Before there was the big vegetable garden, I gardened in raised beds. It started out as four rectangular raised beds laid out in a square. It eventually got a taller square bed in the center and a wood and chicken wire fence and then finally a few more smaller rectangular boxes squeezed in here and there for a total of 11 raised beds. A potager was born. The original four boxes were showing their age with some rotting of the wood and loosening of the screws that held the corners together. The summer before last I replaced one of the boxes and my plan was to replace one a year building a new box, moving soil from one of the other boxes to the new box and then replacing the empty box with a new one and repeating the process until all four of the boxes were replaced. Last fall we were given a trailer load of black dirt so we quickly put together the remaining boxes and filled them up with the black dirt ready for planting in the spring.
When spring arrived so did the thistles, dandelions and various grassy weeds. They were everywhere, in the boxes, in the crushed granite that covers the walkways between the beds and around the outside of the potager. While I have been busy with the greenhouse, the big garden, the mowing and the orchard the potager has gotten no attention. A potager is traditionally a kitchen garden and my plan has been to put in there things that might be tempting to a rabbit since there is a fence around it. Last year I tried planting edamame for the first time. I planted it in the big garden and it was gone immediately, nibbled off at ground level. I decided that I would try it again but this time in the potager.
I have lots of planting left to do in the big garden (the cornfield) but decided to focus on the potager while I wait to see if my deer repelling strategies are successful. More about that later. I had a some great help from Caitlin and Willow who were visiting and offered to help. We were able to clear the weeds from all of the boxes and some of the walkways. We then planted the center box as a meadow. I am shamelessly trying to copy Su's meadow that can be seen in her blogpost here. Scroll down to near the end of the post for a picture of the cutest meadow ever.
After Caitlin and Willow left I worked on planting the prepared beds. The edamame seeds went into one of the long beds. Next I planted the Kohlrabi seedlings in one of the perimeter beds. A second long bed was planted with eggplant seedlings. A third long bed was planted in short crosswise rows of salad greens--12 different kinds. A second perimeter bed has lengthwise rows of three different kinds of romaine lettuces and a row of spinach. The final long bed got two rows of onion seedlings and a row of beet seeds.
That left four small perimeter beds left to plant when the rain chased me out of the garden and into the house. It wasn't much rain but more is predicted for during the night and it will be great to have all the newly planted stuff get a little rain.
And now a little bit about the deer in the big garden. A couple weeks ago I had planted some kohlrabi, beets and onions. They were all seedlings, the kohlrabi was a bit bigger but the others were pretty tiny. I came back the next day and some of the kohlrabi had been eaten. I was unable to locate the beets and onions so I am not sure if they were eaten too or just were too small and didn't make the transplanting and uncooperative (cool nights, cloudy but dry and brutal winds) weather.
Last weekend Nathan and Michelle and Nikole and Brad were at the farm along with their dogs Reese and Greta and Honey and Indiana. We spent some time in the garden. I would like to have the garden be no-till but it might be a bigger project than I can handle without tilling. We will have to see how it evolves. So we tilled the one end of the north half and planted the vine crops. There were 110 plants in all including zucchini and yellow summer squashes, cantaloupe, and acorn, delicata and butternut winter squashes. The area that will hold the sweetcorn was also tilled and after the kids left that area was readied and planted with 15 rows of sweetcorn.
We are growing six kinds of tomatoes, a hybrid slicer, two heirloom slicers, one paste and two cherry tomatoes. The hybrid slicer, paste and one of the heirloom slicers went in first. A row of each. The next day I noticed that some of them had been broken off and the tops left laying and some were gone completely. I was really surprised that they would be eaten. I replanted and it was just about dusk when I finished and the very next morning some of them were gone. I have three big dogs and although the garden is on the edge of the property and kind of separated from the house I really didn't expect to have so many repeat visitors. I really cannot afford to fence the whole thing in and I don't want to unless I have to, so I checked the internet and came up with a list of things to try. The easiest was to hang foil pie pans from strings to make noises in the breeze. Mom and Dad were coming to the farm so i asked them to pick up some pans for me and by nightfall I had replanted the tomatoes, planted the other tomato varieties that had not been planted yet and as a test a couple of eggplant seedlings and Brussels sprout seedlings. I have nine fence posts down the center of my garden and they all got a foil pan wind chime. I also hung some on the trellising for a total of 12. That was yesterday. Today I walked to the garden and found that there were no new eaten tomatoes. The eggplant and Brussels sprouts were just like when I planted them. One night is not a guarantee of ongoing success. It has been an extremely windy spring but that doesn't mean it will always be windy enough to move the pans and make noise so I am going to try a few other deterrents as well. And keep my fingers crossed.
Thanks kids for all the help. I will try to get a few pictures to share.