Review:  My 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.  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.  

Here is an update on our garden:

IMG_1331June 4 – Today we thinned the radishes and beets and weeded the garden.

June 5 – The lettuce was still looking pretty sparse—not germinating well for some reason—so I planted some more.  I purchased a package of “Valentine” lettuce seed from Viola’s and interspersed these seeds amongst the existing plants. “Valentine” is a blend of 7 red lettuce varieties:  “Marvel of Four Seasons,” “Lolla Rossa,” “Redina,” “Red Oak Leaf,” “Red Salad Bowl,” “Rouge d’ Hiver,” and “Ruben’s Red.”

IMG_1342June 8 – The  beans, zucchini, and pumpkins have popped up!!  We decided to add a couple pepper plants to the garden today.  In went a “Big Bertha” green bell pepper plant and a “Red Bell” plant.  The girls really wanted to plant some flowers to add some color to the garden, so back to Viola’s we went and got some petunias, marigolds, and million bells. Marie and I cleaned up some pots we weren’t using and strategically placed them in the garden, sinking them about half way into the ground. The girls had a good time filling the pots with potting soil and planting the flowers in them using their own design.  There were some marigolds left over, so they planted them on the south end of the bed by the garlic.  WOW!  Looks gorgeous!

IMG_1352June 11 – At last the lettuce is coming up nicely.  Today we thinned back the zucchini and pumpkins to three plants per hill and thinned the radishes some more yet.  I cultivated between all the rows and around the plants to loosen up the soil somewhat.  This also helps aerate the plants and discourage weed growth.  I liberally applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire garden again, as I will do every other week throughout the growing season.  Back at the house the tomatoes have now grow out of the top of the Walls-O-Water. The weather service  has predicted daily low temperatures in the 40’s for the next 7 days, so I feel comfortable removing the Walls-O-Water now. Off they came, and I attached a cage extension to each tomato cage.  We’ll see how long it takes the plants to grow taller than the extended cages—a couple weeks or so maybe?? It finally feels like summer.

June 12 – Today we decided to redesign our Agribon row cover system a bit, as it is a lot of trouble to remove and replace the rocks that hold it down every time we want to work. Marie and I hauled 6 long logs from the community garden log pile and positioned them on the sides of the bed.  This has made it much easier and faster to uncover and cover the garden.  Today we mulched the garden with a layer of the Harvest Blend compost to help hold moisture in the soil as the temperatures are getting warmer. And guess what—Marie was awakened at 3 o’clock this morning by her barking dog, and when she looked outside, there were 8 deer browsing around the community garden. We are so thankful that we  have been covering our plot with the Agribon, or our veggies would have already been a good meal for the deer.

IMG_1353June 19 – Today we had the first harvest of the season—we picked some beautiful radishes—just 35 days after planting!!  Spinach will be ready to cut in just a few more days.  We decided we needed yet some more plants so put in French sorrel, rue, and borage plants.  The borage has lovely blue flowers which attract bees when it blooms so should help with pollination of the squash plants. One of the potato plants looks like it may have a rust or some other kind of blight. I will give it a few more days and remove it if it doesn’t show any improvement. Otherwise, the garden looks great!

June 25 – Today we applied Great Big Plants liquid compost to the entire as well as some general purpose fertilizer (15-9-12.)  We harvested the first Swiss chard today as well as  more spinach and radishes.

June 26 – It is time to do some thinning. We thinned the carrots and beets today.  If you don’t thin the root crops, the roots will not have enough space to expand and grow to normal size.  Don’t discard the thinnings, though.  These  tiny plants are edible and great in salads. We also added a sweet basil plant to the community garden plot as well as 6  basil plants to the tomato containers at the house—2 in each container.  Tomatoes and  basil are great companion plants—they like to grow next to each other and thrive when together.

IMG_1355June 29 – Today we harvested the first lettuce.  Broccoli is almost ready to cut—just a few more days.  This is a good time to add more fertilizer or compost, so we side-dressed the entire garden with the remaining Farmyard Blend manure. The monsoon is approaching.  Predictions are for an on-time arrival of rain on July 4! We will be so thankful when the rains come.

June 30 – A light rain shower this afternoon!

July 2 – Another light shower today.  The plants love it.  Garden looks great.

July 3  – On another note, today I fertilized the Clarkdale orchard and all of the trees and shrubs at the house with Darn Good Fertilizer and watered it in with Great Big Plants liquid compost.

IMG_1367July 6 – Today we harvested the first broccoli—4  big beautiful heads. The peas are now blooming.  The garden has had nearly 2 inches of rain since July 3! All is looking green and lush.

July 9 – Another rainy day. The rain started early today – about 10:30 a.m.  It rained steadily for a couple hours.  Today I harvested all of the remaining spinach and radishes and thinned the carrots.  I replanted the  harvested area with a row of “French Breakfast” radishes and a row of of lettuce – both “Black-seeded Simpson” and “Valentine Mix.”

Contributed by Jim Mast