FRUITS OF OUR LABOR
We always get carried away with
the pepper selections! We want hot, some mild, some small, some stuffing size!
If you have never tried Yukon Gold potatoes, please do. This golden-fleshed potato almost
needs no butter! And the little, red, new potatoes, succulent! Other
varieties are purple potatoes, large baking potatoes, and little, yellow
potatoes. You would be amazed at how easy potatoes are to grow!!
New and improved plant varieties make vegetable gardening irresistible, with
harvest time the beckoning prize, the ultimate reward. The whole process is
immensely satisfying. Look at all the madcap gardeners with those big smiles!
You also get a great tan while working the soil in the summer sun! Early in
spring nurseries are visited seeds are purchased to be started by March at the
latest in the greenhouse. You can even start seeds on window sills. Later
in the spring, I purchase vegetable seedlings that I have not started from
seed. They hold great promise and most of the hard work has already been
done! Be careful here, as you are looking at quite a lot of work getting them into the
ground! Each year I want our vegetable garden to be bigger, but then, I don't do the
majority of the planting or the weekly watering!
Excitement mounts as the time draws near to plant our vegetable
garden! My pen often runs furiously over my garden journal at this time, jotting
down notes, making a wish list for next season after spending time in seed catalogs, and
creating rough sketches for this year's desired plotting. Last year I planted
some vegetables with my flowers and shrubs. I really liked that and some of the
vegetables were close enough to the front door for me to run out and pick even
as I was cooking; tomatoes, potatoes, okra,
onions, and garlic. Dried onion greens retain a smoky flavor that is so delicious, I
think I will expand on this concept this year. They are so easy to
prepare, just pop them into the micro while damp from their washing, and after
three minutes, let them air cool. That's it! I had lots of herbs to choose from,
oregano, thyme, lemon balm, chamomile, rosemary, and sage. They were dried and put
up for use during the winter, although they kept growing all winter! Raising your
own vegetables is so exciting. To plant, then nurture, and harvest the foods we
eat; to be
self-sufficient, and know exactly what is in the foods we eat. The flavor can't be
beat! And the myriad of choices we have! Astounding!
Tim designs great supports to train the climbing vegetables such as cucumbers, winter
squash, cherry tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, and gourds. He experiments each year
with the ones I fancy after watching the gardening shows. One year it is string creations,
another year, lattice, then another year, twigs and branches. This is a great
space-saving technique also, visually raising the eye higher and creating interest.
Watering is neater and the plants seem to love the new heights. Then those ugly
tomato hornworms are easy to spot! And our chickens love to eat them!
I can envision the great harvest of delicious vegetables throughout summer, eating warm, juicy tomatoes
right in the field, popping baby carrots and little radishes. The corn grows tall and
sways in the breeze, its dry tassels signaling ripeness, golden kernels bursting with
goodness. The sun is hot on our backs, and the sweet exhaustion at the end of a good
gardening day is wonderful. We both work full-time so our weekends are
Then, it is spinach time, broccoli time and lettuce time again! In Spring, it is
Asparagus, sweet peas! Fresh from the garden with melted butter, or mayo! In my whole
life, I never thought I would get so excited about vegetables! From the garden to the
table! Fresh! Pure! Abundant! Ah, it's so sweet, this good life!
And the beat goes on. The vegetable
garden is home and haven for small wildlife. Multitudes of little frogs feast on
insects, and spiders feast on crawly and flying things caught in their webs. The
chickens eat the worms and snails, scratching up the soil surface, aerating it, and the
worms work the soil, enriching it. The chicken's eggs are wonderful with a dark
golden yolk, full of goodness.
Marigolds are sacrificed, enticing bad bugs to
taste their blooms while the crops grow in vigor and stature, momentarily forgotten.
Other flowers are planted for a visually pleasant vegetable garden, like nasturtiums,
poppies, and cosmos. Cosmos look terrific planted with the lovely eggplant.
Her flowers are a light lavender and could be grown just for the lovely flowers.
All the while the
battle between my man and the gopher continues, whole plants sucked into the earth,
disappearing in a heartbeat. Melons are a favorite of the gophers, as are tubers and
tulips. He dug this deep trench all the way around the garden of raised beds. This worked
for a time until the gophers found a way to cross that ravine, probably by digging deeper!
And then one day, my green beans were gone! Yep, no roots! Gopher attack!! I have
actually seen a plant shaking, teetering, then whoosh! gone in a heartbeat. That is
Compost is made and
processed in two bins, Working and Done, kept at the ready throughout the growing season
in two wooden bins, with slats for good air circulation. Mmmm Tea is prepared from
livestock contributions for fertilizing the plants . Poured directly on
vegetables' roots, plants benefit immensely, growing strong and producing
abundantly. Compost, the 'gold' soil, is
our prize and main nourishment for our plants, shrubs and vegetables.
I did a 'test planting'
once; sunflowers planted in regular soil, and others planted deep in rich compost.
You should have seen the compost ones!! They were at least three feet taller, more
branching with tons of flowers, and green, green, green foliage! The difference was just
We are careful to grow our vegetables organically,
resulting in a pesticide-free harvest, thus keeping nature's balance as it should
be. Ladybugs, Preying Mantis and Lacewings are garden soldiers aiding in The Battle.
Aphids can just be sprayed off with blasts from the hose, or squished off with rubber-gloved
fingers. And of course, the deer help to prune our plants set out in unprotected
locations! Their reward is the sweet, succulent new growths!
Summer of 1999
This indeed was the greatest harvest yet! Tim started
flats of tomato seedlings in the cottage, facing the eastern sun. He was
diligent in his organization not only of the seed packets but the labeling and
upkeep of these tender plants. That resulted in a great quantity of baby
tomato plants ready to be transplanted in spring. We had enough to
sell to a local nursery (we got our nursery stock license!) and more than enough
left over to plant in our garden.
Before the great day arrived, he amended the already great
garden soil with huge amounts of compost and chicken manure, rotatilling
everything in well. Then he went about the exacting work of creating the
rows, and beds, developing the hills which would hold cucumber plants, squash
and melon plants and setting up the 'poles' for the climbing vegetables.
Once that was done, we picked a clear, sunny weekend for
planting. The ground had to be warm enough to sit on, so the plants would
get a good start on developing their roots for the fruiting process. I had
not really considered how many plants we had! We wanted Early Girl, Better
Boy, Champion, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, Ball Striped, Sweet 100's, Zebra's,
Roma's and currant cherry tomatoes. There were others also, so we went
ahead and planted them all! Tim erected poles in sets of threes, tied
together at the tops, to support the
Great Lakes beans we grew and at the ends of the rows I planted marigolds,
bright orange flowers. These single plants grew into beautiful, bushy
plants which always seemed to hold an abundance of blooms. They enticed
the bad bugs to eat of their petals, sacrificing themselves for the good of the
Then we planted the cucumbers, melons, peppers (again, lots of
varieties!), squash, artichokes, bell peppers, corn, and eggplants.
Everything grew abundantly and we harvested tons of vegetables! We dried
some, froze some, canned some, and gave lots away! This past season,
1999, was a bumper crop harvest season. Visit the Harvest site for
more pictures and growing tips!
Our First Business Year! 1999!
Our method of propagation
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