Learning the Fine Art of Gardening (Again)

| 8/25/2010 4:46:37 PM

A photo of Oz GirlThe subtitle for this post should be: What We WON'T Do in Next Year's Garden.

We decided our first-year garden would be small.  Small space still equals big work.  My husband and I have both gardened in our past lives, but it's been so long ago ... we realized our little garden would be a re-learning experience. The ultimate goal is to enlarge our garden each season so that eventually it will be a garden befitting the 27 acres it sits upon.  Who knows, maybe there are farm markets and CSAs in our future!

I digress with my hopes and dreams, so back to our small garden and our first year results.

Our plot measured only 15 by 16 feet.  We planted corn, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, and several varieties of tomatoes and peppers.  A few renegade marigold plants rounded out the small plot.  We were looking forward to a summertime of grilling and eating our own sweet corn on the cob ... canning every conceivable pickle flavor a person could think of ... fresh green bean salad and extra beans for preserving ... spicy radishes in our salads ... and tomatoes and peppers for our own fresh-from-the-garden spaghetti sauce and salsa.

Our small garden in June

Some of our dreams came true, while others did not.

Oz Girl
8/27/2010 10:08:59 AM

Hi Dave! I agree with you on the sweet pickles ... I'm not a big fan of them either. I'm a dill pickle fanatic. I grew some dill this year, but I let the black swallowtail caterpillars have at it. Next year, I won't be so wildlife friendly, lol -- had a hard time finding fresh dill when I went to make my dill pickles. Sounds like your cukes went crazy like ours did. And I'm getting plenty of tomatoes, the plants look fine, it's just down by the ground the stems/roots look odd. We watered almost every day during the heat too, so I'm really not sure what it might be! I guess not to worry as long as the plants are doing good, huh? Thanks for coming by, and have a great weekend! :-)

Nebraska Dave
8/27/2010 8:47:54 AM

Oz Girl, Here in Nebraska it seemed that everything that grew on a vine or a tree produced prolifically. My cucumbers grew huge numbers of cukes and it was difficult to give them away fast enough. I tried to make some Bread and Butter pickles with the Mrs. Bushes pickle mix from the big box store and they turned out OK but I must not be a fan of sweet pickles. Dills rule in my pickle life. Next year I certainly want to grow some dill weed in my garden. It would be for the pickles and just for the smell. Mom plants dill all the time and now it reminds me of life in the garden when I was a young kid. The fruit trees here are bearing so much fruit that the branches have to be supported or they will break. My neighbor’s pear tree had three pears last year but this year it’s loaded with pears. There has to be hundreds of them. My tomatoes were once again great this year when others were struggling with problems. I think the secret to raising good tomatoes is consistency with the watering. I have mine set up on automatic timers mostly because of my travels during the gardening year. Each tomato gets about a gallon of water at the root zone every day during the hot part of the summer. The tomatoes are nice blemish free and juicy when cut open. The race between the tomatoes and the cucumbers to reach the top of the support structure was won by the tomatoes. Have a great garden harvest day.

Oz Girl
8/27/2010 7:49:39 AM

Hi Cindy, thanks for reading my gardening post, and a big thanks for your suggestion re: our tomato plants. I checked out the link and you could be right... in the beginning, I kept the garden watered. Then, when the mosquitoes were eating me alive, my husband took over watering duties. We tried to water every morning, but missed some mornings. When the heat started climbing into the 100s, we tried to be more diligent about watering... maybe we DID water too much! The one thing different about our tomato plants and the info at the link - our plants aren't withering and dying! On the contrary, they've grown into rather large bushes. Looking back and re-assessing, I guess watering every day doesn't really compensate for 100-degree heat. It is what it is, and the garden can only do the best it can in severe heat. Maybe we can install large fans next year. Haha! At this point, I'm really looking forward to cleaning up the garden and planting a fall harvest. The temps are finally mild and pleasant, 70s and 80s. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the fall garden does a little better! :-)

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