Garden 2010

This first entry will be more lengthy than most as we are  recapping what we’ve done since the first of Spring.

Tomato sprouts

We started seeds for tomatoes (Box Car Willies, Romas and Brandywine), bell peppers and several herbs (chamomile, lobelia, passionflower, holy basil, purple basil, sweet basil, cilantro (coriander), thyme, echinacea, chasteberry, feverfew, lavender, and astragalus) on the first day of Spring.  I used an organic seed starter in peat pots and organic heirloom seeds whenever possible.  Since this is the first year starting tomatoes and peppers from seed, we’re extra cautious and very excited.  We saw seedlings appear within days. As long as the pots were kept warm and moist (we had them on the kitchen table by the windows), they did great. A few chamomile seedlings vanished suddenly, (at least Kitty is conscious about her liver health) and needed to be replanted.  We did add a few more seedlings and they came up with the rest without incident.  Don’t let them get cold or dry, and try not to drown them either, they’ll do just fine.

Slug traps catch more than just slugs…

Since we already had the first four beds and built the larger beds last year all we needed to do was replenish the soil.  We added one or two bags of organic garden soil depending on the size of the bed, a bag of peat and a bag of manure to each one, mixed it in well and let it settle since last weekend.  We also used small jars filled halfway with beer to trap slugs.  There were quite a few.  I am amazed how well this worked.  We’ll continue the traps throughout the growing season.

okra, eggplants, marigolds

The seedlings were moved to the screen porch for a few weeks to get used to the warmer weather but also to stay somewhat protected.  With the last frost toward the end of April we’ve had to wait patiently for the ground to warm. The last week or so has provided the heat we needed.  We also purchased okra and eggplants and set them in the garden where they would eventually live.  We put them in the ground Sunday (5/6).  They have been acclimatizing to their new positions nicely.

The planning of the garden was much more extensive as we also expanded the space around the bed to accommodate pots, and we are utilizing companion gardening extensively.  Last year we were first introduced to this concept where specific plants and herbs, etc. like or dislike other plants.  We had planted tomatoes and peppers together two years earlier and had virtually no peppers and scanty tomatoes.  I read where these two plants may not actually like each other (later to find several inconsistencies with this, however…) so last year we separated tomatoes from peppers and had both growing like crazy.  Both were planted with other companion plants (tomatoes and basil, for example), so that could have been the cause of their success as well.  After cross-referencing multiple websites and books on companion planting ( this can drive a person mad…you’ve been warned), we decided to try an experimental bed to see what happens. Below is a list of items in each bed:

Bed 1 (5×5) Green beans, eggplant, nasturtiums (edible flowers which will deter many pests).  A potted sage nearby.

Bed 2 (5×5) Okra, eggplants, french marigolds (also repel pests and critters)

Bed 3 (5×5) Experimental bed – tomatoes, bell peppers, bee balm, nasturtiums, carrots

Bed 4 (5×5) Peppers, eggplant, carrots, onions, chives, chamomile, french marigolds. A pot of three different kinds of mint nearby.

Bed 5 (4×8) Tomatoes, parsley, all three basil varieties listed above, carrots, nasturtiums, pot marigolds

Bed 6 (4×8) Lima beans, peas, cucumbers, thyme, other herbs, nasturtiums

We will attempt growing summer squash in barrels up trellises this year.  So far when growing squash they put out one harvest then go to rot.  The nasturtiums are supposed to assist keeping squash bugs away.

Empty pallet

Another experiment we are looking forward to is pallet gardening.  We will wait until late summer to plant lettuce, kale, and Brussel sprouts, maybe spinach as well.  We simply took a wooden pallet, removed two slats from one side, attached them to create walls where there were none, flipped it upside down to utilize the largest number of rows.

Carrot sprouts

The first four beds are made from cinderblocks and this year we will maximize utilization of this space by using the holes.  Earlier this week I planted marigolds, nasturtiums and even a row or two of carrots (should have waited, but couldn’t resist!) As of the posting of this blog the carrots have already sprouted.

For those of you who follow lunar phases for your activities and herbal preparations, you’ll be excited to know that we also use the lunar cycles for our garden as well.  The full moon time is right for planting all above ground crops, which pretty much means everything but the onions and carrots.  We’ll plant those this week.

Feverfew planted from seed last year

The last step will be mulching the garden paths probably next weekend.

So that’s the update.   Please feel free to share your stories!