Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I can finally post about some gardening. This has been an odd year. We were drowning in school in the beginning of the year and never got any seeds started. Tim isn't happy because we won't have oodles of amazing tomatoes again this year. I kind of decided that I wasn't going to garden this year and that I was just going to buy a LOT of stuff at our farmer's market.

We had crazy weather this spring. We had a couple of nice weeks and we though Spring had sprung but then we had a couple of weeks of below freezing temps in the evenings. If we had put anything out, it most likely would died. A couple of weeks ago I began to regret not starting anything in the garden and decided to go out and try and get some things.

Two weeks ago, I went over to our local dairy to see if they had any heirloom tomatoes growing. They had Rutgers there, but were gone by the time I got there. I walked through their amazing greenhouses and met this lady Anne. We got to talking and I learned so much from her. I came home and my head was swimming with knowledge and I kind of felt like I was drowning. I did come home with one Legend tomato plant. Anne gave me the ever so generous price of one dollar because she was having a hard time keeping up with them and she didn't want it to die. She also gave me some seed for Abernaki corn, some barley and some oats. She also recommended a seed company if I was looking for organic and heirloom seeds.

I came home and tried to tell Tim all I had learned but couldn't remember it all. I then did some research on the things I came home with. The corn, for instance, is not a sweet corn. It's a corn used to grind into flour. That will be fun. The barley I learned will make for a good cover crop in the fall to feed our garden beds.

The next day, it was cool and windy out and we were getting ready for some big storms and Nancy suggested that we all get out there before the rain hit and get the four beds cleared out. They were in dire need of attention. Tim, Nancy, Ethan and I worked furiously to get the beds done. We got three of them done and then it started pouring. In the torrential downpour we mixed in manure into one of the beds and planted the corn. Then we ran inside. Then I ordered some seeds from Fedco. I ordered some Kentucky Wonder pole beans, some New England Pie pumpkins, some Table Queen acorn squash and some Blackstrap sorghum seeds.

We wanted to try the Native American "three sisters" way of growing. The corn came up last week so I planted the Kentucky wonders around each of the corn sprouts that came up. They will grow up the corn stalks. At least that is what they are supposed to do. I think the beans add nutrients to the soil that corn needs too. It's all an experiment now. The third sister is squash. The Native Americans used to plant them around the corn/bean patch. The prickly nature of squash plants kept the corn and beans safe from animals. We don't have enough room in the bed to put the squash, so I'm going to plant the squash in the bed behind the corn.

Last weekend I went back to the farm to see if I could get another couple of tomato plants and see if I could chat with Anne some more. Score on both. I came home with two more Legend tomato plants and one Razzleberry tomato plant. I learned the difference between hybrid, open pollinated and heirloom varieties. I also came home with some sorghum plants. I told Anne that I got some Blackstrap seeds and she said that those wouldn't make syrup (which I why I wanted it) and then she handed me a tray of 18 plants. She said she was going to end up composting them because she didn't have the room to plant them so I gladly accepted them. I just finished planting them and I look forward to seeing them get tall and hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to make syrup.

Hmmm, what else? I did start a salsa mix of hot peppers for Tim and he transplanted them into four containers. I am looking up how to build a cold frame so that in the fall I can grow some lettuce and chard. I'll also be able to start them early in the spring too. I have decided that I'm going to take gardening seriously next year again. I'm going to order my seeds in January/February and then start the seeds March/April. We are striving to eat as locally as possible and there is nothing more local than our back yard. I can't wait until next week because Farmer's market opens up again and I'm going to stock up things to preserve.

In other news, I took the boys strawberry picking last week. The weather was gorgeous. I knew storms would be rolling in the next day so we loaded up and drove through some beautiful countryside and picked 11 pounds of strawberries. I haven't had fresh picked strawberries since I was a child. My mom would load my brother and I up and drive to Plant City, FL to spend the day picking berries. I remember coming home with sunburns and belly aches from eating the berries as we picked them. The boys and I had a lot of fun picking. I think made 23 half pint jars of strawberry jam, some of which were strawberry lemon marmalade. I wish I had made more of that because it tasted way better than I thought it would. I'll see if there are any fresh berries at the market next week. If so, then I'll make some more of the marmalade. I know that I want to make peach jam this year too.

I think that should bring everything up to date around here. We have finally started gardening, albeit not as much as last year, but it's something. Next year I will be more organized. In fact, I should go order some beet seeds to plant in the fall. I'll share some pictures of the garden. It doesn't look like much now. I'll have to wait and see if they work out or not.

Legend Tomatoes
Three Legend tomato plants. In the background are some onions that were left in the ground from last year and Tim's containers of hot peppers. I need to stake the tomatoes still.

Razzleberry Tomato Plant
1 Razzleberry Tomato plant. The tomatoes are supposed to be a hot pink color. I can't wait to see them.

Abernaki corn
Four rows of Abernaki corn and in the background one bed that still needs to be cleared out. That is where the acorn squash are going to go.

My bee balm plants (two of them) have finally exploded with these gorgeous red flowers.

Connor and Aidan picking lots and lots of berries.

The Haul
Eleven pounds of fresh picked strawberries

First jam!
The first of three batches of Strawberry jam.