long season ones to fruit started under tunnels. Squash and cucumbers do great for me and also beans, which are my favorite. It's great that you get marigolds and other flowers to volunteer for you. Weeds are just par for the course. I put down soaker hoses when the plants start to get bigger and mulch heavily with composted grass clippings so I don't have to weed the rest of the season and just hook up the hose to a different soaker hose every day, since we don't get summer rain. Happy Summer!

Willow said...

Your cabbage and pink beauties look like they could be garden magazine stars :)
Our two pet tortoises love the chards that grow here.

daisy g said...

Everything looks mighty good to me!

Unknown said...

How lush and green!!!

luckybunny said...

Everything looks great! :) In our big main garden we've been having a hard time keeping up with the weeds too because of all the rain, they are bolting right along with everything else and they multiply faster! :)

Anonymous said...

DANG!!! FORTY FIVE INCHES of rain!!! WOW! I suppose that beats a drought but seriously, that's a LOT of RAIN!!! Y'all are going to need a wetsuit to work in your garden at this rate!! =D

Leigh said...

Bettina, never underestimate the usefulness of a weed, right? LOL I have to admit, there are some weeds I could live without.

Ed, the frustrating thing is that our high ground doesn't hold moisture. A week with high temperatures and no rain, and things start drying out. In the meantime, it will be muddy at the bottom of the garden!

Sandy, plant fruit and grain! Those are probably why birds ignore my kale and Swiss chard; they're too busy eating my strawberries, elderberries, sunflowers, and wheat or oats. :) I'm lucky if they leave any of these for me.

Hannah, I hadn't thought about indoor starts for lettuce. Reading about what you're growing, however, points to the interesting differences in regional gardening. Your summer garden sounds like my winter garden! OTOH, our summers get too hot for almost everything.

Willow, I'm giving credit to the compost. Due to all the rain and the goats staying indoors more, I have more compost this year!

Daisy and Nancy, thanks!

Donna, isn't that the way with weeds, LOL. Most of it I could live with, except the wiregrass (Bermuda), which chokes everything out. I also loathe the deadly nightshade and the sandburs. Painful weeds are the worst!

A Home For Your Heart, my lament is that it all comes at only certain times of year! Hopefully with our rainwater collected now, at least I can get everything watered as needed when the annual dry spell hits.

Unknown said...

Holy cow that is ALOT of rain! Your garden does look great though.

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Leigh, the garden and new blog style is superb. :)

With the drop-by meeting of two buck deer last night...

Im already pondering what needs to be done post Tiny house build to grow something!

Anonymous said...

The garden looks amazing! We are getting lots of rain too, but not nearly that much. Hope the garden keeps going for you.

Bridget said...

They say time flies when you're having fun...so you must be happy in the midst of it all. The garden looks amazing...lush, green and vibrant. I leave all the volunteers too...have'nt the heart to pull them out.

chris said...

the garden looks beautiful to me! sure wish it would rain here in vegas. i think last time it rained here was december. but then it is the desert.

Leigh said...

Jen, if only that rain would spread itself out over the year!

Cloud, thank you! I'm guessing your thinking very tall fences to protect your grow something>

Stephanie, I hope so too. It depends on how soon and how long our annual dry spell are!

Bridget, I don't have the heart to pull volunteers either. Unless I have a good use for them!

Chris, that's a terribly long time to go without rain. We've had similar in years past. Never seems to be a balance in things, does there?

famousthecat said...

Those radishes are just gorgeous!