One nice thing about trying to take pictures of the garden on a somewhat regular basis is that I can actually see that things are growing! It is always so surprising when it happens. I have been busy planting more things in the last week, as well as keeping up with things I planted earlier.
The potatoes have really put on some growth in the last few weeks, so I hilled them again. When you put a seed potato in the ground, it grows up (duh), and the new baby potatoes grow from the stem. But they only grow underground. So if you want to get as many potatoes as possible, you start out by planting the seed potato in a shallow trench. Then, as it grows, you heap dirt up around the stem, so you end up with a "hill" around the potato plant, and a trench on either side. As you can see in the photo below, some of the potato varieties have gotten pretty big (on the right), while some are pretty small still (on the left).
The beans are growing steadily--I think I spotted some flowers tonight, which means beans will be on their way soon! I have been snacking a bit on the sugar snap peas while I work...maybe I should start picking those for you guys instead??
So far, I have been planting everything in my original garden space, plus the hoop house and the potato patch, but this week I expanded into my new "field" beds. I have been working on these for months. I started by moving the remnants of the giant piles of woodchips gleaned from our neighbors when they chopped down a few acres of their woodland. Then I tilled up the area with my two-wheel tractor ("The Beast"). Then I painstakingly shaped them into six ~100-foot long, 30-inch wide raised beds. Painstakingly because I am still pretty bad at maneuvering The Beast, and it took quite a few tries to get them mostly into shape with, and then some hand shoveling. I then added a few inches of compost (good thing I love shoveling!), and wood chips in between (did I mention I love shoveling??). Then I did one more pass with The Beast (well, really,several passes--did I mention I'm not very good with this thing yet?) and covered the whole shebang with a very large tarp. The idea behind the tarp is that the weed seeds will germinate in the warm, moist conditions, and then die out due to lack of sunlight. That may have worked with the seeds, but I have this milkweed problem. New milkweed plants can propagate from a small piece of root. And there was a *lot* of milkweed in those woodchip piles. So, I have a lot of milkweed in my beds, and the tarp has not fazed them at all--they are just pale and straggly. I spent some more time with my trusty shovel, digging up milkweeds, before shaping the beds again. So far I have just done this with 2 of the beds, because I desperately needed to plant them out. I got those two beds prepped, and then planted out another radish-turnip-beet set, as well as the fourth(!) painstaking carrot planting, and the third bean planting. On the other bed, I put out another set of sweet potato slips (I thought my first set had all died when I ordered these, but the first set has rallied, so double the sweet potatoes!), and the summer squash that has been languishing in my seed trays for a while. I feel pretty good to have tackled that task...now I just have to finish the other 4 beds to plant. Why was it this seemed like a good idea???