Garden 2017


In 2017 I got serious about gardening with a raised bed. As with all of my gardening, I'm lucky that I live in Oregon and most things grow successfully.

2017-03-20 The raised bed under construction. I joked that I was playing WWI simulator, as the weather still was very wet and I was sloping around in the clay mud of my backyard. The bed is constructed of cedar fence slats. I drove sections of 1/2" EMT into the ground as supports. With the fence slats coming in standard 6 foot sections, the garden is 6'x18', which allows two planting beds and a walkway in between. I also worked hard to level the bed, resulting in the section next to my house being almost flush with ground level, and the opposite side being about 10" above ground level.

2017-05-21 My garden a few weeks after planting. On the left carrots from seed are coming up. Next to the carrots are potatoes, this year using actual seed potatoes instead of supermarket specials. To the right is a mix of greens planted from supermarket starts. I didn't know what I wanted so there is some kale, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, bok choy and romaine. There also should be some tomatoes, but those plants are hidden in the greens.

2017-05-27 The garden progressing well during spring. I also learned about greens bolting as seen with the white and yellow flowers. I enjoyed eating the arugula, but I won't plant it again because of the risk of bolting.

The main reason I took this picture is to capture my new irrigation system. I originally wanted to minimally water, but I couldn't bear to watch my plants wither. Also, I discovered above ground irrigation and hose faucet timers which are an easy, affordable and non-permeant way to water automatically. Pictured here are overhead sprinklers from the bent EMT along with drip lines matching the row plants.

2017-07-12 The tomatoes are looking good in July. I'm being lazy and using the plant marker to keep the fruit off the soil.

Also pictured here is a lack of salad greens, most of the plants that had bolted were removed. There is a strawberry in the background that I planted on a whim late in the spring, which turned out to be very prolific in the coming years.

2017-07-12 Down the garden, the potato vines are turning yellow, signalling to me it is harvest time.

2017-07-12 The harvested potatoes. I only planted about four plants, so the harvest is not bad. Perhaps more importantly, all of the potatoes are healthy.

2017-07-31 The carrots are mature. I planted a rainbow mix, and while entertaining I will stick to a single cultivar of carrot from not on. The white carrots would grow massive by the end of the year, but the orange carrots had the most flavour.

2017-08-12 I'm trying to twist my tomatoes up strings for support. It worked, however I wasn't diligent enough about pruning suckers off of the plants and they still turned into bushes.

2017-08-12 A closeup of the tomatoes. I planted four plants: two cherry, one beefsteak, and this medium-sized tomato. I had a hard time waiting for the larger fruits to ripen.

2017-09-04 The garden at the end of summer. Of my original greens, only kale and swiss chard remain. The trellis system I used on the tomatoes is on the right. the trellis combines string with more string with 1x2 strips and 1/2" EMT. Where my potatoes were I have some pepper plants struggling to grow and a collection of arugula started from seed.

2017-09-11 Late spring I planted a strawberry and a golden zucchini in the middle of the greens. I largely ignored the plants until I found this zucchini below the foliage. Naturally, I placed this fruit in my refrigerator and forgot about it, so I do not know how it tasted.

2017-11-05 The last picture of my garden captures a young buck adventuring in the afternoon. He ate my kale and moved on. Even in November the garden is quite green, but the plants are struggling.

In the coming months, I ripped out the tomatoes as frost set in. I tried to overwinter the kale and the strawberry with mixed success. The carrots keep well in the ground, so I slowly harvested them over winter as I consumed them.

For my first year seriously gardening I was quite pleased but had some major changes to my strategy for next year. Big learnings include:

  • Avoid greens that bolt, as I don't watch them closely enough to harvest in time
  • Kale worked very well and the plant can be harvested continually
  • Twisting tomatoes is a good strategy but needs to be started when the plants are about 10" high. Also, I need a stronger support system as my strings started breaking under the weight of the plants
  • Zucchini (and I assume other squashes) does well, but the foliage covers a lot of the garden space. Also, I don't know how to cook these plants
  • Potatoes again are easy to grow, but harvesting them disturbs the soil so nothing can be grown nearby. I will avoid growing potatoes in the raised bed in the future
  • People eat orange carrots because they are the most tasty. The white carrots are more similar to parsnips in flavour, and the purple carrots did not grow very well. I also would prefer to grow one cultivar so the plants are more uniformly sized

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