Saturday, June 23, 2007

How does your garden grow?

Gardening has become one of my passions in life. I truly enjoy the whole process of having a garden. Perhaps that is because I have a wonderful husband and several sons to help do all the "back breaking" work! Last year began our journey with planting in "beds" rather than the old way of planting in a large field. This has made it even easier and more enjoyable for me. Michael and I will be heading out shortly this morning to get another truck load of the most beautiful composted dirt/horse manure that you ever did see. God has blessed us with friends who clean their stalls out and then dump the manure into a wooded area. After some time, the composted dirt has become a lush growing environment. They allow us to take all the dirt we could ever need. In return, I take them flowers and garden produce. It is a win win situation all around.

We are enjoying an abundance of squash, zucchini, green beans, green onions, many different types of lettuce, broccoli, and many different flowers. Tnfarmgirl (her link is at our sidebar) has taught me so much about gardening. I can't even thank her enough for sharing her ideas and methods with us. She is always willing to help and answer the many questions that we pass along her way. She taught me about succession gardening. We planted green beans earlier this year, and I have already canned 14 quarts of green beans plus we have eaten several meals with a big pot of green beans as the center attraction. I will be planting another bed of green beans soon. I will have beans continuously throughout the summer instead of just in one huge amount for a shorter season. Every week or two, I plant new lettuce seed in the garden. I then harvest the lettuce when it is young and tender, but I have plenty new plants coming on for the next bowl of salad. This whole process has changed the way I approach gardening. I still can and freeze all that is available, but now our family enjoys fresh produce longer in the season.

I have already started planning our fall garden. This is a new concept to me. I used to think a fall garden consisted of pumpkins and collard greens. Boy was I wrong there. There are many vegies that can be grown in the fall with great success, plus you don't have the bugs to contend with as much.

Bugs...that is another passion of mine. They became a passion for me after we planted our first potato plants. Several years ago we had a huge potato plot, and I was so excited about this new adventure. The plants were beautiful. Then one day I went over there for something, and one entire row of potatoes had no leaves left. They were nothing more than just stems poking out of the ground. I quickly learned the ways of potato bugs, and in no time flat the bugs ate all of our potato leaves. Then the bugs went onto our tomato plants! I spent the whole garden season picking bugs off my plants. The problem was that I had let the bugs overtake the garden. Out of ignorance, I didn't know what to look for earlier on to help combat this problem. Now I am out early looking for evidence of bugs. I turn the leaves of my plants over and look for tiny yellow eggs. As soon as any are spotted, I smash them. This helps keep the bug population down before they ever get good and started. I also look for any bugs that might have hatched without us knowing. Now, here is where I enlist the help of our 3 year old. I have him look for bugs and smash them. This has a two-fold purpose. A few bugs are killed, and his little hands are busy and staying out of trouble.

Gardening with little people can be very rewarding, but it also brings many challenges. This year when I was out planting seeds, Seth was very excited to help. (None of my older children had this same passion so I thought I would take what I could get). I showed him how to sprinkle the seeds and cover them up with dirt. He quickly lost all patience with me and decided to move on to his own independent maneuvers. I looked and he was pouring seeds from my well ordered seed box! I was getting very impatient with his latest planting endeavors. I then saw a sack of onion sets. I had already planted many of them so I quickly took the sack and his little fingers and showed him how to plant onions. He enjoyed this job so much that it kept him busy for the rest of the time I was in the garden that day. Now we are enjoying his green onions that he planted. Granted I find green onions in every one of our beds mixed in here and there, but we can still use the most of them, and he had a positive experience in the garden.

Off to the garden I go!!!

grace and peace,


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