GUYS. I just harvested my first vegetables of the season from the extremely bad-ass and finely crafted Bill J. Dunn Memorial Garden and Emporium. Fittingly, they were radishes:
I know! I too am extremely excited by this development. I would like to take this moment to update you all on the status of the garden and yard, dear readers.
1. The weather is finally cooperating. After multiple freak hail storms and torrential downpours, we have finally settled into our usual Colorado summer weather. Which is to say: blindingly sunny and hot during the day, light thunderstorms in the late afternoon, cool nights. My seedlings have taken to this weather much like… well, like plants to perfect growing conditions. See?
If those ain’t happy cucumber sprouts I don’t know what is.
2. Ben built hoop houses! We realized we had almost no shade in the back yard with which to combat the aforementioned blinding sunlight during 15 or so hours of every day. The young plants and shade-loving greens were really suffering going from the freezing rain to intense sunlight. I could almost hear them complaining about “out of the frying pan into the fire” (What, don’t your veggies talk to you?). But I married me a resourceful man. He bought some garden-grade shade fabric, several lengths of flexible PVC pipe, some metal brackets, and some zip ties, and built me some high-tech shades for each bed.
The fabric is loosely attached to the PVC hoops using the zip ties. This allows us to move the shade up and down the hoops depending on the level of sunlight we want on the plants. Here’s what the sun shade looks like in both positions:
The sun shade is porous, so rain can still easily get through, but not hail, and it should protect the plants from getting beaten up during a torrential downpour. It’s meant to block UV rays and keep the temperature down underneath it on the hottest days, so my sun-lovers are still happy even with it up. Here are some close ups of the brackets and the zip ties. The brackets are actually holding a thicker, shorter length of PVC pipe, into which we inserted the ends of the thinner PVC used for the hoops. This means that the hoops are easily removable while the brackets stay in place. The zip ties, unfortunately, are single-use. So if we want to re-adjust the fabric (which we do… our first try was a little sloppier than I’d prefer) we’ll need to get new zip ties.
In the winter we plan to transform the hoop houses into cold frames by replacing the shade fabric with greenhouse plastic. This should extend our growing season by creating three nicely-insulated, inexpensive greenhouses. “Should” being the operative word here, of course.
3. We planted trees! A North Star Cherry and a Resilience Peach, to be exact. Or, as Ben likes to call them: “Future Pie Filling Trees.”
They’re pretty measly right now, but now that they’re in their forever homes we expect them to bulk up right quick. We picked these babies up from our favorite plant nursery in the Denver area, Timberline Gardens. I have to give a shout-out to Timberline because not only do they have an amazing selection of healthy plants and trees (including an entire greenhouse packed with at least a dozen species of roses which are definitely in my near future), but their staff is amazingly helpful, astoundingly knowledgable, and clearly enthusiastic about their work. Both trees we bought are in great health and already bearing fruit despite their size. When I retire, I want to wear a floppy hat and gardening gloves and walk around pruning trees all day at Timberline Gardens. That’s the dream.
We had but to stick ’em in the ground, mulch their bases, and walk away! These babies are going to do just fine. And as an added bonus, the peach tree is planted right in front of our bedroom window, so it should block some of the afternoon sunlight… in a couple of years.
4. My plants are going bananas. Besides the radishes, the lettuce and spinach are ready to be harvested, and all of the seeds (with the exception of the onions) have finally taken off. I had to re-seed some beds more than once, but the results are rewarding. I feel like I can see the corn growing if I stare at it long enough, and the squash plants seem to be doubling in size overnight. Here are some closeups of the pretty green things:
Aren’t they beautiful? Let’s end with one last shot of the radishes before I eat them.