Planting the Vegetable Garden

swiss chard-1

My Memorial week vegetable gardening planting marathon is over and I am very happy with the progress.  I was rained out from working in the garden Thursday afternoon and Sunday. I also took Wednesday off to go Antique Recipe hunting with Em but we came home without any new collections.  Other then that I was in the vegetable garden working or near it pretending to work all week.

All told I have 42 of 48 vegetable beds planted.  6 Beds left to plant.  3 of those beds are Broccoli and Cabbage which I have held off planting due to my still elusive garden nemesis.  I also still have 1 row each of Chard and Kale to plant and a final row that I am undecided what to do with (maybe more cabbage or broccoli).  Onto what I planted…


The potatoes are in their new home.  I planted three varieties in one garden row- “All Blue,” “Yukon Gold,” and “Gold Rush.”  Some people cut their seed potatoes and plant each piece that has a couple eyes in it but I have had better luck just planting each potato whole.  Since my garden space is small I do not need many seed potatoes.


I dig a deep trench and mix in some compost and toss each one in.


The trench gets filled back in and watered well.  As the plants grow up thru the soil I will mound more soil around them like a hill.   If you don’t do that the potatoes will grow to the surface and turn green making them inedible. Learned the hard way.


Four “Howden” pumpkin plants are in the ground with an old antique wooden ladder for a trellis.  The last two years I have grown “Sugar Pie” pumpkins which are smaller then the Howden variety so I am not sure this trellis will hold up the plants.  I am envisioning them growing to large to hang from the trellis like the small ones do.  We will see how it goes, maybe I could throw a hay bale in the middle of the ladder for the pumpkins to rest on.

crookneck squash-1

4 Crookneck Summer Squash plants are in one of my shaded rows.  I grow these every year even though they are not well liked by the maniacs.  Zucchini is much preferred but Crookneck has always preformed extremely well so I keep growing it.  This year I moved it down to a shaded row.  If I lose some production to shade the maniacs won’t mind.


6 “Little Fingers” Eggplants are crammed into one of my slope rows.  I switched varieties of eggplant this year.  The purple kind I grew last year didn’t grow well for me but it could have been mostly due to an inattentive gardener. I am hoping this smaller eggplant will produce better for our small garden.

ground cherries-1

3 Ground Cherries are planted next to the eggplants.  I grew these last year but did not utilize them well at harvest time.  I tried drying the little husk covered berries but that turned them awfully bitter.  This year I am just going to let them grow all year and collect as many as I can at once to make a ground cherry jam.  This will hopefully supplement our raspberry and strawberry jam making and cross jelly off our grocery list for good.


Tomatillos are split between 2 small slope rows.  Nowhere on my garden layouts were tomatillos but I saw them on my second trip to greenhouse and went completely off list to grab them.  3 “Toma Verde” Tomatillo plants are in the ground.  These plants grow into a huge mess of stems and leafs.  I gave them extra space because I won’t even try to contain the plants.


Cantalope was another last minute purchase.  I planted 6 “Superstar” cantalope plants between 2 of my sloped rows.  This is a new experience for me so I should probably expect my first cantalope about 2 years from now. After I have messed them up for a few years before getting it right.

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3 brussel sprout plants are in one of my tiny slope rows.  Last year I lost my brussel sprouts to the groundhog.  I am hoping for better results this year.


4 “Snow Queen” cauliflower plants are in my other tiny slope row.  I bought a 6 pack of these seedlings and one completely died.  I jammed 4 plants into this row and put the last one into a container.  This was another crop I lost to my nemesis last year.


My last remaining raised bed on the side of house gets a mix of herbs planted in it.  2 Winter thyme (my favorite herb), 2 oregano plants, and 3 Giant Flat Leaf parsley plants.


Basil gets its own container.  3 sweet basil plants in one container.


Peppers are next.  I planted 24 peppers in one row.  Last year I divided 36 plants between 2 rows and I thought I could use less spacing between them.  I cut back my peppers by 12 plants.  9 of those were hot peppers which no one but me will eat, so planting 18 last year was a bit of overkill on my part.  Just like most of my other seedlings I planted them thru landscape fabric mixing a good amount of compost into each hole.  I planted…

  1. 6 “Northstar” sweet peppers
  2. 6 “Ace” sweet peppers
  3. 3 “Sweet Banana” sweet peppers
  4. 3 “Chocolate” sweet peppers
  5. 3 “Flavorburst” sweet peppers
  6. 6 “Cayenne” hot peppers
  7. 3 “Jalapeno” hot peppers

Sweet peppers are something I have almost completely cut from grocery list.  I still have 5 two cup packages of frozen diced green peppers left from last years garden in my chest freezer.  I can only remember a couple times since last summer buying a pepper at the grocery store.  If I need a red one for a recipe or something like that.  Most of the green peppers that aren’t eaten fresh are diced and frozen.  Then throughout winter I can just dump them into scrambles, stir fries, or soups.

Almost all the hot peppers will get dried and turned into homemade red pepper or chili powder.  I use fresh Jalapenos to spice up my Tuna Salsa, to use as dip or in wraps.

Peppers are one crop that has always made me feel like a pro.  Since year 2 I have grown them with no trouble and minimal effort for the harvest I receive (knocking on wood now).


Another row of green zucchini planted in one of my more heavily shaded rows.  6 in this row brings my zucchini total to 20 plants so far this year and if you include the Crookneck, 24 total summer squash plants.  I need to start planning some more zucchini recipes.  You can only make so many Zucchini Cakes (although the maniacs would disagree).


I tackled seeding lettuce just before a rain and the bed got covered with those whirly maple tree seeds.  I will have to start picking those out.  I planted lettuce using seed tape which is something I have never done before.  I laid the strips in three rows in bed and covered loosely with soil and compost.  I am hoping seed tape brings me better luck.  This row is heavily shaded and I didn’t have much luck direct sowing last year. I planted Black Seeded Simpson lettuce this year.


Sweet swiss chard.  After cucumbers probably my favorite garden crop.  I planted 24 seedlings I purchased and direct sowed another 28 seeds behind them.  All are the multi-colored “Bright Lights” variety. There is actually more then 24 seedlings planted because some cells had 2 plants in them.  I didn’t bother to thin them and they will mainly be used for salad so I am not worried about it slowing down growth.  I snip some leaves off plants and let them keep growing.  Towards the end of the year I will let some grow big and mature.  Then I will blanch and freeze greens and stems separately to use in recipes over the winter.

I still have one row of Chard left to plant.  The 72 seedlings I started indoors are patiently waiting to be put in their new home.  I should have in the neighborhood of 130 Chard plants in the garden when it is all said and done.  I also have a container of Fordhook Chard growing.


Kale was something I under planted last year and I don’t plan to make that mistake again.  We use it just like Chard in salads almost daily.  We also use it for juicing and we freeze it to use over winter.  I planted 18 seedlings I purchased that didn’t list variety but they look very similar to the “Dwarf Blue Curled Vates” that I started from seed.  Behind those seedlings I planted another 58 of my seedlings to make 76 total plants in the row.

I have another row planned for Kale but I am down to about 15 seedlings left to put in so I might have to purchase more or plant half the row with something else.


If I had a garden crop that was my nemesis it would be corn.  This is my third year planting it and in my first two combined I realized 3 ears of edible corn.  This year I tried starting seeds in peat moss and only got 31 of 60 to germinate.  I even replanted some and got nothing.  I planted the 31 that started growing in my smallest but sunniest bed in the main row with a whole bag of compost mixed in.  I wasn’t willing to give them a full garden row until I figure out how to get them right.  I will spend more time this year directly watering them and keeping moisture even.  I need to learn to get this right because everyone in the house enjoys corn on the cob!

That wraps up my week of planting but I also have some updates on what was already put in the garden…

potato plants-1

The potatoes bags planted are doing amazing.  I have already refilled once with soil and unraveled bag.  I am excited to see some Russian Banana potatoes from this.

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The bean row is doing outstanding.  I never saw this last year.  After getting cocky from bountiful harvest the year before I proceeded to get no beans last year after replanting twice.  I look forward to turning that around this year.  The only thing that hasn’t done great is the pole beans.  Only 8 of 32 seeds sprouted but I was using 3+ year old seed so I am happy something is coming.


All three varieties of peas are coming along nicely.  I have garden, snap, and snow peas planted and they all are exceeding expectations.  I never saw them get this far last year but I had planted them late in containers.


Radishes and beets are sprouting in my root vegetable row.   I am concerned about my carrot planting as we got some pretty aggressive rain a few days afterwards.  I will monitor the row and replant in a week if I don’t see anything sprouting.


My Sun Gold, Roma, and Yellow Pear tomatoes are all flowering now and looking good.  1 Jet Star tomato plant seems to have taken a turn for the worse.  If it dies back I will pull and maybe get another seedling at the usual end of the season greenhouse sales.  47 of 48 tomatoes plants are looking good.


Plenty of mint now, ready to start harvesting.

chives-1Chives are starting to flower.  Sometimes I pick apart the purple flower and add it to the top of salads.  Beware it is a very strong onion-y garlic taste- Norah learned that the hard way.


Tatsoi, growing great and ready to start harvesting some baby leaves for salad.


My mesclun salad mix has taken off and is ready to start harvesting.  I had forgotten to plant Mizuna this year- usually a staple of our garden salads, but it looks like it is included in this mix.  I believe it the deeply serrated green leaves. So that is good news.


Awaiting my first spinach harvest soon from this container.


Foodhook Swiss Chard ready for a Norah Salad.


Petite Rouge lettuce is ready to start getting snipped for baby leaf.  The other half of this container was Amish Deer Tongue lettuce but that has not fared as well and I will probably replant whole thing with Petite Rouge.

blueberry bush-1

Finally my forgotten about blueberry bushes are starting to flower.  I will be excited to get anything from these.

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Above is the before picture of the garden from last weekend.  Here is what it looks like a week later…


I am quite happy with what we got done this week.  I think it will pay off 100 fold in no time at all.  This is version 3 of my vegetable garden layout as it stands today…

garden version 3

You can see version one here and version two here.

I still have some work to do in the coming weeks to finish the first round of vegetable garden chores.  I need to plant the last six rows, newspaper and hay the paths in the main garden row, replant and continue caring for the baby plants.

We hope you enjoy the progress and thanks for reading!





Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.