|Posted on April 26, 2009 at 7:49 PM|
The garden walkways in my garden are for the most part old sod from a lawn that used to exist in that area. About every 4 weeks or so during the growing season, I take the weed whacker through the garden walkways and knock down the growth of grass and weeds. The cut is extremely close to the ground, in fact I purposefully attempt to basically scalp the walkway soil to discourage and/or rapidly slow down the regrowth of vegetation. It's not just a matter of aesthetics that I do this. It certainly does make the garden look nicer to keep it trim and neat, but it is also an important pest management strategy to keep the vegetation knocked down. In particular, slugs love to shelter in the tall grass next to the bed edging during the day - only to come out in the evening and eat all the plants in the garden beds. Keeping their hideaways minimal helps keep their population in check. Today's primary garden task was to do the first walkway weed whacking of the year. The growth was pretty lush as you can see from this picture.
And here it is after I had been through the garden with the weed whacker.
Big difference in how the garden looks from just this one simple chore. It takes about a two hour commitment of time to do this from beginning to end because I have to make sure everything in the garden is prepared ahead of time (raising netting, removing debris, etc) and I take frequent breaks to spare my back and arm from repetitive stress problems.
I had hoped to get to the cleaning of the greenhouse panels today too, but decided to do that another day. Wanted to relax and enjoy the glorious sunshine filled day instead!
Thought I would give you a pictorial update on how things are "growing" in the garden. Here's an overview picture of the garden, looking at it from the vantage point of our deck that wraps around 2/3rds of our house.
The tomato bed is thriving despite the distinctly cold weather we had mid to late last week. The grow tunnel and red plastic is catching and holding a tremendous amount of heat. I have to open up the ends on sunny/warm days to keep some cross ventilation going, but during the cool overcast days I just leave it buttoned up. Here's a look down the tunnel from one end.
The first two plants are "Stupice" (pronounced "stew peach ka") which are the earliest producers of the several varieties I am growing this year. If you look carefully at the picture you will notice that both of these plants have blossoms on them. With extra care and attention, it is possible that they will produce the first ripe fruit by mid June.
The onions and garlic bed is doing very well with the exception of the shallots that seem to have gaps in the bed where the plants did not make it through the winter. This happened last year with the shallots as well. I doubt I will continue to keep growing them because I cannot afford to underutilize growing beds like this and as much as I like to use them in cooking - a good onion will do just as nicely and produce better for me to boot. So I will probably just use this crop up and not reserve any bulbs for planting out this fall. Here's a picture of the main allium bed (sweet onions, elephant garlic, multiplier onions, regular garlic, and shallots) and a picture of the storage onions ("Copra") planted in another section of the garden.
The broccoli, cabbages, and kohlrabi are all progressing nicely too. The first crop of broccoli was planted out with the cabbages, and kohlrabi quite a while ago. Here's a picture of that bed as it looks today.
And here is the second round of broccoli that was started 4 weeks later than the first crop and which was just recently planted out.
Amazingly enough the second crop of broccoli are so much more advanced in growth in comparison to the earlier crop (which had to contend with cold and snow right after I transplanted them) that they are both approximately at the same size and stage of growth - despite the month difference in age! I am going to have a big broccoli crop all at once because my usual succession planting strategy just did not work out for me this year. Oh well, I will just put some in the freezer for later use.
Another crop I will update you on is the spinach. We are harvesting from the overwintered patch of spinach and it has been keeping us well fed for the past many weeks. I am working it hard with regular harvests and it will soon be depleted and inclined to bolt to seed as the days lengthen. Here's a picture of the patch as it looks today.
And here is the spring seeded spinach patch that will be soon ready to replace the overwintered patch.
These plants are just beginning to show their first true leaves. This patch will produce our big spring harvest that is largely blanched and then frozen for use during the winter months. This is usually the first preserving effort that I do each year - freezing spinach from the spring crop.
Finally, here is the vertical grow bed that has some lettuces, the celery, swiss chard, and the beets planted up in it. The beets are all up but quite small yet (hard to see). The celery and swiss chard are thriving. I have direct seeded the sugar snap peas in this bed as well, but they are not emerged yet.
So that's it for now. Overall, things are in good shape. I need to finish up the two remaining big beds in the garden expansion area because I will soon be needing them for the last transplants that are currently growing in the shop under lights, and to direct seed the green bean and parsnip patches.
I will leave you with a picture of our Japanese red maple trees that are starting to really leaf out now. Spring is here (finally!).