Debriefing the Garden

This entry is geared toward the novices.  What I want you to get out of this is that gardening is kind of an experimental thing.  Surfing around and looking at getting into it, it’s easy to be intimidated by all the perfect little plots and gorgeous back yards.  There is absolutely a lot to learn and experience, but there is no reason to be scared off.  You try things, they either work or they don’t, and you tweak.  This is about my experiences and what I’ve learned this year.

This was the first year with our new beds.  We’d previously had a long 4×24 raised bed along with a couple of 4×8 beds that did well for three seasons.  Unfortunately, they had to be ripped out to make way for a new leach field.  Last summer, we went without and it sucked.  I really missed walking out every day, tending to things and seeing how they were doing.  So, last October, as an anniversary gift to my wife, I built six 4×8 raised beds and had them ready to plant in the spring.

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The big thing I learned this year is that hoop houses are going to be a necessity going forward.  I’m looking a bushel and a half of green tomatoes in the kitchen and wondering just how we’re going to use them.  The thing was that we had a really late start to the season.  June was cold and windy.  We planted, but the seedlings we put out didn’t have a chance until July.  Here it is, late October, cold and ready to frost, and half the crop is still sitting out green.  We did get two good bushels otherwise.  But, if we’d had hoop houses, the late start wouldn’t have been an issue.  It’s definitely a priority next year.

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What we did have a lot of success with though were greens.  We’d never had much luck before.  In our old garden, they were sitting out fully exposed in the beating sun and they bolted before you had half a chance.  Our new garden though is closer to the house.  In the right bed, they get a good blast of warming morning sun and then some gentle shade throughout the rest of the day.  The lettuce did great.  Unfortunately, not having had luck before, we only planted one type of bib lettuce.  But next year I’m going to go wild with all kinds of funky and different varieties.  I’m looking forward to some salads.

The green beans did well too.  I made little tipis for them to grow on and they seemed to like where they were.  I could be talked into growing more next year and putting a bunch away.

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I had absolutely no luck with potatoes.  We got enough for exactly two meals.  I’d tried building a potato tower like I’d seen a bunch of times on Facebook.  To hear people talk, you can get up to 50 pounds using them.  That wasn’t our experience here.  Granted, I used the cheapest soil you could get at Walmart.  I’m told that that’s not an issue.  And other people are saying that it just wasn’t a good year for them.  But, before giving up, I’m going to give it one more try.  I think I’m going to double down and build two.

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Going on, our cucumbers did really well. It’s too bad I don’t like pickles.  Our eggplant did well too.  I wasn’t really impressed with the peppers.  We had the same challenges with them as we did with the tomatoes.  And I could be talked out of growing onions really easily.  They came out tiny and they my be better off bought from the store.  We’d had good squash before, but that was a complete failure this year.  I’d tried to just rototill a plot and they apparently didn’t like that at all.  Next year I’m going to build some proper squash beds.

Being an Anarchist means separating yourself from systems.  To that end, food and nourishment are a big one.  On my 1/3 acre property, I have no illusions of ever being self sufficient.  Still, the idea is that you move in that direction.  My vision is to one day have my entire property as productive.  I want everything to be either garden bed, fruit tree, berry bush, or mulched foot path.  Part of it is that I’m lazy and don’t like to mow.  More importantly, it’s that little bit of independence.  It’s practical.  It’s spiritual.  A garden enhances your life.

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