Then why am I starting a garden? Well, my husband eats veggies. I like carrots, potatoes, and lettuce (my salads are sad – lettuce, carrots, cheese, and raisins). He’s much healthier. Broccoli and bell peppers and tomatoes, he likes them all. So that’s what I’ll be growing. Only the stuff that we actually eat. Onions for salsa making, and maybe one little zucchini vine to add some extra veggies to my spaghetti sauce. I’d like to try corn, too. And my dream is to find a place away from the ubiquitous pine trees where I can grow an apple tree or two. If you really think about what you eat, there are at least a couple of things you can grow. Strawberries maybe. Dwarf citrus trees. Grapes if you’re ambitious.
I started a compost heap a month and a half ago. I don’t know that I’ll have anything ready by planting time, but it’s a long term project anyway. I will keep trying to garden (even though I have a black thumb) so I will eventually be able to harvest some compost to add to the dirt. This year I have vowed to actually do some research instead of just putting seed in the ground and hoping something grows. I managed a couple of tomato plants and some of the hardiest broccoli known to nature last year.
I’m serious. The broccoli started well, got to have several leaves and the beginnings of heads. Then the caterpillars came. Now, generally I like caterpillars, they’re cute and they give us butterflies. But this was rediculous. They ate five broccoli plants down to stumps in the course of a few days. The broccoli rallied though. It came back strong and started getting heads again. And again came the caterpillars. This happened four times. Finally the growing season drew to a close and there was nothing to show for it all but brown stumps. Being lazy, I didn’t take the dead plants out of their planters. It’s not the worst thing in the world because the tomato plants now grace my compost heap. But darned if the broccoli stumps didn’t start growing again! They all have little leaves and Ihave one that’s got a modest head growing. I want to harvest it small so I at least get something from those silly plants, but at the same time I want to let it grow as big as it wants to, it’s come this far after all. It survived temperatures down into the 20’s, total neglect for months – I didn’t water it because I thought it was dead – and is going strong. Hardiest broccoli evver.
Anyway, I am getting ambitious. I rediscovered a WONDERFUL resource recently, the Cooperative Extension. Every state has one I believe. They have information on everything from caring for your lawn to raising farm animals and agricultural management to saving money in your household. They are amazing. Mine has master gardeners on call to help answer any questions you may have. They show up with booths at the yearly home and garden shows, giving out handouts on everything under the sun, and offer free soil testing to tell you what you need to add to your dirt to make it suitable for growing things. They totally rock. This year I am going to haunt their website so that I can figure out what to do. I might even successfully grow the veggies that my family actually eats.