IMG_1162My daughter Marie and her daughters and I have teamed up to grow a vegetable garden this year at the Juniper Street Community Garden here in Flagstaff, AZ.  This community garden is located just west of the intersection of N San Francisco St and W Juniper Ave on land owned by Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. The garden has 12 raised  beds built of small diameter pine logs.  Each plot is 4 feet x 20 feet. The garden has 3 compost bins and a small shed for storing tools and hoses.  Rental fees are $35 per plot per year.  Marie is the new garden coordinator this year.IMG_1156

Before beginning to work with our plot I felt it would be useful to do a soil structure test. Refer to previous posts for the test method and results of the test from our garden plot. It was apparent that we needed to heavily amend this clay soil.  On April 30 we purchased 3 bags of Farmyard Blend, 3 bags of Harvest Supreme, and 1 bag of Roots compost from Viola’s Flower Garden.  I already had a bag of steer manure. On May 7 and 8 we turned the soil, worked in these organic materials, and raked it smooth.  The plot is now ready for planting.

IMG_1159May 11 – We went to Viola’s Flower Garden and purchased some additional  seeds to supplement my existing supply.  We also purchased some onion sets and garlic bulbs. From the nursery we went back to the garden and did the first planting, even though it was quite cold and snowing periodically. Very exciting!!  We planted two rows of “California Soft-neck” garlic and two rows of “Stuttgarter Reisen” onion sets.  We top-dressed the planted rows with a shallow layer of “Roots” compost, applied Great Big Plants liquid compost, and watered them thoroughly.  We called it a day, as it was getting colder and wetter out.

May 14 – The weather is much nicer today.  Time to plant some seeds.  We put in a row of “French Breakfast” radishes, a row of “Bloomsdale Long-Standing” spinach, and rows of “Bright Lights” Swiss chard, “Black-seeded Simpson”, “Simpson Elite”, and some red lettuce, “Detroit Dark Red” beets,  “Gourmet Mix” beets, “Red-cored Chatenay” carrots and “Gourmet Mix” carrots, and some “Sugar Snap” peas. We planted the peas in circles around some tomato cages for future support rather than putting them in rows. I placed burlap over all the rows for protection and to keep them wet so the seeds will germinate faster.

IMG_1212May 15 – More planting  to be done – today we planted two “All-red” potato plants and two “Arcadia” broccoli plants.  I placed Agribon brand floating row cover material over these plants to provide some protection from cold nights and browsing deer. A lot of mule deer roam this neighborhood, usually in groups of a dozen or more.

May 15 – Today I also planted my tomato plants at the house in the usual self-watering containers on the south-facing second floor balcony where they always thrive.  This year’s varieties are 2 “Stupice” plants, 2 “Kellogg’s Breakfast” plants, a “Japanese Black Trifele”, and a “Lemon Boy”.  Each has a Wall-O-Water around it to keep it snug at night and out of the wind by day.

Contributed by Jim Mast