The garden season has finally arrived up here in the North! This has been a long time coming and after such a long and cold winter, I am so excited. Finally, I can get my hands in the dirt and start growing things. Of course, the weather played its tricks on us. The first half of the month was unusually cold – even for up here. And then it turned abnormally warm. On top of this, we had almost no rain this month. Needless to say, thanks to that, the garden was planted a bit late. This garden update June 2019 covers all that I have planted this year and breaks down the cost of the garden.
Garden Update June 2019
Let’s start with my pride and joy, the backyard vegetable garden.
What I planted
I tend to grow mostly the same things every year. The reason being is that over the years we have lived here, I have found what grows well and what doesn’t. I don’t like to waste an inch of my garden so I grow what does well. The exceptions being small pots of experimental plants.
These are an absolute must every year. It’s one of the main reasons the garden got a big expansion a couple of years ago. I needed more good to grow beans. The entire in-ground garden is planted with beans. I grow 7 varieties of beans. Yellow wax beans, Stringless green pod beans, Greencrop beans, Contender Green, Tenderpod Green, Tendergreen beans, and Velour Dwarf French beans. When planting, I mix the seeds together so every row has a bit of each variety. This makes them fun to pick and helps to mix up the colors a bit.
This is one of those hit or miss crops. I’ve had more misses than hits, but we enjoy eating cabbage so we figured we’d give it another shot. There were some healthy seedlings in town, so hopefully, that will make the difference. We got the Red and Early Green varieties.
Broccoli & Cauliflower
These are two things I have grown previously but not every year. Broccoli had done pretty well before. However, I have yet to get cauliflower to actually produce anything. Perhaps this will be the year. Due to the late planting, I went with seedlings this year. However, I have had great success when starting them from seed. We planted 8 seedlings each. The variety of broccoli we planted is Castle Dome. I’m not sure what type of cauliflower we ended up with.
This was last year’s experiment plant. Considering we bought 4 half-dead seedlings then, we didn’t expect much. However, not only did the survive but they produced one dinner worth of sprouts. Not bad for investing $0.10 in the plants. So, this year we decided to grow them again, but this time with healthy seedlings to start. We ended up planting 8 seedlings in the raised beds and look forward to seeing how they do when compared to last year. This year we are growing the Jade Cross variety.
About 3 years ago I grew Pak Choy (also known as Bok Choy) for the first time. It did so well! Yet the irony of it is that we never got a chance to harvest it. It was almost ready, then we went on vacation for a week and came back to find it had bolted – gone to seed. So while the plant itself was a write-off, we were able to collect tons of seeds. I figured it was time to grow it again, so I tossed a generous handful of seeds into one of the raised beds.
Lettuce, Spinach & Swiss Chard
Though I’m not a huge fan of salads, I do enjoy growing these. Garden grown lettuce is packed full of flavor and it does mean I do eat a few salads over the course of the summer. Generally speaking though, I put most of it on sandwiches. Though I normally don’t grow swiss chard, I had a few seeds left over from other years. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to toss them in and see what happens. The two varieties of lettuce I planted are Early Curled Simpson and Grand Rapids. Spinach is King of Denmark and Double Choice Hybrid, and the Swiss Chard variety is Discovery.
Much like beans, carrots are an absolute much in the garden each year. The flavor of homegrown carrots is vastly superior to what you buy at the grocery store. Two raised beds always get planted full of carrots. They do pretty well up here considering our short and cool growing season. We tend to average about 25 pounds of carrots a year, which is pretty good. This year I planted Scalet Nantes, which seem to do the best up here of the varieties I have tried over the years.
I have never been a fan of onions, so it may sound weird that I grow them. However, I don’t mind garden-grown onions. They have a mild flavor and less burn than store-bought onions. If it’s a good year, I can grow a year’s worth of onions in just two raised beds. This year I had enough onion sets for one and a half beds. Our go-to variety is yellow onions, which is what we are growing this year.
By far the easiest thing to grow. Drop some seeds and a couple of weeks later they are ready to harvest. My husband is the only one in the family who eats radishes, so we only grow one row worth in the raised bed. However, because they grow so quickly, we can usually get 2-3 planting over the summer. We grow Cherry Belle radishes.
Growing herbs is a more recent addition to the garden. I always used to think I didn’t have room for them, but now I shove them in any space I can. This year we planted Oregano, Dill, Italian and Moss Curled Parsley, and Basil. These herbs are divided between pots and raised beds.
The only non-edible that grows in the vegetable garden. Though there are edible varieties out there. Marigolds are great at keeping non-beneficial insects out of the garden while attracting the pollinators. I grow these around the edge of the in-ground garden and put a few throughout the raised beds as well.
We have a few perennials in the garden, which help to reduce the amount of planting that needs to get done.
These were here when we moved in, are by far the more prolific of all. I have lost track of how many times I have split them and they still grow huge each year. Some years they get almost 4 feet tall. It’s crazy! We have two large garlic chive plants.
Another plant that was here when we moved in. This used to grow throughout our backyard. It took us years to stop it from growing everywhere. Now we have it contained to a pot and it does pretty well.
These were already growing when we moved in. They are not your typical big strawberries found in the grocery stores. The berries are very small but have a ton of flavor to them. They have already begun to flower, so we should be able to start harvesting them in a few weeks.
This was added a couple of years ago. A friend of my husband grows it on his farm, and he was nice enough to give me a small piece of root. The plant grows big and lush. However, I have yet to actually harvest any of it. Hopefully, this will be the year it happens.
What I didn’t plant
Between trying to use up what seeds I had and such a late start to the season, there were two things that didn’t get planted this year. One of these may be planted later if I can find the seeds.
I’ve been growing potatoes for a number of years now. We absolutely love the taste of homegrown potatoes. Our two favorite varieties are Yukon Gold and Russet. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any seed potatoes in town. I don’t know if the stores didn’t get any in or they sold quicker than normal this year. However, in the end, it means no potatoes for us. The beds that were supposed to be planted with potatoes were planted with other things.
Every year I grow two varieties of peas. Shelling peas and snap peas. The shelling peas go into the in-ground garden and the snap peas grow up the garden fence. I could have sworn that I had some pea seeds left over, but when it came time to plant there were none. The stores were also sold out of most seeds. I may be able to pick some up if we go to the city in the next few weeks. Since peas grow fairly quickly, planting them a few weeks late should be fine.
2019 garden experiment
Almost every year, I like to experiment with a new vegetable or herb in the garden. Some years are a success, like last year with the Brussel Sprouts. Other years are a failure – we will never grow parsnips again, so gross! Because I am in a cooler climate, it means I am somewhat restricted on what I can grow. However, that doesn’t stop me from trying new things. Occasionally, I will find a plant that shouldn’t really do well up here and yet it excels. Thus my yearly experiment.
This year is no different. Initially, I wasn’t sure what new plant I would try. However, the other day my husband and I went plant shopping and an experiment plant kind of fell into our laps. Hubby found some celery and wanted to give it a try. I had previously grown celery indoor with minor success, so I figured I’d give it a shot outside this year. Well, once I got to planting, I realized it wasn’t actually celery but celeriac root. They are from the same plant family but are different. So, now we have 4 celeriac root plants in pots and I am excited to see how they do.
Vegetable garden cost
Initially, I didn’t plan to buy any seedlings this year. However, plans change and a few of these slipped in. I blame the late planting. There was also some compost, peat moss, and soil that we had to get to amend the raised beds.
- Seedlings (32): $12.50
- Herbs (3): $7.02
- Onion Sets: $2.79
- Compost & Soil: $51.17
- Total cost for June: $73.48
As you can see, most of the cost went into amending the soil. We were lucky to find most of the seedlings on sale, so it made buying them more worthwhile.
Front flower garden
While I love my vegetable garden, the one area I’m not into when it comes to gardening is flower gardens. I know they have their benefits, especially when it comes to bringing in pollinators, but honestly, they aren’t my thing. I don’t care to grow things that I can’t eat. So needless to say, the front flower garden has always been fairly neglected. Oh, I plant it every year. But I certainly don’t give it the time or attention that the backyard garden gets. This year, I decided to put a bit more effort into it. After all, we are hoping to move this year, so having a pretty flower garden at the front is kind of a must.
What I planted
I know next to nothing about flowers, so finding the right things to plant can be difficult. However, spending a bit of time in the greenhouses looking at plants allowed us to find what we needed. In the end, we picked three different flowers to grow.
I’ve grown snapdragons in the past and enjoy these flowers quite a bit. A total of 8 snapdragon plants went into the garden. The variety we got was Snapshot Burgandy Bicolor and they have these neat white and burgundy striped flowers.
I know nothing about this flower except that it likes the amount of sunlight that the front garden gets. We got the Sonata White variety. We’ll see how it looks as it grows.
Another flower that I know nothing about. I only got this one because it had blue-purple flowers and I love purple. The variety we bought is called Blue Hawaii.
For years I have wanted to grow chocolate mint. I have previously grown regular peppermint, but it was time to play around with something different. Luck was on my side when I spotted a lone chocolate mint plant at the grocery store. It smells divine and I can’t wait to see how it grows.
The rest of the space was filled in with a variety of rocks, a small driftwood log, and a few decorations that we already had on hand. This helped to add some height and color throughout without investing a lot of money into the project.
Flower garden cost
Flower seedlings are expensive! It’s no wonder I have ignored this garden most years.
- Flower seedlings: $22.86
- Chocolate mint plant: $2.69
- Total cost: $25.55
Not too bad cost-wise, however, we didn’t go crazy with plants for this garden. Just enough to say that it’s planted.
How is your garden going? Plant anything special this year?