Last year we expanded the garden with raised beds in the front yard in order to maximize our growing space, and I’m absolutely in love with it.
It’s so awesome to be able to look out the kitchen window as I do the dishes and watch the kids happily munching on fresh spinach, or sorrel, or radishes… or whatever else is coming in at the moment!
Oh! What do you think about the new deck my husband just finished building for us?? It makes such a huge difference to the way the front of our house looks! We brainstormed quite a bit through the process on how we wanted it to look, but I just adore the way it turned out in the end!
May in the Garden
Truly, the garden began back at the beginning of February when I got many of my seeds started indoors. It wasn’t until mid-April when I could actually start transplanting and direct sowing outdoors.
So far, here is what I’ve planted in our garden:
- Cabbage (Henderson’s Charleston Wakefield)
- Tomatoes (Beefsteak, Sub Arctic Plenty, Ferris Wheel, Black from Tula, Omar’s Lebanese, Tomatillo Verde, Amish Paste, Delicious, Purple Russian, Kootenai, and Yellow Marble)
- Eggplant (Black Beauty)
- Spinach (Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach)
- Roselle Hibiscus
- Basil (Purple Ruffles, Sweet Dani, and Sweet Lettuce Leaf)
- Parsley (Italian Flat Leaf)
- Kale (Premiere)
- Sweet Peas (Wando Garden Pea)
- Carrots (Atomic Red, Scarlet Nantes, and St. Valery)
- Radishes (Pink Beauty, and Rat’s Tail)
- Irish Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes (orange and purple)
- Lettuce (Iceburg, and Little Gem)
- Peppers (Corbaci, Cayenne, and Yolo Wonder)
- Broccoli (Calabrese)
- Green Beans (Royalty purple pod, and Eureka bush beans)
- Summer Squash (Early Prolific Straightneck Yellow Squash)
- Zucchini (Dark Green)
- Cucumbers (Marketmore 76, Boston Pickling, and Mexican Sour Gherkin)
- Cilantro (Slow Bolt)
- Sunflowers (Titan)
- Watermelon (Georgia Rattlesnake)
- Pumpkin (Jack O’ Lantern, and New England Sugar Pie)
- Black Goji
Here’s a list of the perennial plants we have in our yard and garden:
- 3 Apple trees
- 3 Peach trees
- Several Elderberry bushes
- 1 Plum tree
- 1 Pie Cherry tree
- 2 Pear trees
- 5 Fig bushes
- 1 Aronia berry
- 1 Honeyberry
- 1 Pawpaw
- 1 Medlar
- 22 Blueberry bushes
- Several strawberries
- Rhubarb (if it survived from last year)
- 1 Almond tree
- Witch hazel
- Rosa Rugosa (for rose hips)
- Malibar Spinach
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- 3 Quinces
- 2 Beach plum bushes
- 3 Nanking Cherry bushes
- 3 Scuppernong Muscadines
- 2 Concord Grapes
- 2 Mulberries
And here’s what we’ve been harvesting so far this year:
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Leaf lettuce
- Lemon Balm
- Irish Potatoes (leftover from fall)
- Onions (leftover from last year)
Want a tour of our edible front yard?
Let me show you around a little. Keep in mind that it’s still early in the season.
It’ll be several weeks before we’re harvesting most of what’s planted so far.
Here’s our Japanese Plum Tree. It’s a “Santa Rosa” plum, planted in the spring of 2014.
Around it I have growing Kale, Zucchini, Echinacea, Eggplant, Tomatillo (although I think a late frost killed our little plant), Bee Balm, Garlic, Broccoli, Horseradish, and Comfrey.
I’m attempting a permaculture guild around each of our fruit trees, which you’ll see as we go along.
Essentially the idea is to plant companion plants around each fruit tree to help discourage pests, to attract beneficial insects and pollinators, and to improve the soil condition.
The plum tree is only four years old. This is actually the first year that we’ve had baby plums growing on it, which I’m SUPER EXCITED about! I really, really hope they do well, and we finally get to taste fresh plums off our own tree!
The Kale growing underneath the plum was actually planted last spring. Somehow it survived through the winter without any protection, and came back strong again this spring! Wouldn’t it be great if it ends up being a perennial?!
The zucchini in this bed is just barely popping through the ground. I really hope the squash bugs don’t destroy my plants this year!! I’ll have to be diligent about picking squash bug eggs off when I find them.
Here’s a shot of the other side of the plum tree guild. Can you see the little broccoli plant tucked in between the comfrey and horseradish? I guess we’ll see how it does there! I’m hoping the herbs help prevent little worms on our broccoli heads.
We’ve got lots of wild sorrel growing in this bed as well. The kids love nibbling the sour, lemony leaves.
Here’s our Montmorency Cherry Tree. I think we planted it in 2014.
Around it I have planted Comfrey, Horseradish, Chamomile, Broccoli, Cabbage, Garlic, and Rhubarb (although I think the rhubarb roots died last summer).
The blooms on the cherry tree are just dying back and turning into little green baby cherries.
I’ve noticed a large number of ladybugs on the Chamomile plants. Ladybugs are wonderful for keeping aphids under control.
I’ll dry the Chamomile blooms to make tea. We use the tea for pinkeye (when I don’t have Eyebright Tea), in a sleepytime tea blend, and as a hair lightening wash.
The bees love the comfrey blooms. One of the benefits of planting flowers and herbs around your fruit trees is that they attract beneficial pollinators and predators.
Here’s one of our Apple Tree guilds. This is a “Virginia Gold” semi-dwarf, planted in the fall of 2015.
In this bed I have planted a bunch of Cabbages, Calendula, Irish potatoes, Comfrey, Horseradish, Catnip, and I’ve allowed Red Clover to grow wild as well.
Here’s another Apple Tree. This is a “Liberty” semi-dwarf also planted in the fall of 2015.
In this bed I’ve planted: Rock Soapwort, Wild flowers, Calendula, Indian Shot Canna Lilies, Echinacea, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Comfrey, and Horseradish.
I attempted to grow Rock Soapwort from seed three years in a row before finally having success. I was really happy to find that last year’s plants survived the winter.
Soapwort is really cool because you can make a soapy lather from the leaves by rubbing them with some water between your hands.
Here’s the other side of the apple tree guild. Tomatoes, Calendula, wild flowers, comfrey.
This is either a Bartlett or a Sunrise Pear tree. I planted two European Pear trees back in the spring of 2014, and didn’t keep good records on which was which (I’ll figure it out when they produce, I suppose).
Around the pear tree I’ve planted: Echinacea, Comfrey, Horseradish, a Goji Berry bush, wild strawberries, and lemon balm.
I planted two pear trees for cross-pollination, although this one bloomed in late March and the other has yet to set flowers. I was afraid I wouldn’t get cross-pollination (and therefore no fruit), yet I recently discovered baby pears growing on this tree! I’m really, really hoping they don’t fall off!! If they grow well this will be our first year getting pears.
Here’s our other Pear Tree. Around it I’ve planted more Comfrey, Horseradish, Echinacea, Cabbages, Sweet Potatoes, and Squash.
Here’s where I’ve planted a couple of watermelon plants. I just planted them four days ago so they still need more time to germinate. We haven’t had much luck growing watermelons so I’m crossing my fingers for this year!
Here’s one of our tomato beds, interplanted with Calendula, Basil, and Cilantro. The plants are still young, so they’re hard to see.
We had an unexpected late frost on April 20th, and I neglected to cover my plants. We lost 38 tomato plants that night. UGH. Fortunately, I’d started way more plants than we needed, so I had enough to replace all of them.
More tomatoes, basil, and onions (from last year).
Even more tomatoes in a raised bed. I sprinkled carrot seeds around in here ’cause carrots and tomatoes grow well together. I also planted some more Calendula in here to help repel pests.
Oh… the forks are to try to keep the cats from digging in this bed. So far it has worked!
Here’s where our teeny tiny heirloom tomatoes will grow up a trellis. The seeds were given to me a couple years ago… I have no idea what variety they actually are but they’re smaller than a marble.
In this bed I’ve also planted parsley and several varieties of basil. Tomatoes and basil grow well together.
Baby basil plants.
The left side of this bed is planted with cucumbers, dill, Nasturtium, and Rat’s Tail radishes, the latter of which I’m extremely excited about growing this year! I think the kids will have a lot of fun munching on them if they do well.
Here’s where I’ve planted our green beans. So far they aren’t popping up yet. I put the wire over the bed to keep the cats from digging in it.
Next to the beans is the leafy greens bed. Here I’ve planted spinach and leaf lettuce. The lettuce is just beginning to sprout.
Some of the spinach survived through the winter from this past fall’s planting, which was a great surprise! Instead of pulling the plants up to harvest them, it’s best to just cut the leaves as needed. The plant will last a long time this way, and will continue to produce more fresh spinach.
Irish potatoes, covered to keep the cats from digging.
On this trellis will grow our perennial Malibar Spinach. On either side I’ve planted Rosa Rugosa, for rose hips. Although, I’m afraid I might regret planting them here as they get fairly large and thorny. I think they’ll be pretty if I can maintain them.
Here’s a mature Rosa Rugosa I have growing in a corner of our garden. You can see how large and unruly they can get. They also spread like crazy.
Ummm… now I’m really beginning to second guess putting these roses in our raised beds.
I’m thrilled to see blooms on our Rosa Rugosa already. I hope we get some large rose hips this year! I love making a vitamin-C- rich tea with them to boost our immune systems in the wintertime.
I didn’t get around to pruning our Muscadines this winter. The vines are gonna be crazy this year.
Same goes for our Concord grapes. Hopefully we won’t have too many vines dragging the ground. Otherwise, the fruit will rot quickly.
It really would take a crew of gardeners to keep this place properly maintained! I’m finding that we can only do so much ourselves.
I had originally purchased two Honeyberry bushes for cross-pollination, but only one survived my neglect. This one only began to thrive once I moved it from a semi-shady spot to full sun.
Even though we only have one Honeyberry plant at the moment, yesterday I discovered a lone first-fruit growing! I’m dying to see what it tastes like, but I want to make sure it’s fully ripe before I pluck it off. (Watch the birds beat me to it!)
Another fun plant we’re growing is an Aronia “Viking” berry. Looks like we might get enough berries to do something with this year! We’ve yet to taste these as well.
The fig bushes need some serious TLC. Anyone wanna come help me weed?? New growth is just barely peaking through at the base of these plants.
The Pawpaw tree. Its cross-pollinator died, but I’m hoping the wild pawpaws in our area will do the job.
Our two peach trees. “Red Haven” and “Elberta”, planted in the spring of 2011.
Even though our trees are full of baby peaches, every year we lose every single fruit to Oriental Fruit Moths. Before the peaches ripen, they begin to ooze a clear liquid and they fall off the tree or rot in place. I refuse to spray them with anything toxic, and I’ve neglected to attempt natural preventatives.
We also have lesser peach tree borers. Apparently this isn’t the place to try to grow organic peaches!
If any of you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!
Our Beach Plums are in full bloom! Maybe we’ll get some fruit this year?
The Nanking Cherry bushes are also looking good, although they don’t have nearly as many cherries on them as they did last year.
Maybe more cherries will grow. It’s still early in the season.
The mature blueberry bushes are in full production mode!
We love fresh blueberries more than anything else on our homestead!
The new blueberry patch we put in last spring is looking good. The plants are still small, but they all made it through the winter. There are four varieties here, 20 plants in all.
Here’s where I’ve planted carrots, radishes, peas, and cucumbers.
We’ve been crunching on fresh Pink Beauty radishes from the garden all week. These kind are SO YUMMY! Very mild, so the kids love them.
Our Martha Washington Asparagus is also producing nicely, despite my obvious neglect to weed or mulch the bed.
More tomatoes, Calendula, and cucumbers to climb the trellis.
Yes. I’m hoping for tons of tomatoes to can this year.
Here’s what the Jerusalem Artichoke patch looks like right now. These little plants will be towering over us like sunflowers by summertime!
Here are some more Irish potatoes, Cabbages, and Sweet potatoes (to grow over the arched trellis).
I still have plenty of space to plant more stuff. The kids have been given their own garden beds to plant whatever they wanted in.
I haven’t planted any corn this year. I might still try. Popcorn was fun the year that we grew it.
I’d like to plant soup beans somewhere still. I don’t have anything like that put in, yet. I try to follow the Farmer’s Almanac best planting days, so I’ll have to wait for another good day to plant more stuff.
As you can see, I’ve been very busy this spring! It has been a lot of work to get the beds prepared and seeds planted, but I’m really hopeful to have a good harvest this year.
I’ll try to keep you updated as the garden progresses.
Can you think of anything else I should try to grow?