Because I was laid up and out of commission for much of the spring, I wasn’t able to work on expanding our garden much this year. Last year, I built a third 4×8 foot box and a 2×4 foot box which were meant to be tiered for planting small annual herbs in large quantities. I never got that box filled with dirt, so that will have to wait until next year.
In the mean time, we’ve planted our usual array of crops in the two 4×8 foot boxes with limited success. Erin had bought some tomato plants in April, and although I warned her to wait, she planted them anyway. We had one last frost in early May which killed the plants, so we had to start over again. We bought a lot of plants toward the end of may: 3 tomatoes, 4 peppers, a whole bunch of squash, and a few more strawberries. We also planted spinach, lettuce, basil, cilantro, parsley, peas, and chard seeds directly into the beds. A few days later, we noticed that the chickens had somehow gotten into the garden, eating most of the seeds and stirring up our nice rows. It took us a few weeks before we had the time to go back and plant again. In the mean time, a few seeds remained and sprouted. I carefully dug up the remaining plants and re-arranged them into rows while we put the rest of the store-bought plants into the beds. After a week of constant rain, most of those seeds have started sprouting, so we’re bound to have some crop this year.
Meanwhile, the strawberries are happy as ever. We’re getting a bowl-full each day, somewhere between half and one pound. Though the berries are smaller than the ones you find in the stores, they pack much more flavor. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. When the strawberries first ripened, I would pick a few here and there, but find most of them had already been eaten. I had noticed a robin hanging out by the strawberry bed, so while I was away at Evolution, Erin bought some mesh netting to throw over the plants. Since doing that, we haven’t had a problem with the birds. I think we might try to double our strawberry patch for next year in order to produce enough to make jam. We’ve also started some raspberry vines, which aren’t looking so great this year because they sat in a bucket too long, but they’re starting to put out new shoots and leaves, so next year we should have a small harvest.
One of my projects this year is to eliminate the grass between the boxes, putting in nice walkways instead. I’ll use a combination of cardboard, newspaper, and straw to mulch over the grass and eventually cover with wood chips. This should help keep weeds down, eliminate the need to whack back the grass, and create aesthetically pleasing walkways. By the time we leave this place, we should have built up a nice productive garden for the next occupants to use. Maybe I can even get a greenhouse.