Tuesday, November 3, 2015

 If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. –Cicero

This past spring Clay built us five more raised garden beds, and - really for the first time - I actually threw myself into the gardening spirit... planning, shoveling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt & fertilizer, mulching paths, planting, and yes, even on occasion, weeding. Thankfully we had a wonderfully wet & cool year, so I only had to worry about watering a few times. 

With eight 4x8 garden beds (plus 2 4x4 beds for the kids), we planted: perpetual swiss chard & bright lights swiss chard, violet stringless pole beans, olympia spinach, nelson carrots & merida (overwintering) carrots, buttercrunch & crisp mint lettuce, sugar baby watermelons, marketmore cucumbers, kandy korn & quickie corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers & onions (didn't write down varieties...). As well as some leftover zucchini seeds that we had from past years.


The kids chose to plant Indian Corn in their gardens, which is now providing some nice fall decor for our home.

Margaret & William also planted some marigolds in the front of their garden which thrived all summer long. I plan on expanding our marigold patch next year, it's so cheerful.

Carrots and peppers were my pride & joy this year. 

Potatoes, lettuce, chard and watermelons also did well. Onions, corn and green beans did decently well. Tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini didn't do so hot. The tomatoes didn't seem to like our weather, and we had some troubles with squash beetles. I also just didn't do a good job staying on top of harvesting or caring for the green beans and tomatoes. Apparently I do better with root crops that I can just ignore until I need them : ) 

We didn't store up very much for the winter (besides in peppers), but our diet during the summer was heavily supplemented with produce from our garden. It is always nice to have a 100% Cross D Ranch dinner with steak from our cows and fresh fruit & veggies from our gardens. As I learn more (and have more time.....does that ever happen??) I hope to increase our winter food supply too!

A good garden may have some weeds. –Thomas Fuller

I LOVE our raised beds. They do take a lot more work up front, but their close proximity to the backdoor, ease of weeding (and no need for tilling), layout and attractiveness makes it all appealing to me. If we continue being pleased with the layout we will probably replace the wood frames with cement blocks. Even with us sealing the bottoms to prevent rotting, we don't expect the wood to last that long. Cement blocks aren't quite as beautiful, but they should last forever! We also need to experiment more with our climbing trellises. Or try the three sisters approach next year.


Our asparagus & strawberries also did well this year. Except that the poor strawberries suffered from a surprising lack of weeding during the last part of the summer.....but we won't dwell on that. (The moral of the story? If I can get something out of a garden -- anyone can!)

Even with a new found appreciation for vegetable gardening, my main gardening weakness is the flower gardens. They are a lot less practical than vegetables, but way easier for me to get excited about. Especially perennials that I can just plant and let grow. My native garden has filled all the way in and almost always has something blooming. Survival of the fittest has worked out pretty well there so far.

 Earth laughs in flowers. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two beauties: My Harriet enjoying the Aromatic Asters

As a side note, the figs that Clay planted right next to the raised garden beds are AMAZING. I absolutely love fresh figs, and never knew I did until last year. Everyone should have fig trees. And grapevines. You know....."For every man 'neath his vine & fig tree".... It's very biblical.

And not to leave out our little orchard -- we got our first apple pie filled entirely with homegrown apples for the first time! Grow, little trees, grow.

This week I am working on covering up the gardens with black plastic to kill off weeds. (Except for on our bed of overwintering carrots.) Goodnight garden.


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