Friday, April 1, 2016

Vegetable Garden Update-March 2016: The Tomatoes and Peppers Are In!

April Fools Day or not this is indeed March's Vegetable Garden update despite being published on April 1st. Mr. Fix-it and I have been very busy in the garden this month and our hard work is paying off. I can't wait until the fruits and vegetables come in.  We start with flowers though because flowers are a big part of my vegetable garden and my grand scheme of raising our own food. Above is a one group of red tulips on the edge of the vegetable garden. I am surprised they all came back so wonderfully. Tulips in other parts of the garden have not come back at all. I think these ones did well because they are in a raised bed and in full sun.
A long view of the vegetable garden proper. Note the iris beds on either side of this entrance to the garden. You will see those iris beds at the end of this post-I can't wait until they all bloom. Some irises and peonies already have buds. Spring is here.
The southeast bed is now planted with six sweet pepper plants (Green, Yellow, and Pimento) amongst the wintered over cool season crops of cabbage and Brussels sprouts. While we don't eat the Brussel's sprouts too much now the chickens love the plants. This bed will slowly transition to hot weather crops consisting of bean, peppers, squash, and others.
The northeast bed has been completely redone and planted with cool weather crops. Mr. Fix-it planted three types of onions (red, yellow, and white) and four types of potatoes (blue, Yukon, Red, and White). There is also red lettuce, Buttercrunch lettuce, baby broccoli, and spinach growing in this bed. The green at the far end is all of the onion plants planted in wide rows.
The potatoes take up the middle section of this bed and have given me fits. Or I should say Mr. Fix-it has given me fits. We planted this bed about three weeks ago and it was still pretty cold back then. We started by removing all wintered over weeds, and then backfilling it with good topsoil from our land. THAT was a job hand shoveling the soil into this bed. Over the past year it has settled quite a bit. Then all of the plants went in. Mr. Fix-it was just like a person who watches for the pot to boil-it never seems to happen. He looked everyday for the potato plants to emerge from the ground. The constant searching became even more frenzied as the onions all popped up rather quickly. Mr. Fix-it's expert opinion was all the potatoes rotted. "Harumph!" Said I in my calmest voice. "They will come, be patient." Every single weed that popped up he thought was a potato plant and even when I told him no, they are not potatoes he found it hard to believe me. Mr. Fix-it, for some reason did not know what potato plants look like. I have taken a picture of the emerging leaves to preserve on here for ever and ever just for him. ALL of his potato plants he so carefully planted are finally making an appearance. You just simply have to give gardens time. Trust me, I told him. 

I really don't like growing potatoes because it seems you almost always miss a potato or two when you harvest them. If you miss a potato then those same potatoes will come back next year, and the year after, and the year after. You get the idea. I do like fresh potatoes though and so we grow them and we'll see how they do.
No arguments from me on the strawberry bed. There are going to be LOTS of strawberries this spring. Believe it or not even though these plants were transplanted here from the old garden in the fall of 2014 I actually picked several strawberries last spring. They were a delight to eat while working in the hot sun. This year we should have a whole lot more to pick and eat. I think I'll always grow strawberries but can you see how the plants are spreading to the gravel? Strawberries can be a beast you must manage if you don't want your whole vegetable garden to turn into a strawberry bed.
The herb garden is perfect. My lavender, sage, and rosemary all wintered over with no problems. The pansies are also bouncing back now that it is warming up.
The west side of the garden has gotten some attention too.
This is the southwest bed and it has been weeded and is already for vining crops to come sometime in May in the form of direct seeding. The green fuzzy foliage is wintered over carrots.
The northwest bed is now the proud home of 13 tomato plants. Yes, 13! That seems like overkill to me but last year when I planted only five tomato plants we did not even get enough tomatoes for fresh eating. I figured I'd go a little overboard and also amend the soil in this bed hoping to get a better crop of tomatoes. I planted five 'Bradley' tomato plants, four 'Pink Girl' tomatoes, one 'Black Cherry' tomatoes, one 'Husky' Cherry tomato, and two 'Grape' cherry tomatoes. I also added a good amount of wood ashes to raise the pH of this bed, and also heirloom tomato food that is low in nitrogen. I am expecting a better crop this year. 

Normally in our neck of the woods you would never ever plant before mid April. Our average date of last frost is mid April but old timers will tell you to be safe wait until May to plant. I don't normally look at calendars when planting so I plant on my own schedule. I do have to be prepared to protect these small plants (tomatoes and peppers) should a very cold night come upon us. Looking out ten days that is not in the forecast so I think I am safe for now. It is really best not to rush your vegetable garden but I had purchased some tomato plants at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show in early March and those tomato plants were looking rather peaked so I felt it best to plant them. Planting early will not necessarily give me a head start on when I harvest the vegetables so that is not a motivation. Getting the job done is my motivation. Be patient and don't rush it if you have not already planted your garden you still have plenty of time. 

The four sides of the vegetable garden have mostly irises growing in these narrow beds. On each of the four corners there are specimen shrubs and I recently planted three honeyberries in this outer bed. But for this side it is all bearded irises of varying colors. Last year only a few bloomed. It looks to be a great year for them in the garden and I can't wait for my rainbow....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. OH my goodness. You do have a big start on the veggie garden. It is supposed to frost here the next two nights. Lows in the upper 20's. Ugh... I do have some radishes and peas out. I can't wait to see if we get some. I am like Mr Fix It I look at those seemingly empty spots to see if anything is popping up. I am hopeful. I have to battle wild strawberry plants in my garden. They are so invasive. UGH... Happy Spring.

  2. You sure have a head start. I haven't planted any thing.

  3. Your garden looks amazing! Love the story of Mr. Fix It and the potatoes. I hope you get tons. Strawberries keep alluding me. We've been so dry and I can't keep them watered well enough. Planting early is good with a protection plan. You are really going strong on your garden this year. Keep us updated!