Veggie Bed Refresh

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted that I wasn't really feeling the love for the garden, and that I had no real desire to get out there because it was in a bit of a state? Well, it turns out that it only took a couple of little projects to change my attitude, and the first of them was my veggie beds.

They got really overgrown during the time we were on the roadtrip, the two very hot weeks after, and the following two weeks of travel -- so bad in fact that I cringed whenever I caught sight of them. So about 10 days ago I decided enough was enough and I had to do some cleanup.


First things first though: the dogbane was way too large and blocking the gate:

So I hacked it:

Look out for white sap, as it can irritate skin!

With the way in cleared, you can get a good look:

"Good" is probably not the right word though. Yikes. Lots of disappointment here. I had no idea that tomatillo plants would grow so large:

They're blocking the path!

Beautiful little blooms...

...but not a single fruit! Weird.

I had high hopes for the ground cherries too:

But only one or two little fruits were found:

The eggplant, well, let's see the bounty:

Small and super-small -- that was a waste of time. I don't know what I was thinking when I planted the tomatoes in front of them. I need to simplify my planting so crop rotation will work without this happening again. Crop rotation is tough when you have limited space!

There are some beautiful tomatoes though:

No, not that nasty one -- these:

Sure they're still green, but I'm not going to let that stop me from ripping out the plants this year (as it did every previous year). This year the key is ruthlessness! (Although to be honest, I probably should have pulled these out at least two weeks earlier. So it's a gentle ruthlessness.)

The basil and parsley look pretty good:

Although the parsley is well-dotted by flea beetle damage:

Still, I'm going to save these plants and put them into pots. Everything else goes!

(imagine sounds of chopping, grunting, and ripping here.)

There we go!

Now we just need a bit of manure...

...and now these beds are ready for some late planting!

But I'm not finished yet, as there's still this area outside the fence (in this "before" photo):

This is where I grew deer-proof plants -- or what I hoped would be deer-proof plants: butternut squash and potatoes. Plus basil -- which is still doing great. Oh, and garlic chives, which I now have a hedge of. There's also a rosemary plant and horseradish at the right side.

The squash it turns out is tasty to at least one of the deer in my neighborhood, as all of the leaves outside of the fence were chomped about halfway through the summer. Luckily I had let the plants wander up and over the fence:

Where some fruits were able to ripen:

I harvested them and yanked all of the vines, added manure, and ended up with this:

A clean slate, ready for planting -- I'll probably put my garlic here, which I'm going to plant pretty soon. I probably won't put squash here again next year. What can I plant that's deer-proof after the garlic has been harvested?

Once these beds were cleaned up, my view of the entire garden changed, and it no longer seemed like a weed-infested, overgrown mess (even though it might have still been). Somehow this one chore made my task list feel so much shorter -- although it's not really.

On a related note, I'm thinking about staining the veggie bed fence -- it's looking a bit tired. What do you think, should I go with neutral (brown or gray), or should I choose something more colorful like red? I'm leaning toward neutral.


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Lisa  – (October 11, 2013 at 8:34 AM)  

What's your source for manure? And I'm guessing cow manure? We have a local source for horse manure, but I worry about using it in my vegetables because of potential drug residue in it, and it has lots of woody pieces. But judging by my garden output, we definitely need a boost!

Alan  – (October 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM)  

There's a local composting company that sells compost, mulches, manure in bulk -- I use that mainly because it's easiest to get. I sometimes get stuff from one of the horse ranches in the area. To be honest, I'm not overly concerned about drug residuals. That stuff is already in our drinking water, right? Besides, if comic books have taught me anything, it's that exposure to strange substances could have amazing side effects. :)

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (October 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM)  

I see green tomatoes, I think relish.
Thanks for the tip about dogbane. I had a nasty experience learning about stinging nettles last summer.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 11, 2013 at 11:46 AM)  

Your veggie beds remind me of our. Mostly overgrown tomatoes in our case. I want to rip them out this weekend.

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