A stretch of sunny days followed by a warm, soaking rain is just what the garden ordered. Everything is growing so well. Oh, the garden...it seems those seed packets sat for months in my pantry, just waiting to be planted, and now they have all sprouted into lovely, healthy green plants. I was a little unsure in the beginning if my garden had a chance against our flock of guinea fowl that insisted upon flying over the fence and scratching in the freshly planted soil and finding the seeds. I covered as much as I could with row cover, but the hens quickly found their way through that. We considered keeping them in the barn until the seeds had germinated, but then many precious days of pest control would have been lost. The guinea fowl are amazing at finding and eliminating ticks, fleas, Japanese beetles, and many other unwelcomed guests around the farm, and up until now, the guineas had left my garden alone. I'm not sure what made them decide to start eating my seeds, but something had to be done. We finally resorted to the unpleasant task of clipping their wings. They are not as docile as the chickens and do not like being picked up, but Hubby and the boys rounded up all forty of them and somehow managed to get the job done. My seeds are safe, but the bugs are not...problem solved!
This is the first year I have grown garlic...well, not the first year; I had planted it several years ago without success, so I'm not counting that year. Three rows of bulbs went into the ground last fall, and I heavily mulched them with leaves and pine branches. They all made it through the long winter, but suffered an attack by the guineas early in the spring, and a few bulbs were lost in the raid. I plantednleftover cabbage and Brussels sprout plants in the empty spaces. The surviving garlic plants are strong and healthy, and I'm looking forward to harvesting tasty garlic scapes soon.
In my attempt to grow more food this year, I am paying closer attention to spacing. In the past I have ignored the spacing recommendations for planting. I thickly sow the seeds to ensure a good germination rate with intentions of thinning (our spring can be so finicky with cold temperatures and lots of rain, causing the seeds to rot in the ground), but then I never really get around to thinning. I know I will have healthier plants that produce more if I give them the space they require, so this year I am making sure I do that by following the recommendations on the seed packets and in my handy little book, The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book. I am planning on letting my garden greens grow a bit more, using the thinned baby greens in salads, and eating the thinned beet greens, allowing the remaining beets to mature for harvest in the fall.
The new squash garden is complete for this year. Eventually we would like to have the entire garden made up of beds with mulched walk ways in between. We did the first three rows this year and covered the rest with black plastic. More rows are planned for next year. Again, I paid close attention to the spacing of my cucumbers and squash. I did, however, plant one Brussels sprout seedling in each squash hill. I had been generously given 18 Brussels sprout seedlings after I had already planted as many as I could fit in my garden, and I had to get creative to find the space for this favorite vegetable. I may be wrong, but my thinking is the Brussels sprouts and squash plants will not be affected by each other since one grows upwards, and the other sprawls out along the ground. We shall see. I'm excited about this year's garden and the changes we have made. It will be interesting to look back at last year's photos and notes and compare the results to this year's garden.
How does your garden grow? Please, feel free to leave a comment with a link or description of your gardening this summer.