Vegetable garden: week 1

The garden is in the ground! Jack's mom, Kent and I planted everything this morning while it was still brisk and damp outside (instead of 82 with full sun like it is right now), and now we get to play the game where we see if Erica can keep up with weeding and watering long enough to get some decent vegetables.

I read this tutorial on raised beds on wikiHow and sought advice from many gardeners with more experience than I have (which is none). The wiki suggests building a bed that is 2 feet high, which turns out to be pretty tall once it's built and you realize you can fit your entire self down inside it, like a coffin. The nice thing about its height is that the plants have plenty of good soil and compost to dig down into, instead of the hard black clay in our yard, so I'm hoping that'll keep them happy.

Step 1: Jack builds the frame for our raised bed. Kent helps from a safe distance.

Step 2: We place the frame on its spot in the yard (using a hand truck, because it's darn heavy) with a weed mat underneath.

Step 3: Jack spends several days digging into our compost pile in the backyard, heretofore untapped because we've never had a garden before. There was a lot of great compost in there, plus some exciting creatures with many legs that he'd rather not think about again.

Step 4: With store-bought soil/compost/manure blends poured into the bed to top it off, the plants bought from the nursery, and the mother-in-law in town who knows many things, the garden is ready for planting, so we plant it. Starting at the top left of the photo, we have flat-leaf parsley, two Japanese eggplants, two bell peppers, three different tomatoes (cherry, Brandywine, and Superfantastic), basil, cilantro, and Kent's sunflowers at the bottom right corner. There's also a row of yellow onions along the left side (which is actually the front of the garden as you face it from the house). I really hope the onions mature over a period of weeks/months, because I'm not sure what I'd do with 21 onions all at the same time.

I started out with the idea that I was just going to grow herbs and tomatoes, but then I figured that as long as I was growing vegetables, I ought to *really* grow some. I selected a couple of tomato varieties at the local nursery based on which plants looked the hardiest, which is how I ended up with something called Superfantastic. It sounds to me like a kids' show about a crazy superhero. I also saw Brandywine plants at the farmer's market on Saturday, and I couldn't resist buying one, since Brandywines are some of my favorite tomatoes in the world besides the fussy heirloom varieties. And my favorite plant lady at the market, who has supplied me with all my herbs in the last couple of years, had some cute bell pepper and Japanese eggplant starters that I couldn't resist. Japanese eggplant is so much tastier than giant Italian eggplant, in my opinion, so I'm excited to see how the plants do.

If all goes well, next year might be the year of okra and/or asparagus. Or blueberries. Or I might buy a plot of land and become a coffee farmer. We'll see.

I hadn't planned at first to grow so many vegetables, so I had already bought two six-packs of coleus at the nursery that I was going to put around the edges of the bed. There's absolutely no space for them now, though, so I think I'm going to plant some stuff on the ugly side of our house in between our bedroom windows. Currently, the only two things on that side of the house are a crazy rosebush that was here when we moved in, and the compressor for our A/C unit, and then there's this totally blank space in between our two tall/skinny windows. I'm thinking that if we put a little bed around the rosebush and a complementary bed on the other side under the windows, it might start to look decent. The coleus should work well there, along with a few other flowers to brighten things up. I feel like I'm being very adventurous here, given the fact that I only grew basil in a pot last year. At least I have Kent to help me out, as long as I can teach him how to weed and how not to pull *all* the plants out of the ground.

Gardens are happening all over the place, with more of you to be planting soon, I know. Happy growing to us all!

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Looks great! Having a raised bed like that makes the weeding soooooo much easier. Not nearly as much bending and less grass popping up through.
ps- my word is "requea" like for a dream or something?
I can hardly wait to see the produce, and eat some green tomatoes for me.
You're right. We're making plans for our garden right now. I think some plowing has been done already. We'll be planting some tomatoes and herbs. I think I'll keep the herbs closer to the house, though. Maybe Brad can make ME a raised bed.... I'm not sure what else we'll end up with. I have ended up freezing massive amounts of corn for the past several years, and last year we made home made apple sauce and froze that as well. I'm sure we'll be doing that again. Who doesn't need applesauce?
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