Things are getting done around here! The peas are up and finding their way to the trellises.
The rhubarb is growing and growing and growing.
Our garden is bigger this year! We still have the main space that we've had in the past, plus more! The extra space is allowing us to really focus on tomatoes; We have 7 tomato plants this year!
We now have the middle section and the rain garden section that we covered with tarps last year ready for planting. We tilled it this year and are going to see how plants fare in those areas. We already know the rhubarb is happy where it is! The ground to the left of the rhubarb is not going to be planted because it has a very flimsy rain garden pipe running underneath it. This year I've planted basil in an earth box and am hoping that the space where I put it will still get enough sun after the flowers in the rain garden grow big and tall.
The area between the rain garden and the fence houses broccoli, kale and collards. The rain garden always starts out looking so paltry. By the end of the summer, it will overtake that space with many of the plants hitting 6 feet tall.
We are also trying a little experiment. Here is a bird's eye view of an area I am going to try to grow corn in. This area was successful with cannas, so I am hoping corn will be hardy enough to grow tall and fill in the space nicely. I've tried to grow strawberries here to no avail. There is really no good way to block this space off from doggie foot traffic, so I am not setting my hopes too high.
I've also tucked in a hill of zucchini between the fence and the air conditioner. This has been unused space in the past, so I am going to see if we can get a little more productivity out of our garden. Paul doesn't like zucchini enough to devote space to it in the main part of the garden, so this is a good compromise. I just put the seeds in this weekend, so I should be seeing sprouts in a week or so.
Another crop tucked in a potentially tricky spot: mustard greens and freshly planted chard seeds. I've put a cage over them as protection. This space has been known to fall victim to errant hoses and footsteps in past years. Hopefully this measure will protect the plants from damage.
Despite having tried for the past 3 years, we have yet to be successful with soybeans. Last year we gave them a good, sunny spot and tended to them pretty well. Then we went out of town for a weekend and came back to the pods having dried up and expelled their seeds. Due to all of those seeds, this year we have a self-sown crop of soybeans. Since we tilled the garden space and spread the seeds around in the process, we actually have an entire garden full of soybean sprouts! We are letting them take over this area and keeping a few other ones alive throughout the garden. I think volunteers are quite fun.
For posterity's sake, here is what we have in the backyard garden this year:
- Sweet Peas
- Mustard Greens: Green Wave
- Kale: Dwarf Blue Curled
- Collard: Vates Non-heading
- Swiss Chard: Red and White Mix
- Green Beans: Blue Lake 274
- Pole Beans: Trionfo Violetto
- Radish: French Breakfast
- Basil: Italian Genovese and African Blue
- Cucumber: Marketmore
- Sweet Corn: Buttergold
- Mint: Ginger Mint and Peppermint
- Zucchini/Squash: Cocozelle
- Tomatoes: Red Fig, Black Cherry, Garden Peach, Cherokee Purple, Moskvich, Costoluto Genovese, Sungold
- Soybeans: Agate
- Rhubarb (perennial)
- Spring Onions (perennial)
I've also been adding in plants in other parts of the yard. It is easier to do this now that we are a 1 dog household. Tchazo is fairly good about leaving things alone, so I feel like plantings outside of the fenced garden might have a good chance of survival. I've created a little ring around the base of each of our apple trees and have put in sweet woodruff as a companion plant. I'm excited about what I might do with it once it grows big enough to harvest (not planning to eat it, though!). Plus, it is supposed to be a deterrent to coddling moths which can mess up your apples.
Now that the backyard is under control, it is time to turn to the front yard and deal with this mess of a "rain garden" that I inherited. I've also got to prep the space behind the rain garden for bell peppers and get a few more herbs planted in the front garden.
I have also been battling what I now know is Creeping Bellflower. It is popping up everywhere in my yard! I have it in the front, the back, the side and the alley. I will be launching an all-out attack on this weed this year. There is a lot of digging in my future as these suckers spread through deep and determined tubers! I dug some out today and there were an impressive size!
One last note: I have used marsh hay at mulch in my garden this year. It was hard to get! Apparently the straw bale gardening craze is causing the garden centers to sell out of their hay super fast. I had to scramble quickly to nab 2 bales and will have to time it right to pick up a few more for the rest of our space. We liked how it worked for weed control and holding in moisture last year. When it came time to till this year, we tilled the straw from last year in to the soil. It helped to loosen up our heavy soil so we are going to go with it again this year. Last year I used straw, but apparently marsh hay is even better as it doesn't have any seeds that might introduce more weeds into your garden. Hooray for simple steps that make gardening easier on us and on the environment!