One of the Joys of Maturity
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The Old Guy's Garden Record
The idea for Senior Gardening came about from frequent postings I made about our garden on another web site I maintain. The idea was to create a place where folks could share garden lore via blogs and forums. While I'm still struggling a bit with the software that will eventually make that possible on senior-gardening.com, I thought I'd at least put up a record of our 2008 garden in part from those postings, loosely edited, from the other site.
I've been busy pulling giant ragweed from the cornfield next to the garden (farmer turns off the herbicide sprayer to protect our evergreens and garden), and I sorta tuckered myself out! Pulling the ragweed protects our garden from weeds and the byproduct ends up in our compost heap!
Actually, we're enjoying lots of broccoli, the last of our first planting of cauliflower, a few grape tomatoes, and I even dug a couple of garlic (regular and elephant) bulbs for a great garlic chicken and shrimp dish we enjoy.
I'll probably be busy this weekend taking the first of our baby carrots and some beets. And as you can see, our sweet, white onions (Walla Walla) are bulbing. I'll also have to replant our green beans, as heavy rains took out most of the three rows I'd seeded a week or so ago.
And What About All Those Flowers in the Garden...
Almost from when I began gardening, I've worked flowers into the vegetable plantings. Sometimes they're for bug control, such as nasturtiums to deter nematodes and smelly marigolds to deter...uh, I forget what.
Okay, you've got me. I just like flowers in the vegetable garden. They do serve a purpose beyond aesthetics, though. If you look closely, the photo below reveals that many of the flowers are at the ends of vegetable rows. Rather than leave my stakes and string after planting seed, I often just transplant a flower on each end to serve as row markers.
The weather cleared up long enough yesterday afternoon for me to get out into the garden. I picked our last main head of broccoli and a whole bunch of side shoots. I pick and strip off the leaves in the garden and put the pickings directly into a bucket of cold saltwater (to remove any cabbage looper worms remaining).
We grew three varieties of broccoli this year. I tried Imperial for the first time and was pleased with its growth habit and main heads. It doesn't seem to produce side shoots, however. I also grew two tried and true varieties, Premium Crop and Goliath. Both produced large main heads followed by excellent side shoots.
I find that broccoli is one of the crops we can grow and freeze enough of to meet our needs for the whole year. Even in the heat of July, our broccoli is still sweet. I generally end up munching on some of the mini side shoots as I pick. To keep the harvest going, I'll again (did it once already) pull back the grass clipping mulch and work in a bit of lime and fertilizer around the base of the plants. I'll also give the broccoli, cauliflower, and kale a good shot of Thuricide biological spray. Since the Imperials don't seem to produce side shoots, those plants will go into the compost heap. I'll replant the row after renovating it with lime and fertilizer with the remaining cauliflower transplants I have on hand.
I also dug a few heads of garlic yesterday. We grow both the regular type of garlic and elephant garlic (not a true garlic, but part of the leek family). We use both kinds together in a variety of dishes. Many of our favorites start with garlic sauteed in olive oil and lemon juice. We add chopped celery, carrots, sweet onion, mushrooms, chopped grape tomatoes, and yellow squash before adding chicken breasts (or sometimes shrimp) covered with paprika. We serve it over fettuccine on fresh spinach leaves.
And of course, it's nice to just step back and look at the main garden plot a bit. We actually have three garden plots now. The raised bed below is the main plot and carries our intensive beds of vegetables and flowers.
Another plot to the right of our raised bed has the garlic, our caged tomatoes, and our green beans and potatoes...if they every get going. We've struggled with the plot on the right, as it was gardened by the previous owner...and was pretty well spent. I've green manured it with a year of alfalfa and also let it sit out a year two different times, but I think we'll be cutting it down in size and just return part of it to yard next year.
A third plot in a nearby field left fallow by the farmer has melons and squash in it. I'd originally hoped to plant sweet corn into the plot, but the weather and another round of elbow surgery for me put us too late into the planting season to get a corn crop. The plot has just a tilled and mulched strip with butternut squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, and one caged tomato plant (not shown) in it.
Years ago when I owned a small farm, we grew and roadsided about two acres of sweet corn each year! We just put up a sign on the highway when the corn came in and let folks drive back to our farm to buy it. The one year we grew four acres of supersweet sweet corn, we'd hoped to sell it at a nearby farmers market. Unfortunately, when the day to pick came, the wholesale price on sweet corn dropped from 65 cents/dozen to 35 cents. We just put a hotwire around two acres of it and turned some feeder pigs in on it!
ScienceDaily had a good article about using coffee grounds in compost heaps this week. We've done so for years, but Coffee Grounds Perk Up Compost Pile With Nitrogen gives some perspective on why it works and how to do it best.
at Senior Gardening