Row Garden & Raised Beds
I also did a row garden this year, for flowers, pumpkins and sweet corn. I'm a little nervous about the row garden because o 1) I don't like to use the tiller, so 2) I have to hand weed or mulch a lot. The problem is that I don't have time to do that much weeding, and I cannot collect grass clippings fast enough to mulch the entire thing. I am only mulching the actual rows of vegetables, not the paths in between. We are tilling the paths (but only periodically, when Hubs has the time). However, when we till the paths, we end up tilling most of our mulch into the ground and thus every time we till, I am going to have to re-mulch the entire thing. And there is not enough mulch for that.
So, I have a feeling that my "market garden" or "fodder garden" (extra pumpkins, squash, peas will go to the animals) as I call it, is going to get a lot weedier than my raised beds. Which, by the way, only have to be mulched ONCE during the whole season, and never tilled. We've decided that instead of mulching the paths or laying down plastic, we'll just weed whack in between the beds. It still looks nice and clean that way.
Seed Starting Update
Earlier this year I started seeds. Last year went pretty well in the gardening department, so I thought I had everything figured out. Silly me! I transplanted most of my seedlings outdoors in the middle of May, and life happened. I mean, MICHIGAN happened and we had a whole week of cold weather, including at least one frost. A lot of my seedlings died at this point.
1. Forced tulip bulbs- sprouted and grew leaves, but no flowers. :(
2. Chili peppers- out of 15 seedlings, I have four plants left in the raised bed.
3. Basil seeds- both plants died in the frost (even though I covered one of them).
4. Echinacea seeds- not a single seed ever germinated, even after four months.
5. Rosemary seeds- one or two seeds germinated, but both failed to grow after I transplanted them into the egg carton planters.
6. Lavender seeds- I bought two different packets of lavender, and four or five seeds germinated. Of these, only one plant survived. I ended up buying a $3.00 lavender plant at the farmers market to accompany my baby plant.
7. Passionflower seeds- not a single one of these sprouted.
8. Radishes- I only had a few seeds, planted them in a raised bed and they did pretty well.
9. Peas- I'm guessing about 20% of my peas germinated.
10. Onions- about 30-40% of my little sets came up.
11. Lettuce- I planted some in a raised bed, but I shouldn't have. It didn't grow very well, and I have volunteer lettuce from last year coming up like weeds.
12. Fennel, dill, cilantro and chamomile- these all successfully self-seeded from last year.
13. Carrots- I planted some seeds in a raised bed, with not a single germination from what I'm aware of.
14. Broccoli- started these seeds inside and planted them in a raised bed with mulch. About half the plants died, but the rest are doing well.
15. Watermelon seeds- I started these indoors, but some died from overwatering. The transplants died after the frost.
16. Cantelope seeds- like the watermelon, I also started these indoors. And likewise, they died during the frost.
17. Bell pepper seeds- I started these seeds in an actual plastic "greenhouse" that I bought at Walmart. The idea was that I wouldn't have to transplant the seedlings into individual containers. The seeds sprouted great, but I don't think the containers were big enough for the plants to thrive. Between frost and not enough watering (my raised beds weren't mulched well with newspaper, plus I had to add some regular dirt), only about 25% of my seedlings survived.
18. Pumpkin-on-a-stick seeds- these were easy enough to sprout and did well in the egg carton planters. I transplanted them into the garden in mid-May. I covered all of the plants during the frost, but they failed to really grow at all until we had warmer weather at the end of May. Last week I found cucumber beetles eating and laying eggs on the plants, so I stripped all of the eggs and smashed the bugs. So far they haven't come back.
19. Tomato seeds- the tomatoes did about as well as my peppers. Lost all but 25%. I ended up buying new pepper and tomato plants (see below).
20. Pumpkins- I planted pumpkin seeds directly in my garden at the end of May. Almost all of them germinated and got really big. However, I'm now in a war with the squash bugs and cucumber bugs, because I made the mistake of planting where other cucurbits grew last year.
You can see some of my attempts at pest control below. I've found that it works best to hand pick the bugs early in the morning, when they are still sluggish. I check under the shingles, and oftentimes there are several bugs there that I can just scrape into my bowl of yellow water to die. The yellow water trap works best during the day when they are flying around.
22. Green beans- I planted one raised bed full of green bean seeds. Most of the store-bought seeds sprouted, but my saved bean seeds only produced a few plants.
23. Cucumbers- I planted cucumbers on one side of my lettuce bed. They are doing well- no sign of bugs yet.
24. Straightneck squash- I planted two hills. One hill germinated.
25. Amaranth- I planted this several weeks ago. Right now I can just see the tiniest little seedlings coming up.
26. Sweet corn- pre-sprouted the seeds indoors, and then planted in the garden. I'm guessing about 60-70% of the planted corn came up.
27. Thyme & Oregano- both of these herbs germinated GREAT! Unfortunately the oregano and almost all of my thyme died after the frost.
28. Other stuff: in March I went on a spending spree and bought a bunch of flower seeds and bulbs. Some of
the flowers have come up and some haven't. I started some delphinium seeds indoors, and now the plants are doing okay out in the garden. Sunflowers are coming up nicely, glads are starting to pop up, and I've got some sweet peas on the way as well.
The strawberries are starting to ripen. I am hoping they will last long enough to sell both this week and next week at the farmers market.
1. Go back to my original seed starting method, transplanting seedlings to plastic cups (more room for roots to grow).
2. Grow herbs (oregano & thyme) in clumps (not single seedlings), in larger pots.
3. Use cuttings to propagate hard-to-germinate plants.
4. Make sure all raised beds have newspaper unless they are going to be direct-seeded (plan this out in the fall).
5. Wait to transplant/plant until the end of May. This will mean starting my seeds about a month later than I did this year.
6. Make sure to use viable seeds.
7. Possibly purchase tomato and pepper plants. I like this idea because the plants I bought were only $0.40 each. A bonus? My $3.00 bought two different varieties instead of one. This is great because I still haven't found a variety of tomato that I really like. If you think about it, there is no point in paying $3-4 for a pack of seeds if fewer than ten plants survive anyway.
8. Plant cucurbits later in the season, and rotate to a different spot in the garden.
9. Start checking for bugs right away.
10. Start sprinkler earlier.
Whew! I think that's it.
Til next time,