Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Fruits of summer

We are growing a bit of a garden this summer, with mixed results. We've both been reading and thinking a lot about where our food comes from and how it is produced and all that, so it seemed like the natural, right thing to do. My dad had a garden for most of my growing-up years, this huge line of orderly rows that yielded vast quantities of cucumbers and zucchini and squash and tomatoes. We decided to start out on a bit smaller scale and try the square foot gardening approach, where you build a raised bed, fill it, and rope it off into a square grid. "Like graph paper!" I thought. "Perfect!"

Starting the garden

We built the bed and planted our first set of seeds last fall, but nothing really came of that. This is mostly my fault, as we didn't get our act together to plant things until much too late (beginning of October, I think?) and there wasn't enough time for things to mature before the sun and warmth went away. Also, Rob insists that I never watered the garden and that somehow this may have affected its success. Crazy, I know.


So when spring rolled around, I decided to try again and this time we have managed to produce ACTUAL FOOD. The things which have done the best are some of the herbs (basil, oregano, sage) as well as cucumbers and tiny tomatoes. We have a jalapeƱo plant that is looking super lush and healthy; it has yet to produce anything but we harbor high hopes for it still. I've decided that it's just too hot here for parsley, cilantro, or beets to thrive (or of course any lettuce-y green type things). We tried chard and it seemed to do OK until we got to the 100-degree weather and then it just stopped growing. Actually, that happened to a LOT of stuff living in our garden.

How does your garden grow?

I will admit that I kind of thought we would get more edible goodness from our garden, but on the whole it's been fun and good to eat things we've actually grown. I am left with so many questions, however. We went crazy overboard with tomato plants but about 3/4 of them haven't produced a single tomato. And why are the tomatoes we are growing so tiny? The ones from the non-cherry-tomato varieties are just larger than a grocery store cherry tomato, and the ones from the cherry-tomato varieties are the size of a small marble. Too much hot weather? Was the compost we used not compost-y enough? (We are also new to composting.) And why are our cucumbers strangely bitter? Nature, man-- it's inscrutable.


Kiki@Seagulls in the Parking Lot said...

Yay for you growing a garden!

Can you imagine if we still had to work the land for our food?! yikes.

ashley said...

Let me know when you figure out any secrets to gardening. We tried squash this year and got A squash out of 6 plants! We're joining a co-op in September.

Christy@pipandsqueak said...

We have had fun but have been disappointed in our output as well. As to size, I think that is part of organic gardening, at least until you can figure out the organic supplements. Let me know if you figure it out.

Willyanne said...

My parents had a garden that was amazingly abundant. People would come from all over to take clippings of the tomato plants and such thinking they were some genetic aberrance. But really, the garden only took off when we got rabbits, and we would put their waste on the compost heap all year. It was so fertile anything we threw into the compost grew anew- pear trees, watermelons, etc.

Keely said...

The best tomatoes we had were when we planted straight into the bag of tomato potting mix. As for the cucumbers being bitter, I vaguely remember being told that's due to inadequate watering tho I could be wrong.