I think we are finally past the wintry weather in Wisconsin. At least I hope so because recently I planted the garden for the year. In one fell swoop, I put the fate of my harvest in hands of nature. Oh lord, what have I done?
This time last year, planting was much more of an affair. We had moved into a house and the yard had been neglected for only God knows how long. The garden was so overgrown, you could hardly walk through it without getting caught on something. We also had the best crop of burdock in town, possibly the county. I took a rainy day last Spring to clear it out. I yanked out all the odds and ends growing. Pulled up the carpet (yes, there was carpet in the garden) and turned the soil. At the end of my efforts, I had a cleaner garden with large lumps of soil everywhere. And then I planted. It was the first time I had a plot of land to grow in and I just put stuff in the ground without thinking about it. Later in the summer, I learned why the way I did it was problematic like how I didn’t have all my rows running the same direction made it harder to access the back rows. Also, more space between plants is better.
Then there was the whole Mulch Ado About Nothing fiasco. Ellie and I got a free Corolla’s worth of mulch to spread around the yard. It went a long way and that’s why when she asked if we should get it again this year, I politely said no. Much of that mulch, the stuff we couldn’t find any other place for, went into my garden to control the weeds. It looked nice for the remainder of the year and kept the weeds at bay. This year, the weeds are starting to poke through and the mulch has lost some of its fresh colors, but by no means am I upset that its there. As I dug through it to get to the soil, I found that the deeper down layers were retaining water nicely and starting to break down into the soil. Everything is happening as planned.
So, despite some back pains I’ve been having lately, I spent a Sunday hunched over in the garden putting plants in the ground. I had wanted to start my plants from seed and then transplant them this year, but I haven’t had the best luck with that yet. Instead, Ellie and I bought a few dozen plants from the co-op and the greenhouse. I bought my plants last year and had better luck than with the ones I transplanted from seed starters (though the squash plant I got from my dad did so well, that I banned it from ever being gifted to me again).
All that being said, here is what I planted in the garden. Ten tomato plants. Four of the plants are cherry tomato, four are Amish paste tomatoes, one is a beefsteak tomato, and one is a German Johnson tomato. Hopefully I get a descent yield from them. Also, after having tomato bushes instead of individual plants last year due to poor support, this year I decided to use tomato cages to support the plants. My father-in-law gifted me a few sturdy ones. I’ll have to get a few more to cover all ten plants.
I also planted three rows of potatoes. Last year I also planted potatoes, but it was more as an experiment. Last year I just dug a hole and dumped the seed potatoes in. As they grew I covered them with soil so they would grow higher and multiply the harvest. Sure enough, the potatoes grew and we had a nice harvest in the fall. They also were the best potatoes Ellie and I had ever eaten with such a creamy texture. This year, I spread out the potatoes into the three rows and moved them to the other side of the garden to see if they will grow nicely with a little less direct sunlight.
Then there were the miscellaneous plantings I did. I planted one celery plant, one lacinato kale plant, one acorn squash plant, one cucumber plant, four brussel sprout plants, a handful of cantaloupe seeds in a mound, a baby bell pepper plant, a regular red bell pepper plant, a leek plant, an arugula plant, and a lettuce plant. Additionally, I spread a handful of sugar snap peas on the ground, and a handful of beans. The sugar snap peas grew nicely last year, but the beans never came up. I hope I have better luck this year.
In addition to everything I put in the garden, there were already a few things growing in the garden and the yard. There is the lovely grapevine. I had hoped to put up a trellis for it to grow on, but the weather didn’t allow and now I think it’s too late because the vine is already alive. We also have a raspberry plant we are trying to cultivate into a heavy producer of raspberries for us.
Last year, we planted asparagus and fortunately, that came back this year. It’s a multiyear process for the first harvest but it’s a perennial so hopefully, it’s worth the wait. We currently have four long stalks coming out of the ground.
In addition to planting asparagus last Spring, I also planted garlic. I was hoping to harvest it in the fall, but something wiped out my crop mid-summer and I assumed that was the end of that. It appears, however, that a few cloves hung on through the winter and now I have the first signs of garlic scapes popping through the mulch. I’m just going to let them be and see if I have anything to dig up come fall. If all goes well, I might even leave them there and give it another year for those bulbs to multiply and really take hold in the garden. Thoughts on that plan? Leave a comment below.
On top of all the plants in the ground, we also have a Garden Tower. I feel like I’ve written about it before, but a quick recap is that it is container gardening, worm farm, and composter all in one. I bought one back when I could only grow on my patio. Though the company claims you can grow all kinds of plants in a garden tower, I found I have the best luck growing herbs in it. So, that’s what I planted this year. Dill, basil, chives, oregano, cilantro, parsley, lavender, and rosemary. I only used a small handful of the 50 available spaces. The problem I run into is that I do not have the tower in a place where I can give all the plants in it optimal sunlight. So I’m really limited to only using a third of it. I can’t wait to have an abundance of fresh herbs to cook with all summer.
Finally, I have a few apple trees in the nursery waiting to be planted. I might write a longer post about this, but Ellie and I attended an apple tree grafting class and got to take home the trees we grafted. Well, these aren’t in the ground yet but they should be counted in the mix, at least once they start bearing fruit!
So, that’s everything I have in my garden this year so far and I’m looking forward to it supplementing the CSA Ellie and I subscribe to. What’s in your garden this year and how does it grow? Let me know in the comments!