After yesterday’s tour of the kitchen garden near the house, today we are on to the main vegetable garden, which is currently about 30 by 40 feet in size and surrounded by a 7-1/2 foot tall deer fence that has seen better days. The fence was supposed to be replaced last year by nice wire fencing with wooden posts, but that hasn’t happened yet. At this point the garden is about 2/3 planted, with the rest (paste tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes and okra) scheduled to go in before the end of May.
One big chore I did this year was to replace my pole bean trellis. The Trellinet netting on the old one lasted for three years, but it was in need of replacement. I put it up at the other end of the garden, in an “L” shape. That will give me a little extra room to grow more yardlong beans, and some borlotto shell beans. The trellis is supported with both metal T-posts and bamboo stakes.
Some of the yardlong beans were already germinating after 4 days in the ground. These beans were a welcome addition to the harvest basket in 2011. The rest of the beans came up a couple of days later. It will be fun to have some shell beans, if they do anything. I hope to expand the garden a bit next year, and dry beans will be one thing I plan on growing in the extra space. Instead of the 30 foot trellis I have, it would be nice to have one a bit longer so I could grow dry pole beans like Good Mother Stallard or perhaps Rattlesnake. Aren’t gardeners always wishing for more room to grow more things!
I also have one row of bush beans planted, to give us some early beans. This row is a mix of Purple Queen, Rocdor and Derby. The Purple Queen (aka Royal Burgundy) is already showing a few blooms. I took a chance and planted these a bit early on 4/1, but it looks like the gamble may pay off with some extra early beans.
I also have a row of potatoes planted here. Growing here are Red Lasoda, Yukon Gold and a few more of the Russian Banana fingerlings. I need to hill these up a little more to give those spuds plenty of room to form!
I have two rows of tomatoes planted, each with 11 remesh cages. And each cage is planted with two tomato plants of the same variety. Last year I had two rows planted right next to each other, which had me doing the Tomato Tango whenever I tried to harvest. This year I put a row between them, with winter squash planted there. I should be able to navigate amongst the squash plants to get to the tomatoes. At least that’s the plan. These are ‘bush’ winter squashes that don’t vine too much. I will be planting some squashes that do vine in another area of the garden, where they can vine on the deer fencing.
I will mulch these tomatoes with newspaper in a week or so. The day I planted them, it was so windy that I knew I would never get paper spread without it flying all over the neighborhood! I will also mulch around the squashes, peppers and eggplants with newspaper covered in straw. That will take care of any weeds as well as keep the squashes off the ground where they might rot. That same mulching strategy has worked well for the past two seasons.
I also need to plant some more paste tomatoes. I will be supporting most of these with the stake and weave method, and trying some ‘short’ cages for a couple of the determinate plants (like Viva Italia or Health Kick). I also am growing ground cherries (Aunt Molly’s) for the first time this year. I plant on supporting them with a ‘lightweight’ store bought type tomato cage. A friend says he just mulches around his and just lets them sprawl, but I’m not big on letting tomatoes of any kind ramble about so I plan on supporting ours.
Two of the three raised beds are planted with mostly brassicas this spring. One bed is a mix of broccoli and cabbage, while the other bed has Apollo broccolini, kohlrabi, and celery. I am trying the big Kossak kohlrabi for the first time. It is supposed to produce “incredibly huge kohlrabi bulbs”, up to 10 inches wide. I am always skeptical of catalog claims for giant veggies, so we will see how big these really get. Kolibri and Winner are my old standbys for kohlrabi, and reliably produce for me every year. All the raised beds got a liberal helping of compost before I planted anything, so hopefully everyone should at least be well fed! I’m not sure if I will mulch these two beds or not. I’m thinking I will, if the straw holds out.
The third raised bed was planted with garlic last fall. Most of the hardneck varieties are here, like Japanese, Uzbek, Chinese Pink, Romanian Red and Metechi. The creole variety Ajo Rojo is growing here too. Ajo Rojo is a great tasting garlic that kept well for us this year, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can get it acclimated to our climate. I’m giving it all the TLC I can! This bed should yield quite a few garlic scapes, in addition to the bulbs.
That a look at what’s growing here in the vegetables garden in mid May. I hope you enjoyed the tour. I plan to be back later this month with a look at some of our other plantings.