Monday, August 08, 2005

My Garden

The summary description of this Blog metions the environment, land preservation, and my own gardens. Today, I would like to take a moment to talk about my own gardening experience.

First of all I would like to explain that I have very little formal knowlege in how to grow things. I have a few books that I take snippets from, I read some stuff in the newspaper, and I pick up hints here and there from family, friends and co-workers. Much of what I have learned is the result of trial-and-error. It's quite gratifying to put a seed or a seedling in the ground and have it eventually grow and creates flowers and/or food for my enjoyment.

Currently I have three "gardens" at my home, a vegetable garden, an herb garden and a "shade" flower garden. I also have a few things planted here and there that may develop into a garden, or may get moved elsewhere. We have long-range plans to add a porch and a garage to the house, so there's not a lot of "around the house" lanscaping going on at the moment.

Today I want to talk about my vegetable garden. It's quite small, something like 15'x20', depending on how aggressive the crab grass and clover are. This year I planted tomatoes, peppers, pumkins, cucumbers, gourds, broccoli, onions (scallions) and carrots, with sunflowers, marigolds and basil thrown in for color and pest control. It's kind of crowded, and it would have been moreso had I got my pole beans planted. Alas, the spring was just too wet and I was unable to find the time to prepare extra space for the beans.

Some results thus far:
  • Carrots and onions are coming along nicely, it would appear. 'Course, you never know with the carrots until you pull them out of the ground. My soil has a high clay content and is far from fluffy, especially given all the rain we had in the spring. The onions grow well, but came up fairly sparsely this year.
  • I start the broccoli inside, always later than I should. I started about 10 plants, only four of which survived the transplanting process. The foliage has been chewed on a lot, and no florettes have appeared yet, but I think I'm OK. I've never treated broccoli for pests before, so I'm thinking that I don't need to. Experience has shown that the broccoli likes to have room to develop its flowers, and I am afraid that they might be feeling a little cramped. No moving them now, however.
  • Cukes didn't come up on the first planting, so I replanted them in mid June. They popped up nicely and are now starting to flourish. We harvested the first cuke of the season on Saturday. It got big real fast, but it was tasty. We got a lot of cukes last year, but it doesn't yet look like we'll get that kind of bounty this year. Hopefully we'll have enough to make a couple batches of pickles, however.
  • We did gourds for the first time this year, for decoration purposes. They've really taken off and I already have one that is the size of my fist. Our pumpkins, however, are another story. They've always grown like crazy in our garden, but this year they just haven't done anything. The vines aren't growing and the leaves are very small. I don't have any idea what the problem is, unless I wasn't supposed to plant them in the same spot as last year. Another possible issue is that I haven't, ahem, been real good at the weeding this year.
  • Peppers were planted from organic seedlings purchased at the Maine Organic Gardening Supply store in Topsham (can't find a web site). I've had spotty success with peppers in the past, with the exception that I got way more superchilis than I could possibly use last summer. Green/red bell peppers, however? Only a few. I've got a couple of baby ones started this year, but it seems kind of late. Hopefully they will have time to grow to maturity.
  • As with many people, tomatoes are my favorite vegetable to grow. There just is no comparison to the taste of a ripe red tomato taken directly off the vine. Last year my tomatoes came down with a fungus that I couldn't get rid of, and my yields were very poor, with poor quality. This year I put them in a different part of the garden (and used a different variety - Early Girl), and the results have been much better. Some of the plants are suffering a bit from the fungus, but they are much stronger than last year and already have a lot of fruit on the vines. In fact, we also harvested the first tomato the other day, which was delicious. I think that the plants are a little more snug than they ought to be, but they are doing pretty well nevertheless. Not a grade A performance this year, but much better than last year's D-. I have also planted some basil between the plants to keep the worms away, but the basil is overshadowed by the tomatoes and might not get big enough to make a difference. I haven't noticed any pests on the tomatoes yet however.
  • Finally, the sunflowers are just beginning to develop flower buds, and the marigolds are also slow to blossom. I saw a couple of buds on the marigolds a couple of weeks ago, but no flowers yet. Not sure what the problem is there.

So there's a nutshell summary of the vegetable garden. I haven't tended to it the way that I normally do because I've been so busy and because there has been so much rain. I would prefer to spend some time every day/evening tending to weeds and making sure things are going OK, but that hasn't been the case this year. I feel lucky that things are going as well as they are, given the circumstances. I'll give another progress report in another couple of weeks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very impressed for someone who doesn't have a lot of formal gardening knowledge you seem to have a lot growing in your garden.

For the last 5 years I have had a small vegetable, herb and flower garden but this year I didn't really plant any vegetables. No time. This year I missed playing in the dirt, dropping the seeds and seeing what happens. The garden time is a peaceful for me. I am always amazed when things actually grow.

I too do not have any formal garden training. What is formal garden knowledge or training? Could it be a grandparent teaching a grandchild the ins and outs of gardening? Or maybe it's an adult ed class on a gardening related subject. I did try and take the classes that involve becoming a master gardener, but they are only DURING THE DAY. I work a M-F job so that wouldn't work. I was very disappointed.

I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing.

Keep on gardening!


5:36 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Quite a bit is growing. I canned a bunch of tomatoes last night, but they've really been hit hard by the late blight. Broccoli is done, no peppers yet. But I've got cukes and carrots and onions, and quite a few 'maters. Gourds and one pumpkin, too.

I guess "formal" training in gardening is knowledge imparted by a parent or grandparent. I used to help my dad in his vegetable garden when I was a kid. Then I became much more interested in baseball. Then I moved away. 25 or so years later I started to go it basically alone, so I feel like I'm mostly self-taught. I do get some tips from my dad and my sister, and a couple of books, and other things I pick up here and there. There is much that I don't know.

My herbs are growing pretty good again this year. Chives - now THERE's a plant that anybody can grow!

Thanks for checking in. I wonder, is this Mary B?

9:42 PM  

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