Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Garden This Year - Garden Tour

You may have noticed that it has been a while since I posted (you may not have, I know how it is with a busy life :)).

The reason for the long break in posting is because the Random family has moved! We moved 5 minutes north of where we were before but it was just enough to get us out into the country. We absolutely love our new house. It is almost twice as big as our old house (if you count the basement, which we do because it is totally usable). And we now have 3/4 acre of land for the kids and us to play with. We have a huge garden this year and we have ambitious plans to have chickens next year and possibly a sheep, cow, or goat at some point. We are trying to work our way toward a more self-sustained, nature based life.

We love our new house but it is a lot of work. We are remodeling the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. We are still working on unpacking, and getting everything situated. And I am growing a garden, not just a garden, a huge garden. A garden so big I never thought I would be able to fill it, but I did, and am expanding it.

The house came with a lot of established fruit producing plants 2 apple trees, two pear trees, a cherry tree, a huge grapevine, and lots of raspberry plants and several other plants. And it came with a huge garden plot just waiting to be filled (well tilled and filled since by the time i got around to working the garden the weeds had taken off like crazy, thank goodness my mom owns a tiller).

I have done a lot of work in the garden and I am very proud of how well it is doing so I might just post about it regularly (or I might not because I am crazy busy working on it. On days where I can't work in the garden I try to go out once a day just to look at everything. It is so peaceful and God filled, and I cant believe it is growing and it will give us food. It is amazing how much I enjoy gardening. I hated gardening as a kid, I mean really hated it (I talked about this in my gardening post last year too), I would choose cleaning the house over gardening (because it was quicker and I didn't really understand the benefit of it. But now as an adult who is paying for all that food, and as a health conscious mama who wants to provide delicious additive and allergen free food for her family I see the benefit. And I have found the time to work on it. Little Man 1 is busy and active and loves to be outside. He would play outside all day if I would let him. So in the mornings I take him outside to play (he loves to play with the neighbor kids, we were blessed with built in playmates!) while Little Man 2 takes his morning nap. It works great all around!

Anyways I wanted to give you a little tour of my garden because I am proud of it and I love to show it off because I have worked so hard on it.

My Garden Tour 

 This is the garden plot. I cant believe how God has blessed us with this huge garden area. And I ccan't believe that I filled it already.
 At the front edge of the garden is a small area where I planted dill, 2 sunflowers, and green onions.
 Then comes the strawberry plants, this was a recent addition born from a sale on plants at the local nursery. I actually dug up a new row (I have planted so much I needed to expand the garden) and dug up a row of what was supposed to be potatoes that never grew. I still have 11 more strawberry plants that need a home I will probably have to expand the garden by another row or two, or put in a strawberry patch elsewhere. In the middle is kohlrabi that had already been planted there, I put the strawberries in around them.To the right of the strawberries is the cucumber plants.
After the cucumber plants comes the peppers, the sweet peppers in the front and the jalepenos in the back. Then the broccoli and cabbage.
Then comes crazy amounts of winter squash (and I do mean crazy, there are more). These are all either pumpkins or spaghetti squash (I couldn't remember exactly where I planted what, I kept them with their groups when transplanting but I don't know what is what). The other plants that I planted from seed (got the seeds from Walgreen's) didn't grow much so I thought I would need to plant the whole package to get a few plants to grow. Well these seeds I had gotten from a greenhouse while I was buying other plants there. And these seeds took off, I think every one of them grew. And while I was planting those I had spaghetti squash seed drying on my counter (I saved them to roast). And I thought why don't I just toss these in and see if they grow. Well those all grew too, so I have tons of spaghetti squash plants and not a few pumpkin plants (Unfortunately I cant tell them apart :( ). So I transplanted them from their original hills, because there were way too many plants way too close together, into these rows and the ones shown below. I figured some of them might die in the move, but they all seem to have survived it and they are going strong so I am going to have to thin them again. I am thinking about taking them to church and giving them away because I hate to waste a plant. And we may be eating tons of spaghetti squash this winter. Oh and that one row in the middle is radishes. That is the one thing that really grew well from the Walgreen's seeds, I have already harvested a couple of handfuls that is why it is so sparse.
 Here are my tomato plants. I have 18 tomato plants. I may have been a little overzealous in tomato plant buying but they came in sets of 4 each and I wanted to try a couple types and my aunt gave me 6 plants (3 different types) so I have a bunch (and yes I already had the 6 from my aunt before I bought my 12 but I really wanted to have those types. I bought early girl (because who doesn't want early tomatoes), sweet 100 (sweet baby tomatoes, love sweet tomatoes, and I love to eat tomatoes for snacks, so little ones are easy for that), and celebrity (they just sounded amazing and fun). So yeah we will have a lot of tomatoes. I plan to can sauce and juice and paste and salsa so they will get used. And what I ant use I will give away to family and friends or possibly if we have tons sell (same with the spaghetti squash, oh and our amazing house does have a root cellar, yay!). And yes, I did learn my lesson about tomato cages being made for a reason last year, but I only have 7 tomato cages and 18 plants. I need to buy more, but I keep forgetting, and I haven't found a good deal yet. I just need to buy them and get them in before the plants get too big, they are already getting pretty big.
 I guess I didn't get a wider picture of this. The little plants are zucchini, the big ones to the right are summer squash. These plants did a little more reasonably. I have 8 zucchini plants and 2 summer squash (the summer squash was seeds from Walgreen's, the zucchini seeds were from the nursery). I think I need to spread the zucchini plants out a little.
 Here are more of the spaghetti squash or pumpkin plants.
 And again more. You see what I mean about them going a little crazy?
 Ok, this may just look like a big weed patch but there are 4 watermelon plants in there. You can see the two at the front in their little dug out areas, the other two are at the back. Seriously who has room to plant plants 10 feet apart? The reason this is a weed patch and not tilled is because we didnt think we were going to use it this year. The center of this patch was (for some unknown reason) used as a burn pile and I want to dig up some of the burn remnants (there is some plastic in there) and get them out of the garden before I plant over there, so I put the watermelon plants on the two ends. Kill two birds with one stone, right?
This patch I am especially proud of. Can you guess what it is? It is sweet potatoes. I never even seen sweet potatoes grown before. But Little Man 2 and I love sweet potatoes and they are not the cheapest thing in the quantity that we go through them. So I researched how to grow them and bought some and planted them and they seem to be growing! Yay! I hope they are growing as well under the ground as they are above. I am really curious about what is happening under the ground.
 Sorry about my finger in the photo. Apparently I only took one of this photo. I took a lot of photos (like tons, I had to stop myself from showing you pictures of each individual plant, not really but if you are a passionate gardener you know what i mean :) )

This side of my garden is the melons. There are cantaloupe, Watermelon and Honeydew over here, kind of mixed up. there is a row of watermelon in the middle and on either side because I got watermelon plants from 2 different nurseries and I want to see which ones I like better so I can buy those next year. This end of the garden didn't get tilled at first. Like I said, I did not think I would get anywhere near filling the whole garden so we only tilled the front 1/3 of the garden. when we went to till the 2nd time we didn't till the middle because of the burn pile, we tilled the sweet potato patch but it was a lot of work with the weeds having grown so much and it was late and buggy so we just tilled rows for the melons and left weed patches in between. And now the weeds are creeping in the rows again. So I need to weed some more.

You saw my weed control regimen in the previous pictures. I put down cardboard in between the rows and then put grass clippings around the actual plants. But I haven't had enough time and grass clippings to do this end of the garden yet. And as you can see it makes a big difference. There are still weeds at the other end of the garden but not as many as this end (and to be fair like i said this end did not have all the weeds tilled away like the other end did).
 Over there in that clover patch are the last 4 watermelon plants (yes, that makes 12 watermelon plants, we like watermelon). You can also see one of our adorable kitties, Faith, and all the random garden wires that haven't been utilized.
 This is a small asparagus patch on the other side of the grape vine that came with the house. It must be really old because it has some of the biggest asparagus stems that I have ever seen. Unfortunately it is a super tiny patch and I only got a few asparagus, I think i need to plant some more. All you can see in this picture it the one that went to see, look how huge it is!
 In case you think I am a super great gardener who doesn't make mistakes (why would you think that I just showed you my weed patch that passes for a garden :) ) I thought I 'd show you one of my big failures this year. This is my lettuce and kale graveyard. My mom gave me some seedlings and suggested that they needed to not get too much sun so I planted them in front of a window along the back of the house. I am not sure if it was the lesser sunlight or the water situation (I alternated between drowning them and forgetting them since they were away from the main garden) or the untilled, rooty, ground in front of the window or what but these lettuce and kale died very quickly. Fortunately lettuce is not terribly expensive :)
 This is our cherry tree I wish I could show you how beautiful the cherries are in the tree, but we already picked the ripest cherries.
 This is one of the apple trees, you can see the little apples starting to form.
 This is one of the pear trees, you can see the little pears. I can see this tree from my living room window and I enjoy watching the pears grow.
 This is the grape vine. As you can see it is huge!
 There are lots of raspberries scattered along the grape vine.
 I planted 8 little trees around the yard . They grew in my mom's compost pile. We dont know for sure what kind they are it will be fun to see when they get big ans start producing :)
Some of the little trees are dying really quickly. I dont know why some of them are thriving while others are dying. If you know, please tell me :)

So there it is, my beautiful garden. I am so proud of it, and so blessed that God gave it to me. I am trying to do my best with it. I read somewhere that all of gardening is an experiment and I believe it, you try things and they work or they fail, you learn and perfect or move on. I have been learning little bits the last 5 years, and I am sure I will learn even more this year. And I am having a lot of fun with it! Thank you God for this opportunity!

Sorry this post was so long. Are you growing a garden this year? What did you plant? Any advice for me? Any questions (I don't know tons, but I will tell you anything I do know :) ).
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