Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Outdoorsy: Our 2012 Family Gardens

It's the time of year for ever present sprinklers, watering cans and dirt under finger nails. Despite having a severe aversion to bugs (particularly the hide-under-the-dirt-until-you're-digging-or-weeding-in-it kind), I really love working in the yard and growing our own produce each summer.

Our main garden last year, half way through growing season
Last year's main garden

We are still amateurs, trying to learn everything we can about our plants and organic techniques, but we've come a long way already. We have an acre of land, so we've certainly got the room for gardens - and since we're motivated to live a more natural life, we're filling it up! Our 2012 garden season consists of:

2 Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardens
1 Herb Garden
1 Berry/Fruit Garden

And after this weekend, the only thing that still needs to be put in the ground are the berry/fruit plants. We also need to make a final trip to the farmer's market next weekend for melon & pumpkins. The farmers said the plants were a bit too small this week, so they'll be brought along next week.

Saturday morning, we got up EARLY so we could be at the market when it opened. We don't always go quite this early, but Luke has swimming lessons at 9:00, so in order to finish our shopping and get there in time, we needed to be there with the sunrise! Despite being so early, it was SO BUSY! Our favorite farmer was there, fully stocked with his sproutlings, and we got the majority of our crops from him. (One of these years we'll get brave enough to start our own sproutlings, but we're still learning!)



All of our plants loaded into the van


We ended up with...
  • 10 heirloom tomatoes (3 different varieties)
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 2 grape tomatoes 
  • (we like tomatoes)
  • 6 bell peppers
  • 6 sweet banana peppers
  • 6 broccoli
  • 4 cucumber
  • 4 butternut squash
  • a pint of onion bulbs
  • 4 basil
  • 4 dill
  • lemon thyme (1 big plant)
  • lavender (1 big plant)
  • 3 strawberries
After Luke's swimming lesson, we came home to shovel some dirt around and have lunch. I wasn't able to put anything in the ground until nap time (ya know, baby and all). We sat on the patio with our lunch, and off in the distance, I noticed something moving oddly in the grass. Matt went to scope it out and discovered that it was a baby snapping turtle! We have a big pond at the back of our property, which is likely where this guy came from - but man - he was FAR from it for being so tiny, and walking in the wrong direction. Matt & Luke made him a little makeshift pond in the garden while I did some googling to find out what to do with him. We decided we'd walk him back to the pond and set him lose at the water's edge where he could decide what to do. What a cool experience it was! I love "teachable moments" like this. We were able to explain what kinds of things a turtle likes, how we couldn't handle this type of turtle, and answer Luke's questions about how he got in our lawn and where his Mommy & Daddy were!





   Watching our little snapper friend decide what to do

When our wildlife rescue mission was over with, it was nap time - so planting time for me! I was able to weed and fill in the garden bed, as well as trim up some of our perennials that are already flourishing (parsley, oregano & chives). We still need to mulch soon, the stones need a little straightening up (we had to remove some to remove a big root left from last year's grape tomatoes), and I might decide to relocate the dill, but here's the herb garden for now:

Clockwise from left: grape tomatoes, dill, chives, thyme, oregano,
mint, basil, and parsley in the middle.

My mom stopped by for a visit in the afternoon, and I used that time to fill up our garden beds while she played with the boys. It went pretty quickly, and I got all of our veggies in the ground. One of our big lessons from last year was spacing - we severely overcrowded. We had a surprisingly successful season even so (I think because of the great drainage and abundance of good organic soil in the raised beds), but we still knew if wanted higher yields - we need to let the plants have a little more room. For starters, we built a second bed. We just needed more room to groove! I put all of our tomatoes in the new bed, along with our onions (which you can't see, obviously, because they are underground!), and I left a little bit of space for carrots later on. In the old garden is all the peppers, cukes, broccoli, and squash, with a little room for pumpkins. This bed is still a bit crowded, but is still much better than last year. You can really tell which bed is new, huh? ha! It's not safe to use treated wood with produce, but they don't make cedar in thick enough planks around here, so the beds get a bit weathered!

Tomatoes & onions in the new bed (left), everything else in the old!


  

Now we have the task of deciding where our new fruit bed will be! So far, we're planning to fill it with strawberries, blueberry bushes (more like framed by the blueberries), and melon.

We also need to add our arches and netting, and make some organic pest deterrent sometime this week.

It's the best when plants start producing and we can just pick something, and walk in the kitchen to use it in a recipe. I love that! Here's to a fruitful season!

Do you garden? Or have some good gardening tips? Show me what you've got! 

2 comments:

  1. We are (finally) putting our in on Friday. We are doing less than year because I feel like the last two years we have wasted food. I am going to do less tomatos and more cucumbers.

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  2. your garden and backyard are gorgeous!!! Love it! I am a bit little jealous too. lol

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