I planted the garden on May 10th, 2014. Brave or reckless? Maybe a little of both, but this winter was long and cold and I couldn't stand it anymore. The garden went in, then it rained for the next 3 days.
6 days later, everything still looks alive and some seeds have sprouted. Here is a look at the progress for 2014:
Box 1 :
|Heritage Raspberries - mulched with oak leaves|
|16 Tomato Plants and 3 Asparagus Hills semi-mulched with oak leaves|
|Asparagus - constantly getting picked|
|3 Blueberries, 1 Zucchini, Radishes, Beets, Peas, Zinnias, and Swiss Chard|
|Chippewa Blueberry - recovering well from salt damage and severe breakage. Mulched with Pine needles.|
|Northland Blueberry - Struggling to recover from under followed by over pruning and salt damage|
|NorthBlue Blueberry - Recovering from salt damage and breakage during prior move. Marshmallow Man shadow.|
|Beans, Peas, Ground Cherries, Carrots, Leeks, Basil, Peppers, Chives, Squash, Cucumber, and Cosmos|
|Peas - straight line along the fence in both boxes - to climb the fence then fade into summer|
|2 Cucumbers, Put at corners to climb fence|
|Chives - Transplant from Forest|
|Strawberries - Mulched with oak leaves - Sprawling to cover entire rock area between forest and lawn|
Black and Red Raspberries
|Mulched by default since they exist inside the forest|
So what has changed in 2014? I moved the blueberries to a new box so they would no longer be assaulted by the road salt in the winter. I severely pruned the northland blueberry to encourage it to grow new wood and begin producing again.
Moving the berries is a risky situation because the "new" ground is not as well prepared as the original box they were in, but they suffered every winter because of their proximity to the road and it was worth a shot. 1 Berry plant died last summer and I now have 3 instead of 4.
The raspberries were mulched heavily with oak leaves. Our forest is mostly oak trees and they throw leaves all over the garden. They are supposedly high in tannins and therefore, toxic to most plants, but they have mulched the strawberrries for years with no ill effect.
Heavy mulching will not help in our fight against the spotted wing drosophila, but I have a feeling they are traveling from other locations anyway. If I can not control the SWD this year, then I may have to stop planting berries all together.
The Tomatoes are also semi-mulched with oak leaves. I am attempting to use the items we have rather than buy cocoa bean mulch (my usual) to keep down on weeds and make the garden more self-sustaining. It looks ratty and unpleasant, but hopefully it does the job.
I planted leeks in the ground rather than as a transplant. They have sprouted and seem to be doing fine. I also planted ground cherries for the first time. I used to eat them as a child, and I remember liking them.
Our asparagus is producing well. We have picked twice already.
My marigold seeds disappeared. I plant and save their seeds every year. They are a natural insect repellent. Unfortunately, it seems someone has tossed my seeds into the trash, so I have planted cosmos and zinnias in their place.
I had intended to plant zinnias (because I love them) and cosmos (for bees/color) in boxes near the garden, but used them instead to cover the marigold zones.
I will most likely hunt down more marigold seeds and begin planting them again next year. I am hoping I may have some accidental sprouts this summer that I can take seeds from.
I am hoping to hunt down wild amaranth and wild purslane to start in my forest boxes (where the cosmos and zinnias were slotted.) I transplanted a wild chives plant from the forest into the garden. We have been picking and eating it for years, so I decided to move it to the garden where it would get better sunlight and be easier to pick. I split it and left half in the forest.
I planted wonderberry seeds inside my porch. They require pollination, so if they sprout I'll have to do it by hand. I am not planting any additional berries in the garden until the SWD problem is under control.
Three last administrative changes. The first; I made numerous (NUMEROUS!) repairs to the fence where squirrels or chipmunks have created entries. The second; I decided to leave my watering cans in the garden to collect rain and use that to water the blueberries (plus extra from the large rain barrel near the house) as opposed to hose water so that the ground will remain more acidic. It's also more responsible and eco-friendly. The third: I have removed all the bamboo stakes, wire and clips from my tomato plan. It was an okay system but it was not as good as cages, so the cages are back in. They will go up in a few weeks when the tomatoes double in size.
That's it - the garden is in. Hopefully we start to get some warm weather so the growth can accelerate.