Garden Friday

We are both spending much of our days in the garden this time of year. Working outside is a huge part of our lives right now, and part of our seasonal creative cycle. Rather than being absent here, we thought it would be fun to share bits of our gardening with you. So on Fridays we'll show you what's going on at each of our places. 

Katie's Garden

A bit of background- I live in town and have a small, super-shady lot that is wonderful in the heat of July when our house is cool and shaded by giant oak trees, but makes it tricky to grow vegetables. Last year I put in 6 raised beds right by the street. The spot is the sunniest I have and the parking strip isn't much good for anything else anyway. This year it was so wonderful to have these beds all ready to plant.

The peas love the unseasonably cool spring we've had and are just about ready to pick. These are a shell pea variety I can't remember. I don't know how they snuck in, I meant to only plant snap peas this year because there is more yield since you can eat the shells. But I'm happy to eat any peas this time of year, even if it's just a handful. 

Something is wrong with my onions. They are all falling over and sending up seed stalks. I don't know why this is- maybe from sets that were too large? Also, I bought the sets at a big-box store, and worried they were crappy when I planted them. 

The lettuces, spinach and greens have been SO productive and beautiful. I started the plants inside and transplanted them out, and that gave them a nice head start. The mesclun mix is from Seeds from Italy and the Asian Greens are a mix from Botanical Interests. 

You can just see the celery plants on the left of this bed, this is the first year I'm growing them. I got the plants from the Potting Shed, a local garden center. 

I'm put in four new garden beds next to my driveway. They get more shade, and I haven't constructed raised beds, but I dumped a bunch of chicken run compost and straw to prepare the beds last fall. I am happy with the broccoli I started from seed, it's the Piracicaba variety from Fedco. There's also a bunch of garlic in these beds, as well as some lettuces and kale that's going to seed. I'm going to let the kale go and save the seed. 

Another new thing I'm trying this year- growing in straw bales. I've planted these four bales full of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and watermelon, but that's not the only thing growing- 

So many mushrooms! It's a good sign, means the bales are decomposing. So far this method has exceeded my expectations. Maybe it's because of the weather, but I haven't had to water these plants any more than plants in the garden beds. 

Laura's Garden

My situation is quite different from Katie's. We are creating our homestead in a sunny 2 acre meadow, surrounded by acres and acres of wooded hills. We have been living here for a year and a half, carving out gardens and building sites from the ground up.

Before we built any buildings, I put in 9 4x8 raised beds. These hold herbs, strawberries and the makings of many salads-lettuces, arugula, kale, radishes, celery and beets. I haven't had any trouble with bunnies or deer-I assume our dogs keep them at bay.

That tall clump on the right is a yarrow that was growing wild in the meadow when I made these beds. Despite trying to dig it out a couple of times, it has persisted and thrived. I appreciate the many uses of yarrow, just wanted to choose where it was growing-so much simpler to just enjoy it and let it be where it wants to be!

These beds from another angle-someday, hopefully next spring- I'll be able to walk out the front door, across a pergola covered patio, and out into the garden:

This garden can't be expanded until the house is finished and all the earth moving is done, so we've started a bigger garden plot for row crops in a more out of the way spot:

Even though we have a nice big tiller, turning thick sod into garden space takes a ton of hard work. Our method is; mow the grass as short as possible, go over the area with the tiller, turn by hand with a shovel, till again to break up the clods and clumps, spread truckloads of manure, lime and amendments, till that all in. Phew. 

I've tried sheet composting to build new gardens in the past, but am not convinced it is the best way, especially for a garden this big. Also, acquiring that much material is hard work of another kind!