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Learning Laboratory: Gardening

our young raised bed garden

This spring, I decided to attempt a raised bed garden. I bought a Lifetime Raised Garden Kit (incredibly easy to put together, and half the Amazon price at Costco at the time, although mysteriously no longer for sale there), and planted some seeds. Mostly peas, because I am and always have been addicted to garden fresh sweet peas. It’s a trait my children have inherited – even Johnny, who typically refuses to eat anything that isn’t white, tan, or dyed a disturbingly bright color.

Here is my young garden, complete with a visiting frog (testament to just HOW much water we got this spring).

a frog visiting our garden

And here is our garden now – thriving and possibly even overgrown. I didn’t bother labeling my plants, somehow imagining that I would remember where I planted everything. Of course, I forgot as soon as I planted the seeds. So that gigantic plant sending vines out into the lawn is either butternut squash, zucchini, or watermelon, but I have no idea which one. I spent the first nearly-seven years of my life living on my Grandpa’s farm, but left with no knowledge. Not surprising, given that my method of “helping” was to build dams in his irrigation ditches – and looking adorable in exchange for thoroughly unmerited tips at our pick-up-based farm stand. Much to the frustration of my more ethical siblings who were too busy doing work to get tips. And older. Cuteness fades as you age – sad, but true.

our flourishing (overgrown?) raised bed garden

This blossom is from the watermelon/butternut squash/zucchini plant growing in our other planter. Many of the leaves on this plant are over 12 inches in diameter! If you know what either one of these is, I’d love to hear it!

blossom - squash, I think?

Gorgeous, delicious sweet peas! We have enough to pick quite a few every day. We eat them while Mike is at work; he’ll have to sneak out there sometime to taste some of them.

sweet peas

We have HUGE strawberry plants from last year, but something eats them like mad. Chipmunk? Squirrel? Wild turkey? Emma caught a wild turkey eating our sweet peas, and she went after that wild turkey in a most admirable fashion! We haven’t seen them near the garden since =)

Whatever eats the strawberries is probably smaller, because it has never been caught, and this is the closest we’ve been to seeing strawberries this year.

strawberry blossoms

And this is the closest we get to having blueberries. So cruel. They are pretty, at least.

blueberry blossoms

Are you gardening this year? I’d especially love links to garden posts this week! Links back are appreciated, but not required.

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MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

18 thoughts on “Learning Laboratory: Gardening”

  1. Cute garden! Peas are my favorite too. Someone has eaten my plants before they have gotten above 6 inches this year. I was so dissaponted and have replanted only to have them eaten again. The mice love strawberries and sneak them at night, so do the birds. As for the blueberries… have you seen any green fruit? My birds do not take them until they are blue. It may be a pollination issue. How many varieties do you have planted? Our area specialists reccomends at least 2 for cross pollination, preferably 3.

  2. We did plant a garden this year. I’m finally getting my kids to help a little with fertilizing and using the hoe to scrap and kill the weeds. I can get about three to five minutes of help at a time, but at least it’s a start.
    I love peas too. We didn’t plant any this year. We went with green beans since they continue to produce for longer. We like to eat these raw, so does our dog. He carefully picks them off the plant with his teeth.
    Your garden is nice. I like the close up pictures!

  3. We have three raised beds, and I also have had some problems identifying what’s what! I had a huge tray of seedlings and a little chart to help me keep track, and then one of the cats knocked it over. So what I was sure was a pumpkin plant is looking more and more like zuchinni right now!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! The one plant is looking more and more like butternut squash, and peas at least are easy to identify!

      I have learned that I planted the carrots too close to the butternut squash – those vine are prickly, and you have to dig through them to get to the carrots!

  4. I feel for you in your fight to get to eat your produce. I remember when my son was little we planted some snow peas which grew beautifully… and attracted the most beautiful King Parrots (we are in Australia)… which we suddenly realised were stripping every single pea out of the pods! Yield = zero! But the birds were so lovely it was almost worth it.

  5. Your garden looks awesome! Our small garden is a bit pathetic because someone (I suppose snails) keep eating herbs. Tomatoes, however, are doing quite well, and I am looking forward to the first tomato harvest ever.

    1. My one tomato plant is not doing so well, I’m afraid. No snails so far, although a chipmunk burrowed in and started eating our probably-squash plant. I was not happy!

  6. Your garden looks great! I do not have a green thumb. I decided to start slowly this year. I thought strawberries were a safe bet. All the rain has been hard on them but they are surviving. We have ours on our deck which helps with keeping the critters away. Can’t wait to see what your mysterious vine turns into!

    1. Thank you! I’ve been really happy with the raised garden bed method.

      A deck would be very useful in keeping critters away. We’re just a concrete slab foundation house from the early 60s, so no elevation to keep critters away…

      I’m pretty sure the vine is butternut squash – we had what looked like a small squash growing, and then a chipmunk burrowed in and ate it. So frustrating!

  7. Elisa | blissfulE

    What a fun post! I’m so excited your plants are thriving, and I can almost taste those sweet fresh peas. Would chicken wire or some tall net enclosure help block unauthorised access to your produce?

    1. Probably. So far I’ve been too lazy but it might be worth preventing the frustration!

  8. I don’t do a garden, because there are so many critters in my backyard. I’d go insane trying to keep them away. Dave does have a little planter on the patio table for basil though. Sometimes it grows, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Your garden looks great.

    1. Thanks! The critters get to our garden a lot. Something burrowed into even our raised garden beds yesterday, a chipmunk I think. I was not happy!

  9. Awesome! I only have enough space for a small herb garden but at least it’s something! I’m guessing that’s squash. It will be fun to see for sure!

  10. I can’t tell you for sure what the vine is but I can tell you I know it isn’t watermelon. So I guess it’s one of the squash varieties. :-) The peas look great and so do the other plants.

    1. The raised garden bed really helps with the weeds. My previous gardens have always been taken over.

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