I reported a while back on getting started on our raised bed gardens. The soil out here is crap and it’s really difficult to grow anything in it so I had to start from scratch with soil building. I haven’t had much time (what with building a house!) but I’m happy to report that it’s going well in spite of the neglect.
I’ll have to start a notebook with some of my observations about which pairings seem to work the best, drainage issues with certain plants and so on, but right now I am just thrilled beyond belief that we’ve been eating something out of our garden every day.
Some interesting tidbits… The potatoes in the tires? Doing remarkably well! The plants were getting so big that we had to add a second row of tires. Ditto with the potatoes that I threw in that big pile of dirt- growing like weeds. I expect we’ll have lots of potatoes this year without the headache of having to dig them out of cement-like clay earth. My tomatoes are also doing remarkably well. A little too well in fact. I may have to prune them and will definitely need to pay more attention next year as I wasn’t aware that tomato plants could grow so wild and bushy. Our swiss chard has been a delight, with lots of salads and steamed chard for dinners and lunches. The cutworms* did enjoy the feast as well but thankfully left plenty behind for us. And our red onions flowered, producing lots of seed for next year. I’ll need to harvest some and mix them up for next spring.
I made the mistake of planting the butter lettuce too close to the now mammoth tomato plants so it was nice while it lasted but is now just big and stalky. Oops. And not all of our raspberry bushes took so we’ve been plucking raspberries here and there but not enough to do anything with other than a quick snack. The nasturtiums are not only beautiful to look at, and have drawn bees and butterflies, but are a nice spicy treat in our salads. And the strawberries are coming along at long last. I’m not too sure whether our pumpkins and squash will produce though. They’ve flowered and some have fruited but it seems awfully late in the year… Guess we’ll see.
Next year should take things to a whole other level. With any luck I’ll have considerably more time to devote to gardening, with the bulk of building behind us. And I’ll be able to finesse some of these polycultures we’re playing with. The trick is to find out what works best in our environment and with each other, not an overnight discovery. I’d definitely like to expand the variety of what we’re growing, and throw in some larger crops like corn and red wheat, and we’re planning on adding some more bushes and trees to the property.
In the meantime, it has been so rewarding to eat something from our own garden at every meal. I haven’t eaten this much fresh produce in my life- and I’m loving it! Whether it’s salad, or yummy pizza toppings, or rosemary in our bread, or rhubarb jam- there is something home grown in every serving. There’s something immensely satisfying about feeding ourselves. Not running to the store and purchasing food, but producing it. I think this is the beginning of a long and happy relationship with our land. Like any relationship, there’s the period of figuring out what works, and works best, and what doesn’t- but how sweet the rewards.
*A note on the cutworms- diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plants seemed to help reduce the number of pests quite a bit. We’ll build a bat-house this winter though, and hopefully that will help to manage the numbers more effectively next year.