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First Homestead Garden Update of May 2023
I’m writing this homestead garden update post on May 6th, 2023. The sky is covered completely with gray storm clouds. It’s been raining off and on all week. The ducks love this weather- of course. But most everything else on the homestead seems to have settled back into the rhythms of a cooler season.
Last week (the very end of April) the temperature soared to 80*F. We responded by transplanting most of our seedlings and direct sowing several beds’ worth of seeds. We were concerned that the quick transition from cold to hot weather would spell disaster for our brassicas. And then the rains came. It hasn’t been above 42*F in a week- with plenty of cool temperatures for the “forecastable” future.
Enough about the weather. Or, at least less about the weather.
Current State of the Homestead Garden
Our main garden (the 12 raised beds) is about 75% planted right now. Of course, some of the current plants will get replaced with fast growing vegetables later in the summer after our first harvest.
This past weekend we transplanted 2 beds’ worth of brassicas. It’s about 50% kohlrabi, with the rest of the plants being brussel sprouts, cabbage, or broccoli. These are seedlings that we started back in early February. They were grown in some of these little plastic pots, after getting transplanted from 72 cell trays like these. I used seeds from Everwilde and Etsy.
We also transplanted half a bed of onion seedlings. (They were also started in February in the same way as the brassicas) They’re a Ruby Red Onion that is supposed to be great for storage. (These seeds)
The other half of the onion bed was sown in alternating rows of peas and beans. I like to tuck in as many peas and beans as space allows throughout the garden. They grow quickly, taste delicious, and add nitrogen back into the soil- giving a boost to the beds and helping whatever will be grown there next. I sowed Oregon Sugar Pod Peas (these from Everwilde Farms) and Black Valentine Green Bush Beans (also from Everwilde) in this bed.
The next bed over from the onions/peas/beans was direct sown in carrots over the weekend. My carrot planting method is to lightly agitate the soil surface all over the bed, then sprinkle handfuls of seeds directly over the entire surface. After the seeds have all germinated and are 1 – 2” tall I’ll thin the bed the first time. I planted Scarlet Nantes seeds, from Everwilde of course.
Next in line is a bed full of beets. (If you haven’t tried growing beets- you should. They are so underappreciated) I direct sow beet seeds the same way that I do with the carrots. A little stirring of the soil surface, then cast the seeds generously. Most of the beets are a Detroit Dark Red (these) but one corner of the bed is a packet of sugar beet seeds that I ordered from True Leaf Market (here). Beets take longer than carrots to germinate generally, and so far I only have 5 or so little shoots appearing. Once they’ve all germinated and are more established I’ll thin the bed and probably use the pulled seedlings in a salad.
The next 2 beds I planted are an experiment in early direct sowing. Most years I start squash (zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, and spaghetti squash) indoors in small pots. Given the warm spell last week, Matt suggested sowing seeds directly- in addition to starting them indoors at the usual time- just to see how things would go.
One bed is 100 % zucchini- about a dozen pairs of seeds evenly spaced throughout the bed. They’re the “Black Beauty” variety that you can find anywhere, I ordered a 1lb bag from Everwilde (here).
The next experimental squash bed is a little bit of everything. 6 zucchini spots, 6 summer squash spots, and 3 spaghetti squash spots. The summer squash are a basic yellow crookneck variety (these) and the spaghetti squash are these.
In one final round of experimentation, I also sowed 6 sets of cucumber seeds directly into a bed that I’d half planted in radishes a few days earlier. The cucumbers are this Wisconsin SMR58 pickling variety. The radishes are Champion globes (from Everwilde) and French Breakfast (from Heirlooms Evermore).
The garlic I sowed in October has (somehow) survived our record breaking snowfall and wild weather. In the last 2 weeks it has all transformed from nearly dead to absolutely thriving. I just sowed individual cloves from bulbs bought in bulk at WinCo.
(The garlic remind me that it would be worth addressing “homestead myths” in another post. I’ve seen someone on Instagram (who sells a “homesteading 101 course” nonetheless) claim that garlic bulbs from the store are sprayed to prevent growing/sprouting in storage & CANNOT be used in your garden. I’d just like to very succinctly say, “clearly not,” and maybe suggest leaving space for curiosity or experimentation.)
Our last bed worth mentioning is the “asparagus bed”. In quotes because the asparagus is pretty weak and only takes up a third (or so) of the bed. The rest of the bed has been sown- a row of sunflowers and a little patch of romaine lettuce. The asparagus is in its third growing season, and we have somewhat high expectations. So far a few spears are starting to make an appearance, but I have hopes for an asparagus jungle to just appear one morning.
Thanks for sticking around so long and reading the current “state of the garden”.
I’m hoping to post an update (or at least write an update) every week this summer so that I can track the garden trends throughout the season and compare year over year.
In writing everything down I’m hoping to also demonstrate just how wildly the climate and conditions can vary from state to state, or even within a singular state. The wide variety can make finding relevant-to-you advice a serious challenge, but it also gives so much space for learning, experimentation, and fun. Finally, I want to wish you all good luck in your own gardening ventures this year!
Thanks for reading and happy homesteading!