Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Gardening Decade

Lately, it's kind of boggling my mind that I've been tending my own veggie garden for a decade now. Each year, the garden rectangle is like a fresh canvas, but the 'art' gets 'painted over' at the end of the season. The various yearly incarnations of it blur together a bit in my memory, so I decided to go through my old pics and put some sample views from each year in order. I just did this with the main veggie garden, not including the flower beds, trees and shrubs.

In the spring, we hired a farmer with a tractor to come till the sod. We were starting a garden here for the first time, though the soil had been farmed historically as one can see from a top layer of mixed soil known as the plowzone.

Baby Saffy instantly equated dirt with kibbles. She still obsessively eats dirt at every opportunity!

We had to really fight with the weeds and used plastic mulch as much as possible or densely planted things that could compete with the weeds. Jeff tilled a lot, using a neighbor's tiller at that time, before we got our own. (Tilling is his main contribution to the gardening.)

I played with the layout and had rows running both east to west and north to south. It was cute, but since then I stick to east to west running, long rows for quicker tilling. You can see the potatoes running across the garden in this picture.

Even with weeds, it was a great success and we had wide a range of crops due to my enthusiasm about my first garden of my very own. There are even Fava beans in this picture! I have reduced the number of crops recently, to focus effort on things we use the most.

The soil was a lot easier to work with, but we still had the tractor here for tilling in the spring. After a few years, we could skip the tractor tilling and just use our own walk behind tiller.

You can see 3 rows of hilled potatoes on the right side.

In the next picture, on the left, the peas have been pulled out and the beans have replaced them.

This was a pretty cool year...the year of gourds! I had so many kinds like apple, swan and birdhouse. I loved all the lush vines!

The sea of gourds!

I grew the potatoes under mulch for the first time and it was amazing...no hilling!

This was the first year of digital camera pictures!

I especially love the garden on foggy days. You may be able to tell that the garden expanded as time went on.

Although I started a lot of seedlings myself from 2001 on, in 2004 I went overboard! I still do a lot each year, but in 2004, I was starting a lot of flowers for brand new flower beds I created. I had over 1100 seedlings. It was fun giving away the extras to family and friends that year.

I have lights set up in the basement and a couple of heat mats for getting seeds started. I have a couple of fans to simulate breezes too.

I love cold frame growing or winter sowing in milk jugs. I had some great cold frames from Job Lot for a few years, but eventually they wore out in the wind/elements and I am down to just one.

I really worked at getting butterfly/beneficial bug friendly flowers into the garden.

I had some good flowers this year and planted the tomatoes in a block, so they eventually grew in and looked like a forest, compared to being in a long double row.

But this was a serious drought year with a vole infestation. They had no water and resorted to trying to eat tomatoes for the moisture! We had to set out traps. Fortunately, it was a freak occurrence to have so many.

I skipped repeat summer plantings of things like beans as it was too dry. The soil was powder and you couldn't turn over a clod of moist soil even digging with a spade.

This year, I skipped the plastic mulch and just made sure the rows could be easily tilled between.

It ended up looking really nice and had flowers for color, but I can't find a further along picture.

This year, I established a mowed pathway along the north side of the garden by the stone wall instead of trying to grow veggies right up to the wall. I had decided I wanted to have a walkway there so I could have a (tiny!) nature trail around the perimeter of the property. It is nice to be able to walk all the way around the garden edge on a mowed surface. That way when it's wet, I'm not brushing through all the wet vegetation, stressing plants. I did lose some width of the garden, but I can always expand a bit on the other side at some point if needed.

For the next few years, either I forgot to take mid summer pictures of the garden, or I have missed them as I looked through my large photo folders. There are however, hundreds of pictures of the flower beds! Maybe I got blase about the veggies as they aren't as colorful next to the flowers. I did scale back on the veggie garden some, so that's part of the reason there aren't plentiful pictures. This picture just shows the very beginnings.

This was a rough year, beginning with a death in the family. Despite that, we did till and do a small planting, but I can't find any pictures of the whole garden area, just the odd corner or bit behind flowers or dogs. The blog banner is from 2008. Maybe it was because we had some crazy weather that summer and I was distracted by the scary clouds overhead? I did *not* doctor this picture!

Perhaps a picture will turn up; I must have taken some.

Likewise, just one pathetic picture from 2009, before a tilling! Ugh! Weeds! This is the worst garden picture I have! It does not do it justice, considering how nice it was later in the year. The peppers were in the plastic and were the most plentiful pepper crop ever. I had lots of good butternut squashes too. The tomatoes, which you can see the metal stakes for even though the seedlings are blending into the weeds, got some blight. There was a widespread outbreak of tomato blight in New England.

At this time, I estimate the garden is approximately 35x120' in size. I feel a renewed enthusiasm for veggie gardening this year and am remembering to take progress pictures regularly, as regular blog visitors know. This is one of the Memorial Day views.

I'm getting back to my roots, figuratively and literally =) This is shaping up to be a great gardening year! I can't wait to see it all filled in later this summer.


2paw said...

Baby Saffy, so sweet!!
I really enjoyed your garden through the ages. What a flourishing garden it is too, and you work so hard!!

knitseashore said...

Thank you for sharing your garden history with us. I guess I had no idea that you grew as many seedlings as you do! Are there vegetables that you still prefer to buy rather than grow? Or do you pretty much grow everything that you want to eat? Have you ever grown corn or asparagus? My dad used to do both when we were little. The ferny growth of the asparagus fascinated me.

Sarah said...

Thanks, 2paw!

I can't say I *prefer* to buy any veggies, but often I have to get something I didn't grow or don't have in season. Or doesn't come from this climate.. Yes, I have grown corn and you can see blocks of it in some of the pictures. I am not growing it this year; I don't always. It takes up quite a bit of space for what you get from it. I have a small amount of asparagus that is ferny now. It needs weeding and the soil needs top dressing with compost. That bed is separate from the main veggie garden, along a wall.

Kristen said...

I aspire to be as green-thumbed as you are! Of course, you put in the labor and loving care that results in magnificent gardens. Documenting througn notes and pictures is a good way to see what has worked and what has not been as successful over the years. It's fun to see how your gardens have evolved over 10 years.