What About the Vegetable Garden?

This Spring I will not have a vegetable garden. Our new home has lots of flower beds and landscaping around the property, so I’ll still get in plenty of gardening. I enjoy being outdoors, and plan on taking Gavin outside on pretty days so we can enjoy our yard.

Originally, I thought about doing a small vegetable garden, but we have so many other projects to work on, I think it would be better to wait a year. Plus, if I wait, I can put more thought into the layout of the garden… like where to put it, how large to make it, how much to plant, how to keep it protected (fencing, etc.), and the watering system. I’ve spent some time looking at beautiful gardens on Pinterest and other websites to get ideas. I have a rough idea of what I want, but I haven’t drawn it out and made final plans.

On the bright side, we are fortunate to have several local farmer’s markets, so we’ll be able to get fresh veggies from them. I still have a few grape vines – we dug them up and brought them with us from the old house. They’re in large pots, and hopefully they’ll make it until we get them in the ground. I also have a couple of herbs in small pots, so we may have fresh herbs.

Backyard Grapes | rainerlife.com
Last year’s (2014) backyard grapes.

Backyard Garden | rainerlife.com
Last year’s (2014) garden of herbs.

Spring/Summer Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden in Raised Bed | rainerlife.com

Vegetable Garden in Raised Bed | rainerlife.com

This week I got our vegetable gardens cleaned out and planted. This year’s garden is a bit different than last year’s because I didn’t start anything by seed this Spring. We recently took a two week vacation, and the weather was still a bit too cool to plant vegetables before we left, so I planted things a few weeks later this year than last.

 

One raised garden bed has herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, chives, oregano, dill, mint, cilantro, and basil), strawberries, and cucumbers. The other raised bed has asparagus, bell peppers, jalapeños, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes.

Raised Bed 1

Plant Notes
Basil Sweet Basil (1 plant)
Chives Onion Chives (1 plant)
Cilantro 1 plant
Dill 1 plant
Mint Peppermint (1 plant)
Oregano 1 plant
Parsley From last year (1 plant)
Rosemary 1 plant
Sage 1 plant
Cucumbers Straight Eight (4 plants)
Strawberries Quinalt (2 plants from last year) and Loran (6 plants)

 

Raised Bed 2

Plant Notes
Asparagus Second year
Bell Peppers Green (4 plants), Red (4 plants), Yellow (4 plants)
Jalapeños 4 plants
Tomatoes Heirloom Red Beefsteak (8 plants)
Yellow Squash Heirloom Crookneck (4 plants)
Zucchini Heirloom Black Beauty (4 plants)

 

Vegetable Garden Plan | rainerlife.com
 

Vegetable Garden Plan | rainerlife.com

Organizing Garden Supplies

Having a garden means also having the tools and supplies that a gardener needs. I had set up a baker’s rack near our back door where I was storing all my gardening and backyard items, but this area was kind of a mess. So, I wanted to get the area under control and make it look nice. Items that are housed in this area include: gloves, spray bottles, hand tools (shears, trowel, cultivator, and weeder), twine, extra seeds, watering can, bird seed, and squirrel food.

The garden supplies area before organizing.

I found a plant pot in the garage that wasn’t being used, so I’m now using it to hold the hand tools, twine, and extra seed packets. On a recent trip to Ikea, I bought two beige bins with lids. I’m using these to store the bird seed and squirrel food. Everything else fits on the shelves around the bins and pot.

Garden supply area after organizing.

To spruce up the bins, I used our Silhouette Cameo to create some cute labels. I used the Baskerville Old Face font and a couple of icons I purchased from the Silhouette Online Store. The bird icon is part of the assorted birds design. The squirrel icon is part of the 4 fall icons design. I used black vinyl for the material.

Storage bin for bird seed.

Storage bin for squirrel food.

Garden Vegetables (2013)

We are located in Zone 8b on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – that means our average annual extreme minimum temperature is 15°F to 20°F (-9.4°C to -6.7°C). The plants we grew were suitable for our East Texas weather, and were vegetables that we liked and would eat. Most of what we planted did well this year. The only thing we didn’t get much of was the strawberries. We only had a few, but Belle seemed to find them before me. Also, we didn’t have asparagus this year since it takes a couple of years before producing. The plants that grew best in early summer were dill, radishes, spinach, and squash. The plants that grew best in mid-summer were cilantro, cucumbers, onions, and oregano. The plants that grew best in late summer were parlsey, jalapeño peppers, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes.

Vegetable Variety Started As Notes
Asparagus Mary Washington Crown Started as 2 year old crowns
Cilantro Coriander Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Cucumber Marketmore Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Dill Long Island Mammoth Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Onion Evergreen Hardy White Bulb Bulbs planted in garden
Onion Stuttgarter Yellow Bulb Bulbs planted in garden
Oregano Oregano Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Parsley Italian Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Pepper Jalapeño Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Pepper Sweet Bell – Green Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Pepper Sweet Bell – Red Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Pepper Sweet Bell – Yellow Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Radish Early Scarlet Globe Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Spinach Mustard – Tendergreen Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Squash Dark Green Zucchini Seed Seeds sown directly in garden
Squash Straightneck Early Yellow Seed Seed started directly in garden
Strawberry Quinalt Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Tomato Homestead (Heirloom) Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden
Tomato Red Beefsteak (Heirloom) Seedling Purchased seedlings to plant in garden

 

Tomatoes growing in our garden.

Bell peppers growing in our garden.

 

Spring/Summer Garden (2013)

Jalapeño peppers growing in our garden.

I spent the morning weeding my vegetable gardens and around the grapevines. While tending to the gardens, I got to thinking about how much I enjoyed them this summer. Throughout Spring and Summer we had a variety of fresh vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, zucchini, yellow straightneck squash, radishes, onions, and herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, oregano, mint, and rosemary).

Bell peppers growing in our garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Our gardens ended up doing better than I thought they would, but we did have a couple of problems arise:
1) a watering issue (our automatic watering system wasn’t working properly and has since been repaired)
2) pests on a few of the vegetables, namely the cucumbers and squash (zucchini and yellow straitneck)

Grapevines growing in our backyard.

 

The watering issue did ultimately lead to the end of our squash plants, both the zucchini and yellow straitneck. The pest issue was resolved by removing the most damaged plants and spraying organic (homemade) pesticides on the remaining plants. Also, when we went out of town for a couple of weeks, the potted herbs (basil, mint, and rosemary) didn’t survive – guess they didn’t get enough water while we were gone.

We still have bell peppers and jalapeño peppers growing, but the rest of the garden has been cleaned out and I planted a few vegetables to try for a Fall/Winter garden. Since we’ve had some success with our gardens, I hope to plant even more vegetables next year.