With all the rain we’ve had this spring, things are growing at breakneck speed – not the least of which are the weeds! Our mild winters in the past couple of years have also been a bit of a curse as I firmly believe that they’ve resulted in weedier and buggier growing seasons. Even previously well-behaved ornamentals on the north side of our house such as sweet woodruff and lily-of-the-valley have become aggressive in their spread.
As is usually the case each year, I went from being on top of things in the early spring to falling behind - now I'm playing catch up. There have already been some setbacks in the veg garden but, overall, things are looking good.
In this post, I'll concentrate on what's happening in Area #1 and first up are the tomatoes. I’ve reduced the number of tomato plants I'm growing this year from 28 to 24 (which I spoke about HERE) and am spreading them out over 3 beds. One side of each bed holds tomatoes, while the other is planted up with a different companion (eggplant, basil or beans).
Tomatoes (right) partnered with eggplant
The allium bed in Area #1 is doing quite well. Thankfully, it didn't have any of the cutworm and/or bird issues that the bed in Area #2 did.
Onions in the foreground with shallots at the back
Spinach bed just before pulling
Total spinach harvest
Another bed that did poorly this spring was the early brassica bed. Last year, it was so successful (see this post) and I’m thinking that, once again, our cool spring weather had a lot to do with it.
Everything grew at a snails pace and most of the greens were still tiny in late May when I needed to get the bed cleared:
Spring brassica bed before harvest
Lots of sluggy nibbles; the result of our very wet spring
The one halfway decent (although by no means stellar) harvest was the rapini:
I tried to salvage some of the other greens by transplanting them to a bed on the hilltop – the arugula didn’t take kindly to the move and quickly bolted but the claytonia and mache are hanging in there.
This year, I wanted to grow more legumes so there are 3 full beds and several half beds dedicated to them.
In bed #2, I’m growing two new varieties of fava, Aquadulce and Witkiem-Monica, as well as a couple of climbers, both of which are also new to the garden - Mammoth Melting snow peas and Queen Anne black-eyed peas.
Favas with snow peas at the top left; the beans are newly sown
I actually forgot about these initially,
so they are a couple of weeks behind the other peas
The shelling peas occupy half of Bed #6 with cucumbers/tromboncino squash planted down the other side.
The shelling peas had spotty germination, especially the Aladdin. Take a look at this view - Sabre was sown in the top half of the bed while Aladdin was sown on the bottom.
Big germination difference between Aladdin (bottom) and Sabre (top)
The carrot bed (seen at the top of the 1st cucumber/pea bed photo) is being planted up in two parts this year. The first section was sown this past week and will be for summer/fall harvest. The second, larger section will be sown in late June and harvested in October for winter storage. The newly seeded area is covered with Agribon to keep it moist until the tiny seeds start to germinate.
One change to Area #1 is the herb bed. It was previously planted up with annual herbs such as basil and dill but also contained a few perennials (thyme, sage, chives). The problem was that this bed was shallow, being built from only one level of 2x6’s, so I kept having issues with grass invading the bed. It was impossible to remove from amongst the perennial herbs, so I decided to pull everything up. This will now become an ornamental bed and I’ve planted it up with numerous annuals that I grew from seed this year:
Transplanted last week:
Calendula, coleus, alyssum, strawflowers, cosmos and tithonia
I didn’t have the time to figure out ideal spacing for the annuals so I decided to roughly space them all at 6” apart. I also tried to place the taller plants in spots where they won’t shade out the shorter ones – or where they will, in the case of coleus which will probably enjoy a bit of shade.
The annual herbs (basil, dill, cilantro) will now be grown in the main veg beds. As for the perennial herbs, I’ll be starting from scratch with new plants and am planning on incorporating them into an ornamental border that is currently in the works.
Last year, I built a small bed next to the shed and it has also been planted up with ornamentals:
A variety of zinnias, calendula, tithonia, coleus are planted up in this spot