Thursday, April 22, 2010

Seed Update 3: Ready for Containers

The tomatoes, okra, peas, green beans, and other seedlings are ready to be planted in big containers. They are outgrowing their current little homes. I had to move the peas and green beans into mugs to make it through the week. Take a look! They are moving out to the deck tonight.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool Day Cool Crop Gardening

Sunday, we spent the late afternoon and evening getting the last of the weeds, rocks, cement, and bottle caps out of the soil (or at least most of it out of the soil). We also mixed in manure to get our soil feeling a bit more healthy. We decided to plant some cool weather crops and see how they do. Below you see the nine rows of plants, including different types of lettuce, spinach, chard, and leeks. We will see how they withstand the cold days we've had recently.

You can do it little guys!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seed Update 2

I spent some time yesterday thinning the seedlings. I have chosen the strongest of the bunch for our gardens. The peas and green beans are really looking the best (not shown) but the peppers are making a good showing so far. Late bloomers include the roma tomatoes and spinach.

Planning: Companion Planting

I found a great website on companion planting. There I found advice about getting started with planning our vegetable garden. The website instructed to divide into five or more sections to make sure to be able to accommodate all the necessary plant families (see below). According to these categorizations, I have to plan out which crops to grow and where they will be planted. The site indicated that the plants should be divided into a plant family group, determined by sharing the same pest and diseases, then into soil requirements. In thinking about gardening in the same spot for more than one year, I found that you have to anticipate the rotation of the plants. The recommendation from Companion Planting is below:

Year one: as below
Year two: legumes, onions, potato family, umbellifers, brassicas
Year three: onions, potato family, umbellifers, brassicas, legumes
Year four: potato family, umbellifers, brassicas, legumes, onions
Year five: umbellifers, brassicas, legumes, onions, potato family



Soil Requirements

Soil Benefit


Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radish, Swede

Leafy crops need nitrogen-rich soil may need liming


Pea, all beans, Broad, French, Runner

Well-drained but moisture-retentive; non nitrogen-rich

Will fix atmospheric nitrogen in for future crops


Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Leeks

High Organic matter may need liming


Potato, Tomato

High organic matter and nitrogen no lime structure

Suppresses weeds, breaks up soil


Carrot, Parsnip, Parsley, Celery, Florence fennel

Root crops need stone free soil, not freshly manured fine tilth

root crops brake up soil structure

Some plants have very few soil dwelling pest or diseases that they can be planted anywhere within the rotation like cucumbers, endives, fennel, french beans, lettuces, peppers, pumpkins, runner beans, squashes, and sweet corn.

I also found a great list of companion plants from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.





Tomato, Parsley, Basil


Most Vegetables & Herbs

Beans, Bush

Irish Potato, Cucumber, Corn, Strawberry, Celery, Summer Savory


Beans, Pole

Corn, Summer Savory, Radish

Onion, Beets, Kohlrabi, Sunflower

Cabbage Family

Aromatic Herbs, Celery, Beets, Onion Family, Chamomile, Spinach, Chard

Dill, Strawberries, Pole Beans, Tomato


English Pea, Lettuce, Rosemary, Onion Family, Sage, Tomato



Onion & Cabbage Families, Tomato, Bush Beans, Nasturtium


Irish Potato, Beans, English Pea, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Squash



Beans, Corn, English Pea, Sunflowers, Radish

Irish Potato, Aromatic Herbs


Carrot, Radish, Strawberry, Cucumber

Onion Family

Beets, Carrot, Lettuce, Cabbage Family, Summer Savory

Beans, English Peas

Pea, English

Carrots, Radish, Turnip, Cucumber, Corn, Beans

Onion Family, Gladiolus, Irish Potato

Potato, Irish

Beans, Corn, Cabbage Family, Marigolds, Horseradish

Pumpkin, Squash, Tomato, Cucumber, Sunflower


Corn, Marigold

Irish Potato


English Pea, Nasturtium, Lettuce, Cucumber



Strawberry, Faba Bean


Nasturtium, Corn, Marigold

Irish Potato


Onion Family, Nasturtium, Marigold, Asparagus, Carrot, Parsley, Cucumber

Irish Potato, Fennel, Cabbage Family

Equipped with all this information, I think I can begin planning out what plants we should grow and how we should start to organize them. Next considerations include what type of garden layout we want. More on the "garden map" or layout next time!

NOTE: I'm not sure if you noticed, but these tables are looking a lot better than my previous tables. I finally found a way to get tables nicely into Blogger!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seed Update 1

They are growing! I love this part. Above you see peas, green beans, and yellow beans.

Gardening in the Ground

Sunday was one of my favorite days in a long time. I went to see the new plot we will be using for our serious veggie garden in the back of my friend's house. We took a look at the yard and decided on two plot areas (with potential to grow it.. his yard is huge!). The first area is 9 ft x 6 ft and the second is 16 ft by 7 ft. 166 square feet! We are going to have so much food.

We spent a couple hours cleaning off the brinks and cement from the larger plot area and cleaning the area. We are going to spend time planning for where and what we will grow. I will be sure to share the plan. Here are the "before" images.

We spent a lot of time talking about the soil quality. We were uncertain about the steps with regards to the soil. So, my friend got in touch with his father (who is very experienced with this type of activity). We decided after the consultation to add compost, maybe 5 to 10 bags, and fertilizer. We decided that no added soil is necessary or required.

But we are going to get the soil tested so we know if we need to adjust the pH by adding lime (has to be done before compost is added). Also, knowing the nutrients will tell us how much and which kind of fertilizer to use. We will be getting the test done in DC, you can find the information here.

My friend is getting into it with a book called Worms Eat on My Garbage to learn more about vermiculture.

We are on our way.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ready, Set, Garden 2010

So after lots of travels, celebrating Passover and looking at graduate schools, and craziness at work, I am finally staying in DC for a couple weeks to get started with seeds for this season’s gardens. One location has been canceled from last year, but we have a new spot. So, this season will include an indoor herb container garden at my house, an outdoor container garden on a friend’s deck, and a vegetable garden in another friend’s backyard. This is going to be the first jump into non-container gardening. I’m excited about it.

I’ve started some seeds at home and planted my herbs. Here is the rundown on the plants for this season so far:

My apologies for the ugliness of that table. I think its going to help me keep organized though. I couldn't get a table inserted on my blog nicely, so I had to paste it in as an image. Anyway, the seeds are in place and containers by the windowsill. I'll keep you posted as the seeds begin to sprout. As you can see below, Logan and I enjoyed ourselves getting the first seeds started.