Tuesday, March 17, 2009
waiting for the garden to dry
We are anxiously waiting for the garden to dry so that it can be plowed. Last year we missed the first dry stretch and then got a late start on the gardening because it took a while to get dry enough to plow. This year we plan to catch it early!
Large gardens have always been a part of my life. When I was little we had two gardens. We did not have electricity, so my parents canned everything. Beans and corn are great cannned, peas not so good. ;) When my husband and I got married we bought a small house with a yard and grew our first garden together. That was my first experience gardening on my own (although I can't really call it "on my own" since I still called my parents frequently). We had a good crop of beans and carrots, but the squirrels got most of the corn. That's about all that I remember of the first garden. I remember it being relatively large, but looking back at the pictures it looks so small.
After a few years we moved to my home state and had a larger house, larger yard, and larger garden.
The first year at the new place we moved in May and got a late start on gardening that year, too. By the time that we moved "Crazy Harry's Greenhouse" was having a supper sale on plants, and soon all vegetable plants were free...do I remember that correctly?! Anyway, I ended up with something like 30 broccoli plants and Way to many peppers and tomatoes. So we made and canned salsa like crazy that year, and I froze broccoli until we were sick of the smell of blanched broccoli. My Ball Blue Book book was getting a good workout. We had to buy a second deep freezer for all the plunder, and we filled the cellar with rows of canned goods. We grew exciting things like yard long beans and the neighbor girls had fun helping me in the garden and sharing veggies.
Then came a summer when we moved 3 times. I didn't garden that year, but instead focused on my house plants. The following summer we moved again and so another no-garden summer. And repeat the following summer (oh, and we had a baby by then). Oh my, three summers with no garden! During those years my parents kindly provided us with as much fresh and frozen garden produce as they could, and we also started discovering farmers markets.
In the summer of 2007 we were finally back at a place (location, and place in our lives) where we could garden again. Oh how nice it was. And our son discovered gardens. He was a very late eater, and that summer he ate nearly all his vegetables directly from the garden. He would stop playing and run the the garden for a snack. He loved peas, beans, carrots, broccoli, and corn straight from the garden. We don't use any chemicals on our garden, and we allow him to graze freely. He even discovered squash flowers and baby squash were quite edible. He liked to help us dig potatoes and then help wash them in a big stainless steel bowl in the yard and then eat them an hour later as baked french fries.
Last year we enlarged our garden, and my 95 year old grandma and I (due with our second child in August) joined the ranks of "those who should not be gardening but are too stubborn not too". I claimed it was for our son, but really it was for all of us, especially me. Even when working an office job was too hard on my very pregnant body, gardening felt good. Again, our son grazed through the garden and we ate lots of fresh vegetables. The squash beetles discovered our garden and swarmed over our squash, melons, pumpkins, and watermelons, but we got to eat a few squash and melons before the plants succumbed to the invasion.
So what will this year's gardening be like? My husband has been talking about the garden already, and it's very exciting to me that he's excited about it this year. He helps in the garden a lot, but it has always really been my thing. It will be fun to see our son enjoy the garden and be even more involved this year. And will our daughter learn to walk in the garden? Quite possibly. I imagine that she'll be crawling about the time we plant, and I'm sure that she will eat way more dirt than many babies.
Last year our son helped plant. I gave him beans, peas, and corn seeds and he planted them with me. I usually had to go back and redistribute, but he really did quite well. And he was very good at helping to pat down the row after the seeds had been sown. He was excited to see the plants come up and begin to produce edibles. As each batch of green beans got past the point of being yummy as green beans we shelled them out and he planted those seeds again. Last year's garden had two digging holes, one at the back and one at the front later in the summer. This year I think we will specifically plan for digging holes since they were where he spend hours and hours.
So, what will we plant this year? We will sit out a year on the squash and melons because of the squash beetle invasion, but we will probably have spinach, lettuce, kohlrabi, carrots, peas, green beans, corn, red potatoes, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, basil, parsley, radishes, tomatoes, and onions (several varieties of many of those things). Maybe if there is room maybe I'll add some lima beans and kale this year. I'll miss the squash, melons, pumpkins, and gourds, but I'd rather not use chemicals to control the beetles. :(
So, any suggestions on what else we should try this year? I am not attempting to can or freeze this year since I would rather focus my time on the kids. We give away the extras and enjoy sharing our produce with those who don't have such wonderful abundance of fresh veggies. We especially enjoy sharing our garden with visiting children and their families. One of our son's little friends is still talking about digging potatoes with us last fall. I love to share my excitement for gardening with others, and I'd love to help others give gardening a try. If anyone reading this wants to give it a go, I'd be glad to lend a hand in any way I can. ;)