Seedtime and Harvest

zucchini

Ready to take a quick spin around our garden?  I’ve posted about building the garden and planting it and the challenges associated with growing ANYTHING along Colorado’s Front Range.  This month I’m posting about our harvest!

Our garden is completely walled for wind and rabbits.  Unfortunately the birds are left as the sole garden predators, and they are decimating our strawberries.  The good news is, the strawberries are growing like crazy.  The bad news is, all the ripening ones have bites out of them.  My chicken wire cover does have some gaps and as I get some time I will get the gaps closed off.  I’m amazed at the tenacity of the birds, low-crawling under the low hanging chicken wire.  Strawberries are a BIG hit with them. 

The persistence of the birds with the strawberries makes me wonder how our raspberries will fare when they eventually start to produce.  I haven’t even looked it up to see if these healthy bushes will produce this year or next, but when they do, we will have to cover them.

The tomato plants went from hanging in there to growing like mad.  I have not measured them as I intended to do as a science project with the kids, but next year, we will definitely be measuring and charting the growth.

Most of the tomato plants are now bearing, and they’re all still green.  Again, I have no idea when these guys will turn ripe, so every day is a surprise to go see what is happening in the garden.  Are they red yet?  no?  maybe tomorrow..

Bell peppers are doing great, little tiny fruit is showing on the plants.

Tomatillo peppers, likewise.

Zucchini squash are growing huge, which I am very interested in.  My favorite vegetable is going to be in abundance very soon!

Look at these little guys in there!

Little jalapeno plants planted at the end of May have started slow after some initial cold weather, but they appear to be doing great now.  I actually have two tiny seedlings that survived the post-Mothers’ Day cold rain deluge.  They are clinging to life and may not bear at all through frost, tough to say.  I’m not betting on it.

And my cilantro bed.  Lovely to look at.  The birds like it too, since I have been planting more seeds every four weeks since the beginning of May.  Hopefully they’ll miss some of the seeds so I can have a continuous supply of cilantro all summer.

 

Here is our first harvest.  Fresh cilantro for tacos.  Yum!

My kids have been learning along with me out in the garden.  They know that plants need sun, water, room to grow, protection from pests and the elements, and good soil.  They know which of our garden is fruit and which is vegetable.  They know the parts of the plants.  They know that birds like to eat seeds and berries.  Lots of good science to learn out in the garden!

For more great garden photos and stories, check out the rest of the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge linkup below!

HSV

And if you have any bird deterrence hints, please leave a comment and share them with me!

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Grow, Garden, Grow!

hardening plants

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since our first garden plants went into their new home in our garden, and sadly, many of them have perished since these photos were taken.  The seedlings my boys and I lovingly planted and watered and hardened off went into the ground the second week of May.

The next three days it rained, the wind blew, hail fell, and the plants, unprotected by various garden coverings with which it would have been wise to cover them, croaked.

Apparently my tough love approach to gardening wherein the hardiest plants should have weathered the elements and lived on stronger to produce lots of wonderful vegetables and fruit for my family… is just not a wise approach.

On days 4 through 11 I watched the weather-beaten plants for signs of life as it continued to rain with very little sun, hitting the 40’s at night.

On day 12 I bought new plants from the local farmers market, abandoning my “introduce a few new varieties at a time and see how they do” approach, and coming home with tomatillo, red and yellow bell peppers, an indeterminate tomato hybrid, a roma tomato, zucchini seeds, and cilantro seeds.

So far, these plants, well irrigated and planted further along in the season, are doing fine.  As we roll into Memorial Day weekend, I have moved on to plant bed perennials elsewhere in our yard, and am (mostly) confident that something we have planted will grow and thrive.  I take a few lessons learned already into next growing season:

  1. Don’t start seedlings again without letting them grow thicker and hardier first, which means either building a greenhouse or rigging some sort of UV lighting stuff in the basement, plus bigger pots, and who knows what else.  I may not start seeds again soon.
  2. Wait until maybe Memorial Day to plant anything out there.
  3. Follow local tomato planting guidelines, including walls-0′-water and planting horizontally so only leaves are exposed.

Here are some photos, some of commemorative nature..

First, our strawberry plants, which my youngest has claimed as his own, and which are already producing fruit, having weathered the elements with style, and which we are pleased to learn will come back next season.

strawberries

Cilantro, looking rather peaked.  New seeds were sown right next to these now dead plants.  They are supposed to be hardy early season growers here.  Not these ones, though.

cilantro

This is a raspberry bush from a national hardware store.  Having seen what is at the farmers’ market labeled raspberries, I’m sorry we even planted these sticks, and am watching them without much hope for success.  I saved my receipt.

raspberry bush

The northwest corner of the garden, filled with jalapenos and zucchini, right before watering them in.  Too bad none of them made it.

nw corner

Poor little guys, and they looked so healthy, too.

zucchini

These are purchased tomato plants, and some of them are mysteriously bearing yellow leaves now, which google says means lack of nitrogen or not enough sun or water.   We’ve had very little sun, lots of rain, and they went into compost-rich soil.  Watching and waiting on that one.  Not sure, but they are hanging in there and I see little tomatoes on one..

tomatoes

Poor little gone jalapeno.

jalapeno

..and roma tomato.  Were I to do it again, this would have gone in horizontally without so much stem exposed to whip around in the wind.  They still got quite a bit of the crazy wind despite the completely walled garden.

roma

Through the garden gate, with irrigation system and graduated fenceline.  Left side is windward.

garden gate

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge linkup for lots of gardening progress with curriculum to match.

And please, by all means, if you know what is causing my tomato plants to turn yellow- leave a comment and let me know!

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Almost Ready to Plant

Seedlings

I thought I’d start posting our garden progress after discovering the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge. In March, we started seeds indoors, observed them grow, and broke ground on the outside garden.

In April, we watered the plants that started from the seeds, watched them grow some more and kept working on the outside garden.  Oh, and I bought a compost pail to go under the sink.

That’s pretty much it.  Temps at night here have been in the high 30s, and after about May 9th, we pass the 90% freeze date for our area.  If you want to find your 90% freeze date, check this handy website!

So that means in two weeks, we can plant.

Here are my seedlings so far: zucchini, roma tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper.  They’re doing pretty well!  I’ll start taking them outside during the day to harden them in the next tw0 weeks, weather permitting.

Seedlings

Here is progress on the garden.  It needs to be walled because of our chinook winds (75mph+) and our rabbit population (I believe they are breeding inside a large planter adjacent to the house, which is not good for the plants trying to grow there).

In this photo you can see the 6 foot wall on the left, windward side, sloping down to 3 foot on the leeward side.

The dirt is topsoil mixed with amended soil.  Don’t ask me what it is amended with, but the local dirt place called it “garden starter” or something to that effect.  I’ll take a ton!

Garden

Here are the pickets waiting to go on this weekend:

pickets

And not to be overlooked are the Russian Sage, faithfully returning from winter dormancy.  They are receiving a lot of moisture so far this spring, and they will receive more when we get them on some irrigation.

Sage

But not much of that.. they were selected to be xeriscape plantings, and so far the only thing planted that won’t be water-wise will be the garden!

But it’s worth it.

Hopefully.

If the zucchini grows.

And for school, we have been discussing what plants need to grow, and we’ll be making the planting in a few weeks a family project.  The subsequent weeding will also be a family project.

For more progress updates on gardens, check out the linkup at Homeschool Village!

HSV Garden Challenge

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