Garden Bounty

Aug 18 2013_garden bounty

August 18, 2013

The amount of produce from our garden this year is mind boggling. Pictured above is the Sunday morning picking of veggies for the week. Enough for the two of us to eat and some to give away. Beet greens, carrot tops (my current favorite) and swiss chard for our morning Green Smoothies. Young potatoes, lettuce (sadly this is the last of the lettuce for this year), carrots, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, onions and garlic. This week’s bounty – cucumbers and zucchini.

I have left one big cuc in the garden to be my ‘mother’ for next year’s crop (a lesson from Mama Rosie). My peas are pretty much done; I still find enough young ones for snacking in the garden but have given up picking for this year. I’ll let them mature and use them for seed for next year and growing pea shoots over the winter. We had a feed of green and yellow beans on Saturday for lunch (yummy with a bit of Earth Balance margarine and a sprinkling of garlic granules, chili powder and chipotle chili powder); but they are pretty much done as well. I will also save bean seeds for next year’s planting.

I have had a garden for as long as I can remember. I remember my first official garden at age nine (my first year in the 4-H Garden Club) but Mom says we all had our own little plots from when we were toddlers. I guess gardening is in my blood. When I moved into Ken’s house on Burrows Ave, I had him dig up the postage stamp yard in the back and we planted a garden. At McInnes Place, I had a huge garden. When my Mom gave up her garden at the farm, I took it over. Now we have cleared enough space for our own big garden at the Ponderosa.

Even though I’ve been gardening forever, I am not a traditional gardener. I like trying new things and detest planting in straight rows. I loved using Mom’s garden plot. It is at the front of the yard and the first thing everyone driving by would see. I planted in squares one year, circles another. I mixed the veggies up with flowers and tried to make the garden a place of beauty as well as food. The neighbors driving by always wondered what Mom was up to with the new crazy gardens.

I tried a few new ideas this year and learned a few good lessons. I planted squash, beans (for dried beans not green eating) and corn together. The natives used to call this the Three Sisters. It worked well last year but this year the squash and beans overtook the corn, crowding it out. No corn this year. Next year I will cut down the amount of beans and squash I plant and leave more room for the corn. (For the first time I was using squash and dry bean seeds I saved from the previous year’s growth. I didn’t know what the germination would be, and I had lots of seeds, so I was bit overzealous in the planting.) And I planted the peas with the cucumbers thinking the peas would be finished before the cucumbers started running much. Wrong. Instead the cucumbers and peas are all tangled together. Won’t do that again.

Gardening is a joy, but if can easily turn into a chore. As a kid, I remember picking peas all morning, shelling peas all afternoon and freezing peas all evening. The garden provided an endless array of jobs to do. Now I try to keep my gardening and preserving simpler. We eat what we can, preserve what we can, and compost or give the rest away. I don’t feel bad about the huge row of beans left unpicked. That’s seed for next year.

Right now my garden is a jungle. With the build going on there isn’t enough time to keep it clean. Ken made a righteus attempt this week to get the weeds under control. Even though it’s a bit wild looking at the moment, it’s producing just fine. And weeds make great ‘wild edibles’ for green smoothies and compost for the soil. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So if you drop by, lock your car. Otherwise you might just find a big hunking zuccini in your back seat.

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About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
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