May has been a very busy time in the garden. The summer garden planting is DONE! Everything I had planned to grow is either transplanted from seedlings started in the greenhouse or seeded directly in the garden. I am feeling a great sense of accomplishment and yet there are so many more task that could be done. I ask myself,” Is there no end to the list of things to do?” A part of me answers “God, I hope not!”
I now have about 7500 sq. ft. of garden area. The new area of about 3000 sq. ft. is in rough shape, needing lime, fertilizer, compost, and deep digging. I did what I could to get it ready with the time and energy I was willing to put into it. But the season waits for no one. In that area, I decided it is better to have a garden planted in soil that is less than perfect than not to have any crop at all this year.
The tomatoes are in. They were way too leggy but they are doing OK. They could look better but they are going to make it. The peppers are planted and they are looking great! I lost two tomato plants and had replacements, so I am at full strength! Both the peppers and tomatoes seem to be starting to grow well. With 128 tomato plants + 8 seed saver plants and 160 pepper plants + 14 seed saver plants, we should not want for tomatoes or peppers assuming these varieties grow well here. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, onions, fennel, kohlrabi, summer squash, winter squash, melons, cucumbers, and eggplant are all in the ground and appear to be thriving. Chard, radishes, beets, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, bush beans, pole beans, shelling beans, sweet corn, and peas are all garden seeded. The radishes, beets, turnips, rutabaga, peas, and bush beans have germinated!
My timing is not well aligned with the seasons yet. Part of it is due to trying to get so much done, part is due to growing vegetables I have never had the space in which to grow before, most of is just ignorance which is correctable with study and some long rainy winter days sort out the schedule of things.
The weather in the first half of May worked out very well, with a mix of rain and sun. This has allowed me to plant and work the soil until I get tired and then it would rain so the plants are very happy and I had an excuse to rest. In the second half of May it has been dry, perfectly warm and the setting sun has been calling me in from the garden. What a pleasant end to a day of gardening, to come back to the house, crack open a beer, and relax as the sun sets behind the Callahan mountain range. As I watch the shadow from the ridge race across the valley floor, I think about the accomplishments of the day and start to make the list of projects I should get after tomorrow.
The main garden rows have been lengthened a few feet to align with the new garden area and all of the 10 yards of compost I had delivered last fall is gone. I have had an additional 14 yards of compost delivered and used a bit of in the new garden area. Over the summer I will incorporate all of it in both garden areas with a priority for the new garden. I ordered a compost called “mint” compost. It is very well composted with few large pieces of un-composted material. I plan to build a 1+ yd storage box for some of the compost. I can then use this compost along with other material to create a lower cost potting soil. I plan to get a second delivery of 14 yards of compost called “garden” compost delivered in late fall. This garden compost is less finished and will be a better product for digging into the garden soil. I hope to incorporate 7 yards of this compost as part of my fall garden cleanup effort and save 7 yards for spring planting. The ground is too wet and soft in the spring for the delivery truck, so I need to save some for spring. The closest the truck can get to the garden is about 50 yards from where it is needed. This is due to some barb wire keeping the elk out of the garden that stretches over the gate where the truck would enter. I plan to change that so I can open that wire when the delivery comes and get the compost much closer to where I need it.
- Take down the temporary greenhouse structure and move the tables to a better location for summer propagation efforts.
- Build a “grow out area” for long term shrub propagation in 1 gal. and 2 gal. pots. I am thinking this should go along the northern edge of the garden near the fruit trees.
- Have a pole shed built 24’ x 18’ and enclose it myself with my dad’s help
- Layout the spot for the new location of the hoop house.
- Turn my focus to the orchard, flower beds, and yard.
- Start to work on building a walking path around the property
The soil in the new garden space needs a lot of improvement. My idea at this time is to try to improve the soil in the area where the vegetables are actually planted and will grow and not the entire space. Then, as those crops finish up this fall, add major amounts of amendments, which can then mellow into the soil during the winter. Then, in very early spring, test the soil again and make minor adjustments before the summer planting starts. I suspect this process will be repeated for years to come.