Lawdamercy! This month has been a doozie. The kids finished school and the garden took off, along with the weeds and the multitude of daily tasks just to stay afloat. I reeled for a bit and quickly settled into a new groove. Not much choice if a girl wants to eat! We are quickly approaching the summer solstice and in Vermont that means 15.5 hours of daylight, really. I swear, the sun has fried my brain so let this be a post of pictures. Wouldn't everyone rather look at a garden than read about one anyway?
Pretty much everything is in the ground, finally. There are a few stragglers in the greenhouse; dwarf cabbages, 'Solstice' broccoli, and some strawflower for cuts but there just isn't an inch left to plant them! I'm hoping they'll hang on until I harvest the rest of the lettuce and make some space. You'd think 80'x40' would be plenty of room to grow everything a family of four could eat...think again. I have already annexed the melons and peppers to a 10'x20' space in the corner of the yard where our compost heap used to be. The soil should be rich and they are planted in plastic so the fact that I rarely get over there to weed or water shouldn't be too big a deal.
The peas are blooming!!!! I don't think I'll ever get tired of our nightly monstrous salad, but sure will be nice when we have something other than greens to eat!
And by "we" I mean all four of us. Sure, there have been ripe strawberries, delicious and bright and still warm from the sun, but I'll be darned if I've had more than three. The boys are hunting each day and eating anything even CLOSE to ripe. Give it a week and we'll have more than we can eat so Adam and I just have to be patient. These berries make these boys SO happy. And it is nice that the harvest of strawberries is one garden task I can count on someone ELSE doing.
Most everything else in the kitchen garden isn't much to look at yet, unless you like the look of hundreds of immature transplants and seedlings. I'll show you the way I grow tomatoes and cukes vertically now anyhow. Once they are mature you won't be able to see the structure.
The supports for the tomatoes are the same frame style that I use for sugar snap and snow peas (which are taller than shell peas) and sweet peas (cut flower, not edible). My talented hubby built them for me based on a design I found in Eliot Coleman's The New Organic Grower. Instead of stringing them with netting as I do for the peas, I tie heavy gauge twine at the top above each plant and stretch it down to tie to a stake in the ground at the roots. As the tomatoes grow I simply twist the stem around the twine, pruning off any suckers. I have found this to be the easiest way to grow lots of tomatoes in a small space, and I have tried MANY methods. There are 18 plants in this row.
This cucumber support has been with us since our Richmond, Va days. Adam designed and built this simple structure which is hinged at the top for easy storage. It keeps the plants off the ground so leaves are less susceptible to pests and the fruit hangs for easy harvest.
But enough about edibles already. How about some eye candy?!
Almost all of the flowers were planted in the cutting beds out front this year. I am crossing my fingers that Frankie, our spirited Wirehaired Griffon, doesn't trample them all when she gets birdy (which she is doing more and more of these days!). Most of the plants are still only inches tall but a few buds have started to open on the early bloomers which were started indoors in March. Once again, persistence pays off.
One of the advantages to having a greenhouse and starting my own seedlings is getting to choose the varieties most interesting to me. You'll soon see that there is little of the ordinary in my cutting garden. I am a little worried that come August it is going to look like a circus out there as it is all jammed together but more is more, right?? I was once told that you could tell the gardens of plant nuts apart by their abundance of "onesies", or specimen plant upon specimen plant with little coherence, little repetition, and littler regard to design than one might expect . That and having unplanted nursery pots lying around without a bed to go in... yet! I guess I'm bonafied, although I must say I do try to plant in lots of at LEAST three.
Someone should write a song about peonies in New England. On second thought, what millennium do I think I'm living in? Well, they really are special here, just sayin'. It takes them ages to finally open up but once they do, watch out! Everywhere I drive these days I see their gigantic, beautiful, droopy-if-not-supported heads lolling about. And the magic is that they sort of grow themselves here. We had a large bed of them when we moved in (and no you can't see it because it is an abomination of weeds right now!) and I have been able to divide and transplant them to my hearts content. Our white ones open first, followed by dark pink, then light pink brings up the rear. Such rich blooms from such hardy plants.
So I hope this had made it a bit more clear. When y'all ask me "What have you been up to this spring" and I say "gardening" it is impossible to imagine all that word signifies. How many hours of work and hours of pleasure derived. How much food eaten, rows howed, weeds pulled, insects fed, insects killed, children taught, soil amended, transplants planted, potatoes hilled, flower beds mulched, hanging baskets filled, soil blocks blocked, seeds sown, fertilizer applied, supports built, netting hung, containers moved and planted, and moved again, greens harvested, greens cleaned, greens washed, potting soil mixed, and the WATERING multiple times a day, shoooooeeeeeee! You know, "gardening".