How Does the Garden Grow Pt 1: The Garden

It’s been a while since we did an update, and I think it is about time we go in depth on how our vegetable crops are doing. This week was our first CSA drop off, and here is a picture of what our members got in their bag this week:

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Our first ever CSA share! Kale, spinach, salad, parsley, radishes, red onions, sugar snap peas, country white bread and the world famous duck eggs!

The speed at which our plants grow and the amount we are harvesting is accelerating fast this time of year, just 2 weeks out from the solstice. Hot weather also brings a plethora of insects into the garden, some friends and some foes.

The Colorado Potato Beetle (which we wrote a previous post about) has showed up and done a little bit of damage to the plants’ foliage. We’ve kept them covered and go by every few days to squish the buggers by hand, and so far it’s looking like we’ll prevent them from reproducing on our plants, keeping the population down for next year.

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Potatoes in the hill and under cover, lookin’ pretty bug-free.

Another conspicuous predator of veg is the cabbage white butterfly, which lays its eggs on cabbage-family crops. The caterpillars then munch your kale or mustards until there is nothing left but a wilted, fibrous skeleton. We are not doing a great job of keeping this one at bay, with only some of our kale and cabbages with row-cover blocking the butterflies.

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Look closely and you’ll see the cabbage white butterfly. Look closer and you will see holes in the kale.

The pests are present, for sure, but so far not enough to keep us from harvesting the quantities of things we need for market and the CSA. KNOCK ON WOOD.

The most exciting thing about this time of the year is that we are SO close to harvesting some early summer crops: potatoes, tomatoes, and squash. Other crops like tomatillos and eggplant are just now starting to flower, with promised of delectable fruits later in the season.

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Tomatillo flower.
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The babiest, tiniest squash.
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Our first tomato a-ripening on the vine. Destined to be slathered with olive oil, balsamic, basil, and mozzarella.

Weed pressure is pretty high since the soil is very warm, so we are doing our best to stay ahead of them (and not always winning). We are also trying the “stale seedbed” method for our next round of carrots and beets. The idea is to prepare the soil in a bed, then water it very heavily. The weed seeds will germinate, then we will come in with the hoe when they are very young and scratch the surface, killing most of the weeds. This means that there are little to no weeds in the carrot bed by the time they sprout, and we only have to weed the bed once or twice before harvesting.

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(Mostly) weed-free swiss chard, carrots, parsley, dill, and garlic.
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An attempt at knocking back the weeds we brought in with the hay used in sheet mulch. You can see the grass to the right.

Overall the garden is in great shape. We are staying on schedule with our plantings and happy with our yields, especially considering the poor quality of soil we started out with. Somehow the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic seem to love it! Some crops like the okra and beets are growing very slowly, however. Much more soil improvement to be done, the ducks are hard at work.

Here are some more pictures, enjoy!

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Calendula in bloom.
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Mature carrots next to peas and covered potatoes.
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Maximize the space: tomatoes, head lettuce, and basil all sharing the same bed.
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Purple sugar snap PEAS.

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