I planted my very first garden this year! I got a late start with my indoor seeds, but did finally transplant most of the 19 seedlings that made it to summer. Everything else was directly sown in May and is flourishing! It is beautiful to see, smell, touch, and eat. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of gardening, even the weeding. (It is
almost therapeutic.) I purchased my seeds from Victory Seeds, a non-gmo, non-Monsanto company that offers a variety of chemical-free heirloom seeds.
I loosely followed the square-foot gardening method, though I didn’t read Mel Bartholomew’s book first (I just now got it from the library). I knew I wanted to grow things vertically, so I just built a variety of trellises to see what works best. Books I do recommend are Backyard Homesteading and Talking Dirt. I also thumbed through The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, which was super interesting, but I didn’t have time to get into it. The most helpful websites I found were Mother Earth News and Harvest to Table, but I mostly just Googled stuff, read websites and forums, and watched a lot of YouTube videos.
First sprouts and a lot of weeds:
Indoor seedlings under the lights:
There is nothing–NOTHING–so satisfying as harvesting food from your own backyard and bringing it to your dining room table. I highly recommend All Year Round Lettuce, which is still sweet and going strong, despite the summer heat. It can pretty much be harvested at any stage–the baby leaves are so tender. My Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach bolted as soon as the weather heated up, but I got a good crop before it went to seed. The Sugar Ann Peas and Lincoln Peas are still producing delicious pods (though not as many as I would have hoped), but not one has made it to the kitchen–the kids and I ate them all in the garden!
I picked up a copy of Simply in Season when we started receiving farm-share produce, meat, eggs, and other foods through a CSA (community-supported agriculture). It’s an excellent cookbook for eating through the seasons and will come in handy when more of our vegetables are ready to harvest.
Garden as of July 10
Trying to train my pumpkin vines to climb the fence and leave the garden:
West and north beds, 4-foot cucumber/pea trellis on left:
East and north beds, 7-foot tomato trellises on right, cinder-block compost bin way in the back:
6-foot Butternut Squash tee pee and a lot of sweet corn plants:
Beautiful blue Borage blooms in the foreground, 4-foot cucumber & pea trellis in the middle, 6-foot bean pole tee pee in back, vegetables growing everywhere:
The cabbage is my only crop (thus far, knock on wood) that has fallen prey to a ravenous insect. I’ve got this garlic insect repellant for the garden in my fridge getting ready to use. Abram and I doused the weeds in my walkways with apple cider vinegar, which burned the crap out of them, but I hand-weeded all the beds. I mulched the walkways with wood chips, and the pumpkin and melon beds with sheets of newspaper covered with grass clippings, which has helped tremendously. I also sprayed a solution of half water, half apple cider vinegar on the soil at the base of several plants that were growing mold (because I poured soured raw milk on them). I also fed my potted plants water mixed with epsom salts (1 gallon of water with 2 tbsp. epsom salts), which perked them right up. Oh, and I put some egg shells around my tomato plants. No other “fertilizing” to speak of.
For mosquitoes… If I’m out from dusk onward, I put on jeans and a white, long-sleeved shirt, and on on my face and neck I apply Bug Balm (recipe below). This balm has the added benefit of having a bit of “sunblock” in it because coconut oil and shea butter are natural sunscreens, albeit not very strong sunscreens. If you do get burned, a bit of sweet almond or jojoba oil with a few drops of frankincense essential oil soothes burned skin and takes the red out. It’s pretty amazing!
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp. shea butter
- 15-20 drops each citronella, eucalyptus, and cajeput essential oils
- 10 drops cedarwood essential oil
Melt the butter and oil in a double boiler over low heat. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, then stir in essential oils. Pour into a glass jar and cool in refrigerator until solid. Store in a cool place.
Growing a tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket on the deck:
Potted flowers an herbs on the deck (my window box herb garden not pictured):
Echinacea (purple coneflower):
I’ve made a number a newbie gardener mistakes, which are all too embarrassing to go into here, but it’s all part of the learning process! Yet even with all its challenges, I’ve not encountered anything quite so rewarding as gardening. Dirty hands, green plants, fresh air, sunshine, and food that I grew myself. Yep, I’m hooked.