Its been about 3 weeks since my last post, so I thought I would share what’s been keepin me busy! Every spare second has been spent outside working hard to get the garden up in a reasonable time. Since we moved last summer, I’ve mostly had to start from scratch this year, except for two 4’x4′ raised beds that we did manage to get up last year.
I have stuffed gardening into every imaginable space on our small lot. This isn’t our forever home, but I can’t just sit around for the next couple of years and not grow my gardening experience! So I’m having a ton of fun experimenting with all kinds of options. And I’ve done a decent job of keeping it within a reasonable budget so I’m hoping I’ll be able to break even with fresh produce. Maybe not this year, but at the least next year! I’ve already saved from having to buy 3 heads of lettuce and a bunch of kale, so that’s something, right?
So I’d like to invite you to come meander through my little piece of earth. Its kept me busy and I’m finally at a point now where I can get back to focusing on some other stuff. Well, that is if I can keep myself indoors after being cooped up for winter! This page has a lot of pictures so may take a few minutes to fully load.
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So for starters, lets go over the layout. The majority of my garden is on the northeast side of my house. Here in Texas, the setting (western) sun is a scorcher. So only the hottest of plants can bear it. I knew this side would be more ideal for most of my crop. Below you can see from one side of the patch. I have a little corn plot here in the front that I am growing “Strawberry Popcorn Corn” in. Its a dwarf variety with pink kernels! Neat, huh?
Right behind it is my daughter’s bean pole hut that I hope will be a little hideaway for her when the beans get taller! Moving on back, you can see my new concrete block raised bed. It has carrots, peppers (several varieties), some tomatoes, garlic, beans (several varieties) and I just put some loofah seeds in that I’m waiting to sprout! Then I have herbs in the black pots on the edges. Basil, Oregano, Safe, Thyme, Spearmint and Rosemary (which for some reason is in the grass in this picture)
Behind the concrete bed is a small 2’x2′ wooden raised bed that currently holds my onions, which are growing really well! Even after I lost a few from the recent hail storm!
Behind the onions are two 4’x4′ boxes – the ones from last year. The first one has some beans, green beans, flax (yes! Trying my hand at flax! I’m excited.) and these incredible tomatoes. I have tried for MONTHS to get these to grow inside and they wouldn’t. So out of desperation, I dropped a few in this bed and every single one germinated and has grown like crazy! Go figure.
Next up is the cool weather bed. This one has peas, kale, spinach and two kinds of lettuce. I’m experimenting with a slanted trellis for my pumpkin plants, in hopes that the pumpkins leaves will shade the greens and maybe I can extend lettuce season just a bit! We shall see!
Look at those gorgeous peas! I can’t wait to taste them!
And some of the lettuce I’ve brought in this week. The “Deer’s Tongue” lettuce makes for a FABULOUS salad!
The last raised bed is also a new one and its got some more beans, flax and oats – yeah, oats! I didn’t want just your standard veggies! I wanted to grow stuff nobody else grows. I figured flax and oats and Smurf Tomatoes count!
And last on this side of the house are my potato bins. I made the mistake of putting these in old plastic tubs. My original thought was that I could re-purpose these tubs and save having to get rid of them. But I didn’t think about what happens to plastic when it gets hot. I know it doesnt matter to some, but organic gardening is important to me and plastic chemicals don’t count. Ha! I’m gonna deal with it this year, and come up with a better solution next year. I have them in a spot that doesn’t get too warm, so I think it will be ok. The potatoes are taking off well too!
So lets hope over to the other side of the house – the HOT side! Over here I did something different than a raised bed. I really wanted to get a feel for the native earth. And let me tell you, that was a TERRIBLE idea. Terrible. Where I live we have “black clay”, which is supposed to be nutrient dense but getting into it is a joke! After much research and debating, we chose to till it up and amend the soil. Not my first choice because I know tilling destroys much of the goodies in the soil. But if I had tried to mulch this, it would have taken years to break this clay up. After tilling, I mixed it with a compost/shale blend to help break up the clay and I’ve added back in some fertilizer and some worm castings to get beneficial life moving again. Picture below is my daughter helping me put worm castings in. Starting this one young!!
On this side, I’ve planted regular corn, sweet potatoes, okra, and my one determinate roma tomato. Its just a small patch, but I have to say, it seems to bring me more joy than the raised beds. Something about being IN the soil is amazing!
Sweet potatoes by the shed. Corn in the bigger patch and then okra and my one roma tomato plant in the skinny patch. Below is a picture of some of the sweet potatoes in the ground as well as a shot of the biggest of my slips inside. I started this from a (organic) potato from the store so I was pretty excited that they grew so well! I just put them in the ground today, so fingers crossed they make it!
And here’s my tiny okra. These are the “Cowhorn” variety which is supposed to get to 10′ tall and puts out long, tender okra. I started these from seeds inside and I’m happy to see them growing so well. Okra is my favorite plant to grow because it really is bullet proof. Even my aphid infestation last year couldn’t hurt it!
Corn sprouts! Corn!!!
My store bought tomato. For some reason none of my tomato seeds worked inside. This is my first year starting so many from seeds so I’m still fine tuning.
And no good veggie gardener can go without some pretty flowers! I’ve also been working on getting some native, pollinator friendly plants in for the landscape. Its so important to provide food for the bees and the butterflies. I still need to mulch around my flowers, but maybe I’ll get to that next week. Definitely before it gets too hot! And look at this adorable little picket fence!
And last but not least, we planted a tree for Earth Day (mostly because I impulse bought a tree a week before Earth Day. We may plant another for Arbor Day too!) this is a Mexican Plum and it grows to 12′-15′ and puts out little tiny plums, not big enough for eating but I’ve heard it makes a mean jam! We shall see! It won’t provide too much shade, but I think next year it may be just big enough to put a lawn chair underneath!
Whew! That’s a lot of pictures! Not pictured are the 4 Longwood Blue bushes at the front of the house (the bees LOVE THEM), the patch of Sunflowers I’ve planted behind the house and the little patch of Gerbera Daisies by the grill (they need to be mulched too). I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my little piece of earth. I know it brings me so much joy and I’m glad to be instilling a love for nature and plants in my toddler so early. Loving the earth is really one of the best things we can do!