Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Late May/Early June – Filling and planting beds (photos)

This blog is turning more into gardening notes but I’m trying to give the background of what we’ve done to prepare so far and then will start up with our day-to-day experiences (likely in weekly installments) once we’re in to our local year.

In late May, our wonderfully helpful neighbor came over with his Bobcat and helped transfer the seven or eight yards of topsoil from a pile in the front of the house to the raised beds in the back. He saved us time and back strain and we really appreciate it!

In the next few days I worked some organic chicken manure fertilizer into the beds and began planting the seedlings we had started at the beginning of the month as well as seeds from the other packets I had purchased.

By the Memorial Day I had planted carrots, radishes, bell peppers, bush beans, cucumbers, five kinds of potatoes, beets, red onions, white bunching onions, ruby swiss chard, black seeded simpson and bibb lettuce, and three types of tomatoes. By the end of May I had planted sweet corn, rhubarb, asparagus (purple and green), and horseradish roots (none of which will bear food this year). By the second weekend in June I had completely filled my available space by adding 24 cantaloupe and 19 watermelon seedlings (started a month earlier), garlic, popcorn, summer and winter squash, pie pumpkins, and broccoli, cabbage (three kinds), and 4 additional tomato plants from a friend (he started them all from seed.)

I couldn’t believe the change in things in just those first two weeks. I had never seen many of the seeds I planted. Sure, I’ve eaten beets and radishes but I had no idea what their seeds looked like. Nor had I even held a lettuce seed and beheld leaves on a sprouting potato – it was all new to me. But the growth was what I found amazing. Look at these photos of the radishes just a week after sowing and again, less than three weeks later, ready to harvest! Absolutely amazing.

I can tell that I will have some weeding challenges this year. I hope I nipped most of the velvet leaf early but I can see I will be pulling silver maple seedlings for some time to come. Just two trees were so prolific! I will also be fighting grass, as you can see, in the new planting areas we tilled. We didn’t have the time to wait a few weeks and till again, nor did we want to use herbicide so there will be grass coming up to compete with our veggies. Maybe next year I can work on a better solution.


The Mom said...

So my question for you... how are you keeping the deer and rabbits out of your raised beds? Perhaps the raised nature keeps the bunnies out, but what about the deer? Is that a problem?

Lenae said...

Well, we're pretty lucky on several accounts. The largest of which is that deer aren't a problem since the raised beds (and all the garden plots) are within a larger fenced area. The fence doesn't actually fully enclose the area but the open sections are near the house and I suspect it is enough of a deterrant.

I don't think the rabbits can easily reach the raised beds (certianly not the high ends as they're over 24 inches). They could probably hop up to the lower side but haven't found them yet.

So far, my animal problems have been with birds. They've been stealing the seeds I have planted in a few places and eating our ripe strawberries (I planted 30 plants this spring but we've only beaten the birds to 4 or 5 berries!). I may have to net the strawberries if I want to eat any and will likely net areas when I direct-sow next year, at least until the seeds can germinate.

The Mom said...

We had a lot of bird and rabbit problems with our garden squares. Tacky or not, I hung out a couple of aluminum pans on stakes and that seems to have helped. The sounds of the pans clanging with the wind and the reflection from the sun seems to be enough to ward them off! Lucky you with the fence!! If only birds would obey those boundaries...

UU Jerri said...

What kind of wheat, specifically, are you searching for within the 100-mile radious of RFD?

Lenae said...

In response to uu jeri:

Hard winter wheat has sufficient protein and gluten for use in baked goods. Durum wheat has the highest gluten and is typically used for making pasta.

The wheat typically grown in Illinois is soft winter wheat which lacks sufficient gluten to rise (without adding extra, which can be done but wouldn't be "local" by our standards). It can be used for pastries and granola bars and items that do not need to rise.

Here is a link to a site that explains the difference. It was sent to me via the Register Star when someone wrote them in response to the article at the beginning of May: