Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Garden Extravaganza

Well, I realized after I posted yesterday's Musical Monday post that it was actually Tuesday. Ooops.

So it's finally time to put up the much anticipated garden post. I'd had such high hopes for this. I'd planned to post when we were building the garden boxes, and again when we mixed the soil and planted, and again when things started to bloom, and again when the plants started to put out fruit. All that has already happened, so I'm playing catch up now.

Back in March, we bought the lumber and materials to make our first 4'x4' raised garden box. And Scoob put together the frame.

Look! Scoob made a square!
But he only made one and we have no square to spare.
(And it was made with a minimal amount of cursing.)

The next steps were to locate some 4' wide weed cloth for the bottom, for some reason every place around here stocks the 3' size, and get the peat, compost, and vermiculite to mix for the soil. We had a difficult time finding vermiculite in bulk, both Lowe's and Home Depot carry it, but only in 2 quart bags at about $8 each, when you figure we needed a little over 2½ cubic feet of the stuff, that was going to get expensive and fast. We finally found a little seed-and-feed-type place right here in town that keeps 4-cubic-foot-sized bags in stock for around $20 and we jumped on it.

 After witnessing the deer destruction, we also knew we would need a way to keep the deer out of the garden box, so out we went again to shop for wood to make a frame and chicken wire to make a cage. We were pretty scratched up by the time we finished, but pleased with the results.

Top off.

Top on.

Once we had a way to keep the deer and bunnies (bunnies are everywhere!) out of the garden, we could  finally start planting. I'll admit, we probably didn't plan this out very well. We started a few things (cauliflower, broccoli, and bell peppers) from seed, but the weather turned warm so quickly I'm not sure the broccoli or cauliflower will do very well. I'm holding out hope for the bell peppers, though. And planted 4 tomato plants, 4 basil plants, and 9 spinach plants. Yes, 9. They only came in a 9-pack unless I wanted to start from seed. And I didn't. (Apparently I was too exhausted after planting to take pictures.)

Then—BAM!—we got a late freeze in early April and I was sure the basil and a couple of the tomato plants were not going to make it. Which prompted us to build a second garden box and cage. It went much more quickly the second time, of course it helped that we had enough left over materials from the first box and only needed to buy the additional lumber, but we were both still covered in scratches from the chicken wire by the time we finished.

By the end of April, we had planted 2 more tomato plants (although the 2 we thought we were going to lose recovered, and 1 of the original plants was already starting to bloom!), a 4-pack of jalapeño plants (I use them alot!), a 4-pack of kale (mmmm), an okra plant (why not, and Scoob loves the stuff), a zucchini squash (I may live to regret it), more basil plants (because only 1 of the original 4 survived the frost), and I separated some of the plants I had started from seed in the first box. I had planted 2 seeds each of cauliflower, broccoli, and bell pepper, and both seeds sprouted for the bell pepper and either the cauliflower or the broccoli (I dunno which because I did not write down what I planted where. I totally planned to. But didn't).

Garden box 1.

Garden box 2.

Two! Two garden boxes! Muuwah-ah-ah-ah-ah!
I'd like to point out the change in background foliage.
The backyard has turned into a lush forest.

The first tomato blooms!

Now we're closing in on the end of May and the tomato blooms have turned to fruits, the plants all have tons more blooms and are beginning to grow through the top of the chicken wire cages we built. I'm trying to train the main stalks back down to the tomato cage supports. I'm losing. The zucchini and jalapeño plants are blooming, and I've harvested the spinach and basil a few times already.

I've been restraining myself from trying to cook fried green tomatoes.

Zucchini squash blossoms.

Holy bloomin' jalapeños, Batman!

The spinach is about to peter out, so I'm plotting what to plant in it's place. Something that grows well in the heat and humidity and can withstand 6+ hours of direct sunlight. I'm pretty sure 1 zucchini plant will be more than plenty, so I don't want more of those. I am open to suggestions.


  1. You southerners make me so jealous with your gardens! We just now have our tomatoes in the ground, no blossoms and certainly no fruit. Would potatoes work in your spot? I don't know that much about how to grow them.

    1. Hi Kat! You're right, our gardens do come on early out here, but we'll see how the veggies stand up to the summer heat and humidity. Potatoes are a great idea! Thanks! Unfortunately, our garden boxes are only 6" deep and I think potatoes need more than that to grow. (Carrots too, I really wanted some carrots.) Maybe radishes?