Gardening

Gardening.

Zucchini for zucchini bread!

Our first garden together was last year. As children we watched our parents garden, but neither of us had ever tried a garden ourselves.

When you rent, you must ask permission. Some owners are more open than others. We’ve been lucky. Not wanting to destroy the yard, however, we took up only a small space. We bought two raised bed sets  so that we could break them down and take them with us when we moved. We didn’t harvest much food. The cherry tomatoes did okay. We had cucumbers out our ears. We had one tiny cantaloupe and a few jalapeno peppers. We planted the seedlings in the peat pots, which didn’t break down and caused the plants to grow root bound. And apparently, you need two of most plants to cross-pollinate. Now we know.

Out of excitement and lack of patience, I started my seeds indoors this year in February. I went by the back of the package. It said  in the region of Virginia to plant in March and early April. This contrasted to the gardening class at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. They told us not to plant until mid-April to keep from losing seedlings in the last frost. The seedlings grew too tall and started to bend. We lost 2 squash and 1 zucchini because of bent stems. So, we jumped the gun and planted the 2 remaining squash plants in a planter in the front yard.

This year we’re moving in the middle of the growing season. I started the seedlings in the house but before we could plant them, we received orders for the move.

Since  my brother-in-law is also stationed at our next base, we asked if we could use his backyard to plant our garden. He generously agreed!

We broke down the raised beds, rinsed out the ants who adopted it as their home, and stuffed them in the car. Then I bagged up all the compost soil we’d made–at least 1 and 1/2 bags of heavy, rich, moist soil. As I opened the trunk to show my man what I’d done, I asked if he thought it was too extreme to take it with us, if people would think we were crazy.

“Yeah, we might pay more in gas, but we made it,” he said. We couldn’t leave it behind and buy new soil when we got to Georgia. It seemed pointless and wasteful. The fragile seedlings gave us the most grief. With each turn, one of us turned around to check on them like parents with a newborn on the way home from the hospital. We  lost two zucchini in the process, one which I dropped and broke as we walked into his brother’s house. It took all I had not to break into tears. I’d grown it from seed and driven it 500+ miles cross-country. That zucchini and I had a relationship.

At this point, I’m thinking there will be no delicious zucchini bread. I was not going to lose another one. The following day I stuck a plastic straw against the stem as a splint and tied it together with dental floss. The air conditioning repair man saw me and asked why I didn’t use a twig instead of the straw. “I think I was a farmer in a past life,” he said as he helped me. I held my breath and it took! It’s growing like a weed! I couldn’t believe the air conditioning repair man and I saved it with a splint!

See the green dental floss tied to the stick on the left?

My brother-in-law sends us pictures randomly via his girlfriend’s phone. All the plants seem to thrive in the warm, southern weather. By the time we officially move from Virgina, it will be time to harvest. Since my brother-in-law did all the work, it’s only fair he gets the food! I only ask for enough to make zucchini bread.

Three things we did differently this year:  1. used  our own compost instead of the Miracle-Gro soil. (We did use two additional purchased bags of topsoil. It’s good to mix the soil and compost rather than use only one or the other.)  2. took the seedlings completely out of the peat pots prior to planting.  3. My brother-in-law waters with the Miracle-Gro liquid feed.

Only difference between these two gardens: dirt from compost used on left. (May 2, 2011)

Our garden as of May 20, 2011. (Compost used.)

Christopher's garden as of May 20, 2011. (Compost not used.)

My dream is to have a large garden and grow as much food as I want. Buying organic is expensive and self-growing would be the way to go. Lo, and behold, if the next town we’re moving to doesn’t have a community garden. I can’t wait to  meet other gardeners and learn more. Dreams do come true!

Oh, and out of the 2 squash plants we jumped the gun and planted here in Virgina in early April, only one made it. It’s  producing already. There are 5  tiny squash showing. We’re having one for dinner tonight. 🙂

The only squash that survived out of 4.

my baby squash

Garden photos and gardening courtesy of my brother-in-law and his girlfriend in Yulee, FL.

Other interesting gardening articles:

Water socks? (redwormcomposting.com)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Garden Style (urbanhomesteaddiaries.blogspot.com)
Happy Father’s Day (elenaabrams.wordpress.com)
Bloomin’ Update 5: Hot Colors and Cool Thoughts (nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com)
Take A Look At Our Beautiful Japanese Gardens (japzen.wordpress.com)
To water or not? (davermfarm.wordpress.com)
Sweet Magnolia (misswhiplash.wordpress.com)
Plot I: your basic dig and amend (www.themanicgardener.com)
The bugs of my oleander (www.daniellecopeland.com)
What Is… Zucchini? (thedailymeal.com)
Schoolyard garden (freshrivervalley.wordpress.com)
Garden 2011 (joyceandnorm.wordpress.com)
How Does Our Garden Grow – Week 1 (joyceandnorm.wordpress.com)

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9 responses to “Gardening

  1. I can’t believe the difference in the compost soil! Definitely worth the extra effort!

  2. Jenn this is great! I love it.

  3. I can’t wait to have enough space to plant a garden. I have a container garden going right now, but the squirrels keep digging up my tomato plants! I’ve read that mothballs help, so that’s my next move.

    • Mothballs do work! Mom had the same problem with the squirrels but hasn’t been bothered since she buried the mothballs. But watch your little one. Somebody ate one thinking it was candy. Poison control said one wouldn’t hurt anything.
      Send me some pictures of your container garden. I’m collecting pictures of other people’s gardens so I can put up another garden post…..soon.
      (Send them to my email.) 🙂
      Many thanks.

  4. Wow those look lovely. I only planted a few this year and they’re coming in nicely as well 🙂

  5. Outstanding garden. Your side-by-side of the compost vs. MIracle-Gro gardens was really impressive! If you ever end up back in the PACNW, stop by and check on my garden! Plus, since I’m here to stay, I’m on year four of my Gala apple trees….. with an apple tart in the oven as I type. Yum!

    • Todd, the gala apple trees sound AMAZING! Apple tart? Oh, that sounds delicious! Thanks so much for following us! That was the garden from summer. We’ve just started a fall one and plucked our first harvest today of mustard and collard greens, swiss chard and radishes! I’ll do a post up about the food we snagged this week. My husband said good to see you on here!

Tell me what you think. I don't get to answer comments like I did before baby but I read every single comment. And they really make my day!

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