I’m so happy the last raised bed is finished! It’s our tradition to walk to the Farmer’s Market during the first weekend of May to purchase our veggie starts so I’m right on schedule. We always buy our starts from Sun Gold Farm based out of Forest Grove. We know the owners now and always enjoy talking with them about how our crop did the previous year, new varieties of plants they may have and tips they have about improving the harvest this year. It’s something I really look forward to.
Sun Gold Farm always has consistently high-quality plants. My Swiss Chard is a great example. I planted these teeny, tiny little threads of plants last May and they exploded into a full bed of healthy, delicious, iron-packed greens that kept producing all winter when everything else went dormant. They are just now starting to bolt. I would say a $3 investment in starts that produced a year’s worth of organic greens that sell for $2 per bunch at the grocery store was a good investment!
I’m planting a mix of starts and seeds again this year. Some plants need to get started before the weather is warm enough for them to be in the garden so starts are a good idea. I don’t have a greenhouse (yet) so I bought tomatoes, cucumber, red bell peppers, onions, kale, peas and one summer squash plant this year. I’m skipping chard because I want more room for kale which I love even more. My seeded plants are turnips, green beans, zucchini, radishes and joi choy which is a variety of bok choy. I purchased the turnips and joi choy from Johnny’s Select Seeds because of their wide variety of organic seeds and their Non-GMO safe seed pledge.
I installed some wire fencing in the new, long bed as a trellis for the squash. I’m going to try to get the plants that are willing to climb to actually go vertical this year so I use the space more efficiently. I planted the yellow summer squash here along with a few zucchini seeds. I also put a sugar snap pea here since those are an earlier season veggie that will be long gone when the squash gets big and needs the space. They will climb the trellis too so there’s plenty of room for them to go wild. I love sugar snap peas!
At the other end of the long bed I’ve got two varieties of bush beans. The sticks you see indicate the division between the two varieties. They don’t need a trellis because they grow low and compact so I think they’ll do well here. In front, I’ve got the first succession of radishes which I’ll plant more of when the first batch gets big so I can have radishes over and over again. Finally along the back edge of the new bed I planted some sunflower seeds. They’re older seeds though and I’m not sure if they’re still viable or not. It will be a nice surprise if they germinate but if they don’t that’s ok too.
I had tomatoes in the middle bed last year so this year I decided to group all of my brassicas. I’ve got three kinds of kale in the middle, turnips and joi choy on the sides and existing strawberry plants in the front. I moved my hoops over to this bed and will cover it with netting to block out the white cabbage moths. Their larva can mow down an entire kale plant in no time and they make quite a mess doing it. Last year the netting kept my kale perfectly clean which saved water and time when I cleaned it before eating. Definitely worth the effort of installing the hoops and netting! When the netting goes on I will be sure to lay it behind the strawberries so the pollinators can still get to the blossoms. Very important!
My red bell peppers are going in pots against the house again this year. They love the heat!
I planted more peas, a cucumber, two tomatoes and red onions in the bed by the brick. I built a trellis for the tomatoes which I’ll post about separately. I have indeterminate tomatoes that usually try to take over the entire garden. Last year I had about 20 pounds of green tomatoes I had to give away because the weather turned before they had a chance to ripen. This year I will be pruning the large tomatoes down to one or two main stems and training them up the trellis. My hope is that, while there will be less fruit, I will have more that actually ripen. The cherry tomatoes will probably be allowed to go wild since they ripen so fast. The Sun Gold cherry is a prolific producer that will give me the sweetest little balls of juicy goodness well into October if I let all the blossoms go. We LOVE these on pizza so the more the merrier!
Next weekend I plan to pull the chard out and cook up a big pot of garlicy greens, build another trellis in that bed and plant two more heirloom tomatoes. Stay tuned!