I have a love/hate relationship with my vegetable field. I love the challenges of clearing land that is overgrown with clover, ragweed, grass, and maple trees – but I hate when it starts to get the best of me! This time of year it’s a bit of a race to get land cleared and plants in before the supreme heat of summer arrives.
This year the weather went from winter to summer overnight – so I didn’t get as much land cleared as I wanted before my seedlings were ready to go into the ground. The new greenhouse is staged right near the field, making transplanting a much simpler process than last year. I’ve been using duck pond water to water the seedlings – my rain barrel project is a little behind – and the manure rich water is a natural fertilizer.
This pic is a great example of the challenge: this small bed is for eggplant. It’s halfway cleared of saplings, stones, clover, ragweed, duckweed, and grasses.
I’ll have nearly 100 tomato plants when all is said and done. They range in size from 2oz Chocolate Pear (a huge hit last year) up to 2lb Belarussian Heart. I’ll have red, yellow, pink, orange, and brown. My tomato plants are stronger and taller than last year – the first batch went into the ground last week and the second round will go in a few more. I’ll likely have three beds of tomatoes when all is said and done.
I planted the first round of peppers in the second bed of tomatoes. These also have a large size range – from small Lilac Bells up to 5″ Ozark Giants (a bell variety) and the 9″ Jimmy Nardello Italian (a long, thin variety). I’m growing a few new varieties this year – including chili peppers – so I can heat up my curry sauce and offer both mild and hot salsas. My clients are already asking for salsa and I’m planning to be well-prepared to meet demand!
Last year my squash plants were a disaster, but this year shows great promise. The bed is in a shadier spot, the soil has more clay (to better hold water) and the down slope should help the vines spread easily. Zucchini and Crookneck (yellow) squash are so tasty in stir-fries and on the grill – I can’t wait for the blossoms to turn to fruit! I have three other small, uncommon varieties – it’s so nice to use a seed company that offers unique items.
Onions and potatoes a thriving – they’ve been in the ground since early March and are getting close to harvest time. I need to get my second round of onions into the ground, not to mention sweet potatoes and a round of russet potatoes.
Cantaloupe and watermelon are below the potatoes. This section is near the edge of the field and the massive trees on the old fence line will help shade the plants in the afternoon. This is my first attempt at melons and my fingers are crossed. I love cantaloupe (so do my chickens) so I planted lots. My roommate loves watermelons so I planted a few of those for her – its a non-traditional variety called Orange-Glo and I’m hoping its less fibrous (I really do not like watermelon).
This may be the bed I’m most excited about – Okra and Corn! This hot, dry ground should be the perfect spot for these warm-weather loving vegetables. Okra is one of my most favorite things so I’ve planted 30 plants this year. I’m growing my consistent favorite (Gold Coast) and two new-to-me varieties: Bowling Red (with a red pod) and Stelley. Yum, Yum!!
I’ll always wish I had more land cleared, but when I step back and look at the space available to me this year…what a thrill. I have easily 5x the land in usable shape as last year. I like the layout of the teepees and the new beds. Instead of setting a second row of teepees behind the first, I left a wide path so my roommate can drive her golf cart into the field. I fitted it with a water barrel and it’s a huge help with watering. It will also be helpful at harvest time, as we can load it with flats of produce.