Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'll Take Those Three Ibuprofins

Whoever said gardening was easy?

It might not be immediately obvious, but getting our front-yard kitchen garden to look like this took the better part of the Memorial Day weekend. By the end of it, we were grilling burgers and hot dogs and sipping our gin-and-tonics, but I was bushed.

First, I harvested about 10 pounds of various mustard greens and turnip greens and Chinese greens from this bed, blanched the greens and packed them for freezing. Then I applied my usual cultivation approach to the bed--working my forked spade all around to loosen the soil, breaking up the surface with my stirrup hoe, stirring in some compost.

We are transitioning to summer. The bed is now planted with two varieties of pickling cucumbers to grow up trellises on the right, Italian marrow squash in the middle, and three types of radishes in two rows on the left.

The larger part of this bed has been lying fallow for the longest time while the onions, inter-planted with radishes on the right, grow tall. But it was finally time to transplant the tomatoes. Here we have Cherokee Purple, Dr. Carolyn and Big Boy, all comfy in their thick layer of straw mulch.

I had planted Tokyo Bekana greens, dill, arugula and lettuce behind the rhubarb, figuring they would tolerate a little shade. Well, I sort of miscalculated how fast and large the rhubarb would grow. It's very happy in its compost-amended bed. So the other plants never did much except go to seed. But I needed to clear them out of the way to prepare the soil and plant okra. (See yesterday's post.)

This bed was the scene of last year's arugula going to seed. I collected quite a load of seed pods. I'm hoping daughter will help me pick through them to collect the seeds. Then more time spent with the forked spade, the stirrup hoe and hauling buckets of compost from the compost pile before planting more tomatoes: Mortgage Lifter and Green Zebra.

I give the individual tomato plants plenty of room to breathe. They're spaced four feet apart. At the next opportunity, I'll install cages made of concrete reinforcing wire. I plan to plant some zinnias in front of the tomatoes--we always like to have some flowers in the garden--and our collection of peppers and Asian eggplant.

Visible in the far rear is the last bed I renovated for the summer. It's now planted with two Roma tomatoes and a large section of sweet potatoes. This is our first year growing sweet potatoes and I'm anxious to see how they perform in this particular bed. It's situated on the north side of the house, but in summer gets sun in the morning and late afternoon.

Yikes...just writing about all this work makes me hungry for another Ibuprofin.


Fromartz said...

Ed, would love to come by and see the garden sometime. Let me know, Sam

Ed Bruske said...

Sounds good, Sam. Go to my profile and you can send me an e-mail.

WeekendFarmer said...

mortgage lifter :) you serious? (lol)
Amazing garden!!! Any groundhog, bunny problem? I am being hit by both and they are devouring all the seedlings. Did you get a lot of peas?

Ed Bruske said...

WF, our problems are mostly with rats nibbling on the low-hanging tomatoes, melons, that sort of thing. We stopped growing melons and we try to remove low-hanging tomatoes before the rats are tempted.

We've never seen any moles, groundhogs or rabbits. We have seen a raccoon, but he hasn't shown any interest in the garden.

Debbie said...

I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and read it religiously now. I have made the decision to have a veg garden this year - it has been a while since I have had one. I am still in the brown thumb catergory but am willing to give this my best shot. I am worried about deer, woodchucks, etc. since in the past they have loved my garden. I am planning on planting this weekend - hopefully the chance of frost is gone in NH. Happy gardening and cooking - I LOVE your recipes!

Ed Bruske said...

Debbie, I am so glad we don't have all that wildlife eating our garden. The worst we have to worry about are the rats. How about a tall fence? I'd do just about anything to have a vegetable garden. Being able to walk out our door and harvest dinner is worth all the effort.

Love the pictures of the falcon...