Thursday, April 12, 2012

The New Veggie Bed

This year, for reasons I still can't quite discern, I'm trying my hand at vegetables. For the first time. Ever.

Folks say, "Oh yeah, veggies are easy." But then I start reading about companion plants, the many pests, vine borers, cabbage beetles, hail, fire and brimstone--and I think to myself, "Geeze, 1,500 feet of prairie plants are WAAAAY easier than this. I don't have to touch them but once a year."

Still, making a new bed got me some exercise. An early tan. Bruises, cuts, gangrene, a nervous tic that makes me point at the ground in order to stretch my dirt-caked and contorted fingers. If this doesn't work out, I have 80 new square feet for either a trial bed or transplant bed for indoor seedlings (which are going tolerably well, about 75% germination).

Way too tiny original bed about 2' deep.

Moved aluminum edging for new 4' bed.

Turned over 80' of wet clay fescue.

Added 1-1.5 yards of city soil.

I was planning on making 5 trips with plastic tubs in my hatchback to the city dump, where there's free compost (this stuff has been magic in my garden). On the first trip I met a guy who flagged me down, offered to help me load my car, then offered to deliver all the compost I'd need for a modest fee. Local landscaping companies would've charged five times as much. I was a happy camper who doesn't like camping.

Since this is my first year flirting with vegetables, I just ordered seeds I could get with a coupon--no heirlooms, nothing too fussy I hope. Broccoli, spinach, eggplant, bush beans, pole beans, summer squash, watermelon, pumpkin. The pumpkin and pole beans I'll sow elsewhere in my main garden once the tulips die back (and since they're blooming 4 weeks early, this should be well before the "normal" last frost date in early May).


Gaia Gardener: said...

I'd recommend broccoli from transplant - much easier and it's late enough that you'll need that head start to get a crop this spring. (They are cool weather vegetables.)

I'm looking forward to seeing your veggies grow! (That compost looks awesome.)

Unknown said...

Sounds like a good start on the basics. You will do just fine.

Kathy said...

You're going to LOVE vegetable gardening! I only started a few years ago myself. I recommend cherry tomatoes - a great snack while gardening. I call my vegetable garden THE POTAGER. I love to plant flowers in with all the vegetables and also companion plant. Herbs, too - attract many beneficial insects. Once I caught a chickadee hiding sunflowers in the brussels sprouts leaves. It's great to have vegetables along with natives. By the way, I bet you'll need an even bigger bed next year since you'll want to plant even more.

Veggie Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veggie Val said...

OOps... trying again. Your new veggie bed looks great. You did a lot of work on it. I'm jealous of the good cheap, compost. We have to create our own here.

Going Native said...

It sounds like you are going to have some very yummy summer vegetable stir fry.

greggo said...

It seems I always add veggies when spring arrives even though they are never planned. Just don't have enough sun at this time. Planted potatoes and onions as always in between the perennials. Usually add tomatoes too. The American way I suppose. I do have plans of grandeur however. As I'm removing a 60' silver maple in two weeks and this will add 800 sq feet of area. I'm sure you will enjoy the challenge and the glory!!

Nice serpentine line by the way.

Lea said...

Vegetable gardens are fun!
I've only grown the basic things - tomatoes, peppers, onion, etc - but this Spring I planted lettuce. Wonderful!
I expand my garden area a little each year without going too fast.
Best wishes to you and your veggies!
Lea's Menagerie

Benjamin Vogt said...

Gaia--The compost is awesome. I don't care when I get veggies. I'm not planning my life around it. Someday, maybe, to become more self reliant. Maybe.
Tammy--I'm a nervous nelly.
Kathy--A bigger bed? No doubt. I have a few herbs nearby, but we already get so many insects in the perennial area, doubles every year I swear (probably because I leave more and more litter in the winter).
GV--It's sorta cheap if you don't mind making 5 billion trips! :)
Mary--And grilled. And sauteed. And baked. And....
Greg--Goodbye silver maple! Hurrah! You're a man after my own heart.
Lea--Yeah but those basic things are beyond me and my clay soil. :)

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Good luck with your new veg bed...the bug bit me with a few containers which has now become a growing from seed production line in my basement and 3 raised beds...I think we may have to add another...eating veggies you grow is satisfying in so many ways...but I do it just for the the flavor of the vegetables straight from the warm garden.

UrsulaV said...

Heh! I usually go with transplants, except for stuff like peas and nasturtiums. So if it doesn't do great this year--definitely try some transplants!

I came to vegetable gardening after growing native plants myself, and somebody had to sit down and explain to me that ornamentals were wild animals, and vegetables are like pets. You have to feed and water them ALL THE TIME.

My peppers, for example, turned out nuclear because I wasn't watering them very often. This is a domestic plant. It doesn't fend for itself well. If it is forced to beg for water on street corners, it becomes vicious and angry.

I keep trying, though.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Ursula--See, that's what I'm terrified of. I don't want a pet, I want a housemate, or a couch, or drywall. Argh.

UrsulaV said...

In that case, I'd very very muchly recommend a soaker hose in the bed, if you haven't placed one already. And an inch or two of either manure or mushroom compost or something like that. They really do like to be "fed." A lot. Comparatively.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I wanted to find a post I hadn't seen to comment on so I could see if you had read the article in today's paper about the lady who does art, gardens, and sells plants. "Junkin" is in the name of her place. She has a blog, which I checked out. Awhile back, she put a link to one of your posts about the environment. I wasn't able to leave any comments on her blog, because her server rejected them. I thought you may want to check that out, though.

I'm glad I made it here to see that you are going to plant some vegetables. I actually started out as a food gardener, then branched out into flowers, and now, getting more into the natives.

I can't grow pumpkins or squash because the squash vine borers get into the stems, and just when the pumpkins or squash are about ready to ripen, the whole vine shrivels and dies. I have tried wrapping the stems at the base, but it doesn't seem to help. You should be OK since you haven't grown them in that space before.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Missed the article Sue, but I have heard of her. I think she was even at Spring Affair but I never thought to visit! I'm so worried the 3 baby bunnies I have will soon find my veg bed--they already found young asters.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

The article was in today's Prairie Lane section. She was at the Spring Affair. I don't remember what all you are planting, but my rabbits especially love lettuce, and young pea and bean plants. I'm so glad we got chicken wire put around my main veggie garden. I have some peas with reddish flowers, and am eagerly waiting for some peas, whatever kind they are.