Today I want to give a quick virtual tour of our vegetable garden here in late May. The last couple of weeks I have been busy clearing, planting, weeding and mulching, and the summer garden is about 75% planted. I got the last beds/rows worked up and fertilized first, then I started in on planting. We’ve had a dry spring, and it was easy to work up the beds using both a fork and the rototiller as needed. I added compost along with amendments as dictated by a soil test I did earlier in the year. I’ve managed to build up soil fertility the last few years, and I only needed to add nitrogen along with a few minor elements like boron, zinc and manganese. I add other fertilizer directly to heavy feeding crops at planting time. For the areas where I plant beans and sweet potatoes, I skip the extra nitrogen since they don’t need it.
I finished up setting out the tomatoes, and moved on to the sweet and hot peppers. I am using a mix of mulching methods, including my old favorite newspaper and straw treatment as well as woven weed barrier fabric. I also uses pieces of cardboard my wife and I save during the year, especially around the edges of the garden and around the vining squashes.
For most of the tomatoes I set them out and mulched with newspaper before placing the cages around them. I will go back soon and add straw on top of the paper and inside the cages.
I also did a small test planting of experimental varieties from the University of Florida Citizen Science Initiative and from Fred Hempel at Artisan Seeds using the weed barrier fabric. For that I made an x-shaped cut using scissors, then added Happy Frog tomato fertilizer and worked it in the planting hole. The tomato transplants were not overly lanky, so I only set them a bit deeper than they were growing in the 3.5″ pots they were in before planting.
I did the same for the peppers, mulching most of them with newspaper and then setting a few into the weed barrier fabric. I set out a total of 12 sweet peppers and 20 hot peppers. I dry a lot of the hot peppers plus I use them for hot sauce, so I always plant more of them. I have to say I was happy with the quality of both the tomato and pepper plants this year, no doubt helped by a somewhat earlier sowing time indoors and a somewhat later setting out time due to weather issues. I also have 6 pots of C. baccatum peppers I grew last year then overwintered indoors that I will set out in the ground. I use the Happy Frog Tomato fertilizer (5-7-3) for peppers and eggplant too since it seems to suit them well.
The bush squashes I set out a week or so ago in the weed barrier fabric have taken off and started growing. I also have a couple of Astia zucchini plants I set out early in grow bags that should give us an early taste of squash.
The bush beans I sowed a week ago have also started coming up. I will be sowing a long row of pole beans also which supply most of our beans for fresh eating in summer and freezing for later use.
I still have plenty of garden chores to do in addition to sowing pole beans, including setting out about a dozen eggplants and planting sweet potato slips. I grew all my own slips again this year, using five varieties of sweet potatoes from storage. And I need to finish setting out the rest of the vining squashes, which I hope to get done tomorrow. I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the garden here in May, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!
I hope that the weed control fabric works for you. We haven’t used as much this year as we needed to plant things quickly in between bouts of rain we’ll probably pay the price once the weeds start to grow.
I did a test spot last year with the fabric along one side of the greenhouse and it did quite well with no weeds. I sat pots of herbs on it.
I like all those cages you use, I’ve never seen anything like them : All the best – Steve
I made the big ones I use for tomatoes from rolls of concrete remesh material. The painted ones come from Gardeners Supply and fold down for storage. They are pricey but last for a long time. I was given a few by a friend and got hooked on them!