Monday, July 14, 2014

Mom Always Said Try Something New Every Planting Season

 My parents gardened for over 50 years on the property where I now live. Dad didn't understand why I wanted to compost or grow my garden organically. He used pesticides and chemical fertilizers and all the things that make me cringe, but that was their way and they were content.

I didn't always agree with their growing methods, but I do agree with their one dictum: Always try something new every year. You might find something you like; you might never eat it again, but you don't learn anything if you don't stretch yourself.

My "Something New" this year is Yard Long Beans. My raised beds are generally 4 ft. wide and 12 feet long. I don't want to work as hard at gardening as the folks did with their 30x90' traditional garden. I would still like canning or freezing quantities of some of the things I grow (Tomatoes! Definitely canning quantities of tomatoes!). I also want canning quantities of green beans.

In my small space, yard long beans seemed a good idea. My son drilled holes in the landscape timbers of the raised bed that would hold the conduit that supports the nylon trellis. The beans have been going to town. Every time it rains, more beans start growing.

You can see the first handful I picked spread out on the dash of my car. The next day I picked easily four or five times that many beans and canned 12 1/2-pints of beans for the coming winter.

Checking last year's canning log, I put up 30 1/2-pints of green beans. There are three, maybe four jars left. That was a good supply for one person last year. At the rate the yard-long beans are going, I'll have 30 1/2-pints by the end of July.  Ho-boy! I do hope my kids like green beans. I may be canning and giving them presents before the summer is out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kitchen Garden

I loved the Kitchen Garden last year. It is placed right off the steps from the back porch. I grew lettuce, kale, tomatoes, flowers and other "kitchen herbs" just a few steps from my kitchen. 

There were some problems. I tilled the ground right up to the sidewalks. As the plants got bigger and hung over the fence, we had to swerve into the grass to get to the garage or the car parking area. The picket fence wasn't all that sturdy, either. The cats and dogs both were able to knock it down.

This year when Joe began his raised bed improvement plan, the kitchen garden got a make over. First I made sure the landscape timbers were going to be positioned well inside the walks. After that, Joe brought in his special tools and we brought the frame up to three landscape timbers high.

Being well aware of Grandpa's advice to rotate crops, I don't have the same things planted here this year. I miss the lettuce and herbs, although I did move chives and leeks into the point of the bed. Most of the bed is planted to watermelon and cantaloupe. The vines are everywhere. I think they like it!

Every time I walk to the car or the garage now, I play peek-a-boo among the vines spotting the melons that are developing. The watermelons are Sugar Babies -- small melons suitable to be eaten by one person. I'm not sure what type of cantaloupe I will get. The seeds I planted died, so I picked up something at the nursery that was labeled "cantaloupe." Surprise is good, right?