When you plant a garden in a new yard, you never really know how it’s going to turn out.  Vegetables or flowers, or even trees and shrubs, it does really matter – there’s always an element of the unknown.  In planting our veggies this year, I wondered about the soil type, about the pH in the soil, about the animals in the yard and surrounding wooded property (hello turkeys and deer!).  And I probably wondered most about the bug population, which as so many of you know, can either make or break a vegetable garden.  Beetles = bad.  Bees = good.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we built two 12x4x1 ft raised beds – this more than quadrupled our gardening space from our last yard!  We knew that once we moved, we’d be expanding our space in order to increase the variety of what we grow as well as give everything enough space to grow and I’m so excited about what’s going on here!  We’ll be adding another 1-2 beds next spring and I’m already starting a list of new fruits and veggies to grow!  We used basic top soil that we amended with cow manure (for the full box of tomatoes only) and organic potting soil in the other box.  We’re using organic fertilizer on a monthly basis until we have enough compost to add to the soil.

I’ve only just taken photos last week so I don’t have early photos to compare them to but, I think you’ll get a good idea of what’s happening here.

Attempting to grow butternut squash was probably the biggest leap we took this year.  I had no idea if it would grow and considering I had trouble growing zucchini a few years ago (I know, right?), I was a little leery.  But as of today, we’ve got 4 of these squash growing!

Zucchini, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cilantro (it’s growing!)

Cucumbers, Sweet Cherry 100, 1 full raised bed of Tomato Plants

I didn’t take any photos of the eggplant plants or broccoli mostly because they’re not doing so hot.  I think we stunted the eggplant growth by adding epson salt too soon after planting.  Epson salt has actually been a phenomenal supplement to the soil around the base of the eggplant plants in the past few years that we’ve been growing them and we use it in place of organic fertilizer.  But apparently, it shouldn’t be added until the plants have a chance to root into the ground.  They’ve just started to flower and considering we were picking fully grown eggplants by this time last year, we’re clearly a little behind.  The broccoli has been hit by worms on the leaves and since this is the second year we’ve dealt with this issue, it will likely be the last year we grow broccoli.  We’re not keen on insectisidal sprays but if any of you have suggestions for organic or homemade non-chemical sprays, please let me know.

I’ve also been working on a way to track what’s been going on here since we planted – here is a pdf of the file: Smells Like Home 2012 Garden Journal.  If you would like a copy to use as a template for your own garden, shoot me an email: tara @ smells-like-home dot com  Let me know if you’d like the file in Excel or Numbers.

I’ll update again in the next week or two when there is some good progress to show!  We’ll also be working on building a fence to keep the ground-faring animals out so be on the lookout for a how-to post as well.


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  • July 19, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Great job! My tomatoes look like yours do. I have one red one now, but not ready yet to pick. All the others are small and green. I will have hubby help next year to built a bed. That look so great! I am doing mine this year in large pots. I did tomatoes, peppers and large posts of different herbs (they are doing great…) Hoping the hail last night didn’t hurt anything!

  • July 19, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Gardening is fascinating. Although it’s “scientific” I there still seems to be a lot of luck. For us, the lack of rain has been disastrous and a bunch of cabbage bugs have attacked, and are immune to my homemade pepper spray. Still, a very satisfying experience. (I’m tickled my cilantro is growing, too!)

  • July 19, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    Looks like you are doing great. I LOVE your garden journal! That is such a great idea, and so much easier to track things than how I have been doing it.

  • Jessica
    July 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Lovely! I’m jealous of all the gardening space you have. For your broccoli (or any other plants in the brassica family), I find it really helps to cover them with row cover. The key thing is to do it very early in the season, so the mothers of your worms/caterpillars never get a chance to lay their eggs on your plants, and you never end up with brassicas covered with tiny insects. Failing that, there you could try making an insecticidal soap. There are lots of recipe variations, but the one I use is 2 tbsp organic soap and 2 tbsp of organic oil dissolved in 1 gallon of water. Some people add a clove of garlic or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Shake and spray. It may not entirely clear a plant of infestation, but it’s made the difference between life and death for some of my brassicas in the past.

    • July 19, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      Jessica: Awesome tips about covering the broccoli up early and the soap! Thanks!

  • July 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Great job! That journal is a genius idea – that would have saved me a lot of headaches earlier this spring.

  • margaret
    June 20, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Hi, I’ve always had trouble with my brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) and worms, until I started using floating row covers religiously. Basically, you just ‘float’ the cover over the plants, and hold it down with rocks or a bit of soil here and there. Nothing has a chance to lay eggs…and it’s been fabulous. It’s not expensive. I get about 50 feet for 12 dollars (it’s about 6 feet wide), and I can re-use it two years in a row if I’m careful. Absolutely a lifesaver for turnips too, which got wormy from those white moths flying around! If you see white moths, you’ve lost the battle unless you have your row cover on. I just lift one side of it to quickly weed under it, and mulch well so that there aren’t too many weeds anyways!