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Be Ruthless

July 9th, 2014

It’s been a while since I talked about my 5×5 Challenge Garden.  I must admit, it’s a bit overgrown.  The lettuce I started this spring grew like crazy almost shading out the tomatoes that were planted in their midst.  Then the golden peas grew rampant and were blown over when the hurricane came through last week.  As a result, the garden is rather in shambles.
5x5 challenge garden (1)
I ripped out all the lettuce earlier this week.  I plan on harvesting most of the peas while leaving a few to set seed.  Then they will be ripped out and replanted with something else, perhaps bush beans.  The tomatoes need tied up and staked along with a good mulch around their feet.  After that the garden should look neater and the tomatoes will start growing well.

Does your garden ever get out of control? 


Plant for Multiple Harvests

April 9th, 2014

This week my 5×5 Challenge Garden finally thawed out enough to plants a few things. It doesn’t take long for the soil to become workable after the snow melts. As soon as you can run a rake through the top of the soil you can plant a few things that like cool soil.
5x5 garden 1
There are a wide variety of things that can be planted in that space between the first thawing of the soil in spring and the warm summer months. You can’t plant tomatoes, corn, peppers or heat loving crops right now. Even broccoli and other cool loving crops risk early bolt if they experience too much cold this time of year. You don’t want to let your soil simply go fallow though, some quick crops are what you need so you can enjoy delicious food from your garden while you wait for summer to arrive. A few great options for quick crops: cilantro, lettuce, spinach, mustard, arugula and other greens. My garden was divided into four squares and I planted four different greens. These should germinate fairly quickly in this cool weather and be ready for harvest before the end of May when it’s time to plant tomatoes.
raised bed 2
Before I planted my lettuces I added a generous helping of compost on top of the soil. I don’t bother working it in as some people do, I find that the earthworms do a fine job of doing that for me. I don’t like to work the soil if I don’t have to. As you can see, the soil level had settled a bit and my raised bed was only about half full. After adding 2-3 inches of compost it’s getting better. Before I plant my warm season crops I’ll add another layer of compost and hopefully it will be nearly full by then.
5x5 garden 2
You can be I’ll be keeping an eagle eye on this garden watching for any signs of life. I can’t wait to see how it grows this coming season.

What’s your favorite cool season vegetable?

ZZZZZZZ – Still Sleeping

February 5th, 2014

My 5×5 garden is still sleeping, there’s a little snow on the ground now, but we’re forecasted to get a nice layer today. There will be no planting in my garden any time soon. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, it’s planning time for the garden. Time to decide what you want to grow and plan out where they will go. For those of you that live in the southern areas it’s time to start thinking about getting started.
5x5 garden in winter 2
In case you’re wondering why there is short fencing in the garden – it keeps the chickens out. Last fall they kept scratching up my endive seedlings. Even though the garden is still asleep, I noticed my lemon thyme peeking out from beneath the snow. It will be ready to season delicious meals in a few months.
5x5 garden in winter 1
I’m undecided as to which vegetables I’ll be growing this year, most likely something different than the last. Lettuce is a sure thing, as are flowers of some sort and a tomato as well. The remaining sections of the garden are still up for grabs.

What do you think I should plant in the 5×5 garden this year? 

So Long Summer

September 11th, 2013

Well, summer is over in the 5×5 Challenge Garden.  Yesterday I cleared out the zucchini and the beans.  The tomatoes are still going strong, so I left them to ripen.
5x5 garden 3
5x5 garden 5
5x5 garden 2
5x5 garden 4
The expanse of soil is nice to see after spending time cleaning up the garden. I considered adding mulch or compost for overwintering. Then I decided to plant the garden with various chicories and endives. They should do nicely in our cold fall and provide us with food for November & December.
5x5 garden 1
No doubt you’re also cleaning up you little garden, think about adding a few fall/winter plants. If not, add a good layer of compost on top and you’ll be ready to go next spring.

Have you started cleaning out the garden for winter?

Rainbow is Right

August 28th, 2013

I must say, there’s nothing quite like color in the vegetable garden. When I decided to launch the 5×5 Challenge, I quickly settled on the Rainbow Kitchen Collection from Renee’s Garden Seed. Seeing bright, colorful vegetables in the garden is an amazing sight.
rainbow kitchen garden
This week I spotted the first yellow tomato in the 5×5 Garden. I must admit, the first one I spotted was quickly snagged from the vine and eaten. This photo is of the second one, which I have been wanting to eat, but decided I should wait until I got a photo.
Yellow vegetables 2
The yellow summer squash are coming on as well, we’ve been enjoying them for breakfast.
Yellow vegetables 1
When it comes to vegetables you can find them in a wide variety of colors. It really does add so much interest and beauty to a garden to have as many different colors as you can.

Which is your favorite color of vegetable?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.