I haven’t written anything about my garden project in a while. This is part of my push for self-sufficiency and reducing my carbon footprint. Why drive to the store and buy food that has traveled in a truck or train when you can grow it in the back yard? Now, if I could only give up chocolate. Unfortunately you can’t grow that anywhere in my neighborhood.
After weeks of rain, we now have the opposite — long, hot days. I have to water every evening, carrying my two water cans back and forth to the standpipe to fill them, and then repeat. I finally got a hose to attach to my existing one to reach the garden, and a spray attachment. I promised to keep you informed about what was working and what was not. Mostly, it has been successful, but there have been some challenges and some failures.
Peas, the first crop to reach my table. I planted the seeds directly into the soil. Two weeks later they came up, and fueled by the days of rain grew quickly. Then they started to flower and starting last week I had peas on my plate. I read in a gardening book that you should eat peas within two hours of picking them.
I don’t know about you, but fresh peas are one of my all time favorite foods. Another plus, they take up very little space as they go vertical.
Zucchini, or the plant that ate the garden. I planted my zucchini plants the same day as everything else. One day I went out and zappo, my zucchini plants had grown
fourfold and were so big and had spread so much that I had to dig up some of my broccoli and move them to another bed because the zucchini leaves had completely covered them. The first ones are ready to pick, to be followed by a few dozen more. Lesson learned: you get a LOT of zucchini from three little plants.
Tomatoes: another success. I planted five different varieties, including the heirloom Brandywine, which I hear is delicious. They are all doing well. The Brandywine is already at the top of its tomato cage and will soon need an extension added. I’m thinking another few weeks until the first tomatoes are ready to eat. Then it’s going to be tomato salad, tomato sauce, you name it. I can eat tomatoes every day at every meal.
Cucumbers, green beans, and peppers: all flowering with some veggies growing, but not ready for harvesting any time soon. Cucumbers apparently don’t like the cold. I planted them the same day as the zucchini, but they didn’t make it through a series of cold evenings in late April. I planted a second batch and now that it’s hot, they are a lot happier. Below, the green beans are going crazy climbing up their bean tower. I expect to have my first harvest in another two weeks or so, as they are all starting to flower. Early starters amongst the peppers are the Cubanelles; Italian frying peppers and Jalapeños have started flowering.
Not so good or downright failures
Lettuce: Knowing that lettuce doesn’t like that hot sun coming down hour after hour and day after day, I planted my lettuce in a window box shaped planter and kept it in the shade. It did OK for a while, and then all died. Conclusion: I will not be planting lettuce next year. Too sensitive to sun and rain. I’ll leave this one to the professionals.
Eggplant: I planted two varieties of eggplant, another one of my all-time favorites. Both are thriving, with lots of new growth and have recently flowered. But, after flowering, instead of seeing a baby eggplant growing, the flowers fell off. The book is not out on this yet. I’m still hopeful that I’ll get some eggplant, but not as much as I had expected. Do you know that in Turkey there are over 500 ways to serve eggplant? With all my tomatoes, I’m thinking caponata and ratatouille.
Onions: How hard is it to grow an onion? I planted Spanish onions and leeks. The leeks are going great, the Spanish onions not so much. Out of the more than a dozen I planted, only three remain. I have no idea what happened. I may need to research this some more. I would like to do more onions next year and maybe shallots.
Broccoli and cauliflower. These were latecomers to the party. I was at the nursery and saw them and thought, hey, why not give it a go? They went in the same day in two different beds. They are both growing like crazy, but some kind of bug or worm has eaten holes in all the leaves. I bought a spray at the garden center today that should do the trick. Stay tuned for the next episode in this story of the battle of the bugs.
What’s next? I decided to add a fourth bed. The day the fencing people came I decided to enlarge my garden to leave space for another bed. I mean, what’s a garden without sweet potatoes and winter squash? And next year maybe some carrots and beets?