Do any of you know that person who can grow anything, anywhere with little to no effort? My Mom is one of those people. She can pick a sprig of who-knows-what off the parking lot of the Home Depot, stick it in some dirt at home and the next thing you know, there’s a tree! Really.
I, on the other hand, have not been that successful of a farmer (except for all the cacti I have, which are hard to kill). As a kid we always had a garden. Didn’t matter where, my Mom always planted one where ever we lived and it always thrived.
Well, I have been trying my hand this summer at an organic garden in the back yard , and I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I really took the time to read up on the hows and whys of gardening, what plants to plant, what times, etc…I’m even reading ‘Animal, Vegetable,Miracle’ by Barbara Kingsolver , which is truly inspirational. I would love to be able to feed my husband and friends with things I just pulled from the ground in my backyard. I mean, how much fresher and local can you get!
So, as the weather here is becoming cooler I decided to continue this experiment and try my hand at winter gardening. NC winters are generally mild so the growing season can be quite long and perfect for winter crops such as kale, collards, brussels, broccoli and cauliflower, not to mention some lettuces. I will update this blog with the results as the winter progresses but wanted to share this years garden journal in pictures.
Also, if you have any tips for me please send them my way.
This was the beginning of my adventure. We set up along side our neighbors 1930′s barn. The perfect backdrop for this endeavor.
Building the boxes w/ untreated wood.
Making an organic mix of topsoil, manure and compost (my own) to make happy plants.
The summers bounty and their current status: red and yellow beets (ready, but still in the ground), carrots (ready, but still in the ground) and butternut squash (only got one, the weed wacker killed the vines )
This was my Italian box: Japanese and Italian eggplant (grew 3), 2 roma tomato plants (didn’t do well, needed more sun) okra (the gift that keeps giving, even now), green beans (harvested a few, but didn’t do so well)
This was the Squash box: zucchini (did very well), yellow squash (not so well), bird house gourd (grew one)
This was the Latin box: purple tomatillos (did well, but were very small), hot peppers (needed more sun, got a few), red velvet okra ( not really a latin veggie, but grew well and still going), roma tomato (got a few, but needed more sun I think)
Then I went crazy and planted upside down cherry tomatoes for fun. They did well but got really long.
Herbs, mon. I made a center herb garden with a large bucket. I cut out the bottom so that it would have good drainage. Thyme, sage, spearamint, oregano, dill, camomille and savory all did well. I am going to experiment with picking and preserving these in layers of salt, stored in the fridge over winter.
The Winter Garden: The plants are slowing down and soon it will be time to clear the box and either replant (as I have already done in one) or cover with newspaper and dirt to get ready for the spring. Forward thinking is key to this gardening thing, isn’t it?
This week I made another box (number 5) and created make-shift green houses for the crops I planted in them: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce and carrots. A predicted freeze is coming in a few days. Hope this helps them.
Fried green tomatoes are what these late comers will have to be. I don’t think they will ripen at this point.
Either a broccoli or cauliflower I planted from seed in the spring. It just now popped up and is doing well in this cold weather.
Like that renegade broc-cauliflower plant above, I had planted 3 brussel sprout plants and they are growing really well.
The carrots are looking ready to go, although my friend Beth told me not to pull them until their orange tops show. She’s from the midwest, so I will heed her advice. Also, I read that it’s best to cover these on either side with straw to give them a blanket during winter.
I recently planted 3 sticker-less raspberry bushes. These will be a welcomed addition to our summer fruit needs and if all goes well with my gardening attempts in general, my friends will be reaping the benefits as well.
This summer was a test, so to speak, of how I get along with mother nature. Overall, I was happy that I was able to grow anything. The disappointments were few as I took the zen approach that if it grows, it grows. With continued reading, advice from my mom, friends and experts and also trial and error, I just might become a decent gardener. I hope.