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!