Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Gardening

It's been a summer packed with work, gardening, work, kids, work and cooking. In June, Number 3, Tris and I planted our plot at the Izabel Street Community Garden. I did a good deal of research about companion planting to produce the biggest yield.

Number 3 and I weeding before we sow

Number 3 wielding a pick ax

I split the garden into two sides. In the smaller side, we planted strawberries, green bush beans, borage, and marigolds. The marigolds are the only non-edible, non-useable plant in the garden, but they bloom all summer, attracting pollinators and they ward off unwanted pests. The beans fix nitrogen and deposit it into the soil, where the producing strawberries, in need of a ton of nitrogen, pick it up and make more sweet delicious berries. The borage is an herb that I will use once it has run it's life cycle, but it also has beautiful blooms that attract the pollinators. We added a barrier of chicken wire to separate the two sides.

The day we planted. We sowed some seeds and planted some starters.

Week Two respectively. You can see the chicken wire at the top to prevent the pickling cucumbers from taking over the strawberry patch.
In the larger side, we planted non-native sunflowers (the big ones with yummy seeds), pickling cucumbers, patty-pan squash, pie pumpkins, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and marigolds. I am finding out that our soil lacks nitrogen, so today I will be adding some blood meal to get the pumpkins growing. (The plot next to ours, that is almost all alpaca manure, is making amazing pumpkins! Luckily, it's a community plot, so we can harvest our fall pumpkins from there.) 

Week 3-4. The beans and borage have sprouted and the sunflowers are taking off!

Week 4-5. Taken from the sunflower side, so you can't see the strawberry side.  I will post a more updated pic later today.
The monsoons have been doing most of the watering, but they are also watering the weeds. The whole family went out to the garden for some weeding fun last Saturday. I love them all so much. We started with our own plot, then we weeded the paths in the whole garden. Number 3 and I went out yesterday and cleared a whole section of the garden that was over run by an invasive weed, called Dispersed Knapweed. It's a prickly SOB. My arms are beat up, but I am looking forward to another two or more hours of weeding today. I want that garden to look amazing!!! 

Green beans that started in the last few days. I think we will actually be able to make more than one meal from this yield. 

Our home garden is also growing beyond expectations! We have six varieties of organic and heirloom tomatoes that are fruiting right now. The cherries are starting to get red, so I am thinking this weekend we will be feasting. We will have to save some for Number 3 or he will be really sad. I learned at one of the gardening seminars supported by Foodlink, one of the sponsors of the Flagstaff Community Gardens, that our tomatoes need more room and more soil and that they are perineal. After they are finished fruiting, we will transplant them into 5 gallon buckets and move inside the mudroom for the winter. They can tolerate 40 degrees F cold. I am looking forward to an even bigger crop next year!   

She's all grown up.

The Brussels Sprouts are starting to form. They are so cool looking!! I will be planting more of them in our fall garden, at the second plot I acquired at the community garden. I will also be planting lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, cabbage and more beans. My hope is to build cold frames so that I can continue to garden these greens throughout the winter. I will keep you posted on what the plan is for that. Last, but not least, I harvested last years pearl onions a few weeks ago. I have to confess, I haven't used them yet, but I will in my salad tonight. 

Brussel Babies. They are a smidge bigger now.  

Some of the onions I harvested. 
Looks like we will be homesteading on city property for the time being, but I don't mind. In fact, I love it. I get to meet other gardeners, attend seminars, and eat at potlucks. Plus I get to walk to the garden every day and get a bit of exercise. Life is good. 

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