Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making Do With A Small Garden

As usual, I've got my plot packed with plants and things are a little crowded. Ever read those plant spacing recommendations on the back of seed packets? I don't. There just isn't enough square footage in my bed to allow each plant their ideal real estate. So, my plants get very cozy with their neighbors. 

Radicchio and kale share an end of the bed. I chopped the kale way down the other day to give the radicchio a fighting chance. If it doesn't work, it might be time to pull the kale altogether. I've harvested a ton already and I can tell Josh isn't so impressed by all my creative techniques for incorporating it into almost every meal (yes, green smoothies are a regular occurrence here).

Six little cucumber plants are next to the kale and radicchio. My plan is to train them up some cages and get them out of the way. It's a small, burpless variety, similar to the kind that come packed 5 in a tray at the grocery store. My theory is that smaller cucumbers come from smaller plants. 

A few bush bean plants share a corner with a miniature musk Mellon. I'll train the melon up a trellis and the beans will work the floor. When the beans stop producing as well, I'll snip the plants off at the soil and let the roots fix nitrogen into the soil, hopefully assisting the melon to mature. 

So there is a some rationale to the crowding and the rest is just my way of dealing with a garden that is a bit smaller than I'd like. 

What does the rest of the garden look like?  
This is the view from our new picnic deck, overlooking a plot that's been planted with zucchini, eggplant, and a fairy garden. 

Beyond that are plots filled with dreams, aspirations, and weeds. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Salad Season

Our long and lovely spring has given us ideal conditions for growing salad greens... and strawberries!  This is the first year that I've had bountiful yields of both. 

One thing I changed this year was purchasing individual varieties of lettuce seeds instead of a mix. I alternated rows of colorful red and green leaf lettuces instead of planting a field of mixed greens.  Not only does this make for a pretty neat looking striped area in the garden bed, but it also makes it a little easier to see what's working and what isn't. And this year, everything is working!  I haven't bought salad greens in over a month and I've had greens to share too. 

This is also the first year that I've gotten a decent strawberry crop from my 6 plants. I know it takes a couple years for strawberries to get going, and the wait has finally paid off. On several occasions I've picked a big handful of red, juicy, sweet berry "candy" from Mother Nature. Last year I never got more than a berry a visit, so this is a triumph in my book. 

The garden is now off and running after a late start. Here's what it's looked like over the past month:

At the start of May, the lettuce in the foreground was just beginning, the strawberries in the top right were covered in white blooms, and that unstoppable kale in the upper left was already going strong. 

By mid May, the lettuce was ready for some thinning, I picked our first handful of berries, and the overwintered kale was flowering. 

Now I have loads of lettuce, the berries are slowing, and I seriously trimmed the runaway kale to make room for radicchio heads underneath. 

What else is growing? Carrots, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, dill, melon, and winter squash. Yes, I garden in a very small space. Yes, I make the most of it.