Friday, July 24, 2009

Food Gardening Update

Those who follow my gardening escapades here know I have several large flower gardens, but I hardly ever talk about my food garden. This is the year of food gardening for me. I spend more time in my vegetable garden than all of my flower gardens combined. I have even taken up a vegetable garden in a friend's backyard down the street.

My first harvest of the year was June 22 from my strawberry patch. I use strawberries as a border plant in my main garden. These are Honoeye. They have great flavor, but aren't consistently sweet. When they are sweet, they are the best strawberry around for fresh eating. They are always great for preserves.

On June 24 I had my first major spinach (Bloomsdale), lettuce (speckled Romaine) and broccoli (Packman) harvest.

And the Early Girls were setting fruit.

By July 09 we built an extra raised bed and a squash trellis to get even more out of our vegetable garden space. As you can see, I pack a lot into a little space. Each of these beds is 4'x16' and are loaded with more plants than some would dare put in twice the space.

In the first - the Broccoli Bed: 4ft of curled vates kale, 8ft Bloomsdale spinach, 10ft mixed lettuce, 8 Packman broccoli, 10 mixed pepper plants, 4 Early Girl tomatoes, 4 mixed tomatoes, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 zucchini, 12 garlic, 16 Maxibel filet beans, 4 rutabaga, 40 sweet peas, and basil plants here and there.

In the second -the Garlic Bed: 3 yellow summer squash, 18 Maxibel filet beans, 12 rutabaga, 45 garlic, 8sqft of volunteer American Flag leeks, 6 mixed tomatoes, 24ft various peas, 16ft large leaf basil, 1 volunteer broccoli, 4 turnips, 1 sweet pepper, and some spinach sprinkled here and there.

In the third -the Squash Bed: 2 Triple Treat pumpkin, 2 Table Queen acorn squash, 2 buttercup, 2 butternut, 6 edamame, 16ft Detroit Red beets, 16ftblack-eyed peas, 10 sweet yellow onions, 10 rutabaga, 15 large leaf basil, 6 shallots, and tons of volunteer lamb's quarter (which not only are an edible weed, but are high in nutrients and are darn tasty!).

By packing in the plants I reduce space for weeds, cool the ground, and reduce water loss. I had a goal this year to have enough to bring some of each to our local food bank. I am definitely meeting that goal. It's not only great to have somewhere to go with all my extra, it's great to know that I am helping others.


Blogger Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

I put in raised beds for the first time this year. I love them! Very little weeding and they hold water well. Your garden looks wonderful and so bountiful! -Jackie

7/25/2009 11:03 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I love my raised beds! I just bought the revised Square Foot Gardening book and he has some great ideas for trellises. I need to build a few more. Loved the pictures!

7/26/2009 10:31 AM  
Blogger Iowa Gardening Woman said...

And what a vegetable garden it is! You should be proud.

7/26/2009 7:55 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Ellie Mae's Cottage, I LOVE raised beds! especially for the vegetable garden. Mine are great because I can sit or stand on the edge of the bed easily. They are also tough enough to take a good whack with a shovel while I'm turning soil and there are no interior supports to get in your way when you are tilling.

Ellen, I watched Square Foot Gardening on PBS when I was growing up. I love the idea of getting the most out an area, so that particular gardening method really spoke to me. But I think of myself as more of a "Square Inch Gardener" as I don't grid things, I just pack in plants as tight as I can get them comfortably. They seem to enjoy the company!
Check out my post on the trellis that I designed and built. It is linked in this post. It was easy to build and has so far not budged against 8 squash plants!

Iowa Gardening Woman, thanks! I have been pretty proud of it this year. I have been considering rearranging the beds to accommodate a sitting area in the middle.

7/27/2009 8:18 PM  
Blogger Zoey said...

Your veggie beds look great. I wish I had some. I think it's wonderful that you do all that work and then you share with the food bank.

I was amazed when I read all the produce you have in each bed.

7/28/2009 4:50 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Zoey, the food shelf is so happy to have the food too!
The plants seem to like being crowded a little. I planted the broccoli about 10" on center, rather than the 18" recommended.

7/29/2009 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Brad B said...

This year we've learned the benefits of gentle crowding in the vegetable beds for all of the reasons you mentioned.

It's looking great. And delicious.

7/29/2009 3:17 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Brad B, gentle is for sure. If you crowd them too much, they become spindly and non-productive. I have been reducing most "on-centers" to about half of the recommended, and trying some layering (lettuce under broccoli and rutabaga amongst the beans works very well).

7/29/2009 11:38 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

This looks great! I think I may have grown that lettuce at one point. It's so pretty, isn't it?

8/22/2009 12:15 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Wendy, this is my favorite lettuce, hands down. It is so pretty and tasty, plus it has a wonderful growing habit (it is a romaine afterall).

8/23/2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Volunteer India said...

Definitely something to be proud of! I'm pretty sure your veggies are very delicious to eat, nutritious and satisfying!

8/27/2009 7:16 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Volunteer India, I have even gotten my husband, not such a fan of vegetables, to eat the summer squash from the garden - and he LIKED IT!

8/27/2009 8:17 AM  

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