Spring in the Vegetable Garden

I absolutely LOVE my vegetable garden.  To be honest, vegetable gardening is a rather new undertaking for me.  As a horticulturist, I have instructed people in how to grow vegetables.  In college, I had to grow them in the school gardens for one of my horticulture classes and I have planted them for service groups.

But, I never really had my own vegetable garden until a couple of years ago.  I only wish that I hadn’t waited so long to grow my own, because it is so fun and rewarding.

Living in the Southwest, I am fortunate that I can grow vegetables all year long.  There is always something going on in my vegetable garden.  Of course, some months are busier then others.  May is one of those months.

Below is a photo collage of my spring vegetable garden along with some helpful hints:

Garlic, ready to be harvested.

Garlic has a long growing season (I planted it back in September).  I used two heads of garlic, from my local grocery store, and separated out the individual cloves and planted them.  You can tell when it is ready to be harvested when the leaves start to turn brown and fall over.

My son worked hard to pull out each garlic.

Garlic isn’t ready to use once you harvest it – it must be put in a dark, cool place for 4 – 6 weeks so it can ‘cure’.  I use a dark corner of my laundry room for this.

Harvesting green onions.

Now it was time to harvest the green onions that we planted back in September.

In our warmer climate, we are able to grow lettuce and spinach throughout the entire winter.  I enjoyed going out in to the garden and snipping off lettuce and spinach leaves for salad whenever I needed it.

'Bolted' Spinach

Sadly, it is now time for my spinach to be pulled out.  Both lettuce and spinach plants begin to ‘bolt’ which means that the leaves become smaller and the stems thicker and they grow upwards.  This happens just before they are ready to produce flowers, which will then produce seed.  ‘Bolting’ occurs in response to the length of days.  As the days become longer, it triggers the spinach plants to begin ‘bolt’.

*Now I have to resign myself to having to buy my leafy greens at the supermarket.

Other current events occurring in my garden include:

Ripening cherry tomatoes.

My tomatoes are planted next to Alyssum, which is a beneficial plant to have in the vegetable garden as it attracts beneficial insects.

Ripening ears of corn.

Each of my stalks of corn have two ears of ripening corn.  We can grow two separate crops of corn in my zone 9a garden – one in the spring and another in the fall.

To help pollinate your corn, just give a little shake to each corn stalk once you can see the silky husks appear.  You can tell if they have been pollinated when the silks turn a darker color on top.

8 ft. tall Sunflowers tower over my vegetable garden.

Okay, I realize that Sunflowers aren’t vegetables, but I do like planting them in my vegetable garden.  I will remove the flowers and set them out, once they have dried, in order to provide food for birds.  Sunflowers are so easy to grow from seed and birds just love them!

 

So, how about you?  Do you have a vegetable garden?  You can grow vegetables almost anywhere.  It is so much fun and rewarding and the best part is when you harvest what you have grown…

Newly harvested garlic and green onions

Now, I just have to make some salsa with my new green onions.  Once my garlic have cured for 4 – 6 weeks, I will be ready to use them in my spaghetti sauce :-)

Birds & Blooms has some great information about growing vegetables that you can access here.  Soon, you can be enjoying the fun of growing AND eating your own vegetables!

  1. says

    Thanks for the tips! I have only grown tomatoes and herbs. Last year I added Anaheim peppers to the mix and this year we are expanding to Jalepanos too. We love garlic and would love to grow some but we live in Colorado. Any tips for growing garlic in colder weather?

  2. Wilma Avery says

    Love your garden and gardening tips. We live in the Texas Hill Country and have a lot of rocks and deer so I am trying to container garden on my deck. We have stairs and gates so the deer haven’t made it up on the deck. I have green onions, tomatoes, green bell peppers, basil and oregano this year. For the first tiime I have planted cucumber and pole bean seeds and they are starting to come up. I am frequently feeling with weak solutions of miracle grow. I have high hopes for getting some wonderful veggies. Any suggestions?

    • Noelle says

      Hello Wilma,

      It sounds like you are off to a great start. I would recommend that you be sure to start off with a fertile soil – I use 2 parts compost mixed with 1 part composted steer manure. I find both in bags at my local big box store. You can add some bone and blood meal as well. With fertile soil, you shouldn’t have to rely too much on Miracle Gro.

      I would love to hear about your harvest when your vegetables are ripe :-)

      Noelle

  3. Jane Umstead says

    My veggie garden is just getting growing (Central VA Zone 7). I’m thrilled to have 4 tiny tomatoes!!

    • Noelle says

      Hi Jane,

      I think the first tomatoes of the season are the best, don’t you?

      I hope you have many more coming :-)

      Noelle

  4. Barbara says

    Hi, Your a lucky gal … with the rain and we just broke a record rain fall here in Buffalo, NY for Spring – nothing is planted yet… but being in zone 5 we’re still ok, usually planting by Memorial Day. I started gardening in 1995, the year I lost my Dad. It just was cathartic. I swear I could hear his voice helping me :) .. I’ve been companion gardening for the last 3 years. The flowers in the garden are wonderful besides helping with insects good & bothersome!
    So even so of the weather, I had some kale come up, parseley, 3 grn onions – so I made dinner last night making a wonderful salad w/parseley – lemon oil & a squirt of lemon & roasted corn kernels from last year’s harvest at the Farmer’s Market.
    So hoping to put my hands into the soil… started 3 raised beds .. building is still in the process … wish you all luck .. Barbara :)

    • Noelle says

      Hi Barbara,

      I am so glad that you will be able to plant soon. I grew up gardening with my dad and now that he is gone, I always feel closer to him when I am out in my garden.

      Isn’t companion gardening great? It also makes my vegetable garden look prettier :-)

      Let me know how your vegetable garden grows later this summer.

      Noelle

  5. Joani says

    Great looking garden. I live in North Phoenix and my garden has been doing splendidly. Tomatoes are ripening and I’m having to beat the birds and the squirrels to them. The birds R beating me to the strawberries too. They leave alone the squash and the cucumbers. It’s been beautiful the last couple of days but the HOT summer is coming.
    Have a great day
    http://mysouthwestramblings.blogspot.com/

    • Noelle says

      Hi Joani,

      I do love gardening here in the Phoenix area, but not so much in July and August when it is humid and hot. Have you tried using bird netting to keep the birds away? You can prop it up on wooden stakes.

      At least they are leaving your squash and cucumbers alone :-)

      I am off to read your blog now. Have a great day!

      Noelle

  6. Pat Knowles says

    Noelle,
    I live in Lake Havasu City, AZ am having a hard time trying to grow tomatoes & peppers in pots. I have them in the sun all day is that wrong? My tomatoes are mal formed and not very big but do taste like a real tomato. My peppers get moldy on the very end of the pepper, what does that mean? I really love to garden but am having a heck of a time doing so.
    Just to verify the fact that bird netting does help trememdously I had birds eating the greens as soon as they started coming up so put up bird netting and that took care of that!!!

    Thanks for any help you can give me.

    Pat

  7. Stacy says

    Thank you for the tip about planting alyssum in the garden to attract “good” bugs. My mom and I always plants marigolds in her garden to keep some pests away, but we’ve never planted anything to draw in beneficial insects. It will be fun to utilize this new “companion planting” idea.

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