When the Vision Becomes Reality

The week isn't quite over yet, but I'm going to go ahead and chalk it up as the most satisfying week of the garden season so far.  There is so much energy and time invested in making a garden vision become reality, that when you finally step back and realize that it's just about there, it's definitely worthy of taking a few moments to savor the accomplishment.  

And this year, more than any other year, it feels like an accomplishment just to have gotten this far!  It's been a rather slow process to get the garden in this year.  Aside from all those late season snow storms, there's been plenty of rain and busy schedules to contend with (which never seem to match up on the same days, I've noticed), but this week I finally feel like I've turned the corner and can look out over the garden and actually see and touch what I penned on paper so many months ago.  With only a small handful of things left to go in the ground, I'm pretty excited, even if it does mean I have to start weeding now! 

This is the final layout of the raised bed on the west side of our house for this year: 
I planted the peas along the vertical garden fence at the end of April, but most of this bed was planted a couple of weeks ago.  The broccoli and parsley were started from seed back in March and they have taken off very nicely (the broccoli is looking amazing this year!).  There are a lot of old favorites in this bed, but a few new varieties that I'm excited to try as well: Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Harris Model Parsnips, and Purple Top White Globe Turnips.  The only things left to plant are the vines that will grow up the fence after the peas are done, but I want to give the peas just a little bit more of a head start before I send the vines up behind them.  

Meanwhile, the raised bed on the east side is fully planted! The seven jalapeno pepper plants were the last thing to go in this past weekend: 
This is the first year that I have not purchased a single plant for the garden - everything was started from seed (or bulb, in the case of the shallots) - and while they may have started out looking a little less impressive than the huge tomato plants in the garden centers, just two short weeks after transplanting, you'd never be able to tell the difference between the two.  

There are no new vegetables in this garden this year, but plenty of new varieties that I'm anxious to try.  Nearly all of the tomato varieties are first time trials for me, as are the Black Hungarian and Orange Habanero peppers, but I am perhaps most excited to taste the Red of Florence onions, a sweet mild onion that will be picked (thinned) early for red scallions, and later for small torpedo-shaped onions.

As good as it felt to get the gardens in the backyard planted, the big to-do list item hanging over my head was the community garden.  We became involved with the community garden in its first year last summer when a dear family friend asked me to help him fill in the left over space in his plot (I happily obliged and stuck my zucchini out there). After getting a a little taste of what I could do with that much garden space, we made the decision to pick up the adjacent plot as our own. 

Here's how that plot is shaping up this year: 
There are a lot of new-to-me varieties in this garden, most notably the Cherry Vanilla Quinoa and the Litchi Tomatoes, which are completely new crops that I'm anxious to watch grow over the course of the garden season.  There will also be a few surprises in the pepper patch this year.  A couple of weeks ago, a squirrel found one of my trays of pepper seedlings trays and decided that it looked like a good place to look for a nut.  He made quick work of completely destroying a number of my pepper seedlings before he gave up (thankfully, he didn't do more damage than he did).  I was able to rescue just four little seedlings, but in the carnage, the survivors were separated from their plant makers, so we'll have to wait and see what varieties they are.

I've slowly been working up the soil and planting this garden, section by section, for a little over a week now.  I just have a few more peppers to transplant this weekend, and then I'll seed the black eyed peas once we hit a nice stretch of HOT weather.

But wait!  There's more!  With our dear friend moving out of state later this summer, we took over his entire plot in the community garden this year.  I know, I'm totally and completely crazy for doing this.  One day I'm telling my husband that we are definitely giving one up next year, and the next I'm confident that I've got this down.  Stay tuned to see where we land in October...
If you can't already tell, this garden is, in large part, dedicated to salsa production.  I have planted a rather obscene number of paste tomatoes, onions, and  peppers.  I also have a good number of pumpkins planted (the one request Mike made for this year's garden), as well as this year's dry bean selections, a variety of herbs in sunken pots (so they can be moved indoors at the end of the season), and an assortment of sunflowers and a couple of amaranth plants to hopefully attract some additional pollinators to the garden.

This garden is where I spent the bulk of my Monday, a marathon twelve hour garden day, so there are only a few small things here and there to finish up.  The tomato transplanting was by far the most time intensive project, but I'm saving those details for a separate post.  In fact, there are a number of interesting things I'm trying in this garden this year that I'll be highlighting as the season moves forward.

I'm just so incredibly grateful that I'm now able to  look over my garden plans and know that it will all be wrapped up in a matter of days, not weeks (as I was starting to fear would be the case).  I'm also loving how seeing the vision come to life has given me a little more steam to keep going as I get close to getting everything in.  And the best part?  It's only going to get better from here as the plants start to fill in and produce!

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