Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Not Unhappy Garden

I know that's a double-negative, but I like it for emphasizing a point:  Despite all this cold rainy weather we're having, my garden doesn't seem to be suffering.  In fact, today was the first day I was able to really utilize this blog I've been so diligently keeping for a year (more on this in a minute).

Though everyone seems to be worried about their tomatoes and peppers, I'm pretty happy with the progress of mine this year.  These Brandywine and Juliets have good color and strong, healthy growth.  The Juliets are even fruiting already.

The wine barrels I added to the garden late last year aren't getting the sun I thought they would.  It's looking like they're only getting about 5 hours, and while these Big Beef and Valencias aren't quite as vigorous as the ones in the sunnier spot above, they're still growing strong.

The big beef are even fruiting as well.

The only tomatoes that don't seem happy at all are these Moskvich.  I'm not exactly sure why they look so sad.  It could be this bed is wetter than the others.  For sure, it doesn't get the late afternoon sun my other beds get.  However, Moskvich is supposed to be a cold tolerant variety, so it doesn't make sense.  In theory, this should be my best tomato, as my others aren't marked for cold.  But despite the leaf curl, the plant continues to grow.  I've pulled out the neighboring broccoli, thinking maybe the two plants didn't like each other, and I will leave them here in the hope they take a turn for the better when our weather dries up and the sun comes out.

But even despite my cranky Moskvich, I went back to my archives and captured photos from this time last year.  Wow!  What a difference!

By comparison, this year's garden looks like a lush tropical paradise!  Those tiny plants in the foreground are last year's tomatoes.  They're not even half the size my tomatoes are right now.

You can also see more tomato plants in the bed closest to the workshop, and those teeny tiny plants in front of them were last year's peppers.

Here are this year's peppers:

They actually look like something.

Last year's green beans and peas:

This year's version is about the same in size, but my peas were planted much earlier this year and are already producing:

About the only thing I'm late on is my summer squash, but that is intentional.  I started my squash in pots last year then transplanted them at the beginning of May.  They were big, but they were not happy:

I later planted some directly from seed which ended up much healthier in the long run.  This year, I followed that same rule and direct seeded my squash and cucumber a month later than I did last year.  They are small, but so far, they look happy:

I don't doubt the minute our weather turns (which I have faith it will!) these puppies will take over.

But in the end, when I compare this year's photo:

To last year's photo:

I really can't claim that my garden is suffering from the cool wet spring.  Granted, these two photos aren't astonishingly different, but when I remind myself that last year's garden ended up looking like this come August:

I am not terribly worried about what I'll get.  And in the meantime, I'm still enjoying the fruits of my spring crop.  My cabbage is extremely happy with this weather:

As are the perennials I put in last year:

I'm so happy with this potato vine, I've planted three more just like it on the other side of the house.  I'm hoping this will be the view from my kitchen window next year.

Also taking off is the passion vine.

My perennial dahlia, climbing hydrangea and irises haven't minded the spring at all.

The only thing slow growing are these carrots.  They're at the 2 week mark, which I suppose isn't that old.  But everything else planted that day seems farther along.

I am confident they'll grow, but I'm still not sure I like carrots from a gardener's standpoint.  They sure take forever to get past this stage, and while they're in this stage, I'm always nervous.  A single slug could wipe out each and every one of these over the course of a single evening.  Of course, I haven't noticed the slugs being big fans of carrots, but slugs can never be trusted.

But to summarize this long photorial (I just made that word up), I confess that while everyone here in Northern California is complaining about the rain and wondering if they'll get a single vegetable this year, I'm not really sweating it.  Seems to me I'm ahead of the game over last year, and I was pretty happy with the results I ended up with come Labor Day.  So I'm staying positive!


  1. Everything looks great! Being in Southern California, the weather has been a little warmer earlier. I just hope it doesn't mean that the summer will be unbearable. We've enjoyed tomatoes, cukes, tons of squash and a few more things. I'm waiting for the peppers and eggplant to kick it into high gear.

    I see you've got the lattice panels with the vines and wife wants something like that for privacy but I can't figure out how you've got yours set up. I was thinking of making "feet" from pressure treated lumber or building/buying planters and attach them to those. I don't have the lattice panels but want to use a redwood ladder trellis and it already has a frame, so I just gotta figure out how to get them to stand up.

    Off to write my weekly farm update!


  2. Thanks, Luis! I have been enjoying watching the progress of your garden as well.

    As for the lattice, I've got these panels on both sides of my yard. I've used two different methods of securing them.

    Here in the veggie garden, I lined up cinder blocks along the fence line. That was because I didn't want dirt up against the fence, so I had to create a barrier between the raised bed and the fence. So what I did was pour Quikrete in the holes of the cinder blocks, sink redwood 2 X 2 X 8's in the cement. That secured the bottom of the posts. I then used lag bolts to secure the 2X2's to the fence rail at the top of the fence. I cut 1 1/2" pieces of PVC as spacers between the fence and the 2X2's. I didn't want the lattice to be pressed directly against the fence. I wanted them offset a bit.

    On the other side, I don't have the cinder blocks. I just used lag bolts and my pvc spacers to secure the 2 X 2 X 8's to the fence rails at the top and bottom. I then used deck screws to secure the lattice panels to the 2X2's.

    This was all because I wanted privacy and a trellis to grow vines, but our fence is 20 years old. At some point, it's going to have to be replaced and when that happens, if my lattice is still in good shape, I wanted the option of unscrewing it from the fence and reusing it. Those pre-framed lattice panels are $40 each! Along with the 2X2's and lag bolts they were about $50 per panel. So I don't want to lose them when the fence reaches its last leg!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial. The wall we share with the next door neighbor is not very tall and my wife does not feel comfortable being in the backyard.

    We've been tossing ideas around as how to achieve this and this gives me some ideas.

    My garden is slowly coming along and my wife cannot eat enough tomatoes. She loves the Early Girls but she knows the yellow pears are all mine.


  4. I've enjoyed peeking into your growing space. Thanks for sharing. Happy growing.

  5. Lori, I'm new to gardening and found your blog via the photos you posted at GardenWeb. I love, love, love your garden and landscape! Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. You're welcome. Thanks for visiting and good luck with your garden!