Adventures in Gardening: Part 3

This is the third part of a series. You can read Part 1 and 2 on my profile page.

Well, it’s been a month and one day since we planted our garden. So far, so good! In the last couple of weeks, things have really shot up, especially the potatoes, pumpkins and sunflowers. Here is the run-down of updates:

I reported two weeks ago that there were a lot of gaps in the rows of corn and sunflowers. We assumed that the planter was at fault and bought a huge packet of corn plant in the gaps, only to see that they were already filling in, slowly but surely. Now they seem to be mostly filled in. We learned that you have to be patient before assuming that something isn’t going to grow. Some seeds take longer than others. The corn still isn’t too big. I don’t know if it will be “knee high by the Fourth of July,” so the saying goes. Well, I guess it depends on whose knee it is. I’d say it will reach a baby’s knee for sure. The farmer’s corn in the field right next to it is getting huge and he even planted it after our garden was planted. It just goes to show you how much better the commercial corn will grow with fertilizers and such.

We didn’t plant any more seeds after all, but we went to a family gathering for Father’s Day and my husband’s aunt had extra cabbage and Amish Paste tomato plants to give us. The Amish Paste tomatoes are supposed to be good for salsas and canning, which is good, because we love salsa. We took them home and I planted those along the edge, so I now have a total of 16 tomato plants! Yikes.

I also mentioned that there were some weeds popping up. Well, I neglected to weed the garden for a while and some rows were getting kind of bad (I was too busy weeding the rest of the landscaping). I tried to use the small rototiller we have and it didn’t seem to be working right. It was just going over the weeds. I had to kind of angle it to cut the weeds. It then ran out of gas and I gave up. It wasn’t until later when I told my husband it was acting up that I found out he had changed the tines on it to form hills. No wonder it wasn’t digging up the weeds; it was just covering them with hills! I had to have him change the tines before I went out and did it right.

Another problem I mentioned before was the bugs on my eggplants. They were making the leaves look like lace. We sprayed them and haven’t had any problems since. The new leaves look fine. You can tell a definite different between the new and old leaves. I think I need to spray the new leaves to be safe, though.

We also try to spray Miracle Grow when we have to water, or at least every two weeks. From previous experience, I know it really helps. I have had almost completely dead potted plants spring back to life and flourish using Miracle Grow. We have a hose attachment that automatically dispenses the right amount of fertilizer as we water, so that makes it a lot easier.

Although I mentioned needing to put up something for the Oregon Sugar Snap Peas to climb, we didn’t get around to it until two days ago. I went with stakes and string. We used a maul to put in three wooden stakes. Then I put three rows of string on them, a few inches apart. We put it up this past Tuesday night. By Wednesday, several of the plants had already found the first string and were spiraling around it. I was impressed with their seeming intelligence. It’s like they knew the string was there and reached up for it. I noticed some of the shorter plants were getting their vines tangled since there was nowhere else to go. I think I need to add a lower string.

It’s pretty amazing how quickly things can change in a garden. I checked over all the plants on Tuesday. I saw a few blossoms on the peppers and tomato plants, but that was it. Then on Wednesday, I saw a few pumpkin blossoms had popped up. I had seen the little green starts of the blossoms, but they seemed to turn yellow overnight. I’m so excited. I can’t pick them yet, though. I need to let the plants grow more and pollinate. I can almost taste the fried pumpkin blossoms. I already have several “dibs” on them. At first I thought I would have too many, but now I’m not sure I’ll have enough for all the requests. We’ll see, but I’m sure there will still be plenty to go around.

I guess I should refrain from getting too excited. Just as things can change quickly for the better, they can also change for the worse. One example was when the bugs ate the eggplant leaves. I also lost the strawberry plants. I’m not sure why. Another problem would be if critters get into my garden and have a nice feast. I already saw the most notorious enemy of the garden, the wild rabbit, snooping around. It was probably getting a run-down to tell its friends.

“Well, how’s it look?” they must’ve asked.

“Oh, it’s getting there, but there’s nothing too exciting yet. She didn’t plant any lettuce or carrots.”

“No lettuce or carrots?! What kind of garden is that?”

I can almost see their disappointed little bunny faces. Do bunnies like pumpkins, tomatoes or eggplant? I think I heard that raccoons like pumpkins, and of course, deer and raccoons love sweet corn. We don’t have a fence right now, so I guess we’ll just see how it goes. I don’t want to kill or trap anything. I actually like watching the bunnies. I just hope they don’t demolish all my hard work. If so, I might have to reconsider the garden next year unless we get a fence for the more vulnerable plants.

In addition to the plants in the garden, I also planted some potted herbs and other plants a few weeks ago. I have cilantro, chives and three kinds of basil. I like that I can go out with some scissors and snip some off for cooking anytime I want. Whenever I buy herbs from the store, most of them go bad, so this is nice. Here’s a tip about herbs you might want to know: you usually need to use more to get more. In other words, don’t let them grow tall and spindly. The more you cut, the bushier they get and the more they produce. Even if you aren’t going to use the herbs, you want to trim them periodically. This seems to be really true for cilantro and basil.

Well, that’s all I have to report right now. Things are getting exciting. I can’t wait until I can actually eat something from the garden. I’m betting the pumpkin blossoms will be the first on the list. I know I still need to post a recipe for fried pumpkin blossoms. I just wanted to make it myself first before sharing, so I could make sure to include any helpful tips. Stay tuned!

If you want to see more pictures of the garden, I have an ongoing slideshow that I will continue to update every two weeks or so.


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