Zinnia seeds were sown at the same time the veggie garden seeds were planted. So cheery they are in their varied bright colors. Growing between the pole beans and the green beans they are starting to bud and flower. Well, I should say they are budding again. That is, after my fellow-gardening DIL reminded me I needed to snip off the first buds that actually showed up around Easter. It was painful, but she was right, they are now forcing out two stems instead of one. Thanks, E.
It is to be expected when a gardener triples the size of a vegetable garden that perhaps, just perhaps, the harvest will also triple. Only, for some unexplainable reason, the fact that the harvest is now coming in so fast I can hardly keep up continues to surprise me. :-)
Each morning when I meander around the garden it's as if the growing gods were working overtime during the previous 24 hours. Just how is it vegetables grow so quickly!
Last year in the two beds I started with it didn't take me long to realize I had over-sown most of my seeds. I didn't have a clue what I was doing so I learned quickly the process of thinning the seedlings that popped out of the ground on top of each other. Even then I wasn't brutal enough and my squash plants crowded each other out as did my tomatoes.
This year I purposed to intensively plant the garden again only not with the same method in mind. With companion planting as the goal I made my garden plan for spring. Now with 6 beds to work in my determination was strong not to crowd the vegetables with each other. There's a difference you know. Planting vegetables too close together is not the same as planting them tightly and then intermingling lots of herbs and flowers in between the rows or sometimes an individual plant.
It's very much a "feel thing" for me much like how I cook and landscape garden. With no exact formula to guide, somehow the variations in the plants' heights, widths, stalkiness and/or airiness just makes all the difference in air circulation and compatability. So it has worked really well for the green beans to round the corner into the wando peas and for the spindly stems of nasturtiums and zinnias to fill in every empty space of dirt next to each.
The peas (climbing their own trellis) are perpendicular and planted as an end cap of sorts to the pole beans (climbing their stakes) and also the green beans. Then another layer of nasturtiums on the most outer edge so there is not one foot of wasted space in that bed.
I left 18 inch to 2 feet for the pathways. Even so, walking space is being squeezed out daily by overflowing vegetables and flowers.
The pathway between the zucchini and lima beans is not useable any longer for the prickly squash leaves have blocked all passage.
I gave up on trying to keep the cilantro from blooming. It loses its pungent, wonderful aroma and flavor once it flowers. But as in most of garden life we must learn to embrace every stage of the plant to get the full satisfaction from it.
All this blooming and growth is drawing in all the wonderful critters we anticipated to help with the balance of the eco system at Hoe and Shovel.
The feathery light dill works well next to the very stiff stalks and wide leaved squash plants which I sowed diagonally due to their growth habit. Carrots are planted horizontally at the end of the bed but quite closely to the squash and dill. Their fruit is under ground and their wispy top growth weaves in between the heavy squash stalks. As do the spindly nasturtium stems. Where the harvested radishes were growing I've now planted sunflower seeds.
Some of the critters coming to visit are easily recognizable and are old faithful friends.
Standing in the midst of the garden sounds and feels much like an orchestrated buzzing fly zone. There are so many flying critters coming and going it is quite fascinating. The bumble bees are zooming around so quickly I've literally had to dodge them in some of their flight patterns. I'm trying to remember if they were so large at any other time. Or am I just noticing for the first time? Honestly they are more the size of a sphinx moth than a bumble bee. Regardless, they are having a feast of a time sipping here and sipping there.
When the goal of attracting friendly bugs to rid the garden of the enemy bugs works its good to know which ones are friend or foe. Identifying bugs is not my greatest gift. We've got some new ones this year like the interesting fellow above. Any ideas from some of my bug loving readers? I'll have to post more later on all the bugs - for now there's a line in a Disney song that keeps running through my head... "at the ball, at the ball, at the ugly bug ball". Can you tell I hang around with a 3 year a LOT?
And... as in most gardens all is not bliss and fairy tale around here. The weather has quickly turned humid and quite warm and with it comes the constant challenges of keeping the plants happy and free of infestation. I've been fighting white flies and aphids galore for the past two weeks on the tomatoes. Lots of water spraying and some organic insecticidal soap so far. But what I can't figure out is why the leaves of some of my tomato plants are turning brown and yellow on the edges. The tomatoes are fine but the leaves at the bottoms are getting ugly.
This year I've pruned the suckers and leaf stems as instructed (which I didn't even know about last year) up to the lowest flower cluster. This process seems to allow more air around the roots and keeps the limbs from getting tangled with each other.
I've also mulched the beds which should be keeping in the moisture better. Any suggestions or information from you more seasoned gardeners is much welcomed.
Happy May days in your gardens, dear readers. Thank you for taking time out of your busy days to visit. I'm sure your gardens are keeping you hopping just as mine is.