Monthly Archives: May 2015

Adventures in Gardening…

I come from a long line of green thumbs. My grandparents owned a small farm that they used to make enough food to feed themselves and often us. My granddad sold produce at the farmer’s market. There were always fields of corn and potatoes and a blueberry farm with about 20 varieties of berries for people to pick or we would pick for them. One year, he grew peanuts. I believe Jimmy Carter may have been president at the time. I would walk rows with my grandmom and help her pick the RIGHT sized cucumbers, squash, peas, etc. See, I always wanted to pick the tiny ones because they were cute! She would always pull off a small one, wipe the dirt off, and tell me to eat it, skin and all, so I did. I really think that may have been the start of my love for plain vegetables with nothing on them. Sometimes, she had a salt shaker in her pocket, and we would salt them.

Granddad would employ child labor during the summer months when my cousins were down to be with my uncle. He had plenty of kids at his disposal. We picked berries (50 cents a gallon!), dug potatoes, rode en masse on the back of his tractor to the field, and worked.

And we learned.

So, it’s been a surprise that the gardening gene may have skipped a generation when it comes to me. I tend to kill plants from neglect. I want a low-maintenance garden, and I want organic. I grew a fair enough garden in Arkansas once, but I didn’t do much with it.

Maybe it’s because I wear so many other hats that I just forget to wear my gardening hat. So, I set out this year, at 43, to change that. I.Want.To.Grow.My.Own.Food. I also want my kids to grow their own food. I want them to know how to be self-sufficient, even if they never NEED to be. I’ve had to replace some things, though, because I gave away a bunch of my gardening things when we moved here. Worst advice ever? “It’s cheaper to just replace it than it is to move it!” Live and learn…

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When we moved in here, there were all these great tubs in the yard, so I started with those. I thought I would try containers, in hopes of them keeping out the neighbor’s dog.

I don’t know if okra will do well in a small, black pot, or eggplant, peppers, or tomatoes. I’ll know by the end of this season, though.

I have some cinder blocks I got off craigslist a while back, so I’ve been using them to frame out certain areas. I have 25 or so more now, so I’m going to reframe and redo all of it and probably get rid of the tubs entirely at the end of the season. I really want to do as much recycling and repurposing as possible. I like to watch the curbs for usable items people toss, like this wood, for example. It was brand new, and in the throwaway pile. I want a gutter garden for winter lettuces. Google gutter gardens. Now all I need to find are some gutters. Here is a pic of Mr. Incredible, saying “I already have a design worked out!” or, as I call, it, talking about how he’s not going to mess anything up.

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I also made a great trellis for my cucumbers using some old chicken wire and tent poles.

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And this was our first bite…one small tomato. So far, the youngest doesn’t appreciate the flavor and richness of a garden grown tomato. I mean, I guess they’re rich..I don’t eat tomatoes that aren’t cooked, canned, or dried, and even then, I have my limits.

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Soon, we will have zucchini. I bought this plant from the small, local nursery. It has thrived like you just wouldn’t believe. The plants I bought from the big box stores under the label of a well known national plant grower have really had limited success.

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See how lush and large the one plant is? It’s uncanny.

As for teaching the boys self-sufficiency, they are on their way. Superman is growing a Bhut Jolokia pepper and some catnip for our cats. He may never love getting his hands in the dirt. As far as he is concerned, there is a certain amount of risk involved with being outside. There are  mosquitoes, people, and germs. Plus, it’s hot, and he doesn’t tolerate heat well. I’m going to see if I can get him involved with our winter plants.

The youngest, though, is learning through work. When we were at the nursery and he came around the corner with a nine pack of sweet potato plants, I couldn’t tell him no, even though I had no idea where we would put them. We ended up putting them in pots, hopefully, we will get a few off of them.

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As for me, I’ve got cucumbers! And my bush cuke has about 40 on it. Hopefully, they don’t all produce at once.

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There was another one, but I picked it, wiped the dirt off, and ate it, skin and all. I learned a lot from Grandmom.