First Sprouts of Spring

Every year I try to grow at least a little bit of my food. Sometimes it’s just one or two things in pots and sometimes it’s a full blown garden. Last year I built a raised bed garden and went a little wild growing winter squash. This year, I’ve steered clear of squash and am focusing on some early cool weather vegetables like snap peas, radishes and brocolli.

The other day I saw the first sprouts of the year popping up through the soil. I’m sure a couple of months from now I’ll be grumbling about having to water and weedevery day. But until then, I’ll be enjoying seeing the new life coming up and anticipating it growing into something I can use. Oh, and I’ll also be futily trying to keep my dog from walking through the bed.

Squash

A few months ago I wrote about building a raised bed garden in my side yard. I planted zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, watermelon, beans, and winter squash. Unfortunately, some of the plants didn’t make it very far. The beans died early on. The watermelon plants never got higher than a few inches.

For a while, the zucchini wasn’t doing very well either. I don’t think I was consistent enough with my watering schedule. Then about a week ago I had to go out of town. So I extended my drip system over to the raised bed and put emitters next to each plant.

I didn’t know what to expect when I came home from my trip. I was shocked to come around the corner and see the zucchini plants pouring over the sides of the bed. I was even more shocked to see the giant zucchini fruits.

I guess 100-degree weather and a regular watering schedule really does wonders for these guys. It just goes to show that automating and ignoring can be a very good strategy for growth. Micromanaging (or in this case micro gardening) is unnecessary.

Potting Up a Garden

We recently moved to a new house that has a very small yard. This was quite a step down in size from our previous 1.5 acre property. But it’s amazing how good it feels to have a small area to work with rather than a big one. You can see the results of your improvements so much quicker and clearer. There’s less space to spread out but that just means you have to be more creative with the space you do have.

Because of our now small space, I’ve embraced the idea of container gardening. The people we bought the house from had left most of their pots behind and in one of them I even discovered raspberry canes coming up.

Over the weekend I finally got some great herbs and flowers and got them potted up. So far I’ve put in rosemary, sage, basil, dill, thyme and peppermint as well as a couple of perennial flowers.

The herbs came from a local organic farm called Sage Creations. They had great selection and the plants looked really good. Despite the name, Sage Creations specializes in lavender. I’m looking forward to going back in mid-June to see the lavender bushes in full bloom. Hopefully I’ll get some good photos to share with you here.

I still have a few pots to fill up. I’ll likely get some nice annuals to add some color and make the back patio a little more inviting. We also have a small side yard that has a patch of dead grass and dirt that’s just asking for a small raised bed for a few vegetables. It would be a great opportunity to practice square foot gardening just to see how much food we could grow in about 12 square feet.

There’s also a community garden a few houses over from ours where each house has their own small raised bed area. I don’t know yet what the rules are for using pesticides and since I only grow organically, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I might just use it to grow ornamental flowers, gourds and decorative pumpkins for my wife.

So even though we’ve reduced the size of property we’re responsible for, there are actually quite a lot of options for gardening and even food production. I’m excited to see what it will look like when everything is in.

Time to Start Thinking of Gardens

It’s that time of year again. The time when I wait too long to plant my cool weather garden. I then wait too long to plant my warmer garden. All of that comes after I’ve already forgotten to amend the soil properly for the particular plants I want to grow. But hey, every year’s a new year. Even though I should have already sown my first round of carrots, radishes, lettuce and peas, I can still get them in a little late. And there’s always Fall and early Winter.

 

My biggest goal this year is to get a harvest of winter squash off the vine and onto my plate. Last year’s crop was absolutely decimated by squash bugs. I had amazing plants with beautiful leaves but I let the squash bugs get established. They destroyed everything. It’s hard to see vibrant plants start to put out fruit only to see everything killed by little vine-boring punks.

I’m determined that this year will be different. I plan on putting in fewer plants and defending them to the death against the insidious squash but. There are lots of great ideas in books and on the internet of ways to kill or deter them organically (the only way I grow food plants). One can try Castile soap sprays, diatomaceous earth, row covers, traps, companion plants, oils and others. I’m willing to try them all. The ultimate, of course, would be to design a garden defense system that uses computer vision and laser beams to blast bugs. I might need to put a little more thought into that one.

I love Kabocha, Acorn, Delicata and Spaghetti squash. I’d love them even more if they came from my garden rather than the store’s shelves. With a little care and attention, along with a healthy dose of bug violence, I might be able to make it happen this year. Now I just have to go put it all on the calendar so I don’t forget to actually do it.