I have read other blogs that monitor throughout the year what their costs are for gardening versus how much they “earn” through their harvest. I had thought about doing the same here – except I have too much on my plate right now to keep track with any kind of accuracy.
I did manage to take a picture of our first garden “crop” this year … two whole radishes. Whoo hoo!
My other problem with tracking our crops is that only 1/3 of our harvest has made into the house. Dave feels if there’s only a handful, there’s no point in carrying it inside. He does occasionally feel that he should share with his wife… That’s good because he gets home from work before I do and I might not otherwise get a taste of our strawberries. The plants are HUGE! I guess using chick-fertilized wood shaving bedding as a much had a good effect! The strawberries themselves are medium-sized, but there are a lot of them coming in soon!
As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re trying a square-foot garden this year. I was able to get our crops in sooner than usual because of an early spring. Our “gardens” are laid out like this (the squares are truly 1-foot squares, but it’s easier to show them in a table like this).
Section 1 (4x8’):
|brussels sprout||Roma tomato||bell pepper||radish/marigold|
|Best Boy tomto||Roma tomato||bell pepper||radish/marigold|
|basil||carrots||bush peas||bush peas|
|peas / corn||peas / corn||beans / corn||beans / corn|
|peas / corn||peas / corn||beans / corn||beans / corn|
Section 2 (4x8’):
|butternt squash||bean / sunflwr||bean / sunflwr|
|swiss chard||swiss chard||bean / sunflwr||bean / sunflwr|
|leeks||Big Boy tomato||hot pepper||lettuce|
|brussels sprout||Striped Roman||hot pepper||“ES” tomato|
|cantaloupe||“ES” tomato||bush peas||beets|
|peas / sunflwr||carrots||bush peas||cabbage|
|peas / sunflwr||lettuce||cabbage||scallions (seed)|
|peas / sunflwr||lettuce||scallions||beets|
How do things look so far?
You have to realize that it’s been years since Dave and I have had a garden and we’ve always used row-method planting before, so there’s a lot of experimenting going on. I spent a LOT of time planning the garden layout. Making sure some sections wouldn’t over-run others; making sure plants would “play” well together, making sure the corn rows were deep enough to self-fertilize, etc. I think all that planning will be worth it.
Already I can tell these 4-foot-wide sections are going to be a cinch to weed. Between the two of us, we’re really keeping on top of ridding ourselves of non-food plants.
I’ve planted fennel seeds twice and have yet to see anything come up. I may give up and just plant some more carrots in that section. Carrots are a little on the sparse side, but I’ve already replanted some to space out the harvest.
The parsley also refused to show – but that’s ok because I started some inside this winter and we probably have enough to last us all year. You won’t see parsley on the chart because I’ve already replaced it with more cabbage since I had to thin plants anyway. The cabbage is coming in great! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with two full sections of it…
We’re seeing lots of radishes – in every section I planted them in! What an easy crop that is to grow! I’m usually not crazy about eating radishes, but it seems different when they come fresh from your own garden.
This spring when I was planning what and where to plant our crops, I read about Three Sisters Gardening where you plant beans, corn and squash in the same area. The corn grows up, the beans use the corn as a trellis, and the squash can grow underneath and keep weeds down. I tried this a couple different ways – with the “trellises” as corn or sunflowers and the climbers as peas or beans. I had to replant a couple of spots for corn (I must not have put enough seeds in the ground originally) where I have the peas / corn combination - but both are coming up nicely. Since the sections are a couple rows deep, we may still supplement with chicken wire or something to give the peas something to cling to.
The peas/sunflowers also look good, but the rabbits chewed off the tops of a couple of the sunflowers. It’s the only thing they’ve touched so far (thankfully). I replanted and the sunflowers are coming up, but it may not be in time to support the peas.
The beans / corn section – the corn looks ok, but the beans are a little sparse. I’m too embarrassed to show that picture. But where I have the beans / sunflowers it’s the opposite story. The beans look fantastic! The sunflowers … uh, what sunflowers? Again, we’ll have to support the beans another way.
This one makes me sad. Apparently that heat wave we got last week caused my spinach to bolt. This is my first experience with growing spinach, but it sounds like the best thing to do is dig it up and start over? Advice anyone? I was really looking forward to some spring spinach.
In addition to problems with the spinach, I’m not having much luck with the lettuce either. Pretty pathetic crop, huh? (the left side picture). The only green leaf that has been going well this spring is the Swiss chard. I’ve never really eaten it before, but Dave sampled some when we were contemplating our garden choices and liked it. Now he says the stuff I’ve grown doesn’t taste the same, but maybe there are different varieties?
Both sections of butternut squash look good. I suppose I’d better thin them to one plant so they don’t take over the whole garden … but thinning is one of the hardest parts of gardening for me! I hate to see those plants go “to waste”.
If you look on the chart, you’ll see some empty spaces around the squash and cantaloupe. That’s because I know they’re going to grow and take up lots of space so I need to allow for room. I was thinking about trying to plant some early crops (radishes, spinach, etc) in those empty spaces so they could be harvested before the vines take over.
The cantaloupe didn’t seem like it was coming up, so I replanted the seeds. Now it has appeared, but it seems far behind everything else. I saw some varieties where you needed to start them indoors early, but this is an early variety that could be direct sown.
I have regular set onions and scallions in the garden. Onions are pretty easy to grow - just plant the little buggers in the ground and watch them get bigger! I planted one section with “set” scallions and another from seed. The seed ones still look rather pathetic. I’m hoping they perk up with all the rain and sunshine we’re supposed to get over the next few days.
I started leeks inside this spring. When I moved them into the garden, they didn’t seem strong enough to survive, so I also planted some more seeds. Something is growing – I’m just not sure if it’s my original plants or the replanted ones. Still pretty small.
One lesson I learned this year is I won’t try to start my own peppers or tomatoes from seed again. In talking with a vendor at farmer’s market, you really need to have grow lights or they get too spindly. Like mine. The Roma tomato plants I started look pretty good. I also started Big Boy and “ES” – Endless Summer. Because mine looked so spindly and some didn’t survive, I decided to pick up a couple of plants from farmer’s market. I bought a Best Boy and something called a Striped Roman. It supposedly produces long fruit that is striped. Very meaty, juicy, and a good all-around use tomato.
The peppers look “ok” – but they’re also a bit small compared to what you’d buy. I planted both bell peppers and “hot” peppers(jalapeno).
I had originally planned on growing several types of herbs, changed my mind on some and didn’t pick up seeds. Then, some of the herbs I tried to plant didn’t bother to come up. The only one that seems to be a success is my basil. There are two small plants in that section.
The Brussels sprouts were an after-thought. As I said there were some plants that didn’t come up or survive. Someone at work left a 4-pack of plants in the lunch room to go to “a good home”. I split the 4-pack with a coworker and planted two sections. I never really grew up eating Brussels sprouts, but I think I like them… If nothing else, Dave does.
And finally, beets. The whole Nuland family ADORES pickled beets. Since I only married into the family, I’ve never been crazy about them. But, this garden isn’t just about my likes and wishes, so Dave will get his beets. I hope to give beets a try again this year. They say your tastes change as you age. Maybe we’ll even sample some non-pickled beets.
Overall, I think the garden is coming along nicely. It’s only the beginning of June, and most years we probably wouldn’t have planted some of the garden until a week or two before this. But with our very early spring, everything got a jump-start this year.
How is your garden growing?