Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons in the Garden

I am learning so much this summer out in my garden. I have always wanted raised beds and our journey towards home growing started in earnest this year. After we set up the beds it took me some time to figure out a plan. I have always been a lackadaisical gardener at best, planting a few squash and tomato plants and hoping for a few successes.

This year we took a more structured approach, placing some permanent beds in a place I felt would be fortuitous and there they sat as I collected seeds and dreamed about what to plant. It took awhile for me to decide then what to do, but now in July, I am slowing figuring out what works and what does not. And that it might be good to read up a bit more and pay attention to some of the plethora of gardening forums and podcasts out there. So far, I feel the success outweighs the failings and there has actually been some edible results so far.

Want to know what I have learned?

:: That sometimes it is okay to let things go to flower or seed on the off chance that I can gather those seeds and use them again.
GaRden Progress July 09

Our artichoke exhausted itself in one season, giving about 20 artichokes, all of a medium to smallish size, but all equally delicious. And we might be able to grow another. Maybe. I have heard that is hard to do, but I like to dream big.
GaRden Progress July 09

:: Reading the seed packets is a good idea. If the packet says bush beans they will not grow up your scaffolding. They will grow as bushes. So then you will have to move the beans to make room for actual climbers.
GaRden Progress July 09

And that if you hand your little boy a seed and he loves the dirt as much as you, he will plant his own. And make it grow. Even if it is in the row that is designated for the chard.
GaRden Progress July 09

:: Gophers make me mad. Really really mad. Especially when they eat the roots of a heirloom tomato and then disintegrate my tomatillo plant. Gopher, you gonna' die. Or least go away.
GaRden Progress July 09

:: Seeing your plants make food is magic. Lemon yellow round cucumbers, Japanese cucumber, slowing ripening tomatoes hanging on their vines. Lesson from this is when you pick it is is best to just eat it. Right then in a salad.
GaRden Progress July 09
GaRden Progress July 09
GaRden Progress July 09

:: Follow seed packet instructions for thinning. Otherwise your beets stay baby size. But still pretty delish.
GaRden Progress July 09

:: Plant lots of lettuce. Every day I come out in the morning to harvest....every morning next there is more to take.
GaRden Progress July 09

These seem to stand not being thinned much. And taste very yummy lightly braised or tossed into a sandwich or just eaten so that I can say I got my greens for the day.

Gardening is both harder and simpler than I thought. It rewards me in small measure and large. The boys experiment more for the caring of the food. They know about seeds and what happens when you place one in the ground. They know about growing of the plants, the need for water and for weeding (sure, they choose the wrong thing to weed, but I planted a lot). They taste more, though they still spit what they do not like.

As for me, I know the time it takes to grow food and marvel at the tables and stacks of produce at the grocery. I think twice before buying. And I realize anything grown at home tastes three times better than that organic bit you picked up at the market. It really does.

So, it is not too late. Go get some seeds, a small space and good soil and plant. Make your own food. The benefits far outweigh the costs...and make up for the damn gophers eating your roots.

Some crafting/knitting up next. Here is a sneak peek at a project that I reduxed to make a School Boy Vest in anticipation of September.


Sereknitty said...

I, too, am enjoying having a veggie garden this year. It is so gratifying to discover beans, ready to be picked, which I'm certain weren't there yesterday! Or moving a leaf and finding a beautiful ripe strawberry. It is quite fulfilling to know that I can grown healthy food for my family.

Lola and Ava said...

I feel the same way about groundhogs that you feel about gophers. Stupid little pests! I think lettuce is something that you can plant multiple times a season so that it keeps giving so to speak.

Anonymous said...

That's a really gorgeous garden. I've got some herbs growing on the back porch, but it's been so rainy and miserable here they're kind of stunted. Smells nice out there, though.

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

I am really grooving on your blog lately. So glad that I made the commitment to visit friend's blogs at least semi-regularly again, because it is so inspiring. Although I have not done nearly as much in my pot garden as you have in raised beds, I have another tip: Dr. Earth products - fertilizer for veggies and pest control (not sure of the exact names). I completely revived several of my herbs by making them a regular fertilizer "tea" and the pest control stuff keeps my basil from utter devastation. All of it is natural and not bad for the environment.