There have definitely been some bumps in the gardening road! Read here for how we overcame them and learned from them.
Originally, I planned to put down reflective mulch or gardening plastic on the top of the soil, around the plants, to help increase the sunlight by reflecting it back up into the plants’ leaves and to help reduce weeds. Unfortunately, the little fingers of the house cannot help but play, poke, rip and grab this colorful stuff, so we decided to skip this step in order to save the plants from untimely, accidental death. Speaking of accidents, Cori was walking around the garden the other day and “fell” (so she says) onto one of the onion plants. The stem and leaves were all completely broken and smashed, so we decided the only thing we could do was harvest those onions early. This was our first time harvesting onions, so it was not done properly. We removed the broken stems then left them in the ground for 3 days. We dug them up, rinsed them off, and left them in a dark place to dry more. After doing some more reading, I found out that we should have left them in the ground for up to 2 weeks THEN dug them up and left them on top of the soil in the sun for another day to continue drying. That should have been followed by another day in the heat with no sun on them. Later in the season, I will be harvesting the other onion plant the correct way. I will then be able to compare it to how these onions turned out.
Another bump in the road came as a BIG storm with lots of heavy rain. The Garden was flooded. Some of the sprouts were flattened, broken or just washed away. All the plants were getting far too much water. While I was tending to the plants after the flood, Andrew and Zack came dug a very big deep hole to work as a drain to remove the water from pooling in the garden. The hole was about 3 feet deep, and we have been working on filling it with rocks.
Once it is full, we will be able to cover the rocks, allowing the water to drain through them and into the ground below. This did fix the flooding issue, but there was already irreparable damage to some of of the sprouts. I ended up having to replant some of the cucumbers, green beans, sugar snap peas, and rosemary. Because i have noticed the bird stealing a few of the seeds here and there, I decided to sprout this second batch before planting them. I took a plastic container and laid down some paper towel, put the sugar snap peas on the paper towel, and covered with another. I also used this method for replanting cucumbers and green beans.
I believe I got a bad batch of green bean and sugar snap pea seeds because it seems quite a few rotted into the ground instead of growing. Even when I sprouted them in the container, there were a few green beans that just rotted. Only five of the pea seeds sprouted. The rest rotted. I do not know how i would be able to tell if the package of seeds was bad. I got each packet new this year, and they were all sealed well with the seeds looking fine.
The tomato plants in the tire never sprouted. The birds seem to be the culprit behind this, as they like to steal the seeds. The ones in the planters are growing great, though. My wonderful neighbor and friend, Betty, came home with 3 green pepper plants. Since the tomato tire was free, I transplanted them into that spot. The rosemary plants hadn’t sprouted before the BIG storm, and the seeds are so tiny that i believe they were washed away in the torrents of rain. We replanted the seeds again in the soil because they seemed too small to sprout in a container then plant already sprouted. With my luck, I would smash them while trying to pick them up.
The potato plants are growing very fast. Last week, we had to add the second tire to the stack. Zack was a very big help for this. He added the tire and, with help, carefully filled it up with dirt and compost. We did cut some of the really long branches on the plant that were going to be covered with dirt. This made the task a little easier. It is growing so fast that I believe in 1-2 more weeks, we will need to add a third tire to each stack. These tires were not painted with the rest and do still need to be painted. I haven’t found another can of white paint on the clearance rack yet and honestly do not want to pay full price for a can that we are just using in the garden. Last year, we only went 3 tires high. This year, we are aiming for 4 tires per stack in hopes of increasing the amount produced by each plant.
The sugar snap peas i bought turned out to be vine style. I tried to make sure to only buy bush style since I was growing them in tires. But, alas, they are about four inches tall and have the little curly arms reaching out to find something to cling to as they grow. I knew I needed to find something for them to grow up and hang to, so I went hunting in my garage. My wonderful husband suggested I use the wooden doweling we had in the basement (seems I have way more crafting stuff then I can remember) to make my own with some jewelry wire I got from the lovely Miss Betty. This worked out perfectly. I stuck five pieces of doweling into the ground, around the plants. Using a rubber band, I attached them at the top to form a sort of tepee. Then Zack helped me wrap the wire around the outside, spiraling it up to the top. As we were doing this, two of the plants actually shifted a bit, and the curling arms grabbed onto the wire. I know this is what is supposed to happen. I was just so surprised to actually see it happening and so quickly.
All in all, we were able to roll somewhat smoothly over all the bumps and continue to help the garden thrive. All the kids love coming out and looking at the plants to see how much they have grown. When they are playing in the yard and they find earthworms, they bring them into the garden to the compost pile to help the garden more. They really enjoy getting to help weed and LOVE getting to sample stuff right from the garden. The kids have tried fresh basil leaves, baby spinach leaves, parsley, and TONS of lettuce (I even catch them sneaking in to grab a couple pieces when I am not looking).
Keep checking back with us. In a few weeks, I will post another update on our gardening Journey. If you missed the initial set up and planting, you can check them out here :
https://sunbeamsandheartstrings.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-golden-family-a-garden-journey/ (painting and planting)