Food & Garden

Summer vegetable gardening: Before and after photos!

I have been so busy with planting my summer vegetable garden, one plot at a time, that I have not had time to share the results with anyone.  But as I’ve been planting since April, I have some great progress photos! This season I’ve been focus on companion planting and making the most of tiny spaces and uneven amounts of sun. So allow me to introduce you to my 2012 garden.

Garden plot, 1 planted April 22: Tomato, basil, pepper.

Day 1 (April 22):

Day 27 (May 18):

As you can see, the marigolds died off, but the rest of the plants have thrived.  On the right are two shady lady tomatoes, and the tomato in the center is a big beef (I think…). The three basil plants are sweet basil all divided from one plant I bought at Trader Joe’s.  The three pepper plants around the edges are all thai hot peppers.

I read up on companion planting this spring (see here and here) to determine that these were the best three vegetable starts to put together. This plot is on the side that gets more sun in the morning than the afternoon, but since most of the sunlight casts a shadow toward the north (the side with the marigold 6 pack on the cement), I tried to put the shortest plants on the southern side. Unfortunately I didn’t read up enough on the center variety of tomato/I forgot what it was….its probably going to overshadow the hot pepper on the far right. But so far everything is doing just fine.I even have my first green tomato on the big beef!

Garden plot 2, planted April 29: corn, beans, squash.

Day 1 (April 29):

Day 22 (May 18):

This plot has really taken off! But it has also deviated the most from what I thought it would look like. It’s my first really attempt at the oft-mentioned three sisters garden, so called for the corn, beans and squash used together to mimick a number of Native American methods of companion planting (historian note: If you’re interested in the history part, Hurt’s  Indian Agriculture in America: Prehistory to the Present would be a good place to start. For a philosophical/more accessible reflection, look at Nabhan’s Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Preservation).

I used corn starts and (mostly) squash and bean seeds for this plot, looking at this website for its diagram and directions for planting. The corn is supposed to be 4 inches tall before the beans and squash seeds go in, so that was well timed. But I also added in some corn seeds later, taken from a random dried ear of corn I saved from a neighbor last year, since I’m worried about having enough corn for pollination. I had to really plant my corn seeds deep, because this is a plot that is west facing and gets a full dose of afternoon sun, and the corn really needs moisute to germinate.

I said “mostly” for the squash seeds because I also planted two of what I was told were two scallop squash seedlings from my neighbor…but I am 95% sure she got them confused with the lemon cucumber seedlings she gave me, since that is what they look like. Oh well. Those are in the front and left groupings.

Likely lemon cukes  on the left, suspected scallop squash (in a different plot) on the right:

All of the beans are pole green beans, but I planted a variety of squash from seeds. They are

back and right squash seeds: zucchini

left seeds: acorn squash

front seeds zucchini? I’m not sure here…

So I’m still not 100% diligent in recording what I plant. I figure that’s part of the fun of amateur gardening—surprise vegetables!

Or sometimes, like below, an entire plot full of surprises…

Garden plot 2.5, planted April 29: sunflowers, corn, onions

Day 1 (April 29)

Day 22 (May 18)

This tiniest plot wasn’t even supposed to be planted at all. It was where I was doing my in ground composting (option 2) this winter and early spring. But when I dug up plots 2 and 3 to plant summer vegetables, I couldn’t bear to pull up all of the onions for good. The decent sized ones are drying in my storage unit, but I transplanted all of the small ones to this little scrap of dirt on a whim. I know onions can keep on living in less than ideal situations, which describes this plot—it’s minuscule, its only source of fresh nutrients in years were my food scraps, and it barely gets enough sunlight. Seriously—all of my “after” photos in this post I took around 1 p.m., and most plots are in the sun by that hour, but not this one—it only gets sun from about 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. these days. Six to 8 hours is the ideal. And yet, I held out hope that my onions would survive there and slowly get bigger. Just for good measure, I threw some sunflower seeds and corn seeds in with them, both saved from last summer.

And to my great surprise, the onions and the seeds are doing well! It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but the corn and the sunflowers all lean about 10 degrees to the west, because that’s the only direction sunlight come from. I may have to stake them when they’re a bit taller so they don’t fall over from their own weight. But there they are, defying the odds.


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