Friday, June 29, 2012

Le Jardin

I decided not to harvest the tiny artichoke.
This year I have attempted to start a vegetable garden. In the High Desert where I live getting things to grow is a challenge. The soil is sandy and in many places riddled with dense clay that inhibits root growth on many less hardy plants. I have tried to grow vegetables in the past but I've always kept them in containers and pots. Sadly, I have never had any success in keeping the plants alive for long, and I have never been able to produce any fruit with the exception of one or two measly cherry tomatoes.

On the side of my house is a planter bed that sits about 2 feet high, is 4 feet wide and about 10 feet long. I bought organic garden soil to till into the dirt already in the bed. Then I watered the heck out of it. Keep in mind, this was before I planted anything. When the dirt is this dry, it doesn't absorb water but rather pools the water which slowly evaporates. It took me about a week to get the soil the way I wanted it. Every day I would use a shovel to flip the soil then soak it with water. 

Then I got around to buying some plants. Previously, I have used these handy Jiffy greenhouses to start seeds. It always started out really great but inevitably, I would fail to either water properly or plant them properly, leading to wilting death. The problem was always me-not the seeds or Jiffy pellets. Those work wonderfully! I do plan on attempting to grow from seed again and hopefully I will prevail! (Said in best Braveheart voice.) You can purchase the Jiffy greenhouses here:

So this year I decided to cheat and purchase fully grown plants. I bought 4 tomato plants, 2 strawberry plants, 1 bell pepper plant, and 2 artichoke plants. I also bought a flat of marigolds because I have been told that they are a natural way to keep pests away from your tomato plants.

As you can see in the above picture, I have an Early Girl tomato plant in the upper right corner. It already had several small tomatoes growing on it. The three plants surrounding the Early Girl are Pineapple Heirloom tomatoes. The plant in the lower right corner is the California Wonder bell pepper plant. The strawberry and artichokes did not have a special name on them, they were simply labeled, "Strawberry" and "Artichoke".

This is how my garden is laid out now. The two strawberry plants are in the left bottom and the artichoke is in the middle bottom. I have reserved the back row for possibly squash but I haven't planted anything there yet. Can you see how big my tomato plants had got? The Pineapple Heirloom had been teeny, tiny plants and now they dwarf the previously bigger Early Girl. Here is the progression of my le jardin:

I have also used Espoma Organic Plant-tone All Natural All Purpose plant food. For established plants they recommend feeding your plants about once a month during the growing season.

Here are some of the vegetables that I have harvested thus far.

When I started doing research on how much to water and general maintenance of a vegetable garden, it was not uncommon to read that one should water-or soak-your garden once a week, maybe twice a week when it is really hot. This made me LOL. Here in the High Desert, if I don't water-soak-my garden at least once a day-twice a day when it's really hot, then I have a wilted mess on my hands (this happened a couple times in the beginning). Gardening in the HD is challenging with excessive heat and low-moisture being the biggest culprits.

I am just getting started in my gardening adventures. I hope to expand my garden another 10 feet in the fall and possibly start an herb garden. So I am by NO MEANS an expert. This is just my journey into horticulture. I love going out to my garden, seeing a plump, juicy tomato ripe for picking. It gives me a thrill to know that I was able to grow it. I am also growing flowering plants but I will save those for another day.

Early Girl Tomato Plant
The Pineapple Heirloom's quickly out grew the Early Girl.
Do you have a garden? What challenges do you face where you live?

1 comment:

  1. It looks wonderful! For many years I attempted to grow a vegetable garden but I think growing up in Iowa spoiled me. There, you just throw the seeds around and a couple of months later...voila!...beautiful tomatoes! My gardening days are over but it looks like you're on the right path. Good luck!