Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I haven't been posting very many recipes simply because I've been making the same old same old in my kitchen lately.  Why?  Because I've been working on my garden most every spare minute.  We still eat, yes, but we eat our old standby's that don't require a recipe like hamburgers on the grill, sandwiches, if we're lucky - homemade pizza, spaghetti, stuff like that.

Here and there I've made some desserts like Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake or the Cinnamon Crumb Cake I posted the other day.

I love garden vegetables.  I love the thrill I get when I can actually grow something!  I don't use any chemicals in my garden, usually with and without success, but I keep trying.  I have a few terrific resources.  These people and books are teaching me volumes. 

A favorite book that I read every spring (because I'm weird like that) is The $64 Tomato.  It's a great read about a man who worked for years on his dream garden, and then decided to put numbers to the hobby to discover that his prized, heirloom, Brandywine tomatoes each totaled about $64.  I love his humor and some of the wisdom he includes in the book.

One of my favorite, favorite, best gardening, cooking, everything blogs right now is Hickery Holler Farm blog.  This blogger actually lives a few hours from my home so I love that I can follow along with what she's growing and cooking since we are in the same season.  She starts most all of her own seeds, saves seeds from heirloom plants, sews, crochets, and cooks wonderful "home" food that I just can't get enough of.  I commented the other day on her blog that I would love for her to see my little garden, no matter that it is miniscule compared to hers.  This post is devoted to her. 

Here's how I garden - 2013 AT HOME MY WAY:

We have nothing ready to pick yet, but it's getting there.  Winter lasted forever around here and we even had snows late into April.  It was like that commercial that says "Will this winter EVER END?"  I got stuff planted late, but it's coming along nicely! 


It's not a very big garden, but I have mostly a shady yard except for a huge, blinking blue (kidding) swimming pool that is my husband's other love  ..besides me.. LOL.

I didn't start my own seeds (but intend to give it another try next year with instructions provided by the Hickery Holler Farm blog).  I did, however, get my plants from a local greenhouse rather than getting plants at a big box store.  My plants are healthier, bigger, deeper green this year.  Healthier plants to begin with have to be one of the reasons.  My girls gave me a $50 giftcard for Mother's Day to that greenhouse and I used it wisely for all of my tomato plants, a few flowers, and a beautiful iron thingy for my flowers.

You can see in this picture that on the closest cattle panel, there is a squash plant growing there.  I'm trying a new squash, Thromboncino Squash, which is touted in another favorite gardening book (The Vegetable Gardener's Bible) as being resistant to the squash vine borer which has completely decimated my squash in the past (leaving me without a single squash two years in a row!)

Here are some more pictures:



My beloved, Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening magazines (and message boards), which I pore over nightly for inspiration advocate lots of raised beds and permanent beds. One such article explained you don't always have to have raised beds to benefit from permanent beds, keeping the soil soft and manageable.  I had already planted my garden but was able to lay boards down to "rope off" these beds until I can more permanently install the boards.  I mulched my plants with some compost I recently discovered (a motherload of compost where my husband has been dumping grass and leaf clippings for over 10 years) WOW!  I mulched the walkways with grass clippings which I keep adding to and which keeps down any weeds growing on top of the grassclippings (persistent little boogers!).


I have squash planted EVERYWHERE, even in the flower bed behind the blinking blue swimming pool in the hopes that this is the year I will get to cook my own yellow summer squash (our favorite summer vegetable)!

So far, sadly, the squash babies are falling off before they grow.  Online resources tell me that they aren't pollinated and are the fruit from the female flowers so they fall off without pollination.  I'm not sure why that is happening since behind the garden we have one of two bee hives that we keep on our one-acre lot (remember when we caught that swarm here?).  Here they are:



I really squeeze in as much as I can grow since I have a small gardening space.  This year I ran a row of green beans down my tomatoes, which I have continued to squeeze seeds into about every three weeks hopefully for a longer harvest.  They also provide a tiny bit of shade from the hot south sun that sets on that side of the garden, which usually bakes my tomatoes by August.  Here are the beans growing:


I really grow things wherever I can.  I put cucumbers along a cattle panel hooped over in the middle of the garden and I also have some growing along the arch thing that my mother-in-law got me for flowers years ago from one of those LTD catalogs:




I even have a volunteer squash growing in the compost pile.  Probably some weird hybrid, but I'm letting it grow to see what it will become.




Wish me luck!


Gina

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