Sunday, May 19, 2013

May Garden Update

My summer vegetables are finally planted, the danger of frost is passed and the lawn-jungle has finally been mowed, so I thought it was time for another garden update. The above view of the back deck shows the herb garden on the lawn to the left of the stairs and the strawberry patch to the right. In the raised bed alongside the big lilac (which has, alas, just finished its glorious flowering), many more vegetables are hiding.

My radishes are progressing nicely despite the continued encroachment of other plants on the bit of space I cleared earlier this spring (next year those echinacea and whatever that plant on the right is - astilbe? - will have to go somewhere else). I think the near row of early red globe radishes will be ready next week. Behind them is a smaller row of French breakfast radishes which still need time. In between are carrots, which always seem to struggle when I plant them. We'll see how they do when the radishes are gone. Behind all of those, and difficult to see, are two yellow plum tomato plants surrounded by cages. I've had great luck with tomatoes in this spot before, so I'm trying to stick with what works. In between, around the greenish post, are a few spring peas. I planted all my peas far later than I should have, but the shoots look good so far, so I'm rooting for them to flower soon so I can have peas before it gets too hot.

The strawberries seem to have survived the very late frost without any damage. There have been tons and tons of blossoms this year, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop. The strawberry plants are interspersed with hostas and daisies, which have dwarfed them at this point in the year. This works out well, though, because the berries are protected from squirrels. And it means a fun treasure hunt for me once they get ripe!

Here are the rest of my peas, behind the lilac bush. When I originally scoped out this spot, I had thought it would get a reasonable amount of sun. I think I must have checked it out at the one time of day when it's actually sunny over there. I'm doing my best to keep the foliage back and give the peas some room to grow. I think they'll do better once they get a bit taller.

The spinach and chard I planted underneath the lilac is in a very shady spot. It's still growing, but slowly.

The herb garden is flourishing. It looks far better than this picture lets on - it's really hard to get a picture of because the light is almost always uneven. I haven't done much with this space this year - I'm really considering it a holding pen, at this point, for the herbs that will be moving to the front when the landscaping is done (we're on the schedule for June 7!). After that, I might try to squeeze some more summer vegetables in the vacant space.

I have all my containers lining the driveway right now. They usually go on the deck, but we're having some roofing work done next week, so I decided to keep them out of the way for now. As it turns out, they seem to be getting more morning sun where they are, so they might stay there. Three of the pots have tomatoes and basil, one has cucumber and there's a potato bucket at the end. On the right side I planted containers of chard and spinach. The box of squash in the middle of the driveway is definitely going to stay - I plan to let the vines run wild over the pavement (which we never use anyway) and get as big as they like. The other thing that's staying is Jeff's spring project - the raised, rolling bed.

This was something I'd conceived of as a fantasy (since the driveway gets more sun than our actual raised garden bed), and Jeff managed to find an internet tutorial and pull it off for me. I'm thrilled with it. It's a 4' x 4' x 18" box of dirt, suspended over heavy duty casters. It can be moved, but once that dirt gets wet, it's extremely difficult (we learned this the hard way). I currently have seventeen pepper plants in there - if you're having trouble seeing them, it's because I started them from seed indoors and they haven't gotten very big. I'm hoping that now that they're in some dirt in actual sunlight, they'll soon make up for lost time.

The raised bed, back in the shady part of the yard, looks good for now (but it always manages to look good in the spring). From left to right I've got rows of green onions, basil, flowering kale, mystery tomatoes (aka things that came up from the compost and I decided to keep), spinach, yellow plum tomatoes (with a rogue Thai basil plant in front), cucumbers, chard, radishes, arugula, leeks and collards. I tried to put more leafy greens in this area, since they don't mind the lack of light as much, but I ended up with more tomatoes and cucumbers than I had space for elsewhere.

That brings us to what I'm now calling the pumpkin patch. Last year I tried to do too much in this space. This year I've toned it down a bit. There are two Amish neck pumpkins and, on the left, two summer squashes. It was just going to be the pumpkins, but I ran out of room for the squash elsewhere, so I squeezed it in. I'm planning to let these plants run wild in this area. Hopefully I'll get some good pumpkins come fall! 

So that's the tour. I'll check back in after a few more weeks - when I'll hopefully be able to present the results of the front yard makeover! Happy gardening!

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