Designing and Planting our Vegetable and Herb Gardens

We’ve been planting the seedlings we started last month any time the sun shines here in Massachusetts … which means that during our two days of sun in the last month, we’ve been very, very busy! Here’s how it’s coming together.

A lot of our design and planting was dictated by what seedlings did well, which didn’t, and trying to get things in the ground that are cold-tolerant. It’s been very cold this spring, with nights regularly dropping below 40 degrees. For little seedlings, this is some serious business!

First, here’s what our pasture layout is looking like:

You may recall way back in September I planted our garlic and onions. As you can see above, a couple that I grew from my own seed didn’t work, which is a bummer. BUT overall, I had a pretty good success rate!

We expanded the pasture this year, so added pumpkins. I’m not sure how I feel about this development. My husband has visions of kiddos picking their own pumpkins during our annual Halloween party. I have visions of … how ugly pumpkin patches are.

We also planted most of our ‘one and done’ seedlings here – beets, cauliflower, etc., but of course we have tons of kale that came back!

Finally are the potoatoes. I learned my lesson last year and planted these much further apart. I’m concerned, though, because I planted them in mid-April but they have yet to break the surface of the ground. They should have sprouted by now. That said, everything has been coming up late due to complete lack of sun and very little warmth. Fingers crossed …

Next up, our fenced (deer proof!) garden:

I just planted most of these seedlings May 16 during a miraculous morning without rain. Happily, our asparagus is starting to return!

Thank goodness. The last couple years it has popped up a full MONTH earlier than this, so we thought we’d lost it all. This would’ve been a real bummer because asparagus takes years to establish properly, so this has been a multi-year project for us. We’re hoping to see more than these few stalks pop up soon!

Note that the lettuces are planted with mint. From my reading, it sounds like mint is an excellent companion for lettuce. The mint was already established. In fact, over the years I’ve removed a huge amount of it, since it spreads like crazy.  You can see there are some seedlings left over!  We’re trying to decide if we want more lettuce or something totally different to fill in the “TBD” section indicated above.

The beets are looking good!

Finally, our kitchen garden beds:

But for the tomatoes, these are pretty much planted for now. We’ll replenish the radish bed as we pick the radishes. We picked our first few radishes last week! The tomatoes are hidden under the cold frames, which are keeping them cozy until the ground gets warmer.

We still have a lot to plant, including padron and shishito peppers – 100% what I’m looking forward to the most. I think I’ll put them in the pasture where the garlic didn’t take. They don’t need protection from the deer – good luck to any deer who tries to munch on a hot pepper! They’d get a lot of sun in that spot, and last year our hot peppers did incredibly well. I hope there’s more of the same this year, but given that we need 70 degree ground and sun to make that happen, it may not work out.

We’ve also worked harder this year to protect from deer. We got annihilated by deer last year. Our tomatoes, lettuces, everything. So this year we added a lot of deer netting which worked great last summer to protect our kale. This year it’s in the kitchen garden and in our expanded pasture space as well – but for the potatoes, garlic and onions, which the deer avoid like the plague!  Clearly they have terrible taste, because all of these things are DELICIOUS.

This whole process has made me realize a few things. First, that I like small amounts of lots of different veggies, rather than huge amounts of any one thing. Second, it’s fun to grow stuff you can’t just find in the store easily. Third, I really want a greenhouse. It would be so nice to start, thin and transplant seedlings earlier, but right now we just don’t have a spot indoors that works well. This means we get a later start than I’d like. That said, the last thing our property needs is another outbuilding! It’s cluttered as-is.