Thursday, May 29, 2014

On to the edible plants!

Okay, so I covered the "sun perennial" bed yesterday. Today I'll show some photos of all the edible goodies we've got growing. To be fair, the sun perennial bed does have rhubarb (edible) which we didn't have room for in the vegetable garden,  as well as lavender (edible) and thyme (edible) because they're pretty of course.

So to the west of the sun perennial garden, even farther back in our yard, we created a vegetable bed. We tilled the soil *by hand* [note: we rented a tiller, but only after we did the vegetable bed!! The tiller helped us break up the soil in the "shade perennial" bed, which I'll cover next, as well as the sun perennial bed and where we planted the raspberries]
The bed is 8 ft by 16 ft. Originally we had eyeballed the bed and created 9 x 17 but it shrunk a bit when we decided to edge it with 8 ft long cedar planks. Cedar holds up well and is safe to use around plants so we went with that, as compared to pressure treated wood. We used brick around the other gardens, but I like the wood here. We also put up a fence to deter pests, rabbits mostly. The fence is green and hard to see, but down low the wires are close together. Fingers crossed it does the trick!

So below is the photo of the garden side closest to the house, the east third of the garden. This photo was taken at 5pm and it's still got some sun. What you're looking at here are tomatoes and peppers. All planted from starter plants (ie, not seeds). The back right trellis has a Yellow Pear tomato plant, and a Sun Gold tomato plant. The back left trellis has a Cherokee Purple tomato plant and two sweet 1000s tomato plants. In the forground, you'll see two rows of peppers. The row in the middle of the garden, on the left and in the center spot are two Serrano Pepper plants. In the same row but on the right is an Apache Pepper plant. In the row in the foreground, on the left and in the center are two Purple Bell Pepper plants, with a Jalapeno Pepper plant on the right. The Apache Pepper plant and Jalapeno Pepper plant already have peppers developing!

Below is the center section of the garden (again, this photo was taken at 5pm), in which we have another trellis - in the top right of the photo. Planted there are Green Beans and Fava Beans (aka Broad Beans). In the back left are four zucchini plants. In the middle of this section, on the left are four Delicata Squash plants, and on the right are four Butternut Squash plants. In shaded foreground, on the left, yet to be seen, will be cucumber, and on the right is one lone okra plant!

Lastly, below is a photo of the far edge of the bed, the west edge. Again, the photo here is at 5pm, and this edge is in shade already. You can't see anything yet, but we are looking at three sections with lots of different seeds planted. In the top row, for lack of a better word, will be Peas on the left, Cantaloupe in the middle and Onions on the right, by the step stones. In the center row, we have Beets on the left, Fennel in the middle and two types of Kale on the right. Finally, in the bottom row, the third closest to you, we have Butter Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Rainbow Chard and Mustard Greens. If you look closely you can see the Mustard Green sprouts already showing.

Here's a close up of the beet sprouts peeking through! Can you see their red stems?

On the deck we have a few potted plants. Mostly herbs, but there's a fig tree in there second from the left! The fig tree even already has a few figs starting out, which is fun to see!

Also on the deck is a elevated planter (a raised bed on stilts). In it we have carrots, arugula and beets. We planted the carrots and radishes when the weather turned to spring six weeks ago. The arugula went in earlier this month and we could already pick it if we wanted "baby arugula"! The elevated bed is nice because the rabbits don't get to it.

Oh, behind the vegetable garden you might have noticed three very large planters. We have blueberry bushes in them! Blueberries need acidic soil so we put them in planters so it's a bit easier to control the acidity of the soil. We'll see how it goes. The plants we purchased already have some blueberries forming on them so hopefully we'll get a few this year to taste. 

And, on the south edge of our back yard, we dug up a little section to plant some raspberry bushes. We have three different types of raspberries. On the left is "Double Gold" a blush-champagne colored raspberry, in the middle is "Crimson Night" a deep red raspberry, and on the right is "Fall Gold" a golden raspberry. 

That's it for now! I'll post about the trench soon (our temporary solution for ground and surface water management).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're Growing Things!!!

A year ago, when I was still in San Francisco and I would day dream about moving to Ann Arbor, one of the things I was most excited about was having a garden. By the time we got here in July, we were just too overwhelmed to plant more than a few things in the fall. This weekend, thanks to the enormous help of my sister and brother-in-law, we finally established several garden beds in our backyard! I am so excited!!

I've always loved the idea of growing things, but never had much practice (except of the killing plants variety). My mother is an excellent gardener, as were her parents, but as a child I never had the patience to learn how to garden. Now that I am a bit older, calmer and wiser I see the value and joy in gardening. (I don't think my 18 year old self would have believed I'd ever say that.)

I'm going to try to post pictures on this blog, as well as on Instagram, to show off any progress we have (despite any rabbit's attempt to thwart us). So you'll need to stay tuned!

A trip down memory lane... Here's what our back yard looked like in the fall with Jason mowing the lawn!

 And here's what it looked like in December. This was before the polar vortex and storms in January and February!

Now, here's what it looks like! Please ignore the dirt trench in the foreground... I'll explain later.

It all started when my Aunt Bea brought 9 (nine!) peony bushes, just the roots of course, in November, and we planted them just to the left of the telephone pole on the right side of the above photo. Those are also marked with sticks in the snow photo. (We marked them with sticks because we didn't want to step on the delicate buds as they were coming up.) We turned the area in between and behind into a bed that we could plant other sun-loving perennials in.

The fence edge is north, so this bed gets direct sunlight until about 5pm. In addition to the peonies we planted... Corsican mint (ground cover in the foreground, can actually take light foot traffic!), Lavender - two in middle (two to left, just out of the photo) and Dwarf Lilac in the back.

In the same bed, in the front of the photo below is Silver Edged Thyme, on the left is another Peony and in the back center are two more lavender plants.

The Peony buds are starting to open! I can't wait for these to bloom!!

Here below, on the west-end of the sun-loving perennial bed we planted Rhubarb!! It's too big for the veggie garden, and it's a perennial so we put it in the peony bed.  In the front center, and to the very far right, just barely in the frame, are creeping phylox!

We edged the bed with pavers and covered the freshly tilled soil with cypress mulch. We hope it'll keep the grass and dandelions at bay, although I see a lot of weeding in our future.

Look forward to the vegetable garden update in a separate post!!