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.