April 10, 2011

Preparing the Vegtable Bed

Today is the official last frost date for Raleigh! Ive been waiting for months, but its finally time to put in the warm weather vegetables. But first, some work had to be done...


Having our raised vegetable bed on a moderate slope, summer irrigation waters slowly wash down the organic matter, leaving the top layer of the soil with mostly sand. To remedy this, and add nutrients to the bed, each spring we prepare the vegetable bed by turning composted cow manure into the top 6-10 inches of soil. We also apply earthworm castings and TomatoTone to the top of the soil after planting.

However, this was not the first step in preparing the vegetable bed: it was harvest and clean up! The first thing to go were the Brussels Sprouts. Planted late in the fall, these guys shot up after overwintering, and although sprouts were beginning to form along the stem, the warm weather caused them to flower and the sprouts stopped developing when only the size of peas. We left them in for a few weeks to enjoy the flowers, but they ultimately ended up in the compost pile. The spinach and parsley fared better, although what looked like a bountiful harvest of spinach turned out to be infested with aphids. The parsley was really the standout, and the 10 plants I started from seed last spring yielded a huge bag of parsley. The individual plants were very impressive, the largest measuring over 1-inch in diameter at the base (pic below left). I was able to get 13 bunches of parsley out of this. Figuring out what to do with it has been the hardest part, and everyone Ive asked either has parsley or does not use it. Luckily an area garden center patricipates in Plant a Row for the Hungry, a great program that delivers fresh produce to those in need, and they will take my parsley! The 'Quinault' strawberries were left in place (below right), and are now covered in little white flowers, a promising sign of a big May harvest.

 I already put a few herbs and veggies in, but have plans for more. Ive learned over the last few seasons what I do and do not use from the garden, and have put together a good list of edibles for this year.... although I'm sure I will be forever adding to it!

Herbs in the garden:
  • Sweet Basil
  • Genovese Basil
  • Flat-leaf Parsley
  • Boquet Dill
  • German Thyme
  • Chives 
  • Kentucky Colonel Mint
  • Arp Rosemary

Veggies in the garden:
  • 'Mountain Fresh' Tomatoes
  • 'Green Zebra' Tomatoes
  • 'Black Krim' Tomatoes
  • 'Smarty' Grape Tomato
  • 'Brandywine' Tomato
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Mixed Bell Peppers
  • 'Black Beauty' Zucchini
  • Straight-neck Summer Squash
  • 'Homemade Pickles' Cucumbers
  • 'Kitchen King' Garden Beans

"Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself."  ~Henry David Thoreau


  1. The last frost date is always a day of celebration! Smart of you to make a list of what you use from the garden. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) having a good harvest this year, too. Gardeners are optimistic people!

  2. Lisa, I trust that you have had the delight of eating Pesto. Though most people think of basil when pesto is mentioned, I saw a recipe for five herb pesto, with one of the main ingredients being parsley. So hold back some of that parsley, make some parsley pesto, and tell us how it is. I would expect it to be delicious!!

  3. So excited for you! Our Frost Free date is May 15. We have a bit of a wait still. So I can enjoy your progress. Your veggie choices make my mouth water.

  4. Like Carolyn's, our f/f date is in mid-May. This is the time of year that I get a little discouraged by our short growing season, so it's a lot of fun to be able to peer into the garden of someone so far ahead of us!

  5. I wanted to invite you to the Reading Project meme hosted by The Sage Butterfly. Here's a link for more info: http://thesagebutterfly.blogspot.com/2011/04/earth-day-reading-project-blog-meme.html
    Please just let me know yes or no so I can link to your blog on my post. I want to publish my list by the end of this weekend. I look forward to reading your recommendations.

  6. Yippee! :) I am trying Homemade Pickles this year too...

  7. It was a pleasure checking the various headings and articles in your website related to herbs, veggies and botanical gardening and It looks like we have almost the same ideas and advise in helping new beginners in starting their gardens and planting their interested products using the up to date technics in increasing productivity. Finally, I look forward in receiving from you new articles in various garden sectors and if possible in exchanging new ideas with you on a continues basis.



Thanks for taking a walk in our garden.
Your comments are always appreciated.