How’s your garden growing?

It’s been awhile since my last video series or update. As usual, I got sucked into the spring growing season with bed prep, pond installation, babying seedlings, weeding, and trying to save my plants from the afternoon hailstorms.

Unhappy broccoli seedling…

So, how’s your garden growing? Needless to say, with all the rain that we’ve been having, my broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seedlings look pretty ragged. The slugs have been thanking me for planting such delicious morsels of food for their enjoyment. The seedlings were planted during that week when it was blowing incessantly in Bozeman. (I know, bad idea). It’s the wind, along with pretty cool temperatures, that likely stressed out the plants, making them more susceptible to pests like slugs. Lesson learned…I haven’t yet gone the route of putting out shallow bowls of beer to lure the slugs to their inebriated death but I am close. My other option is to run the ducks through that area of the garden but they aren’t interested in staying penned up in that spot. I will definitely design ducks into the spring garden equation next year but right now, I don’t have time to chase domestic fowl around my yard. I am hoping that these next few days of warmer, drier weather will take care of the slug problem.

There are many benefits to the rain, of course. The rain barrel that is connected to the chicken house has meant that I have barely had to use our well water to refresh the chickens’/ducks’ water this season. It also means that our pond gets a fresh infusion of rainwater, not only from above, but from the gutter system off the roof of our house that feeds it. Any additional water then overflows into my garden. It also means that the plants in our greenhouse have been watered with mostly rainwater this season.

55 gallon rain barrel collecting water off of chicken house roof.

In addition, my soil is banking that moisture for the dry July and August months. I also have a variety of mushrooms popping up in the garden. I inoculated the soil with some of them last year but others have come in with the mulch that my arborcare friend drops off every spring.  

And of course, the plants that are thriving in my cold climate garden are probably some of the ones that are thriving in yours – chives, garlic, rhubarb, mint, my volunteer red and green orach patch, arugula, lettuce and peas….oh, and dandelions of course. If we could survive on only these, I would be done for the season. But alas, I am too obsessed with growing tomatoes so I am forced to forge ahead.

In fact, most of my warm season garden still isn’t in. As much as I like to waste my time worrying, it’s not yet time to panic. June 1st is typically my schedule for having my annual garden planted. However, like a good permaculture practitioner, I’m observing the weather, checking the soil to make sure it’s not too wet for planting, and understanding that conditions may be different this year. Having a date is a good guideline but it should be balanced with observation. I have found that putting in plants like tomatoes, for example, when it’s still wet, cool, and rainy, only sets them back in their attempt to get established. The only tomatoes that I have planted are surrounded by wall-o-waters, those mini greenhouses that add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your garden space.

All of my other tomato seedlings are looking ragged and yellowing, desperately wanting to move out of their cramped 4-inch pots and into the welcoming soil. I used to get worried about the horrible state of my seedlings at this time of year. Now, with enough experience, I know that they will perk up, turn green and get happy once I put them in the warm soil. I’ve also changed the date that I seed them in the early spring so that they aren’t busting at the seams before I can put them in the ground.

So that’s the plan for this weekend provided that the forecast looks decent – tomato and pepper seedlings in the ground (to be covered by frost cloth as the evening temperatures are still low) and a second succession of carrots.

Next on the list, are my squash and cucumbers starts (I will also seed some of these) and my lemon, lime and sweet basil seedlings. I hope to get these in next week!

Basil seedlings patiently waiting their turn.

How’s your garden growing? Do you have any issues, pests, challenges? Have you had some great successes already this season? Please share these in the comments below!

My best to you this growing season and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need help this season!

Best regards, 
Kareen

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