Mixing It Up in the Garden & Orchard

Gardening is all about maximizing the pluses and minimizing the minuses. If it works go with it; if if doesn’t work, change things up.

With my cute little harvest basket filled to overflowing with broccoli and lettuce, you’d think my garden is going great. I do love my basket; a Christmas gift from MeeMee and Papa, but we’re having our share of troubles.

Harvest Basket

Cucumbers have done well the past few years, so I started some seeds (the china buffet turned seed starter with the lights on a 16-hour timer worked great once again) and transplanted them out into the garden.

Cucumber and Squash Starts


The cucumbers were seeds from last year and sprouted within days. The other seeds were a squash and a pumpkin from 2007; they took a few weeks but eventually sprouted.

When I went to the seed starting seminar last year (check out New Tricks), the speaker said that cucurbits don’t like their roots disturbed and to set them out as soon as they had two true leaves. That meant the cucumbers were ready for planting last week, while the squash needed a few more days.

I was excited to see how my cucumbers were doing when I headed down to the garden with my squash earlier this week. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and the slugs have been out in full force. We’re blaming them for this.

Cucumber Twig 2

I had planted one of the cucumber seedlings on the meadow side of the fence (don’t you think vines crawling down the slope would look lovely?) and the other behind the safety of the fence. So after I saw this devastation, I went inside the garden proper with a glimmer of hope and found the exact same thing.

Before I planted out my squash and pumpkin (which I’m also envisioning trailing down the slope), I figured they needed some protection. A flimsy pot from the nursery with the bottom cut out might just do the trick. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Protected Squash

My bean seeds have met the same fate, so I’ve added empty water bottles with the bottom cut off to give them a little protection. I’m hoping that when they get to a certain size, they’ll be able to manage on their own. I think pole beans climbing the chain link fence around the tennis court would look so romantic, if we can ever pull it off.

One plant that seems to have withstood the scourge of critters is our asparagus. Nothing is eating its feathery foliage, so I ordered some more plants–umm roots.

asparagus starts

This is crazy looking stuff, but I’m excited to be adding some more perennials to the garden. In a few years, we’ll be in springtime vegie bliss.

Wandering over to the orchard, we were hoping for the beginnings of a harvest with more of the fruit trees. Well, the plumcot would be about ready for picking if it had any fruit. It’s self-pollinating, so I’m hoping it’s still just young.

The plum trees are slated for harvest in July and early-August, but neither have many fruit. While the nursery we bought them from said that Shiro and Beauty cross-pollinate and that Shiro is partially self-fertile, another site said they weren’t good pollinizers for each other. We decided not to fight it, and bought a Weeping Santa Rosa plum from Raintree Nursery–a good pollinizer for both of our other varieties.

In the catalog, this tree looked gorgeous. The reality was a lot more underwhelming. We’ve placed our hopes in this spindly stick? Apparently, the branches on a weeping plum will break off during shipping, so a stick is the best bet for a healthy tree.

Santa Rosa Weeping Plum

It’s all a bit of a gamble; we’ll just have to wait and see.

All is not a loss this year. The currants are ripening as I speak. The deer don’t like them, and these ruby gems are growing abundantly. I need to pull out my recipes.

Currants Close Up


This is also going to be a banner year for the apples. They won’t be ready until late-September or early-October, but I’m enjoying that feeling of success.



I’m hoping the rest of the orchard takes its cue from the apples, and catches up with them next year.

What’s growing in your garden? Making any changes?


3 thoughts on “Mixing It Up in the Garden & Orchard

  1. Pingback: Taking a Look Back at June | big white house on the hill

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