Here’s the May update on my garden. For those of you just joining the Zone 9 Gardener, I have a 900 square foot garden I grow vegetables in for my family. It consists of several 4×8 foot sections, each devoted to various specific crops. This post is to keep you up to date with what is happening in my garden. The plot is pictured below:
My herb garden covers four plots. In plot one, I have stevia, growing well. It’s about two feet tall now. My mint plant, which I planted in a pot to contain it, is trying to escape the pot by sending runners out under the mulch. I just had to trim back my oregano into its section, and I took some of the oregano to try to propagate it in the house. Then I had another section of stevia from seeds which did not survive.
In plot two, I have thyme growing. Dill plants are growing well. I had some cilantro that got too tall and the wind blew it over. I was able to put that inside of a tomato cage for support, and it seems to have recovered now. My parsley is growing well also.
Plot 3 has Rosemary. I have had trouble with Rosemary, but this one is still growing, along with two other mystery plants. I’m leaving them grow until I figure out what they are. I had some Tarragon which did not survive, but the sage is still growing; not very robustly but it is growing. My Lemon Balm did not survive.
In plot four I had planted some basil from seed, and it did not grow. I planted some Cumin, and I’m not sure if that’s growing or not. I do have Ginger growing, and chives, and in the back corner I have another block of Cilantro from seeds.
Plot 5 is my “leaf” plot. It is growing well. I have Swiss chard on the northern end, and then lettuce (which is going to seed now), and then I have Kale–it’s not growing very well yet. The lettuce in plot 5 is an example of planting something and discovering if you want it or not. After several years of growing Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, my wife decided that she didn’t like it, so we are going to go with Romaine lettuce from now on.
On the swale between plots five and six, I planted a zucchini, which is growing well so far. No bugs yet.
Number 6 is my watermelon plot, with 2 plants. One is just starting in the shade of the comfrey. I need to trim the comfrey back to allow more sun to the watermelon. The other plant is starting to come along. It is not running yet, but it is growing. I’ll keep watching that.
Plot seven is dedicated to my root crops: carrots, beets and lettuce. The lettuce is a holdover from last year, and I have some lettuce flowers and am beginning to harvest seeds now. The Beets are still growing well. I have onions growing along the fence; they are still green and haven’t begun to turn brown yet. I neglected to weed the grass in the onion patch, and so have all sorts of grass going to seed mixed into my my onions; it’s hard to weed at this late stage.
Plot 8 is filled with Bush beans and peas. The bush beans are still going well, but the peas seem to have topped out, they’re beginning to dry up, and are not doing very well.
Between plot 8 and 9, I have a trellis, with pole beans and peas. I have an experimental lettuce plant growing in the shade of the trellis; it seems to be doing well so far. The pole beans are doing well, producing lots of beans. The peas, like I said, seem to be drying up.
Plot 9 is my over-wintered leaf crop and that’s getting kinda raggedy now. The Comfrey is blooming. The spinach never did grow–too shady I guess. My wife has been picking the beets, and they’re pretty much gone. My Kale started to come back after I trimmed off some of the Swiss chard leaves so they can get more light.
Plot 10 is one of two tomato plant plots. I have two sets of tomatoes growing here. One I grew from seed and it is just now maybe 8 to 10 inches tall; the other I bought from the store and transplanted it. We have tomatoes growing on that one. It’s about two feet tall now. My Jalapeno pepper is going well. I see some peppers growing on it. Behind the tomatoes I have garlic, and that is also overrun with grass.
Plot 11 is where my Potatoes were, but they all died out in April. I transplanted an eggplant there; it is just getting started.
My winter squash in plot 12 is beginning to run. I will need to put a fence around that also. I don’t see any squash as of yet ; I see squash blossoms but no fruit, however it’s growing well.
One thing that I see is Monarch butterfly caterpillars on the dill. As well as caterpillars, I see earthworm castings, which means the earthworms are enjoying my garden also. I’m also beginning to see stink bugs so I’m going to have to increase my bug Patrols.
My next garden plot is the mixed plot where I had everything growing all together and that still looks quite messy. I have some dill there, some lettuce going to seed again, and Malabar spinach growing where it shouldn’t. I need to put that up against the fence, and clip the grass on the fence. I don’t see any bunching onions anymore, but the nasturtiums are growing well. It really looks like a mess.
The second plot of tomatoes is growing well. These are transplanted. Then I have another pepper plant in here also. I planted basil but it didn’t survive.
In the next block is corn. My first batch didn’t work, because I used out-of-date seed. I planted again, and the second batch is about knee-high right now. My comfrey is flowering. It’s Russian comfrey which is sterile, and doesn’t produce viable seeds. If you have the other kind, it’ll put seeds all over your garden. I’m using the comfrey as a mulch, cutting the leaves and leaving them on the ground to decompose, enriching and shading the soil, and stopping weed growth.
Then I have a fallow plot, which I had meant to grow beans to be cut down for green manure, but I didn’t cut them, so now I have more beans and a few peas.
Then I have my last three plots. Cantaloupe in one, which is beginning to run. It has flowers and one cantaloupe. I did successfully fight off an aphid attack with my trusty allies, ladybugs. Hopefully it will grow for a longer time than last year’s. Their leaves were eaten up by worms, and the fruit was too small to salvage.
Then I have two plots of pumpkin. I have four pumpkins growing in these plots. They seem to be growing well without any interference from the bugs so far. I have planted companion plants for them, but they’re not doing too well yet. I need to plant the companion plants earlier next year.
Finally, up against the fence is my Malabar spinach, just now getting tall enough to start training up the fence. The Cauliflower I planted there in February died out from the heat. On the other fence is my Cucumber plants.
So, the takeaway from the garden so far is: One, plant your companion plants earlier than your main crop. The good bugs will be established before the bad bugs get started. Two, keep on top of the weeding, especially in out-of-the-way places. Three, keep the mulch on the ground. It will decompose, so you need to keep replenishing it throughout the year.
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