My daughter Marie, her daughters, and I teamed up to grow a vegetable garden for the summer of 2014 at the Juniper Street Community Garden here in Flagstaff, AZ.
The garden is located just west of the intersection of N San Francisco St and W Juniper Ave on land owned by Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. The garden has 12 raised beds built of small diameter pine logs. Each plot is 4 feet x 20 feet. The garden has 3 compost bins and a small shed for storing tools and hoses. Rental fees are $35 per plot per year.
If interested in this ongoing project, please contact me.
WEEK ONE & TWO
We went to Viola’s Flower Garden and purchased some additional seeds to supplement my existing supply. From the nursery we went back to the garden and did the first planting, even though it was quite cold and snowing periodically. Very exciting!! We planted two rows of California Soft-neck garlic and two rows of Stuttgarter Reisen onion sets. We top-dressed the planted rows with a shallow layer of “Roots” compost and watered them thoroughly. We called it a day, as it was getting colder and wetter out.
SEEDS BOUGHT AND PLANTED
French Breakfast radishes
Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach
Bright Lights Swiss chard
Detroit Dark Red beets
Gourmet Mix beets
Red-cored Chatenay carrots
Gourmet Mix carrots
Sugar Snap peas
onion sets and garlic bulbs
California Soft-neck garlic
Stuttgarter Reisen onion sets
We planted the peas in circles around some tomato cages for future support rather than putting them in rows. I placed burlap over all the rows for protection and to keep them wet so the seeds will germinate faster.
I placed Agribon brand floating row cover material over these plants to provide some protection from cold nights and browsing deer.
We top-dressed the planted rows with a shallow layer of “Roots” compost and watered them thoroughly. We called it a day, as it was getting colder and wetter out.
May 21– The garlic, onions, and radishes are all coming up. I pulled the burlap cover off the radishes and placed Agribon over these rows. I try to water each time I visit the garden and will apply Great Big Plants liquid compost every other week throughout the growing season.
May 22 – Spinach is up! I took the burlap cover off the row of spinach and extended the Agribon to cover it also. Before replacing the Agribon, I pulled out the temporary support stakes I had been using and replaced them with plant props, which I think will work better. We will peek under the remaining burlap in a couple days to look for new sprouts.
May 25 – The Swiss chard, beets, and peas are now up, but very little lettuce has germinated. I replanted the lettuce row with some “Great Lakes” seeds which Marie had left over from last year. I removed the burlap from these rows and extended the Agribon to cover them.
May 29– At long last the carrots have come up. Carrot seed is always very slow to germinate. The burlap covers are extremely helpful, as they keep the top layers of the soil constantly moist, even through are strong dry spring winds. Today we did the last of the planting, putting in 2 rows of “Blue Lake” green bush beans, 2 rows of “Pencil Pod Wax” yellow bush beans, 2 hills of “Black Beauty” zucchini, one hill of “Jack-be-Little” pumpkins, and one hill of “Jack-o-Lantern” pumpkins. I put the three tomato cages back into the pea patch to provide support for the growing peas. After removing the last of the burlap, which had been covering the carrots, I top-dressed all the rows with “Roots” compost and liberally applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire garden. After adding more plant props for support, I placed Agribon over the whole plot. Next week we will need to start thinning our baby plants. The garden is looking great so far!
June 5– The lettuce was still looking pretty sparse—not germinating well for some reason—so I planted some more. I purchased a package of “Valentine” lettuce seed from Viola’s and interspersed these seeds amongst the existing plants. “Valentine” is a blend of 7 red lettuce varieties: “Marvel of Four Seasons,” “Lolla Rossa,” “Redina,” “Red Oak Leaf,” “Red Salad Bowl,” “Rouge d’ Hiver,” and “Ruben’s Red.”
June 8– The beans, zucchini, and pumpkins have popped up! We decided to add a couple pepper plants to the garden today. In went a “Big Bertha” green bell pepper plant and a “Red Bell” plant. The girls really wanted to plant some flowers to add some color to the garden, so back to Viola’s we went and got some petunias, marigolds, and million bells. Marie and I cleaned up some pots we weren’t using and strategically placed them in the garden, sinking them about half way into the ground. The girls had a good time filling the pots with potting soil and planting the flowers in them using their own design. There were some marigolds left over, so they planted them on the south end of the bed by the garlic.
June 11 – At last the lettuce is coming up nicely. Today we thinned back the zucchini and pumpkins to three plants per hill and thinned the radishes some more yet. I cultivated between all the rows and around the plants to loosen up the soil somewhat. This also helps aerate the plants and discourage weed growth. I liberally applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire garden again, as I will do every other week throughout the growing season. Back at the house the tomatoes have now grow out of the top of the Walls-O-Water. The weather service has predicted daily low temperatures in the 40’s for the next 7 days, so I feel comfortable removing the Walls-O-Water now. Off they came, and I attached a cage extension to each tomato cage. We’ll see how long it takes the plants to grow taller than the extended cages—a couple weeks or so maybe?? It finally feels like summer.
June 12 – Today we decided to redesign our Agribon row cover system a bit, as it is a lot of trouble to remove and replace the rocks that hold it down every time we want to work. Marie and I hauled 6 long logs from the community garden log pile and positioned them on the sides of the bed. This has made it much easier and faster to uncover and cover the garden. Today we mulched the garden with a layer of the Harvest Blend compost to help hold moisture in the soil as the temperatures are getting warmer. And guess what—Marie was awakened at 3 o’clock this morning by her barking dog, and when she looked outside, there were 8 deer browsing around the community garden. We are so thankful that we have been covering our plot with the Agribon, or our veggies would have already been a good meal for the deer.
This week, we had the first harvest of the season. We picked some beautiful radishes—just 35 days after planting!! Spinach will be ready to cut in just a few more days. We decided we needed yet some more plants so put in French sorrel, rue, and borage plants. The borage has lovely blue flowers which attract bees when it blooms so should help with pollination of the squash plants. One of the potato plants looks like it may have a rust or some other kind of blight. I will give it a few more days and remove it if it doesn’t show any improvement. Otherwise, the garden looks great!
June 25 – Today we applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire as well as some Osmocote time-release general purpose fertilizer (15-9-12.) We harvested the first Swiss chard today as well as more spinach and radishes.
June 26 – It is time to do some thinning. We thinned the carrots and beets today. If you don’t thin the root crops, the roots will not have enough space to expand and grow to normal size. Don’t discard the thinnings, though. These tiny plants are edible and great in salads. We also added a sweet basil plant to the community garden plot as well as 6 basil plants to the tomato containers at the house—2 in each container. Tomatoes and basil are great companion plants—they like to grow next to each other and thrive when together.
July 6 – Today we harvested the first broccoli—4 big beautiful heads. The peas are now blooming. The garden has had nearly 2 inches of rain since July 3! All is looking green and lush.
July 9 – Another rainy day. The rain started early today – about 10:30 a.m. It rained steadily for a couple hours. Today I harvested all of the remaining spinach and radishes and thinned the carrots. I replanted the harvested area with a row of “French Breakfast” radishes and a row of of lettuce -both “Blackseeded Simpson” and “Valentine Mix.”
July 10– Today I applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire garden per the regular schedule of every other week. We harvested the first onions today – some real beauties!
As of the end of July, there should be lots of beans before long, as the plants are setting heavily. Lots of rain today- as the summer is monsoon season.
By August 6th, we harvested the first yellow beans. There are going to be a ton more, as well as an abundance of green beans soon. The bean plants are some of the healthiest I have ever grown—loaded with blooms and little pods– thanks to the Great Big Plants liquid compost. The weather this week has been warm and dry with no rain—not too hot, so very comfortable.
August 11 –Today, we picked the first green beans and also did the first harvest of the second planting of radishes and lettuce. Hopefully we may even be able to do a third planting of these. We now have two baby “Jack-be-Little” pumpkins on the vines.
August 14- We had 2.17 inches of rain in the last three days!! These were the rainiest few days that I can remember in a very long time. The surrounding forest is quite refreshed. We picked lots of beans today. The pea plants looked finished for the season and were getting infected with powdery mildew, so we pulled them up. In their place we planted spinach for a fall crop—both “Teton Hybrid” and “Bloomsdale Long-Standing” varieties.
August 20- The new planting of spinach is up already—in just 6 days!! This has been a week of bountiful harvest. We have been picking zucchini, beans, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, chard, and onions nearly every day. All of our work has really paid off. The carrots and beets are growing nicely and will be ready to harvest before long. This has also been another rainy week with about an inch so far.
At the end of August, we are fully harvesting almost everything we’ve planted.
Today, I stomped the onions, literally. You don’t cut the tops off, you just basically walk all over them and smash the tops and leave them like this in the garden. Doing this in early fall stops the plants’ top growth and stimulates them to put more of their energy into the bulbs. This is a useful trick to get larger onions for fall and winter use
September 10 was “harvest the garlic” day. I dug up the entire crop, trimmed the tops off and washed the bulbs. I laid them out on paper towels to dry for awhile. The bulbs were fairly small but very nice and quite pungent.
September 18- This has been a week of routine maintenance and of enjoying the harvest. Nearly all of the tomatoes have now been picked. There are only a handful remaining on the plants. Next week I should be able to start dismantling the tomato containers and getting them ready for next year. I continued picking lots of broccoli and lettuce. Somehow the broccoli plants are still free of aphids—very unusual. The beans are pretty much finished, but the onions are developing large bulbs now. We have had some rain again this week, and the temperatures have remained mild and pleasant. So far no frost has threatened.
September 24- The weather has remained beautiful again this week with daytime temperatures in the mid-70’s and nights in the mid-40’s. However, it is time to do some major down-sizing. I pulled out some old lettuce plants and all of the bean plants, since they have finished producing, and dumped them in the compost bin. My granddaughter harvested the pumpkins and the last of the zucchini, and we then pulled out all the vines. We put these into the trash rather than into the compost bin because they were infected with powdery mildew and had some aphids on them. We are still harvesting lots of onions, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, and broccoli. It has been a very productive garden!
As October moves along, we are still harvesting from the community garden! Autumn is on its way here in Flagstaff.
After a couple of frosty nights, the weather has warmed up again with beautiful fall days in the 70’s. Because we have been faithfully covering what’s left in the garden with Agribon cloth every night, the garden has not sustained any freeze damage. We are still harvesting lots of onions, radishes, Swiss chard, lettuce, beets, carrots, and broccoli. It’s great to have the garden still producing this late in the season. As an added bonus, it is raining today with about .60” so far–unusual this time of the year.
As October stretches on, I did some clean up in the garden. The broccoli plants were starting to get aphids on them, so I decided to pull them out. I bagged them up and disposed of them. It is not advisable to put buggy plants into a compost bin. It was a good harvest day, however, as I dug up several pounds of beets, carrots, and onions. I am still picking lettuce every few days. The weather continues to be mild, and we had some nice rain showers yesterday and today.