|Here's the garden last August|
|And here it is today|
Initially we set up the garden to have interior dimensions of 4 feet by 16 feet. However, our backyard floods terribly when it rains and we needed a way to let out all of that extra water. So I bought a few extra cinder blocks, picked up a shovel, and got really muddy to rearrange things. Now we have a 4x9 bed and a 4x4 bed with a little ditch in between. It drains beautifully.
The other structural change I made to my garden was the addition of trellises for my butternut squash, cantaloupe, and heirloom tomatoes. This excellent post was a huge help to me in putting these together. They used cattle panels (available from Tractor Supply Co.) cut in half as 8 foot tall trellises. I was planning to do that, but found rusty wire mesh for crazy cheap near the cinder blocks at Lowes. I think it's used for pouring concrete, but I'm not really sure. All I know is that it's sturdy, has big holes, and would eventually rust anyway. Perfect! Also, these are a little shorter than cattle panels, which means they barely stick out over our fence. Michael pounded 2x2's into the wells of our cinder blocks, then we secured the mesh to the stakes with zip ties at multiple places. Super easy.
Last year we moved into our house around this time, so we missed out on prime planting season. But after some research I found a Tennessee Extension web article saying I could plant a garden in August and expect a hearty fall harvest. This article lied! Haha. I had no success from my tomato, bean, squash, and collard seeds I planted in the sweltering heat of August. If I had started from plants I'm guessing they might have fared better.
Also, my bright idea of writing on popsicle sticks for garden markers was a total failure. The ink quickly disappeared in the sun.
Oh well... I wanted to set up the garden then anyway so that it would be ready for the next season. And I only planted seeds that I already had on hand. So it really wasn't much of a loss.
The cinder block concept has really worked well. We only have occasional bits of grass pop up and those are easy to deal with. In Memphis when it rains it pours, so it's nice to have everything raised so it doesn't wash away. The wells are really nice for planting herbs and lettuces, although I have more space in these than I could possibly use. And the four foot width is ideal, unless you're short in which case it might be a challenge. All in all, I'm loving it.
This year I was able to start planting in the spring like a normal person, so I went crazy with planning the perfect garden. I used a plethora of websites, the most helpful being http://www.smartgardener.com/. This site is great for telling you when to plant seeds or transplants of each type depending on the weather in your area. It tends to be a little stingy with recommended plants per square foot, so I check http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/ to figure out how many plants of a certain type can fit in my space. There are a lot of fun planting tips on that site, too.
After failed attempts at transplanting my own tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings, here's what I ended up planting:
- 4 Waltham butternut squash (seeds)
- 3 Honey Rock cantaloupe (seeds)
- 3 Black Krim tomatoes (plants)
- 7 Pic n Pic yellow squash (seeds)
- 3 Roma tomatoes (plants)
- 4 Clemson Spineless okra (seeds)
- 4 Big Early Bell peppers (plants)
- 2 Giant Marconi peppers (plants)
- 2 Poblano/Ancho peppers (plants)
- 4 Ichiban eggplant (plants)
- Various herbs
I like to squeeze those plants in tightly! While this year's garden won't be as cost effective as I would like due to my seed woes, I'll have a much earlier harvest.
Without further ado, here are some glamour shots of my beautiful bounty in progress:
|Peppers of different kinds|
|My first experiment with okra|
|Eggplant blossoms are really pretty!|
|Yellow squash almost ready to eat|
Does anyone know how I can prevent sad, withery little squashes like the one in the background of this photo? I'm guessing it's from inconsistent watering?
|Struggling Black Krim tomatoes|
My Black Krim tomatoes are the only things that just aren't doing well. Two plants have beautiful, fuzzy green foliage, but aren't producing. Any blossoms dry up and fall off. The third one was barely growing and I had to prune it back due to brown spots (I'm guessing fungus?) on the top part of the plant.
I know they have aphids. Initially an organic insecticidal soap was really effective. But now it doesn't seem to be working for these plants, even though my Romas and other plants are fine. Do you have any tips for dealing with this? Since I'm pregnant I'd love to stay away from heavy duty insecticides. Thanks!
|Parsley, sage, and rosemary with|
butternut climbing behind them
|Tiny butternut! I've got lots of these!|
|Butternut vines climbing on the right|
|One of several glossy, long eggplants|