I've been totally slacking on the gardening posts. Here's a text-based update, and I'll post some pics later. Overall, the garden is in heavy production already. This is by far the earliest I've eaten food out of my garden, and I think it's totally a result of the hoop houses I had over the winter.
Last year I had four 4'x8' raised beds. This year I've added two 10'x2' beds for the tomatoes, and two 4'x4' beds, one specifically for each of my boys, who love the idea of gardening but let daddy do most of the work (hey it's an excuse for me to cover more of my yard with vegetables - leave me alone). I've also constructed a couple ladder trellised for vining squashes.
The first bed had a hoop house over it this winter. It has Swiss Chard planted mostly. The chard died off, I thought, with the January deep freezes, but once the sun came out and it warmed up in there, it came back, and eventually ended up over a foot tall. We ate all we could before it got too tough, so it went in the compost heap. Now in that bed we have a new round of chard (5-color Silverbeet), cilantro, rosemary and tons of lettuce that was transplanted from the overwintered lettuce seed in Bed #3. We've been eating salads every day since late march from this, and it's now going to seed so it has to come out.
This is the pepper bed this year. I worked in a good amount of leaf litter and grass clippings, and planted a bunch of peppers. This year we're growing Joe's Long Cayenne, Sheepnose Pimento, Marconi, Jalapeño, and some other long Italian frying pepper that my dad gave me. There are 20 plants in all. Three of the sheepnode pimento plants have peppers on them already; I'm looking forward to trying them whem they turn red.
This bed also had a hoop house on it. It had a lot of Kale in it, which mostly got braised with bacon, tomatoes and pork, or converted into Kale chips. The Kale eventually went to seed. I collected some of the seed and composted the rest of the plants that I couldn't eat. Kale was very successful and I will plant it again. Now though, I have Mesclun greens, cucumbers, overwintered lettuce that we're STILL eating, and Mexican Sour Gherkins, which I'm looking forward to. I've devised some ingenious trellises for the cucumbers that should protect the lettuces from the summer sun. I'll include pictures later.
Onions, dill, shell peas, radishes (four kinds, pulled out now), and bush beans.
Big bed in the corner:
Romanesco, Broccoli, asparagus (did NOT do well this year), acorn and butternut squash on trellises.
Twenty plants in twenty linear feet of beds. This is much denser than I have ever grown them, and instead of an individual piece of re-bar for each, I made frames and I'm going to try the twine support method this year. I'll post pictures of this. In between the plants I have basil, arugula and spinach planted.
I am getting the most out of my space this year. Along the edges I have several kinds of summer squash (I bought a variety pack of seeds. No idea what's what), pole beans, bush beans and Lovage.
Each has two cherry tomato plants, two pepper plants and a watermelon plant. The boys are excited to have their own gardens this year. I don't know if they'll stay excited but you can bet I'll be doing my best to brainwash them!
Overall the garden is off to a great start. I'm way ahead of my friends and neighbors with it, and I'm excited to see what it becomes. If only I could get rid of those darn mosquitoes...