Veggie Garden Update at Greenleaf Garden


An early morning view of the veggie + cut flower garden.
An early morning view of the veggie + cutting garden.

The most cultivated area of our still new backyard is our veggie and cutting garden. Made up of six raised cedar planters with a central pathway, it has four beds devoted to vegetables and two for cut flowers. While I've grown numerous herbs and a small number of vegetables in clients' gardens over the years, this endeavor marks my first foray into a full-fledged, production-focused garden. Now that I'm about two months into the growing season, I can see that some things are progressing nicely while others are struggling a bit.


Successes:

  • Red lettuce. Strong growth, clean and delicious foliage, zero issues.

  • Lacinato kale. Strong growth, relatively clean and delicious foliage.

  • Russet potatoes: Strong growth, zero issues with foliage. (It's too soon to say how the actual potatoes are doing, but I'm optimistic.)

  • Purple, pink "Dara," a.k.a. Queen Anne's Lace. Strong, consistent growth.

I recently indulged in a fresh salad with lettuce and kale picked straight from the garden.
I recently indulged in a gardeners ultimate treat: a delicious fresh salad with lettuce and kale picked straight from the garden.

Struggles:

  • Carrots. Despite decent early sprouting, only three developed into young plants.

  • Spinach. Minimal germination from seeds; young seedlings failed to grow.

  • Nigella. Minimal germination from seeds; young seedlings failed to grow.

  • Cucumbers. Healthy baby plants have most failed to take hold once planted.

The two lingering and clearly unhappy cucumber plants left in the garden.
The two lingering and clearly unhappy cucumber plants left in the garden.

The remaining plants, including tomatoes, peppers and zinnias, all seem to be doing well. It feels too soon to declare them successful as it's still early for fruit, vegetable or flower production: the true test of success.


What's working well? I credit consistent watering, ample warmth and sunshine, and weekly seaweed feedings are for my (seeming) successes. My biggest flops were with the seeds (spinach, carrots, and nigella) that I sowed directly into the planting beds instead of growing them first in plugs in the cold frame. I think the soil was disturbed or unbalanced early on, making it hard for the seedlings to take hold and establish themselves. By contrast, the plants grown from seed in plugs, such as basil and marigolds, have done considerably better.


The other challenges have been managing and removing cabbage white butterfly eggs from the brassicas (kale and broccoli) before they hatch into leaf-devouring caterpillars, and keeping up with watering to compensate for an unusually dry spring. In addition to the kale and broccoli, some of the flowers, especially the zinnias and stock (which is also a member of the brassica family), have sustained mild foliage damage from caterpillars.

The tiny yellow eggs of the cabbage white butterfly are typically found on the underside of brassica leaves. Simply wipe them away (or put up netting!) to prevent a caterpillar invasion.
The tiny yellow eggs of the cabbage white butterfly are typically found on the underside of brassica leaves. Simply wipe them away (or put up netting!) to prevent a caterpillar invasion.

To help reduce my maintenance for the rest of the season, I'm adding netting to the brassicas beds to protect them from caterpillars and installing a drip irrigation system. I'm also going to test the soil to see if there are any deficiencies that might have caused the growth issues, especially with the cucumbers, which started as healthy plugs.

Penny examines my watering techniques on our rapidly-growing potatoes.
Penny examines my watering technique on our rapidly-growing potatoes.

All in all, I'm relishing the opportunity to finally grow a bit of our own food and loving watching the process and progress as it all begins to grow and flourish.