How Does Our Garden Grow? Part III: It's a Garden!
July 16, 2011Posted by andrew |
When we last wrote about our adventures in vegetable gardening, we were just some seedlings emerge. That was a long time ago, but it did seem like it took forever for any of them to get to the size where they could be planted in the outdoors. I'm sure our unseasonably cool weather had something to do with it. The carrots and radishes were something of a bust, since it turns out that nobody really likes radishes all that much and the kids got impatient with the carrots and pulled most of them out well before they were ready. We ate a lot of baby carrots as a result. They were pretty good, too.
It seems now that summer is really here and as a result, so is our garden. It seems that it was just yesterday when all the plants were little seedlings, but now they're well on their way to producing some veggies. We transplanted the tomatoes, all of which are doing quite well, and direct-sowed some summer squash (Costata Romansca zucchini and Pattison Strie Melange, a French heirloom variety). In our raised bed we also planted some heirloom Dragon's Tongue beans which should produce beans that are yellow with purple stripes, as well as some regular own green bush beans.
The children had fun digging in the dirt and helping plant the green beans. They're amazed to see how big they've gotten in such a short period of time, too. Both of our kids actually like green beans, so we made sure that we planted plenty of them. We're not so sure if they're going to be so hot on tomatoes and zucchini, but there's always hope.
I try to convince them that there's nothing better than the unique smell of tomato leaves and squash plants, and they both look at me like I've gone crazy. That smell, however, is something that takes me right back to my childhood and our backyard vegetable garden, so perhaps they'll learn to appreciate it.
This weekend saw the first flower on the beans, and we've got tomato blossoms galore, as well as some tiny little zucchini emerging. The peppers that we were so excited about have been a different story. Out of the 20 or so seedlings we started with, we have three left, all Jimmy Nardello Italian frying peppers. All the Red Marconi seedlings, as well as many Jimmy Nardellos, met a gruesome fate at the hands of garden creepy-crawlies. We suspect a tag team of slugs and cutworms.
We've been trying to keep the garden as organic as possible, using only compost, organic fertlizer, manure, and no pesticides. We were a little worried about keeping the slugs and snails under control, especially after what they did to the pepper seedlings, but our neighbor gave us some stuff called Sluggo, which is actually an organic snail bait made primarly from iron phosphate. We liberally applied it around the plants and so far have managed to keep the slimy little buggers under control. It's safe to use around pets and children, too, and excess amounts just biodegrade into the soil. Sluggo now has a permanent spot in my anti-pest arsenal.
We even put in some marigolds, which my five-year-old daughter talked me into buying on a trip to the hardware store. They serve to brighten up things a bit, and are allegedly pest repellent. Between that and the Sluggo we seem to be in a good spot. Now we just water, feed, and wait for our first crop of veggies.