The garden is about 145 x 30 feet, adding up to about 4,300 square feet of garden space or just shy of 1/10 of an acre. There are 26 raised beds in the garden, each one about 4 x 16 feet, surrounded by straw covered pathways. My previous garden at our old house was 200 sq feet - to say we expanded is an understatement! However, we're discovering that we are able to manage the space quite well. After a few weeks of intensive weeding, the weeds have diminished greatly and are not really a problem. I should be spending about least 30 minutes out there each day, preferably an hour, but lets be realistic. I have a three year old. Enough said. Hopefully, next year I'll be able to get my time in.
Part of the garden - raised beds with straw pathways
Raised bed with "Royal Burgundy" Bush Beans on the left, "Yukon Gold" Potatoes in the center and Tomatoes on the right.
Most of the lettuces turned bitter and bolted in this heat, all except the Romaine Lettuce - we're still harvesting beautiful heads of Romaine each day. "Bolting" means the plant starts to suddenly grow tall and lanky, instead of forming a nice tight head of lettuce. It also gets bitter and the leaves will produce "milk" when you cut them. Plants bolt when it's too hot and there is not much you can do about it (tear it out and feed it to the pigs!). Lettuce likes cool weather. I may try growing some more in the shade of the tomato plants and see how that works.
I have about 40 broccoli plants and they are beginning to form nice heads. Soon, I'll be harvesting the center heads and preserving them for the rest of the year in the freezer. After giving the heads a salt water bath to kill the sneaky cabbage worms that hide in the broccoli (don't skip this step!!!! Trust me, it's not cool to bite into your broccoli and discover you just ate half a worm. Simply boiling or steaming the broccoli won't make them fall off), I will blanch and freeze as much broccoli as I can.
The Swiss Chard is looking lovely and like always, I have WAY too much of it. To be honest, I grow it simply because it's so beautiful - green leaves with bright red, orange and yellow stems. I just don't know what to do with all of it... my family does not care for cooked greens no matter how I prepare them, and though they go well in egg dishes and soup, I can only make so many egg dishes. Suggestions for using up Swiss Chard would be appreciated! Or just come over and take some!
"Bright Lights" Swiss Chard
Over my years of gardening, I've discovered I prefer pole beans over bush beans. Anyone who has ever picked green beans know that the bending over is for the birds. Pole beans grow up and are super easy to harvest - no bending over! As I pulled the spent peas off the trellises, I planted pole beans to take over. When I ran out of trellis, I got the idea to plant pole beans and sunflowers in the same bed at the same time. Not sure if it's going to work, but I'm hoping the pole beans will simply climb up the sunflowers. So far, so good! The sunflowers will reach 6-8 feet, which should be tall enough for the pole beans.
Sunflowers with Pole Beans growing up on them
"Stupice" Tomato, an early ripening variety
There are lots of other exciting things going on in the garden, but I won't bore you with all the little details. The garden is such a magical place. It grows by leaps and bounds each day. Each day, it fills me with delight, as I walk around checking on my "babies", rubbing my hands in glee and excitement. Come on over and take a walk with me. I'd love to show you around so that you can taste and see that the Lord is good.