We grew our first garden in the summer of 2009, when I was pregnant with Bean. This is our fourth summer of growing, and I am starting to feel like a Real Gardener! The best parts of this year of gardening will be: a) no more community plot and b) children who aren't babies anymore. We loved the community garden idea, but in practice, it was impossible to dedicate enough time to keep it even slightly weed free, and there were frustrating time constraints imposed by the communal nature of it, instead of imposed by, like, Nature. And with a baby each summer, having to travel to the garden wasn't working. I grew more food in my little 48 square foot bed out back, because I could tend it during naps and short breaks, and mornings and evenings, without having to drive somewhere, or make sure another adult was around to be with the kids. So, we've built two more beds, we have kids who play relatively independently, though Sprout has an unfortunate predilection for eating topsoil, and we have three years of gardening experience that lets us make somewhat more educated guesses about what will fit where and grow satisfactorily in our various flower beds, too. I want to do a sort of info dump post, more for my own reference, because we've already done a lot of work this year, and I want somewhere to remember it. Sorry if it's boring!
This is the original raised bed. We are growing peas along the south edge, and then short rows of carrots (3 varieties, including purple) lettuce, parsnip, spinach, and beets. I've planted two successions so far, you can see the first group at the end. I ended up with too many tomato plants (more on that later) so I've stuck four plants at the near end of this bed, which means I won't plant the third succession of greens/roots as planned. It will probably be okay, because we don't necessarily eat that many greens, but I will find creative ways to get more carrots somewhere, possibly the potato box. The tomatoes in this box are sun sugars, a delicious orange hybrid cherry that I searched high and low for, a carbon black tomato, and supersweet 100 (another cherry).
This is what is happening to my greens, especially my spinach - it is being devoured by the rabbit that lives in or near our yard *very very angry* It has eaten my spinach, lettuce, some peas, most of my soy, and some beans. I bought more of the dog gone coleus to stink them away, but they don't seem to care (more on that later). We may end up just building a fence around the whole darn assembly :( Harumph!
This is the primary tomato bed, there are eight plants: green zebra and green bulgarian, persimmon and hawaiian pineapple, sungold (a parent plant of the sun sugar hybrid) and black cherry, Japanese black trifele and nyagous (both black tomatoes). These are mostly heirloom types, and I got them for free from a lovely retired gentlemen who grows them for fun and gives them away, simply to keep the heirloom varieties alive. I would spend a fortune on these plants in the greenhouses, so I was tickled to get them, have nursed them very very diligently, and will probably keep the seed from them, too. He also gave me a red bell pepper, mini brown pepper, and hungarian yellow wax pepper, which I've planted in pots, and already have flowers (!) (He also gave me a ground cherry plant, but it's not doing so great in the flower bed where I found room for it, I don't think it's getting enough sun.)
Next to this bed, you can see our third raised bed, which has a row of cucumbers along the northern edge. These will be trellised up that black fence looking thing, which is actually our broken futon frame that we took apart and re-purposed (and I think it looks really handsome.) The rest of that bed is potatoes: purple viking, alta blush (an Albertan variety!), and red norland. Eight plants of each. I think I will encircle or sprinkle freely carrot seeds around this bed, because we like our carrots. Unfortunately this bed is riddled with quack grass, I don't think it grew up from under the cardboard we laid down at the bottom of the bed, I think seeds were in the clippings/leaves we threw on there to compost during the winter. Hopefully digging up the potato harvest will also dig up all the grass root runners in the fall.
This is not a vegetable bed, I call it my fairy garden. Along the back are my stolen ferns which have flourished to nine plants this year (despite nearly drying to death in last year's hot summer when I completely neglected them), then some lamium, irises I just transplanted this year, and hostas that went crazy and spread I don't know how, and a new bugleweed plant I bought to fill in the front. I used to have lamb's ear there, but it died this winter, and I also used to have phlox there, but it also died or got choked out by grass. I want to get a few gnomes or fairies or something to go with my hippo friend (in the bottom right corner).
Our other flowers beds have giant mutant rhubarb plants, hostas, peonies, raspberry plants, alium and lilies, chives and irises, and I planted some zucchini. One section of irises needs to be thinned, not sure where to, maybe along the alley, maybe to the front? Our lily bed is being over-shaded by a lilac bush, and the lilies are being eaten by the scarlet lily beetle, which only just made inroads to this province recently. I may move them to our front garden beds, if I can find room (!).
I found seven baby rabbits in a shallow nest under my phlox in the shaded bed by the lilac bush. The same stupid rabbit built a nest in this phlox last year. It may in fact be two rabbits, male and female, though I didn't think they raised young together, but why would two females be tending the same nest? (I watched them explore the destroyed nest, the one seemed distinctly more frantic then the other, at one point it turned on the other one, and sort of scratched the top of its head, and then they both ran away.) They are not afraid of me, particularly when it comes to protecting the nest. They both brazenly jumped into the bed with the spinach while I was working at the other end planting tomatoes, as though to announce, here I am. And then one of them hopped through the potato bed right next to the coleus plant, so it obvious doesn't stink enough to really bother them. GAH! As far as I'm concerned, they are the same as vermin. I tried laying some thorny branches from our rose bush over the spinach and lettuce rows, only to look out later and see the #$&^$ creature sitting pretty between the branches, eating more of my spinach. GAH AGAIN! Not sure what to try next, likely a fence, but worried they'll just dig up my lawn to get under it.
In the front yard, we have two flowers beds on either side of the front steps. To the left (facing) there's a large rose bush we finally trimmed and tied back. Papa Bean evened out the top soil we unceremoniously dumped on the beds and weeded, too. We trimmed the scary bush, and I moved the lilies and mountain bluets forward, away from the cramped bush's branches. Then I planted some delphinium and hollyhock seeds to grow tall in behind. The irises are already blooming on that side, and the peony is about to. I moved the hens and chicks in two pieces to the new bed under our spruce tree. We will also have butternut squash growing in this bed. On the right side, we have some type of stonecrop/low-lying sedum and lamb's ear in front of the bush, then more lilies and irises which I shifted around today, and a sedum. I took out the spirea bushes, they weren't really growing well anyway. I planted more delphinium and hollyhock, and our pumpkin will grow on this side. In the bed under the spruce, I have planted three types of hens and chicks (spiderweb, a purple type, and the standard green ones), some pink poppy seeds and forget-me-not seeds from my mom (hope they'll still grow, she sent them last summer or the year before). Will also be growing snow-on-the-mountain, snowdrops, lily-of-the-valley, and whatever other hardy perennials I can get for free or cheap that will do okay in dry acidic soil. PB heard bleeding hearts grow well under spruce, so if I can mooch some plants or get near-dead ones for cheap, I'll give it a try. I may also try the spirea I dug out of the other flower bed under there, but not sure it will get enough sun. Okay I think that's my update, I'll definitely get more pictures up as things grow!