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Kenneth A. Larson has a quarter century of experience in design and construction of scenery for the Entertainment Industry and Theme Parks using Computer Aided and Traditional approaches to Design. Also experience in other areas of Design.
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Vegetable Garden

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2008 - 2013 .

Introduction

When I say I planted a garden, think of Green Acres. The Walla Walla onions were the size of green onions and the green onions were the size of toothpicks. The carrots were as big around as a pencil. Potatoes ranging in size from marble to golf ball. The pumpkin was the size of a tennis ball. The squash did well and we got a lot of lettuce. Only the yellow cheery tomatoes did well, but then only from 2 of the dozen seeds I planted. Still it wasn't a bad start for the first year. Maybe with more compost and fertilizer and more water, next year might be better.

The 2007 garden

Getting the new house ready and moving was a pain and I spent the first year moving, unpacking, and finishing a number of pieces of furniture and book shelves. There wasn't much time for the outside. I just dug some holes a few feet apart and dropped in some seeds. There were no sprinklers and a gopher started digging nearby. I got a little out of the garden, but not much.

The 2008 garden

The second year was spent mostly on the front yard. I guessed where the edge of the Water Garden would go and started a small vegetable garden just outside the future wall (The following year I realized half of the garden was inside the Water Garden wall so that half was abandoned). We got a few vegetables. I planted corn which didn't produce anything but the onion sets did well. I planted a row of Catnip for my cats, but only one seed sprouted and never grew very large. This second planting was the large rectangle to the right in the illustration of the 2009 garden below.

The 2009 garden

The third year I mostly worked on the side hill. I cleared along the back fence which allowed me to extend the vegetable garden a few feet further to the back. I had established where the train/turtle wall surrounding the Water Garden would go, and had to run it through the garden. Fortunately almost everything in the path was ready to harvest. The only plant sacrificed was a 1 inch tall Catnip which should have been a few feet tall by now, so it was a small loss. I got a good crop of potatoes, the first and last time for several years. One perfect, but small, pumpkin developed and we got lots of squash, one zucchini, beans, shallots, and cucumbers and carrots. It would be a few years before I got another large carrot or any cucumbers. I planted artichoke seeds not realizing how big they would get or that they were perennials. Later I moved most of them to the back section in a 3 by 3 grid. Looking back, this was the first garden that I put effort into and it did better than some of the following years in which I put in even more effort as the garden slowly expanded.

Drawing of the 2009 Garden. In 2009 I started keeping track of what, where, and when I planted. The large rectangle on the right side was the second planting, the right 2/3 of which would be abandoned to the Water Garden. the two smaller rectangles were added in 2009.

Potato harvest, June 25, 2009.

Potato harvest, August 8, 2009. For a size comparison, those are 4 inch tiles.

As always, agriculture gives way to progress. I finally finished the design of the Water Garden and the train/turtle wall cut through the middle of the vegetable garden. The only loss was a Catnip that wasn't developing anyway.

July 12, 2009.

This turned into a perfect pumpkin - about he size of a baseball.

The only yellow squash.

Our only zucchini.
The garden took a lot of work and there were some rewards, but the harvest was small.

I replanted several times throughout the year.

The 2010 garden

The only accessories to the back yard were some half-size farm fences at the front of the garden and a 9-foot decorative windmill. It was a busy year but I found time to plant and tend the garden. The garden was falling into the Spring routine and I was starting to figure out what did and didn't grow in the shadow of the giant Ash tree. The garden was approaching the boundaries of the area in the drawings. Beans did well, melons and squash didn't. We got some carrots, but smaller than the year before. I planted a variety of tomato and pepper seeds, but only got a few cherry tomatoes and baby bell peppers. I moved the artichokes plants to the back section, to the left of the windmill, where they could be happy and not bothered by the annual planting. I also planted tomatoes and peppers in the same section just in front, but never got much from them. Every year I plant a tomato seed under the windmills so that it can act as a cage, but it's never produced a plant.


Double carrot...

...and very small carrots.


The 2011 garden

In 2011, I installed sprinklers and fencing. I cleared some of the firewood at one side and more weeds. The schedule got away from me and I only planted half the area, but that half did well. (2011) Year five I added sprinklers to the enlarged vegetable garden but the supply line wasn't installed until a year later. In July, just as I started a new job with lots of overtime, I installed sprinkler valves and a little more pipe, but still no supply line.


Artichokes are not quick. This is my first good artichoke, over two years after plating the seed.

A month after I took this photo, the pumpkin was in the compost, consumed by mold.

Strange carrot.

My first cabage.
Spaghetti squash.

The 2012 garden

By January 23, 2012 (year six), In spring I resumed work on the sprinklers, added the concrete structure that would someday house the pond filter equipment and added the utilities to the equipment. Once I finally had a supply line,I finished the sprinklers and in early October began adding ornamental plants.

The plan for 2012.


The 2013 garden

I began 2013 (year seven) by continuing with planting and then spent a little more time on the pond area, slowly getting the surrounding and support areas ready for the actual pond. 2013, was the first year that the sprinklers were functional at the beginning of the growing season. I started preparing for the garden in December 2012 - note, in this climate, "Spring" starts in October and by June, it's getting too hot and dry. The artichokes did well and also the beans. We had so much lettuce we almost got tired of salads. It was nice to pick a fresh carrot or onion any time the recipe called for it. I got some wonderful corn in cobs about 1 1/2 inches long, a few cherry tomatoes, one small bell pepper. The asparagus grew, but nothing eatable and most of the rhubarb died. There were potato plants that came up on their own, but when I finally dug them up, there were just small seed potatoes.

After several years unable to grow some vegetables in the official garden in the shade of the ash tree, the big news is that I gave up planting melons and squash in the official garden and planted them in the tropical ornamental garden which only got sprinklers in early summer last year when it was too hot to plant. They did much better. We got lots of squash, pumpkins, and zucchini and a few small watermelons. I also got herbs both in pots on the new patio and scattered around. As of this writing in early August, I'm waiting for the pumpkins and melons to be ready. Since this is the first time, I'm not sure when to pick them.


Garden plan for 2013. Later in the season, I began planting vegetables in the opposite corner of the yard, outside this drawings.

Parts of the garden don't do too well, other parts do. 2013.

After more than a dozen fresh artichokes, I let the rest flower since I had heard what interesting flowers they become.
Artichoke.


When planting pumpkins, allow lots of space. This one plant spread to cover an area of almost a thousand square feet throughout the ornamental tropical garden with countless vines and a dozen pumpkins.

Several of the vines I planted in the vegetable garden didn't do well with the shade from the ash tree, so I planted pumpkins, mellons, and squashes among the ornamental plants Before long, one single pumpkin plant took over a large section of the Tropical Garden.



A collection of apples, onions, peppers, and squash from the garden, June 26.
Double squash. I snipped the stem on one of the two squash and it wouldn't come. Then I realized why.

I know there are lots of jokes about zucchini, but this is only my third zucchini, and only the second this season.

Last year I got one small artichoke, this year I got so many I let the last few flower. These are the spent flowers hopefully full of seeds to plant more.
These may be our first watermelons.

Baby watermelon.


Pumpkin.

One pumpkin plant took over half the Tropical Garden.
Dried out artichoke flowers.

Dried out artichoke flowers.

Yellow Squash.
Pumpkins almost ready to harvest.

Pumpkins.
Watermelons. Right image shows three small watermelons.

The 2014 garden

I was busy with work from September to March and the garden suffered. I started planting lettuce in December and every few weeks added more, but most didn't develop and we didn't harvest much. The peas and beans did well and I periodically sprinkled onion seeds around the edge. In April I planted a variety of melons and squashes among the sunnier tropical garden and west end of the still developing water garden circle. I got a few artichokes and planted some more peas and beans.

Artichokes.
Artichoke flower.
Artichoke flower.



Carrot.

Our first avocado.

Coyote got this one.

Coyote got these too.
Our only pumpkin and it was rotten.

Part of my harvest.


Honeyloupe

Watermellon.

The 2015 garden

I planted some lettuce, beans, and peas during the Christmas break and continued planting seeds until April when I finished my job. I transplanted tomatoes and peppers in the sunny tropical garden and then seeded throughout the southwestern side of the yard with mellons, squashes, carrot, leek, chives, dill, and I don't remember all. In April and May I also planted corn.


Peas.

Beans.

Lettice.

Various tomatoes and peppers in starter trays.

Garden in late February.

Carrots in late February.

Corn.


Artichokes.
My first banana bunch developing in April, 2015.
My first banana bunch developing in April, 2015.

The second stock is just forming.

The first banana stock behind and to the left. The second stock is just forming at top right.

This is the first banana stock in late May 2015.

This is the second banana stock in June 2015.

My only apple for the 2015 season.

A perfectly good, but short, carrot.
A wind storm in late October brought down the second banana stock.
I set the bunch of bananas on the counter hoping they would ripen. Once we had eaten, cooked with, or dried all the bananas, I counted the empty stems, 106 bananas were in the bunch.
By the end of November, the 2015 garden was about over except for three mangoes and about two dozen Zutano avocados. The drought had resulted in none of the winter vegetables broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage) getting to be more than a sprout. There was a ring of carrots growing around the one-year-old Hass avocado tree to share water. A few onions and leaks were scattered about. I got a few cherry tomatoes, one pumpkin, two cantaloupes, and a lot of beans and peas. None of the corn got big enough to bother with and I got few artichokes. One apple, no figs, but many loquats. There is one orange forming, we will see if it ripens.

The 2016 garden

Here in Los Angeles, the growing season starts in late fall, so I started planting vegetable seeds for 2016 in early December 2015. I planted 5 types of lettuce, peas, four types of beans, onions, leeks, carrots, and Cilantro. The mango tree still has two mangos and there are about 30 avocados in the Zutano Avocado which had only one fruit last year. I planted additional pea, beans, and lettuce seeds in January. I picked the last avocado in late February.
I got so wrapped up trying to finish the pond before the end of the rainy season, I didnít do too much more with the garden until the pond was finished. Since I put almost one hundred native California plants into the ground around the pond and they would need extra water the first year or two, and because they wouldn't get large for a few years, I planted tomatoes, peppers, melons, squashes, and similar vine plants between the native ornamentals. I also moved the strawberry plants out of the pond area to the tropical garden where they would get more water once the California natives were established and I stop watering them regularly.

It's too hot to grow much during the summer and I was busy with my job. In the last few days of 2016, I started preparing the garden, but it was too late to do the entire garden. I dug down 12 inches and filled the hole with leaves and dirt with a little planter mix.

The 2017 garden

The year began with a thorough tilling of two sections, adding lots of leaves that would decompose. I do this to part of the garden every year and never dig up leaves the following year and the soil keeps getting darker, so I guess it works. The garden model railroad was looking more like it was going to happen and a section of the track was going to cut through the garden, so I reset some of the stepping stones that separate the sections to parallel the future track. I planted pole beans in one section and peas in another. With a railroad track now better plotted, I planted carrots and cilantro near, but not under, the proposed track. I also scattered onion seeds around the perimeter of the garden and dill seeds in areas of the tropical garden. A month earlier I had planted starter pots of tomatoes and peppers. We had gotten a lot of rain and digging in mud isn't efficient, so this was preventing me from doing more. Running out of time with four sections unplanted, in March and April I gave up tilling and just planted 12 rows of various vine-type plants, melons, squashes, pumpkin, cucumbers, etc. I continued planing a few feet of carrots and cilantro every month.

By mid-July, I had one small pumpkin maybe developing and had harvested a few cucumbers and yellow squash and had harvested 6 or 8 zucchini and was developing recipes for my cooking web site, www.kookingwithken.com. There are three spaghetti squash, but too small to be worth cooking. We harvested beans and pea, but what usually happens, when they are ready, I'm too busy to pick them so they often go to waste. So far there is only one small artichoke. On the other side, the tree has two mangoes that might ripen and the avocado tree is full of fruit, but a few fall every week and they won't be ready until November of December, so will probably loose a lot more by then. The other two avocado trees, different varieties, are still struggling to grow and I may never get fruit there. I've gotten a small amount of cilantro and dill and a few carrots. Overall, it is typical and I'm not getting much for my effort. I blame poor soil and too much shade but every year, as I till, the soil does get darker so maybe some day.

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This page last updated: Sunday, 16-Jul-2017 18:42:26 PDT

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