Hold on to your sunhats because this is going to be a long, picture heavy post. It takes lots of visuals to show what’s growing in the garden!
First, the break down. What’s currently growing?
Corn, Tomatoes , Tomatillos, Peppers, Beans, Peas, Onions, Carrots, Radishes, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Collards, Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Watermelon, Cucumbers, Berries, Grapes, Herbs
What has finished?
Bok Choy and Lettuce
Yup, only 2 plants are done so far, the rest are just starting which means we’re in for quite a haul of veggies for the next few months!
As you some of you know, this garden was a work of love this year. I’m talking about the entire process. Remember in the Winter when it was 20 degrees and we were Upstate trying to dig through the frozen ground? That’s love. There was a point in the early Spring where we spoke to each other about the possibility of this completely failing. What if we can only grow on rooftops? I’m happy to report that we can grow in the ground! It wasn’t a failure. I had a moment of pure bliss while standing in the garden on Saturday morning, looking around and seeing all green. We built this, we grew this, we created this garden together. It’s all for the love of vegetables.
There’s been some ups and downs. First there was building this massive garden. It was hard work. We don’t live Upstate, we live in NYC, so our time spent on the land consists of working, working and working. To be honest, we still haven’t had much time to enjoy the land as when we drive up there every weekend, we’re on a mission to get our week’s worth of gardening in one day. Yup, you read that right. This garden gets taken care of one day a week. That’s why the fence is so crazy, we knew we couldn’t prevent animals from attacking while we aren’t there so we decided to make it tough for them to get in. So far it’s working. Because we only visit once a week, we rely on good soil filled with nutrients to make sure the plants stay healthy and strong when we’re not there. We got a pH test done in the Winter and the soil was lacking nutrients. The soil was super acidic and had low mineral and organic values. To give you a idea, Phosphorus was “very low”, Potassium was “low”, Calcium was “low” and Magnesium was on the low side of “Optimum”. The soil pH value was 5.6. Yuck. We pray to the weather gods that it rains once or twice a week to keep the plants watered, but if it doesn’t, then we water our hearts out when we visit once a week. Thankfully because of the soil and nutrients that we added in, the soil stays pretty wet, which means it can take care of itself when Mom and Dad aren’t there.
We’ve been using Dave Thompson’s Organic Healthy Grow products throughout the season and I can’t express enough how much they’ve helped our garden. Like I mentioned our soil pH level was not very good, but yet you see a healthy green garden growing, so you know it’s working.
Now let’s walk into the garden and look around.
Next to the corn starts the multiple beds of tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers.
As usual we have our 3 favorite types of tomatoes growing, Roma, Beef and Cherry. This wasn’t really the year to try to be adventurous and grow something new, maybe next year. The tomatoes have all started to bloom on the plants. We’re waiting anxiously for them to turn red.
For our tomatoes we use Healthy Grow “tomato” product which is a 3-3-6 formula (Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium). This fertilizer is packed with a blend of nutrients derived from composted chicken manure, father meal and sulfate of Potash. The tomatoes love it.
For the peppers and other vegetables we use Healthy Grow Vegetable & Herb fertilizer which is a 3-5-3 formula. It blends nutrients and live microbes into the soil.
I wanted to show you a quick comparison because fertilizer is really important for gardens, especially if don’t have the best soil. Each year your goal should be to make your soil healthier and healthier, which will result in less chances of crop failure and larger vegetables.
To the left is Healthy Grow, to the right is some other brand that doesn’t even deserved to be talked about. You can see Healthy Grow is a hearty fertilizer which is 100% organic formula while the right looks like a bunch of filler products to make the bag filled. Healthy Grow fertilizers use untreated chicken litter from healthy egg-laying chickens. The chicken litter is combined with organic materials and left to air-dry and break down in the indoor composting facility, where it’s regularly turned during the aerobic composting process to ensure complete aeration. This process creates a compost that is rich with beneficial microbial activity and naturally high levels of nitrogen and other beneficial secondary nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, which are important to plant growth.
Healthy Grow fertilizers are safe for people, pets and plants. The chicken litter-based fertilizers are just one component of the full-circle sustainability at Pearl Valley Farms where Healthy Grow is made. The chickens are raised on feed that is grown using the fertilizers. The water that is used to wash the eggs goes into the reed beds on the property, which are then harvested as organic material to aid in the composting process.
Next to the beans, we have the sugar snap peas, carrots, radishes, onions and a surprise pumpkin plant. You guys remember the surprise pumpkin plant right? A pumpkin seed must have gotten stuck to a shoe when we were composting months ago and decided to grow a surprise pumpkin plant in the onion bed. Every single week it grows in size to the point that it’s taking over some of the onions now (poor guys, sorry!).
The plant is HUGE. There are some pumpkins starting on it, so fingers crossed that I’ll have a State Fair winning pumpkin! Could you imagine?
We’re not done yet. We have 3 more beds to go and then the berry patch!
The broccoli is starting to be picked. This is so very exciting! When we grew on the rooftop we had “on” and “off” periods with the broccoli. One Summer we had enormous broccoli heads, while many Summers we had small heads to the point of Matthew asking “Why do we even grow it?”. How dare he! The beginning of the season looked a little disappointing with the broccoli, but no need to worry any more, the big broccoli heads are back! *Does the broccoli dance!*
Probably the King of the garden in terms of turning plants frowns upside down is Worm Castings. AKA, the greatest thing ever for your garden. The formula for Healthy Grow Worm Castings is 1-0-0 because it’s just Earthworm Castings, that’s it. If you don’t know already, Worm Castings are like gold to your garden and you want them. You want to throw them all over the place! This results in faster growth, larger plants and bigger blooms.
In the back row we just planted pole beans to replace the bok choy and there’s a bunch of potato plants growing.
You really can’t see them at all because the tomatoes and sugar snap peas are too tall!
In the far side, next to the shed are the pumpkins, watermelon and cucumbers. We were a little worried about the pumpkins, but in the past 2 weeks they seemed to move into the soil and make themselves comfortable. There have been visible signs of big growth over the past 2 weeks.
If you step out of the garden… you first please… then you’ll see our berry patch. There’s strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. This is just the first year so we don’t expect to pick anything. Right now it’s about building up strong plants. It’s also about me creating a trusting relationship with the deer because they just want to eat the berries. 🙁
For the blueberries I’m using Healthy Grow Soil Acidifier which is ideal for camellias, blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons and creating lush, dark green growth.
I hope you enjoyed your walk through the garden. Make sure to follow the blog as I post weekly harvest updates, as well as I’ll be posting some comparison pictures of these plants late next month (I love a good before and after plant shot).
Let me know in the comments all about your garden! What’s growing? What are you picking? Do you love worm castings as much as me?