We've got good things growing here, albeit slowly, so I thought I'd give a update of where we're at in the veggie garden.
In early April, once the snow was gone for good, we started prepping the garden area. The plan was to map out about 10 - 20 ft x 7 ft garden beds with two foot paths running in between and then a few larger plots for tomatoes and potatoes. Whether we get all that under cultivation is debatable, but I've got 40 plus tomato seedlings, at least 10 peppers and a whole bunch of cukes, zukes and melon seedlings that need a home, not to mention the beans, beets, carrots, herbs and flowers that I still have to seed plus the 250 sweet potato slips that I'm waiting on.
These beds are wider than the three to four ft bed that every gardening book I've ever read recommends, but I decided on the wide beds (with a plank path down the center -- this will make sense when you read further down) to put the greatest amount of garden into cultivation with the least number of paths (aka conduits for grass). Whether this is a good idea is also still debatable.
The area I'm growing in had a large vegetable garden a few years ago but when we inherited it in July 2008, it was totally overrun with weeds. Last year, I managed to get about a quarter of it cleared and a small garden planted.
This year, our biggest problem has been clearing out the invasive grass and keeping it cleared. When we lived in our old house in suburbia, we couldn't grow grass if we tried. Here it's relentless. I've had good results pulling the deep entangled root systems out by hand after loosening the soil with our handy dandy broadfork (which also gives me the opportunity to collect Japanese beetle larvae that feed on sod roots) but it's incredibly labourious and slow going work.
But I've been plugging away and I've got five beds ready for this year's planting while the sixth one is used for perennials (more on that later). I hope to have another two beds ready by the end of this weekend and then the rest cleared by the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22 to 24, or May 2-4) weekend, which is around the last frost date in my Canadian zone 5a garden.
For our earliest direct seeding, we planted Scarlet Globe and Sparkler White Tip radishes, Parade green bunching onions, Tennis Ball lettuce, a Gourmet Heirloom leaf lettuce mix from The Cottage Gardener (includes Black Seeded Simpson, Green Oak Leaf, Red Deer Tongue, Australian Yellowleaf and Cracoviensis) and Longstanding Bloomsdale spinach.
Except for the Tennis Ball Lettuce, which I planted on a homemade seed mat made of thin paper towel and some of my kids' white glue, I either scattered or individually seeded in rows.
Almost two weeks have passed since our initial seed sowing and our radishes are the only ones to make an appearance.
See them? You might need to squint a bit. That's it. Now turn your head to the left and close your right eye. Yep, those are radishes.
We also planted 100 Sturon yellow onions sets, which is an early maturing dual purpose storage onion.
I've been wondering if the combination of dry weather and sandy soil has slowed or prevented my lettuce from starting as I've read that it's important to keep the seeds damp during germination. I'm going to try growing some in pots close to the house and equip Ella with a spray water bottle to use at will.
I planted a second crop of spinach just before tonight's big boomer of a thunderstorm so hopefully we'll soon see some green there or in the first planting. It's a heat-resistant variety that's slow to bolt so even if it's a bit late, I'm hoping we can enjoy it into early summer.
While my son is at school every day, my daughter only goes to senior kindergarten every other day so she's had lots of time to cultivate her own little green thumb. She thought the garlic looked lonely and some green bunching onions would provide the perfect company.
As for our perennial bed, there's a small bed of garlic from last year's fall planting. I wasn't sure how well it would overwinter so I only planted about 15 cloves from three giant bulbs. It did so well I plan on quadrupling the size of the bed this fall.
And of course, there's the strawberries -- Ella's favourite. It's a small plot but the kids just added three more plants today after school and I'll be adding more later this week.