The Garden: Lessons Learned

 

It started last summer after receiving surplus garden bounty from both friends from church and my boss.   I saved tomato seeds and began plotting a garden.   I started seedlings in the house in March We bought a used chest freezer, prepared to fill it with summers abundance.  B’s coworker had spare wood we built the raised 12 ft by 4 ft raised bed out of.  We filled it with soil.

We had a cold spring and I was afraid to put my tiny plants out.  Our last frost was mid May.  We finally transplanted them along with planting seeds as well.  I ignored all advice to only try a few things.   I had half a dozen varieties of tomato, zucchini, carrots, peas, beans, watermelon, corn, peppers, sweet potatoes and jalapeños.   We put a few extras in a bed by the side of the house the previous owner had used to grow tomatoes.

And then….we waited.   In the raised bed almost nothing grew.  The peas and green beans did grow,  though something kept eating the green beans.   The bed next to the house had corn that grew fast and squash that took off.  In the raised bed everything stayed the same size.    Finally 6 weeks in I tested the soil and realized it had no nutrients at all.   So we found some organic fertilizer blend and  added it.  The nearly dead tomato plants we had purchased from the farmers market were finally starting to turn green again.

watermelon

The biggest watermelon we have so far. It is about the size of a grapefruit.

Garden Oct 2014

The garden beds. By the brick wall was the corn and zucchini. The raised beds looking a little better. The marigolds have done well.

Slowly over the course of the late summer the garden has finally taken off.  Many weeks too late to be as bountiful as I imagined.   The only thing I have been able to count on is the snow peas.  I harvest a handful every few days and mostly they get eaten raw.  I have never tasted a pea so sweet.

Every day or two I walk outside and check on the garden.  I saw a snake there early in the summer so I take a stick with me and beat the raised bed to scare away anything creeping or slithering around.   It was a nice distraction when I was first unemployed to go out and pollinate the corn and check on the zucchini.  We harvested about a half dozen before I started battling powdery mildew and vine borers.

Even with its meager offerings it has been so rewarding to grow food for our family.  Peas, zucchini, a dozen ears of corn, a handful of carrots, a few jalapeños and a couple of tomatoes have been produced.  There is still a few tiny watermelon that I am waiting to see how big they can get before frost.  The sweet potato vines have gone crazy in the last month and are everywhere and there are a few more tomatoes and peppers out there.

Maybe it was a waste of time and water (our water bill was quite high this summer when it didn’t rain for a month.)  I still feel like I learned so much.  X did too.  I was happy to have him learn food doesn’t come from the grocery store but the ground.

I don’t care for raw tomatoes much and only tolerate them in small doses.  Once cooked I love them.   Last sumer I ate these little golden tomatoes raw and they were perfect.  Today in the garden I found the one tomato that started this whole endeavor.  A tiny golden tomato. And while it may not look like a success on paper that tiny golden tomato is my trophy.

Golden Tomato

My Trophy. Took until October 1st to get it.

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