I might just have easily titled this blog, “The Seeds I Tossed on the Ground and Forgot About”. I had very (very) little time for gardening this year and we had that water concern part way through the summer that left me feeling very stingy with the rainwater. Our well water is very heavy in salts and iron and I don’t like to use it on my freshly built beds so without rainwater- well, the gardens were pretty dry a lot of the time.
Luckily it didn’t seem to matter all that much, if the results were anything to go by. I mixed things up, yet again, with an interest in what companion plantings would work best. Had my labels lasted more than a few weeks in the blazing sun, or my knowledge of plants in general been stronger, it might have been a better exercise. As it was I wasn’t entirely sure what some of the plants were- other than tasty. (I still have that old childhood habit of eating anything that looks pretty, or interesting. Mixed results on that practice.)
I do know that I threw a lot of different seeds into a relatively small space and got pretty good results. Some of the plants that I did recognize were the pumpkins, squash, green beans, yellow beans, soy beans, turnips, beets, leeks, onions, milkweed (gorgeous!), borage, cabbage, tomatoes, amaranth (though it took looking up on the internet), dill, nasturtiums and peppers. And of course the potato patch, with lots of golden and red potatoes.
Our raspberries and strawberries did well again, though we welcomed some little critter that took to the strawberries in a rather ambivalent way- eating half a strawberry and moving on to the next. We had gooseberries as well this year, off a little bush I bought. And we bought a couple of apple trees with an eye on the future. An added bonus- some red clover found it’s way into my garden and yet more wild roses are popping up in random places around the property. And we had a brilliant crop of pin cherries that I’m still making my way through.
I didn’t weed much, or at all for periods of time. My reasoning was two-fold. One: I’m lazy, or would like to be if I had the time. I was far too busy on the site to want to spend my nights kneeling in front of a garden weeding. So I didn’t. And the other reason is that I noticed last year (or the year before?) that the pests don’t seem to care whether the plant is edible to me or not- they’ll eat it. So I found leaving at least some weeds in (especially leafy ones) keeps damage to the other plants down.
All in all not bad for a no-maintenance garden. I think that even though I didn’t follow through on my plan to monitor how the plants interacted with each other (whether they benefited each other or had a negligible effect) I can safely assume that variety is the way to go. Had I neglected my gardens so badly in previous years, when I followed the more traditional planning of straight rows and single crop groupings, they wouldn’t have survived. And I did notice that while some plants were hit by pests (my turnip tops and cabbages got hit hard by cabbage moths, even with the placement of borage I’d heard might repel them) they didn’t decimate the entire garden. So that was nice. Bats next year, I hope.
How about you? How did your gardens fare this year? Any companion plantings that you swear by, or won’t try again?