Vegetable & Cutting Garden
We dream of gardens and gatherings during the dead of winter. Jacquelyn and I agreed that this year our ideas centered around a new cutting garden. As the months passed, our vague notions gradually turned into reality. It is nearly summer now, and life is springing up in our new backyard space.
In the beginning there was a great deal of planning and scheming from the comfort of my desk chair. An enormous Amish donut and a tall mug of hot tea helped, of course!
Later, it developed into a rather daunting task involving push and shove and plain old hard work.
Most of the thirty foot by thirty foot square was part of the lawn. That meant lots of tilling and raking and tilling again.
After days of working up the soil, waiting for it to break down a bit, tilling again, raking and removing the clods, tilling again, it is finally ready to plant. Can you tell I'm not exactly experienced in creating gardens? Do you hear me huffing and puffing, acting like it's a tremendously tough job?
Well, it was! What an excellent source of exercise to get me moving and in shape for the spring and summer season.
The dream of fresh cut flowers and vegetables keeps me plowing into it week after week!
At last we arrived at the fun part. I had to get some input from my husband on finding the exact center of the square using this string-and-stakes method (I made that thing years ago and obviously grabbed whatever was in any way related to a rope, adding onto it by tying pieces together, so it would reach across the garden). It ended up a bit short for this one.
I'm preparing to plant my white lilac in the very center.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to finally leave off working up the soil and actually plant something beautiful in this garden! With Julian's help I plopped this large white lilac right in the middle.
Next on the agenda is making a border of bricks around it, with the help of my best Jacki and a measuring rod.
Jacki is planting two kinds of cabbage. She was my faithful little helper throughout this whole process.
The new garden in evening light. Step by step we are making progress.
This little tree caught my attention at Fredericksburg Greenhouse and Nursery.
Wandering among the plants, I am in search of half a dozen evergreens to use as a hedge at the back of the garden. They will be a continuation of the row that is already in place.
After starting seeds indoors back in February, then hardening them off by keeping them in the patio for a few more weeks, we have arrived at planting day.
Lots and lots of little seedlings. Jacki is getting an education in gardening!
Happily, she has inherited my love for working with plants.
A couple hundred flowers later, a good soaking with the hose, and we are seeing the beginnings of new life.
The weather turned colder about the time the compost arrived. We bundled up and set to work, shoveling and spreading bucket after bucket of that stuff. It will help keep weeds at a minimum while it also enriches the soil.
Does it take a long time to fill a nine hundred square foot space with compost one bucket at a time?
But we carry out our task with joy because we anticipate a future harvest. It's exciting to see it all come together at last.
I made a few plant markers out of paint stirrers.
And stuck them in at the ends of the rows of vegetables.
I snapped this photo near the end of May.
A week or two later...
We have been able to harvest the All Greens Mix, as well as Romaine lettuce, onions, and surprisingly enough, a few radishes. I had quit trying several years ago because they refused to produce edible radishes, only going into huge plants and seed heads. The strange thing is, this year my spinach is having issues, and that is usually easy to grow.
Another problem in this new garden is what appears to be burnt plants. They start turning brown and brittle along the outside edge of the leaves and slowly shrivel inward to the stem. Many of them die, some just look spindly and sick, others bounce back and seem to overcome the odds. It's worse in the lower end of the garden, an area that was all in grass last year. Maybe there is too much shade from that great oak tree.
Rows of Zinnias, Cosmos, and Queen of Africa are nearly bare, as you can see in the photos below.
You win some and lose some when you work with plants. I believe I'll harvest a nice amount of vegetables, though I may not be able to gather as many flowers out of the cutting garden as I'd hoped. I sowed seeds into some of the bare spots but they are not making an appearance as of yet. Still, it's only mid-June with plenty of time left in the season for the plants to grow and spread.
Sun and soil conditions seem to be ideal for tomatoes and cabbage. This section of the garden is certainly flourishing. Now if we can just keep Peter Rabbit and his extended family out of here I think we'll have lots of yummy salads and sandwiches, plus extra to store away for the winter months.
That is the story of my new garden! It is far and away the largest project of the year and I'm glad to be on this side of it!