What’s in my Garden?

Owner Jesse Eastman takes a tour through his vegetable garden as we move into May.

It’s spring and all that is green and plant-like is cranking right along. Soil temperatures are rising, and I am very excited about my garden.

Soaker hose is a snap to install and is gentle on tiny seeds like carrots

The garden is a series of raised beds. I used pallet collars (available for $16.99 ea., or as a complete kit w/soil for $99.99) as bed frames. These frames are ready-to-use garden beds, measuring 30”x48”x7.5”. They require absolutely no assembly, although I did opt to line the bed frames with some sheets of plastic to keep the moist soil from decomposing the untreated pine. ½” sch. 40 PVC pipe makes up hoops for row covers to provide a light protection from cold nighttime temperatures. These row covers make a nice compliment to the water filled protective Season Extenders.

I used ProMix BX soil in several beds, and EKO Organic Outdoor Planting Mix in the rest. While the EKO product was more cost effective and works great for started plants, small seeds like lettuce did not germinate well. On the other hand, seeds had no trouble at all getting started in the much lighter and finer ProMix BX.

The irrigation system uses ¼” soaker hose. It is looped through each bed so that the water it releases can soak evenly throughout each bed. A battery operated automatic timer runs. Once the seedlings reach 2” tall, all the will receive a covering of mini bark to prevent weeds and reduce evaporation.

Basil, thyme, cilantro, and marigold surround a pair of tomato plants

I choose my plants based on what I eat the most. I make a lot of salads and stir fry, and I love to grill, so tomatoes, peppers, corn, lettuce, carrots and herbs are bountiful. I made sure to utilize all the available space in each bed. In one bed, I surrounded the tomatoes with carrots. In another, I have planted lemon thyme, cilantro and basil around the tomatoes. I have devoted two beds to peppers, mostly hot. I find that I don’t eat as many mild peppers, so I chose to buy my bells and use my space for spicy!

In several beds I am going to use the “Three Sisters” method of planting. This is a Native American method that uses corn, beans, and squash in a mutually beneficial combination. The corn grows tall, giving the beans a pole on which to grow. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which helps feed nitrogen-hungry corn. The squash covers the ground with its gigantic prickly leaves, acting as mulch as well as preventing many predators from approaching the beans and corn. Additionally, the grouping provides a complete nutritional combo – corn for carbohydrates, beans for protein, and squash for a huge variety of vitamins.

Other beds include leaf crop beds that will be used for successive plantings, providing yummy lettuce, spinach, arugula, cress, and kohlrabi all season long. Peas will grow up the fence, and broccoli and brussel sprouts will benefit from the afternoon shade the pea vines provide.

Row covers & Season Extenders allow for a great jump start!

Finally, marigolds, crocosmia, nasturtium, and sweet peas round out the garden. Providing a welcome splash of color, these plants are also useful. Marigolds repel many pests. Nasturtiums have brightly colored flowers that are edible, adding a sharp bite to any salad. All in all, I am looking forward to a bountiful and beautiful garden this year!

Originally published on May 3rd, 2012.