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I stopped by my favorite local greenhouse today after work, just to look around, and it made me so excited for my garden! Look at all of those veggie plant babies! So here we go with my SECOND vegetable garden. I have BIG plans for year two!
I would describe last year's garden (my first EVER garden) as pretty successful, with minimal planning, and no bells and whistles. We were kind of winging it, but luckily, everything did pretty well!
This year, I'm working off of some lessons learned, planning an expansion, and doing some things to make my garden life easier.
NEW FOR YEAR 2:
- EXPANSION: We are expanding the garden (almost doubling it's size) because we have this area of super uneven ground right next to our existing garden bed. Last year we ran out of room (zucchini especially takes up a lot of space), so we'll spread things out a bit.
- PLANT FOOD: I have finally started a compost bin/pile! WOO! I followed CaliKim's instructions and it was super easy. So, free compost/fertilizer should keep my plants well fed and happy, resulting in hopefully more (and more delicious) veggies. I've also been reading about making compost tea, using epsom salts, and other ways to nurture the plant babies.
- PLANT WHAT YOU EAT: I'm not wasting my time with radishes and cabbage. They took up space last year that I think I'd rather use for NEW veggies that we actually like and eat. I also grew sweet banana peppers last year but they weren't all ready at one time to do a big canning batch, so it turned into like 10 batches of refrigerator pickles. I don't want to deal with that so I'll probably just buy a half or full bushel of peppers from market for canning.
- MULCH VS WEEDS: Last year we kind of mulched with newspaper and grass clippings, but we didn't really have enough grass clippings so the newspaper blew away and about a month later everything was overrun with WEEDS. Lesson learned. This year, we are mulching HEAVILY.
- FLORIDA WEAVE: Last year I used those basic wire cages to support my tomato plants. Little did I know, once the plants get big and heavy with tomatoes, the standard cages are pretty useless. This year I'll be trying out the Florida Weave method. Fingers crossed!
- CUCUMBER TRELLIS: My dad is going to help me build these awesome cucumber trellises! In theory, the cucumbers climb up the wire, and you can plant lettuce underneath since it likes the shade. We'll see how this goes.
- DRIP IRRIGATION: Here's how the current garden watering situation goes... Go in the back door of the big garage, use the chain to raise the garage door, unravel the hose, drag it over to the garden, go back and un-kink it, try to water everything at the roots so the plants don't get too wet, keep watering, keep watering, go back and get more hose... you get the idea. I'm fully aware this is the definition of a first world problem, it's actually not even a problem, it's just that it could be easier and take less time. So if I can manage it, I'm going to have someone install a spigot on the outside of the garage and set up some kind of drip irrigation system. Water RIGHT to the roots, all at once, super easy, love it. Stay tuned :)
WHAT I'M GROWING:
I ordered a bunch of seeds from Baker Creek (if you've never been on their site, check it out, it's AWESOME). I started some inside, but just this past weekend, so running super late. WOMP. I also plan to buy some seedlings from a local nursery for my tomatoes and broccoli, and I bought some onion sets, garlic, and seed potatoes at Home Depot. So here's what's on the garden menu:
- Lettuce - I'll probably do some mix of loose leaf lettuce again. This is one of my favorite things about summer time, so I plan to plant more than last year (and do successive plantings) so we have it all summer long.
- Carrots - I've never grown carrots before... but everyone says you've never tasted a carrot until you try one fresh from the garden.
- Onions & Garlic - I bought sets of both sweet and red onions, and some garlic!
- Beans - I'll be growing green and yellow again. I love to steam them or roast them with garlic and olive oil.
- Cucumbers - I got seeds for pickling cucumbers and also these fun little Mexican Sour Gherkins.
- Peppers - I ordered some big jalapeno seeds, bell peppers, and since ZB requested some SUPER HOT peppers, Trinidad Scorpion Peppers.
- Zucchini - In case you didn't gather from last year, I am obsessed with zucchini. Stuffed, grilled, spiralized, WHATEVER, give me ALL of it. This year I'm growing these little round dudes and normal ones. I don't waste my time with yellow squash because I much prefer the green!
- Broccoli - I messed this up last year (waited too long to harvest and the flowers started to open). But we still got to enjoy the little side shoots for quite a while after harvesting the heads! So definitely planting again.
- Kale Sprouts - These guys are like half brussels sprout, half kale. When you roast them, it's like the outer leaves of brussels sprouts that get all delicious and crispy but that's the WHOLE sprout.
- Tomatoes - I'm super excited about trying out the Florida Weave method for tying these up. I'll probably do a combo of roma/paste (for sauce), regular (for fresh eating), and possibly a cherry tomato plant (for salads) on my deck again.
- Herbs - Gotta have some basil to go with all these tomatoes! I also want to do dill (so I can make pickles), and I love fresh cilantro!
- Potatoes - I bought seed potatoes that were a mix of red, white, and purple. Super excited about them! Especially because my favorite summer dinner is baby potatoes topped with fresh garden lettuce and Grandma Miller's Sweet & Sour salad dressing. YUM!
- Beets - I've never grown beets before! I got seeds for red and golden.
- Spaghetti Squash - I've never grown this before, but I'm super excited about it. They take up a lot of space so I need to make sure I leave enough room!
- Berries - I ordered blackberry and blueberry plants from Baker Creek. I haven't gotten them yet and I'm a little worried about the birds eating all of them, but my goal is to have a little berry patch back behind the house.
Well... now that I look at all of this together... I'm starting to wonder what I was thinking... WISH ME LUCK!!!