Mary, Mary, quite contrary…

How does your garden grow?!

Ours is shooting up splendidly, if I may say so myself (although I haven’t had a thing to do with its progress). Sam has done an amazing job with our garden this year. He’s completely devoted to making sure we have an excellent crop of fresh veggies this summer. He’s been reading books and putting into practice what he’s learned, and it looks like his efforts are paying off. It won’t be long now before we have our first picking of green beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers. Here are a few photos.

Here’s a photo of the whole garden (or as much as I could get in the frame). We moved our plants around yesterday since they were getting so large they were beginning to shade each other! As you can see, we’ve chosen to plant this entire crop in Earthboxes, buckets and containers. Since we didn’t have any raised beds constructed when we started this spring, we decided not to risk our luck with the dense Georgia clay. This happens to be an abandoned sand box that was in our back yard when we purchased our house, and since we do not have any small children we thought it would be the perfect location for our first Georgia garden. We are in the process of adding some raised beds to our landscape that will be home to our future veggies. But so far, we’re having great luck with the Earthbox, container and bucket approach to this season’s veggie garden.

This is a beautiful plant! It’s one of the 92 green bean bushes we’ve planted. I don’t know if you’re able to make out the tiny little green bean that is growing in the midst of the cluster of blooms, but several of our plants have these little guys on them already as well as tons of blooms. One of my favorite foods is home canned green beans, so I’m hoping that we get a huge crop off these guys. We currently have them planted in three stages – these are the most mature plants, then we’ve got some that are about 3 weeks past germination (the plants are about 8 inches tall), and then we have some that are just now in germination and are beginning to pop their first sets of leaves through the soil. With this crop, we’re hoping to be picking beans clear into August or even September. Yummy!

This is one of our tomato plants, and the first tomato is right in the center – it’s the small, green globe right in the center of the photo. I believe we have a total of nine tomato plants out so far, and most of them are loaded with blooms, which means we’ll be eating a lot of tomatoes once they start coming into season. I imagine our neighbors will be helping us too!

Here is one of many summer squash blossoms. We seem to have 5 or 6 squash in this stage or just a bit smaller. In case you’re not familiar with the growth pattern of squash, the blossom is actually on the end of the fruit and not at the stem. That bumpy “finger” you see at the base of the blossom is actually the squash itself, and will develop into a beautiful lemony yellow summer squash. I am especially excited with this plant as I really enjoy summer squash and I’m looking forward to our first harvest. Sam’s praying we have good bee and butterfly action so these guys will all be pollinated properly and we’ll end up with a bumper crop o’ squash.

Here is a red sweet pepper plant. There are actually 6 peppers on this plant, but this one is the largest so far. We have another red pepper plant in the garden as well, but it is taking its sweet time in growing. In fact, we weren’t even sure it was going to survive once we transplanted it outside this spring. It was very late in germinating, and the growth process has been very slow. We may not see any blooms or fruit on it until the fall, but either way, it has been fun watching the cycle of growth its taking.

Below are a couple of photos of the raised bed system we’re in the process of creating, which will allow us to grow all the veggies we need to sustain our family. We currently have two beds done, and we plan on having a total of six beds when we’re done. The beds are made up of untreated lumber and are 12 foot long, 4 foot wide, and 1 foot deep. We they hold a fat cubic yard and a half of organic planting mix, which we have been purchasing from our neighborhood landscaping company. The load pretty much fills the back of Sam’s truck and it takes approximately two hours to shovel it out of the truck and rake it evenly in the bed. The soil is really top quality and contains a healthy amount of manure and organic compost, so we hope to have an outstanding crop production this fall.

One whole bed will be dedicated to root vegetables, such as sweet and white potatoes, onions, garlic, horseradish, radishes, carrots, and beets. The other five beds will be filled with tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, green and wax beans, lettuces, artichokes, okra, and whatever other veggies tickle our fancy. This first bed has been planted with pumpkins. I can smell the pies already!

In addition to our raised veggie beds, Sam and I have also put in a berry bed, which contains blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Here is the lower corner of this bed where our raspberries are planted. Berries typically have a more hearty root system which, over time, will be able to penetrate the hard Georgia clay, so this bed is only 6 inches deep (12 foot long and 4 foot wide at the widest point) and contains organic planting mix as do the other beds. The strawberries are only 3 season producers and have a much more shallow root system so there was no need to plant them in a deep bed.

These are our new raspberry canes – Fall Gold. They are said to be two season producers, so we look forward to our first crop this fall and then two crops next year and many years after (spring and fall). As you can see, the raspberries are beginning to green up already and should continue to do so throughout the summer months. I can’t wait!

One last picture….here is our fall crop – already well on its way to becoming a success.
This box consists of tomatoes and sweet peppers. These little plants have been in peat pellets for about 18 days now and Sam is going to be transplanting them into bigger containers in the next day or two. Most of the plants have their first set of true leaves (the first two leaves that appear are considered germination leaves and not true leaves) and are in need of better nutrition and more sturdy soil. These guys will live in starter containers until the end of June or the first of July when we’ll be ready to plant them in their raised bed outside. Their new starter container will allow them to develop a healthy and sturdy root system so when they are planted outside in the raised bed, they will be large enough to withstand the elements and they’ll have a good root system in which to gather all the necessary nutrients they need to produce a beautiful and bountiful harvest of goodness!

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next installment from Sam’s garden….I suspect it will involve our first harvest!



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