June’s Garden and Soil Testing

We are still learning a lot and this year our lessons have been plentiful.  Being so eager to get the homestead rolling, we got our seeds out and when it was time, we rushed out to put them in the ground.  Then we waited…..and waited…. and waited.  Lesson one:  Test your soil and amend it before planting.

Half way into June, I realized our plants were not as tall as I would expect them to be.  So, our next trip into town I picked up a soil test kit. We found out our soil was extremely alkaline and very low in nitrogen.  Our second 50’ X 50’ area (we have 4 areas that are 50’ X 50’) we planted a three sisters garden in rows.  A three sisters garden is corn, squash, and beans.  The reasoning behind this is that the corn is a heavy feeder, so it needs the beans to add nitrogen to the soil.  The beans use the corn to trellis up, and the squash leaves mulch to them both. There were plenty of beans and once we ran out of corn seed, we planted the remainder of that area in bush beans.  Bean are very helpful in fixing nitrogen, so this section of the garden will have much better nutrients for next planting season.

The third and fourth areas I had noticed were mostly sand and in hot days, it became extremely hot (no barefoot toes in that section of the garden).  I feared most of the seeds probably burned to death and would not be making an appearance.  Since most of our seeds were saved from many years past, their lack of germination could also be caused by that as well.

We don’t expect to put much up this year from the garden, but we have learned a lot about growing in this area.

When we built our garden, we built one 50’ x 50’ area at a time.  We did this for two reasons.  The first reason was that we thought that would be large enough.  Then we went on a plant based diet and our main focus is on plant foods rather than meat, so we felt we needed more garden area for that.  Our second reason was that the entire garden needed to be fenced to keep out the rabbits and jackrabbits that were overpopulating the area and the fencing was too expensive to purchase all at once (where is a coupon when you need it?).


The first area consisted of planted yellow, red, and white onions, garlic, strawberries, carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, beets, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnip, peas, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, Swiss chard, cabbage, eggplant, potatoes, and sunflowers.  We made rows about 45 feet long.  Of those that were planted, we lost almost all of it.  Most didn’t even sprout.  The broccoli and cauliflower were store bought since we didn’t realize the time to start the seeds indoors had passed.  The onions are doing well.


The tomatoes are short but starting to grow and produce little green tomatoes.   We have an heirloom yellow pear, and the rest are an heirloom beefsteak variety.


The potatoes seem to be growing well.  They have a few tiny buds on them now.   I am getting so curious about what is going on under the ground.


We harvested a few peas, but the vines never reached full size.  At this time, we are letting the rest of them dry out for seeds for next year.


The carrots never came up, even after the second planting.  We did plant some red radishes on the end of the row.  They are long like a carrot and were interesting to grow.  They didn’t get large but I did get a few that I ate fresh and they were yummy.  The remainder of the plants are now going to seed to save for next year.


I also popped a few zucchini plants in the ground that are growing great, but didn’t get a picture (I’ll get one next time for you, I promise.).  Most of the rest of the plants didn’t make it.  Every pepper plant seems to have died off, but we have done a lot of research and next year, I think we got this.


The second bed is the three sisters garden bed.  We planted beans, corn, and squash together in various combinations.  We started out soaking half the corn seeds to help germination.  Then the really hot weather set in and we weren’t able to get them planted for 4 days.  By this time, some had started to sprout tails.  I thought they would grow wonderfully, but with the weather being so hot, they were mostly killed off.  The second half of the seeds, we started soaking as we were tilling the ground so they soaked a few hours and they did a lot better.  The rows were planted as follows:  4 rows of sweet corn, green stripped cashew squash, and speckled lima beans.  2 rows corn, spaghetti squash, and scarlet runner beans (these bean seeds were very old and I think only a few sprouted).  2 rows corn, butternut squash, and Alaska peas.  2 rows corn, cashew squash, and Wando peas.


At this point we were out of corn so we planted beans in the rest of the garden: 1 row tendergreen, 1 row provider, ½ row dragontongue, ½ row thai green star (this is a yard long bush bean), ½ row thai green star, ½ row black beans, 1 row black beans, 3 rows pension beans.

After our rows of beans, we added a section for a few amaranth plants and some yellow zucchini.


In the path between beds 1 and 2, we planted cantaloupe and watermelon, and on the other end of the rows we planted a pickling cucumber.


BEDS 3 & 4

The remaining two beds had a lot of issues with water not reaching it, being almost all sand, and the heat just burning it all.  We had planted a lot but not much came up.

In bed 3 we planted Charleson Gray Watermelon, Black Diamond Watermelon, Sugarbaby watermelon (none have sprouted yet), and cantaloupe.  With the exception of a few Swiss chard, the rest of the bed never sprouted.

In bed 4 we planted a lot that died before sprouting, but what did sprout was three Dills Atlantic Giant Pumpkins,


7 Alli Baba Watermelon that my husband planted in holes full of good soil, peat moss, and manure,


and 3 sweet potato slips.  Getting the slips was a nightmare.  Our lesson:  Our postal service can not handle slips properly.  After two orders, only three survived.

This week, we will be attempting another go at growing carrots.  We have some cow manure, potting soil, and peat moss that we will be adding to the soil.  Stay tuned on an update on that.




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One Response to “June’s Garden and Soil Testing”

  1. James Rego says:

    Time to move the Pine straw over to the garden for the winter!

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