Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 6:13 PM GMT on July 10, 2009
Good afternoon!!! It is that time of year where I enjoy posting a vegetable gardening blog where I share my pictures and experiences with different types of vegetables and others can also share their pictures and experiences. Last year this blog was a big hit with quite a bit of pictures and people posting and I hope that is the same case for this year too. I have always thought that weather/gardening/photography all go hand-in-hand in similar subject matter and many of us here are attracted to Weatherunderground thanks to those subject matters. I have not been vegetable gardening for too long just about two years for my full garden, but I did grow just plain green beans a few previous years in a very small plot of land which has greatly been expanded recently.
My garden- I now have three 6x2x2 wooden boxes with non-treated wood. These boxes allowed my to create raised boxes which pose several advantages. One being I can create the type of soil that I choose too. In this case I add rich nutrient filled garden soil for a base with a mixture of hummus/manure throughout it along with a mixture of peat moss to aeriate the soil. This year I add a third box to the combination. Also I decided to add a few pots to the mix and instead of taking up room in the boxes; I made a herb pot and pot for the large Early Girl Tomato plant. Then my other garden is on the westside of my home in the ground on top of a small hill which allows the rain water to drain. I used my rich nutrient filled mountain valley soil from Blue Mountain which still has nutrients from the foothills and farm that previously occupied the site. I also enjoy boasting that I have some of the best soil in the Harrisburg region. Anyways this plot of land houses my other vegetables and two blueberry bushes. This area of land is not overly large, but serves it's purpose. In the future I would love to expand and create a small raised bed for a strawberry patch. The year's harvest seems to be slightly lacking in comparison to last year probably thanks to this unusual cool and damp weather we have been having. But the cool weather did allow my large lettuce crop to last through mid June. So here are my experiences this year with different types of vegetables. The pictures posted are all of my garden from this year. Warning: This is the most closely packed use of square foot gardening you have ever seen. Below are also pictures of other gardens around the yard including my miniature water garden and brand new shade garden. I hope this garden inspires others to post their pictures and advice here in the gardening blog. I will be back posting weather blogs in a few day. Happy Gardening!!!
Red/Yellow Onions- I planted my onion sets in early March as I tend to push the boundaries for certain things in terms of planting too early. Anyways my plan was to thin out the onions when they became scallion size and leave the remaining onions to grow into full onion bulbs. This would allow me to get normal sized onions and scallions also. This worked very well and currently my onions are just about beginning to really turn brown on the top and die off. They will likely need picking in a week or two's time. Onions are the prettiest of sights when they get to a certain size as the rain and wind and the heavy shoots bend them over. Also as you can see throughout my garden I did plant marigolds which adds a bit of color and attracts beneficial insects such as bees for pollination.
Garlic- I planted the garlic back in early March along with my onion sets as I read that garlic as two growing seasons with one being in the time frame over the winter in which you plant the garlic in the late fall for picking in next year's early summer or you plant in early Spring for a late summer harvest. The late Summer harvest is what I am shooting for and hopefully everything works out. I have never planted garlic before, but just a week ago I did pull a bulb as I didn't have any garlic cloves from the grocery store for the pasta dish so I thought I would see what would happen if I picked one from the garden. It turned out that the bulb was pretty large with cloves inside so I was ever so pleased. I cannot wait to see what they look like in the end of Summmer as I use garlic in all dinner dishes. As similar to the onions, the garlic is bent over by the pounding wind and rain this summer and also by how heavy the shoots are.
Radish- I have planted two batches of radishes this year; I planted my first seeds in the mid March time frame and just recently I planted a Summer variety about two weeks ago. I enjoy throwing some radishes into salads and give many away to relatives and the neighbors. Many people enjoy a radish sandwich for lunch, but I am not one of them. I find that radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow as all you do is drop them in the ground, thin them out, and watch them grow with a little water. A word for the wise, becarefull not to grow your radishes in the same places as previous crops as small insects will begin to move in and eat away the radish bulbs. Crop rotation should be done for all of your plants every season as this allows an equal balance of nutrients in the soil, prevents disease, and allows for a more bountiful harvest.
Lettuce (Ithica, Buttercrunch, Romaine, Gourmet Bibb)- I went you could say a bit crazy in terms of lettuce this year planting 28 lettuce plants. I planted the lettuce in mid March and was unaffected by any frosts as I did protect them in a few of the sensitive nights. My favorite lettuce was the Romaine which had the least bitter flavor, keep in mind I despise bitter lettuce such as Arugula. Lettuce is also very easy to grow as I bought the plants at the local flower nursery and little care was needed after the initial planting other than harvesting. My lettuce bolted and went to seed much later than normal this year thanks to the cooler and damp weather this Summer. I finally lost my last lettuce plant in mid June, although some of my neighbors still haven't had their lettuce go to seed yet suprisingly.
Broccoli- So here it begins the sad saga of my broccoli plants. I planted six plants from the local nursery into my raised bed boxes. All plants began to grow six heads after a few weeks. But to much dismay one morning I went out to water and found that the plants were completely mauled to the ground by the leaping gazelle groundhog. All that was left was a bare stem and a small piece of a broccoli head with teeth marks in it. So for this year no broccoli was able to be harvested. Here though is a picture of the broccoli before it was eaten a few days later.
Cauliflower- This year was my first year to grow cauliflower and I took it at a slow pace by only planting four plants in mid March. I had no problems with pests and the cauliflower grew at a very fast rate. Harvest from the crop was in early June where I picked three large heads in which I boiled and then had a cheese sauce. The cauliflower tasted absolutely wonderful and is a must plant for next Spring.
Herbs (Leeks, Basil, Oregano, Chives, Parsley, and Cilantro)- This year I planted quite a bit of herbs in comparison to last year. I planted my leeks early in the season around early to mid March and planted them by full plants. I planted around 18-24 leeks plants with three leeks in each plant. The leeks still seem to have a ways to grow and I hope to use them in replacement for scallions in recipes and also use them for potato/leek chowder. My Basil I planted next to my tomatoes as they are companion plants and the basil gives a bit more flavor to the tomatoes. My Oregano, Chives, and Parsley are in a large pot together and have filled in the pot quite nicely and look very attractive. The oregano fills in the pot similar to a ground cover and also has a great flavor. This year I could not find the garlic chives, so they are regular chives. My parsley plant has recovered from the groundhog attack as knock on wood, the groundhog is gone. My cilantro is showing signs of dying and has gone to seed.
Snow Peas- This is my most unfortunate story of my vegetable gardening this year. Now gardening every year is an experience full of trial and tribulations and I think this constant trial and error fuels my interest in gardening every year. I planted snow pea seeds back in early March and they grew quite large to the point of flowers beginning to blossom. But one afternoon in May I came home and noticed the snow pea plants eaten down to the ground. Once again it was the case of the mysterious groundhog. So another plant I was not able to harvest thanks to annoying pests. This picture, though is a few weeks after I planted the seeds. The snow peas got a lot larger than this picture shows.
Blueberry Bushes- Two years ago back in the Fall I planted two different varieties of blueberry bushes and planted them next two each other so they would cross pollinate. Last season to my own stupidity I never put a net over the plants so the birds ate all my berries the very day they ripened. Well this year I am prepared and I put a net over the bushes to protect the berries. Blueberry bush care is very simple and only requires some pruning in the Spring, fertilizer once in the Spring and late Summer, and adding acidity to the soil. This year I do not have as many blueberries as last, but I read this is normal for young plants. My berries are beginning to ripen and will need picking towards the middle of next week. This picture is taken back in the early Spring.
Yellow Wax Beans- I grew green beans last year and decided to try yellow beans this year as there is nothing better than a little brown butter and yellow beans for a side dish. My bean plants are growing quite large and have quite a many flowers which will become beans in the coming weeks. I think I am going to have more beans than I know what I am going to do with. Last year I had many also which tasted wonderful so I hope this year will be the same.
Beets- Something new this year I am trying for an experiment is beets which I planted about two-three weeks ago where my snow peas once were. Beets grow similar to radishes but have a longer growing period until harvest. My beets seem healthy but are quickly becoming overcrowded by the yellow beans and mellon plants so it will be interesting to see how they do. I already thinned out the plants so they should have enough room between each seedling, the problem will be competing for root system space with the nearby plants. Also the beans have become so tall they block the sun from the beets part of the day.
Melon (Watermelon and Cantelope)- This is also something new I am trying this year and so far seems slightly successful. If anyone remembers last year I tried planting watermelon seeds, but the crazy flower nursery sold me eggplant seeds instead. Well this year I bought specifically watermelon whole plants and the vine is getting large with many flowers but I do not have much room so for now this is just sort of an experiment to see if I want to plant it better next year. I also am trying cantelope and once again room is definitely lacking, but I just noticed today that two very small melons have formed so I am crossing my fingers for the best.
Peppers- I am growing three Big Bertha Pepper plants this year and planted them early enough unlike last year in which I planted them way too late. I have quite many peppers growing right now and it appears there will definitely be too many and I will likely have to give most of them away. But with this cooler weather it is taking a while for the peppers to grow and ripen so until hot weather hits, the pepper growth will be small.
Tomatoes (Early Girl, Roma, Cherry, Grape)- I have four tomato plants of different varities growing and they all have small green tomatoes on them with some of them beginning to ripen especially on the grape and cherry tomato plants. I planted my basil plant near the Roma and Cherry tomato plant to add some additional flavor. My Early Girl tomato plant which is in a pot does seem to be having a few problems with some dead growth so I hope it does not have a disease.
Zucchini- I planted two zucchini plants this year in my new raised bed garden box and they seem to be growing very well with some needing to be picked very shortly. I was hoping to get another zucchini plant to put in an empty spot but it appears the flower nurserys are all sold out this year. These cool evenings do not seem to be helping growth and actually slowing the period of when the zucchini grow overnight.
Cucumber- I plant four pickling cucumber plants this year and hand-built two wooden trellises for them which the plants climbed perfectly. I have cucumbers all over the place some of which can be picked any day now. I did plant the plants a bit late this year so my harvest is a bit delayed in comparison to other gardeners.
Swiss Chard/Spinach- I attempted Spinach again this year, but once again it was another failure as was last year. Spinach seeds just do not seem to want to grow in my soil. So I planted six Swiss Chard plants which grow all Summer and it tastes wonderful. Chard adds color to the garden along with being a replacement for Spinach in recipes.
Celery- This is my first year for celery and it seems to continue to grow with finally some thicker stems which may need harvested in a few weeks. I am not sure how it is doing and it is more of an experiment this year.
Last year's gardening blog... Link.
Vegetable Gardening forum... Link.
"Here north of Harrisburg 2009 statistics"
(Severe Weather Stats...)
Severe Thunderstorm Watches- 3
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings- 5
Tornado Watches- 0
Tornado Warnings- 0
Total Thunderstorms- 23
Flood Watches- 1
Flood Warnings- 1
Monthly Precipitation- 1.42inches
Yearly Precipitation- 20.06inches
Heat Advisories- 0
Excessive Heat Warnings- 0
90degree Days- 4
Highest Temperature- 92degrees
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