Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I Learned

Well, the one thing I have learned this season is that it is very hard to garden, read about gardening, and write about gardening :)! ( I also learned that when you have teenagers that use the computer it is hard to get a turn for yourself!!)

Our garden was rather small, but it was very productive. I loved being able to trot out of my kitchen door and gather the produce I needed, right when I needed it!

Here are the things I learned this year:

* Companion planting is worthwhile, at least in the case of tomatoes and peppers. The 3 pepper plants by the tomatoes did much better than the three plants elsewhere in the garden.

* Home grown, freshly picked kale is WAY better than kale from the store. I need increase the number of seeds next year. ( I currently have seedlings of kale and Swiss chard in our fall garden, along with some lettuce plants...we will see how it goes. Some of them are not looking all that great.). I also learned that watering generously decreases bitterness.

* Swiss Chard and Kale are both delicious cooked. I grew them for green smoothies and only used them for this purpose a handful of times, although I did throw some green "pot liquor" in smoothies a few times.

* Swiss chard is an ideal container plant and has fewer pest problems in a container than in the ground.

* Future Farmers of America clubs sell seedlings in the late spring for around 25 cents per cup and our library has a seed swap each spring.

* Basil is wonderful to have on hand and we need to plant more next year.

* Zinnias are an easy and cheap way to add lots of color to the garden. They are also great cut flowers. My goal for "old-ladyhood" is to grow fields of zinnias and sell them at the farmer's market :). I love those things!

* A short row of Romain lettuce is not enough for our family of 7. We need a field of Romaine!!! Who knew lettuce could taste so delicious!!

* If I ever plan on canning we will need to have a much larger garden. I planted 6 plants each of tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers...we ate every bite, except for 2 zucchinis and 3 tomatoes that we gave away to relatives! ( Oh yes, the heirloom peas...eaten by a varmint, along with the melon plant.)

My winter gardening plans include watching my husband fashion a water barrel and rotating compost tumbler out of 55 gallon drums he acquired. I am super excited about the water barrel!! You can find You Tube "how -to" videos for both of these projects.

And if you need a good book, I highly recommend my current read, Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. You will have to step over some atrocious language at times, but it is a fascinating account of a garden in a ghetto. You will also learn a lot about raising and slaughtering animals, if you are into that kind of thing. A fascinating book! Another book worth skimming ( I did not read the whole thing, but enjoyed what I read...and be forewarned that I sometimes enjoy reading things I do not agree with !) is A Nation of Farmers. Do you guys have any good books to recommend? I also would loved some specifics on seeds that did well for you this year. I am excited to know about the Diva cucumbers. Our cucumbers were okay, but not super tasty. I have enjoyed reading your posts!

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