There are so many things I've learned since embarking upon this little (or big, depending on who you ask) journey of growing my own herbs and vegetables this summer. I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and she puts forth some really good suggestions for gardeners that I wish I would've done, had I read the book sooner. One of the things Kingsolver recommends is to keep a garden diary or journal. I was depending on photographing the entire process of the garden, but all I ended up with was a few hastily taken and rather blurry cell phone shots, devoid of any detail. After I've been working outside all day, taking pictures is not really another task I'm up to completing. Regardless, I've been attempting to make mental notes and take photos here and there of what was worked and what has not. A brief summary of our progress so far:
- We only got about 4 pea pods! The plant became infested with bugs and soon became dried up and dead. I wonder if it didn't get enough water? Today I ripped out the dead part (I bought 3 pea plants; one died and two are still living) hoping that the rest might produce something else by the end of the summer. I think the real problem with the peas was the fact that they needed to be put in the ground earlier, and the excessive heat may have been too much for the poor things to handle.
- Arugula is indestructible! I started mine from seed, and it got messed with twice -- once by a squirrel who buried nuts under it, and once by a raccoon who tipped over the entire planter, forcing Adam's mom to painstakingly replant it. I suppose there's two lessons to be learned here: 1) arugula lives on, and 2) squirrel and raccoon proof whatever you can! For us, that meant fastening the planter securely to the railing so next time it won't topple.
- Trimming the suckers off your tomato plants and the dead matter off your other plants is a good idea. I'm shocked at how much our tomatoes appear to be thriving, and it's still early July!
- Bugs don't like kale. It's one of the few plants I haven't had to worry about in terms of pest infestation.
- Humidity = BUGS. Lots of bugs! Specifically, what I believe to be asiatic lily beetles. Killing them by hand is disgusting, but so far I'm not entirely sure how to get rid of them. I have made a garlic pepper spray in hopes that it will maintain the integrity of our organic operation without killing too many good bugs. I will be sure to report the results of this newly concocted death elixir as soon as I try it out.
- If you are serious about growing and eating your own grub, make sure you grow things you can enjoy in the spring, or else you will go hungry. Next year, I plan on planting veggies that can be harvested in spring (like rhubarb, asparagus, etc.) so I can buy fewer things from the grocery store.
- If you like lettuce, have an arsenal of plants on hand. I have two, and it's not nearly enough! Next year I will plant several lettuce plants, since I love to eat salad in the spring and summer.
- Beans come relatively early, and they appear to be untouched by the bugs, although the leaves indicate otherwise (which was a great surprise!). I got a nice big handful of yellow and green beans today that I made into a perfectly summery salad. Recipe coming soon!
- Planting herbs is an invaluable investment. I can't tell you the number of times I've harvested fresh herbs so far, and it's still the beginning of summer. As far as I'm concerned, the plants have already paid for themselves!
That's about it for now...I'll post more info when the garden grows a bit more! I will leave you with some photos of our little slice of dirt.
This curious visitor was just watching me tend to the plants and wasn't shy at all!
Tomatoes, Fennel, and Rainbow Chard
Growing Ultra Pink Tomatoes
Fennel, Rainbow Chard, Green and Yellow Beans
Half-dead Peas :(
Acorn Squash in the Middle
Sugar Baby Melons
Arugula climbing towards the sky!
Herbs are still flourishing...
Tumbling Tom Red
Herbs among flowers...these herbs are getting demolished by the beetles! Any tips??