First, I have to admit that another reason to go so big with bales is to practice what I preach, so to speak. Storey asked me to write a small book on Bale gardening - part of their Basics series - and I did (and it will be available in December of this year). I tried it for the first time last summer, really enjoyed it (really limiting myself to tomatoes, peppers and eggplant) - but it worked and I was sold. So I thought "let's really test this out" when planning my 2015 garden.
Last week I planted all of the bales except potatoes (perhaps tomorrow for that task). It seems appropriate to take a one week look and see what's happening!
First, the weather this week was warmer than ideal for some plantings, perfect for others. That fact will be reflected below. I also have to remind myself that it's only been a week!
Lettuce, arugula, basil - Jury is out on this; all transplants were from pots of 6-9 plants, so there was some root disturbance - a week of cool, cloudy weather would have been better for these bales. But as you can see, the lettuce is doing mostly quite well, arugula not so well, and basil is adjusting. My learning is that it would have been better to get some bales going a few months earlier and plant this one at least a month earlier - at least the greens. Basil likes it warmer, of course.
Chard - so far, so good - in fact, Sue has already robbed some tender young leaves for her salads. I think this is going to work out well, and I can see this bale cranking well into the season, if not until frost.
Collards and Red Russian kale - We like tender young greens, hence planting some collards now. If I can keep them going, they should grow well into the cool fall weather. Looking good, though.
Peas (for shoots) - my idea is to seed this bale repeatedly, and cut off the pea shoots when they get 6-8 inches in length for stir-fry dishes...and then immediately plant some more. After a week, they are poking through!
Bush Beans - I can't wait! Four different types, one on each of four bales, were planted, and I am seeing a few peeking through. I expect these to really do well, and hope that last year's annoying rabbit won't jump up and chew down the plants (do rabbits jump up onto bales? We shall see!). And, yes, I really, really look forward to pulling up that chair and picking the beans!
Carrots - We have lift off! The first tiny seedlings are poking through - one bale is planted with a rainbow mix (white, yellow, orange, red), the other with purple carrots. I will have to watch these closely to ensure they don't dry out with the heat in the forecast. My hope is for long, straight roots unencumbered by clay and rocks!
Leeks - I am just not sure how these are adjusting, but a few are looking perky - others are looking a bit more limp. I do hope they do well...we love leeks! I drove 8 inch holes into the bale, inserted the leek seedling and filled in with growing mix. Any part beneath the mix will blanch white.
Radishes - We have liftoff here as well - I planted them too thickly, so some thinning is on tap soon - but these will be a quick in and out crop - followed by - more beans? potatoes? who knows!
Beets - Two bales are planted with beet seedlings, and one looks better than the other. The hot sun has been rough on them, but I am hopeful that in another week my worries will have eased. I also planted a half whiskey barrel with lots of my extras, so we should be deep in beets - we love the greens just as much as the beets.
Squash - I've planted 5 types, and a few are poking through. I wonder how out of control these will get - squash plants can really spread, but they are toward the back of the garden, so it may be fine. There is no such thing as too much summer squash in our house!
Cukes - It's the variety Diva for us. Sue picked them and we both crave the sweet flavor and crisp texture. I've got three hills in a bale and eagerly await the appearance of the germinated seedlings. These are going to wander around the back of the garden, and I will give them all the room they want!
Pictures below - top row - overall garden, both lettuce bales
row two - chard, kale/collards, peas
row three - first bean seedling, beets, first carrot seedling
row four - leeks, radishes, summer squash
row five - squash up close
So at week 1: a bit of concern about the heat sensitive veggies, but otherwise all systems go!
Tomorrow will be the first Driveway Dwarf tomato update - because it will be the end of week 1!