Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Vegetable Garden Update

It's been a little while since I've updated you on my raised bed vegetable garden. I'm pleased with the way things are looking right now. The tomato plants are taking off as are the squash and cucumber plants. You can see for yourself the benefits of gardening in raised beds! The tomatoes and other vegetables grow faster and larger.


In the picture above you can see one of our 11-12 tomato plants. I haven't kept track of how many I put in nor did I keep track of where I put each one. That's probably not good but I figured I would recognize the tomatoes by the fruits they produce. I can tell you without a doubt that the large tomato plant in the picture below is a 'Brandywine' tomato. The foliage is more broad than the hybrid tomatoes I selected for the garden. All of these tomatoes came from seed and were planted using a deep planting method. In my opinion it is the best way to plant a tomato. Just bury the tomato as deep as you can and remove all the leaves except the top few.


I'm still working on my irrigation system which will mainly consist of soaker hoses. I decided to use a basic hardwood mulch that was colored red. The garden's appearance was not really my concern even though the red-mulch looks great. I could have gone with straw or cedar mulch and been happy with its appearance but the red coloring reflects the red light frequency back onto the plants. This is helpful in particular for tomatoes since the red light frequency helps improve the quality of the fruit. I've used it before in my container vegetable garden and we've had good tomatoes, so why change a good thing? Underneath the mulch I layered newspapers as an extra layer of mulch. They will break down over time but for now they will prevent weeds from growing underneath the mulch.


I used an inter-planting method for the vegetable beds. I planted marigolds in the bed to discourage insects from tasting our crops. I also planted basil in the beds but the seedlings are too small to see right now. The cucumber plants are mixed in this bed to help provide an additional groundcover (plus we kind of like cucumbers!). All these plants are good companion plants with each other. In the square bed I just have four of the tomato plants. I'll probably plant some other things in the same bed soon, I just haven't decided what.


In the rectangular bed in the above picture I have squash, peppers, and marigolds.

If you remember my vegetable garden layout there were two 'L' shaped beds that were formed by a square bed and two large rectangle beds. I only took pictures of one 'L' since the other is only partially planted. I'll update that one later. I still need to plant a few more things out there. It has lettuce and radishes that will need to come out soon and beans that are about 6-12 inches tall. I can't wait to taste my first tomato from the garden! Did I mention that they were blooming?

9 comments :

  1. It looks beautiful with the red mulch, I like it!

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  2. Once you build and fill them, I think raised beds are so much easier. I find it infinitely better to care for several smaller beds than those longer rows. Cleaner, too. I like the mulch. :)

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  3. It looks great. I never thought of using the red mulch for that reason. It makes sense.

    Debbi

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  4. You are going to have so many tomatoes with eleven plants, do you can or freeze them? We make sauce and freeze them, we still have some from last summer. In spite of the drought last year, the tomatoes were prolific with far fewer plants than you have now. That is funny that the names were mixed up, the same thing happened to me, but Brandywine we are sure about, so distinctive. I love your raised beds, but not sure about colored mulch, although your beds do look pretty.
    Frances

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  5. Great looking veggie garden!

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  6. Thanks all! They seem to have grown several inches since the rains came and since the pictures were taken. I could almost do a daily update that would seem like a time-lapse video at this point.

    Frances,

    I started to keep track of the spots where I put them but in the end I forgot where they all went. I didn't use labels although I probably should have. Is it the color you don't like of the type of mulch? I don't like using the plastic mulches since they don't break down into the soil. I like to feed the soil while keeping the moisture in the bed.

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  7. Loving your garden, Dave! I like your mulch better than the hay I am using; yours looks much nicer. I am definitely going to use your newspaper idea next year too - - and I may even try it this weekend in between my rows, as I am spending an awful lot of time weeding! :o

    Between the rain and hot weather, TN gardens are shooting up by the hour, aren't they! I will try to get up some pics of my own this weekend.

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  8. Hi,

    Looks nice but my research has found that bark mulch attracts slugs (and other pests) since it gets nice and moist and warm. Do you perhaps not have a slug problem in your area?

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  9. Anonymous,

    Slugs can be an issue but they are just as much as an issue as if you left the ground bare. I would rather encourage the plants to grow strong by retaining the moisture in the soil that way they can withstand any slug damage. We've had an extremely wet spring this year and the slugs have barely damaged anything.

    While research may tell you that slugs are attracted to bark mulch the benefits that I have seen far outweigh the damage they may do. It's better to get rid of the slugs than to remove the mulch. What mulch would you suggest using or do you prefer to go without?

    This article makes gives some good points and tips for dealing with slugs: Mulch's side effects can be avoided with a little care

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Dave

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