Mar 31, 2015

2015 Summer Garden

This year's garden is about 45' x 100'
Spring may have only started just over a week ago, but Cameron and I are fully involved with our SUMMER garden. We have been since mid-March. Almost everything is planted. All that is left to plant are the eggplants, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and banana peppers. Though, technically, all the peppers are planted - just inside in a seed starter tray. The peppers haven't sprouted just yet, but I may just decide to plant them outside this coming weekend any how. Depends on how warm it is. This past weekend we had temps up in the mid-80s, but I hear a cool down is coming. The eggplant will get planted in two weeks.

Popcorn & Corn is growing well already
A few things have changed since last year's garden. For one, the location is new. We moved the garden from behind our house with a secondary pumpkin garden to the left of the house, to having everything together to the right side of our house, just in front of the chicken coop. The garden is now twice as big as it was last year too, although when you factor in all the space the secondary pumpkin garden took last year, it actually may be a tad bit smaller. We changed location mainly because we lost the pumpkin garden space to our orchard. 

So are the Sunflowers
And we decided having it all together would help when it comes to maintenance like watering and weeding. Right now, I'm watering every other day and weeding 2-3 times a week, and every weekend day on top of that. I have about 3 rows to do a major weed attack on and then it just becomes maintenance weeding. Luckily, if it does get out of control again, Cameron left enough space between almost every row that he can drive the tractor through with a rake. 

And just recently, the snow and snap peas sprouted up

Also new this year, is my semi-reliance on technology. I found a website called SmartGardener that helps you plan out your garden and tells you when to plant. It was definitely a big help in figuring out how to layout the garden as it will suggest one once you have added all the plants you intend to plant into your garden list. The only thing I didn't like is that it made you make "planter boxes" and restricted where you could put plants based on that. An option for field dimensions would have worked better, so I did spend a bit of time using the info I got from SmartGardener and laying out my own garden plan in Microsoft Excel. 

This is the plan SmartGardener suggested - it only used about 1/2 of the area I said I had available

Here's the plan I created based on SmartGardener's plan. We added a lot more corn, sunflower and popcorn
What I do like about SmartGardener is all the info the site provides on a plant - when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant out or even, when to just plant outdoors. It also tells you how many seeds to plant in how large a space. Last year we planted 1 corn kernel seed every foot. SmartGardener has you plant 4 in one square foot. Some of the beans had 9 seeds in 1 square foot.  The program even tells you how many plants you need to feed your family based on it's size. SmartGardener also tells you how much water you should be giving each plant each week. Last year, I think we didn't give some plants enough water early on. While I'm not following the recommendations to a T, I do think my habit of watering every other day is helping. Corn, sunflowers and popcorn are all coming up already. I even noticed some of my yellow wax beans breaking the surface while I was weeding on Sunday. 

Green beans & yellow beans are on their way

And based on the info I have already learned this year from SmartGardener, I've got everything prepped and ready to go for 2016! I swear we always feel behind on getting our summer garden going each year - and that's with us starting it earlier and earlier each year. Maybe next year we'll feel we're on top of it.

Our Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, Marina pumpkins and Jack-o-lantern Pumpkins also sprouted in the last two days

And I'm never alone when I'm out watering, weeding or planting. Sophie is loving all the time we are spending outdoors. Did I mention if she has a mouse/rat/vole in her mouth (still alive) she won't hesitate to run over and greet you hello then re-catch the wounded animal and proceed to eat it?

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