We've yet to start on our geothermal project, but hopefully we will get that going within the next month or so. For now, the garden has been my main focus so far this year, so here's an update, and some pictures from yesterday - although these are already out of date, as everything looks even bigger today!
I've already learned quite a few important lessons during this garden season, as I will share below....
The tomatoes seem positively overjoyed with all the water, and have formed an impenetrable forest wherever they are planted. Although I thought I gave them plenty of room when planting, they seem determined to spread ever further into each others' personal space. Constant staking and tying is the order of the day, but I can never seem to keep up with it. After a somewhat slow start, with lots of blooms but no fruit, they are suddenly so heavily laden with tomatoes that I can't even keep their cages and stakes upright!
Lesson Learned: Plant tomatoes further apart than specified - and figure out a more effective staking system next year.
As you can see from the picture below, the raised beds are keeping the plants out of the water to some degree, but "the moat" (as we affectionately call it) is filled with water - as it has been for most of the past 2 months. We had a decent algae bloom for a week or so, until it dried up after 4 days with no rain the first week of July, and then promptly filled up again. It's mucky and swampy, and sometimes frogs splash around in it....
Cucumbers are one of my absolute favorite summer vegetables! My favorite kind are the small Boston pickling cucumbers - ever crunchy, sweet, and forgiving of all sorts of things like hot weather, lack of water (not that we have that this year), and prolific almost all the way until frost. As you can see from the picture below, pickles are on the agenda for this week!
The biggest challenge this year has been actually finding the fruits.... As I'm used to having a very minimal amount of garden space, I'm apparently still in the habit of planting things way too close together. This has led to the cucumber trellis becoming a nearly impenetrable fortress of tightly packed leaves and spiny vines, not to mention hugely overgrown cucumbers that are only discovered a week after they should have been picked.
Lesson Learned: Don't plant 9 cucumber plants on one trellis!
Below is the insanity that is summer squash.... Although these are up on bales of hay, the upper-chest height of the leaves still seems extreme to me, and they are actually completely crowding out the green beans and sweet peppers that I so foolishly planted in nearby bales.
Lesson Learned: Plant squash in single bales - and put nothing nearby!
Apparently, melons love hay bales! We have probably 5-7 cantaloupes that I've discovered so far. We grew 2 different kinds, and one has a lot more fruit on it than the other, but I'm not sure which is which! (I did put little tags on them, but they are so overgrown now I have no idea where the markers are at this point.) They are fairly large, and growing daily, so hopefully they will make it to maturity.
The watermelons are not faring so well, unfortunately. They put out vines like crazy, started blooming, and are even setting pretty little melons, but over the past week or so, something (animal? insect?) has started chewing right through all of the vines! I figured they could just sprawl off the bales into the grass and would be fine, but something on the ground seems to think the stems are very tasty.
I had the idea to try to lift the vines up off the ground and put them on top of some pieces of fence that we had left over from fencing the garden, so I just did that a few days ago, and we'll see if it helps. It was a lot of work, and I ended up breaking off a lot of the vines, myself, in the process. Next time, I will train them up on a fence from the get-go.
Lesson Learned: Train watermelons up off the ground as soon as they start vining.
So far, our first garden season on the homestead has been quite interesting, somewhat frustrating, and over all very rewarding. I am both anticipating and dreading the onset of tomato season.... Our first cherry tomato is turning red, so it's not far off now! I am sure I will post some pictures of the tomato insanity once the canning begins.
Until then, enjoy the rainy summer, and I hope your own gardens are going well!