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Snapshots, Garden Edition

Earlier this week, I wrote about some changes we’ve made in our yard, and how much we’re loving the space. I didn’t speak much about the garden because I feel like it really needs a post all on its own. Maybe even two, with all the flowers. I had a nice walk around the yard this morning, taking photos of everything looking nice & green after a heavy rainstorm yesterday.
{can you find sunny the cat?}
These are our two newest raised beds, built by Jake’s dad. They’re big and wonderful! There’s just one small problem with their placement though…
See all those great, big, beautiful trees lining the fence? Those are all black walnut trees. If you’re a gardener, or know anything about black walnuts, you probably just shuddered. Because while these trees are great for shade in the summer time, and produce delicious walnuts for eating (and dyeing!) if you want to harvest them (we tried… it’s really quite hard), they’re basically poisonous. See, black walnut trees produce something called juglone to try and stop things from growing underneath them so they won’t have to compete for resources. Smart for a tree, huh? Sucks for gardeners though, because a lot of plants die when they come into contact with juglone. We knew about the chemical when we placed the beds there, but didn’t realize it was such a pain. There are a few things that are tolerant of juglone, such as beans, squash, beets, and some others, but there are also plants that are extremely sensitive to it, like tomatoes and peppers. It’s really unfortunate because we had planned to plant most of our tomatoes in these beds. So we had to re-write our plan when we discovered this, which has screwed up some of our gardening this year, but like I said last time – we live and learn. And now we know and can plan even better for next year’s gardening.
In the bed closest to the fence, and directly under a branch of the tree, putting it in the drip line, we’ve planted some squash (butternut, yellow crookneck and zucchini), two different types of bush beans, beets, okra, kale and lettuce.
bush beans

butternut squash


okra

The greens and beets in this bed are still really small, since they didn’t get planted until a few weeks ago. I had a bed full of kale and spinach, but it was in the other raised beds on the side of the house. Once we realized that our tomatoes couldn’t go in these beds, I harvested all the greens from the other bed and pulled them up so we could transplant the tomatoes there.
Funny story about the tomatoes – they all almost died. When we went to Omaha a few weekends ago, I left them outside, but hadn’t transplanted them yet, so they were still in starter containers. It had just rained, so I figured they would be fine, water-wise, but it was a hot weekend, and all the moisture in the little containers evaporated quickly, and I came back to sad, wilty, sunburned plants. I picked the worst looking ones and planted them in the second new bed, thinking if they were killed by the black walnut tree, it wouldn’t be a big deal since they were struggling anyway. Well, surprise to me, because they’ve recovered so well – which is especially shocking since they’re pretty close to the drip line of the tree, and I’ve read to have plants be successful around black walnuts, they should be about 30-50 feet away from the drip line. These are less than 10 feet away!

So far, all the tomato plants in this bed are doing well. The peppers all seem to be doing well, too, although there are a few that I think might be being affected by the tree. 
By the side of the house, we have 3 more raised beds, which are all doing really well. This large one was here when we moved in, and already has a mature asparagus patch, which has sadly run its course for the season.

The snow peas, however are just starting to come out, and are one of my favorite things to grow. They’re so easy and delicious! We also have beets planted in this bed, which will be harvested before too long, and some tomatillo plants, which will be perfect for summertime salsa making.

Tomatillos are such a cool plant to grow – the fruit grows in these neat coverings, and they look much like a Japanese lantern plant except green.
Next is a bed filled with tomatoes. I’m so excited about this! All of the plants are heirloom varieties, and all have recovered really well from their terrible weekend in the sun.
They’re definitely going to get a little crowded in there once they grow some more, but I planted them that closely because I honestly didn’t expect them all to survive after that weekend I left them without water. So at this point, it looks like we’re going to be swimming in tomatoes this summer! And I’m definitely not complaining.
In the next raised bed, there are a couple more tomato plants, a couple of pepper plants, and then some brussels sprouts plants. I’ve never tried growing brussels before, but so far, so good. They’re a long season crop, so they may not even begin to produce until the end of the summer, which is a long time to wait, but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it.
Oh, and what’s that in our back yard? More black walnut trees? WHY?? Luckily, these plants are far enough away, and aren’t being affected by the trees. Who knew these trees we loved so much when we bought the house would be such a pain? We could get them taken down, but that would be extremely expensive, and then we’d be in an ugly, tree-less yard.

The last box we have is a little box with some strawberry plants. They’re doing ok – I haven’t put any netting on them, and I’m pretty sure the birds are eating the berries before they get very big, but we have gotten a few (very tiny) berries.

Jake’s dad also made Jake this great herb planter for his birthday, and we’ve currently got mint, tiny cilantro, and tiny basil in it. Fresh herbs are one of my favorite things about summer!

And lastly, our neighbors have some wild blackberry bushes that come over our fence, and those are blooming right now. We’re also experiencing what us southern folks call “blackberry winter”, because the temperatures are dropping into the 30s for the next couple of evenings. No frost is expected, luckily, or I’d have quite a time covering all these plants!
How does your garden grow?

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