How Does Your Garden Grow?

My god this gardening thing is tricky. So far all I’ve really figured out is that I really don’t know much. Sigh. Still, I’ve managed to complete a few things.

We planted strawberries that will hopefully give us some fruit next year–providing the squirrels don’t dig them all up before that can happen. Squirrels, for all their frolicking, are demon spawn. They dig holes in my yard, they eat my bulbs, and dig up my strawberries. A few weeks back, Tara exited the front door to find a squirrel sitting on our front deck eating a strawberry plant. He didn’t so much as blink when Tara walked toward him. She turned around and came back in the house. If a squirrel doesn’t run away when a human appears, guaranteed he’s going to climb up your leg and eat your eyes out as soon as he’s done with the plant.

In addition to planting several strawberries, we also built a new planting bed around our water meters. Next spring I’ll put some more strawberries in there.

We were super lucky to get raspberry plants from a friend. She gave us two large bunches from her own garden and I planted them along the fence in the back yard. They will get nice morning sun there. I doubt we’ll get much in terms of fruit this upcoming year, but for sure the year after. I’ll go out this winter, probably January when the plant is dormant, and prune them back to 12-18 inches.

Blueberry vendor at Vancouver Farmers Market

There is a fabulous farmers market downtown Vancouver that Tara and I like to frequent. A few weeks ago, I had a fabulous conversation with a vendor there who was selling, among other things, blueberry bushes. We talked for quite a while about the different plants and what they have to offer. I didn’t ask, but he had to be nearing eighty and it was a pleasure to spend time with him. The information in his head could easily fill a book. At twenty minutes, I got the abridged version. I also got three blueberry bushes. I planted them in front of our shed, all three in a row. The will eventually grow together and make a lovely full bush with three different varieties. That area gets great afternoon sun, so we should have good berry production in a couple of years. The farmer advised that I prune back any sign of flowering or early berry production next year. That way the plants will work harder to get their roots established.

I already have a nice worm compost bin, but it is not nearly big enough to produce all of the compost will will need in the upcoming planting season. To that end, I’ve started a new compost pile where we will plant next spring. I have plans to build a formal structure to hold the compost, but for now, it truly is just a pile. It’s a good solution for us because we generate more vegetable food scraps than the worms can keep up with. Also, a traditional compost pile can take egg shells (rinsed them out first), coffee grounds (so can the worms, but in limited quantities), yard trimmings, etc. With the worms, we limit them strictly to vegetable waste and mulch.

So, that’s where we’re at. Here’s where we are going:

Chickens are coming. I’m working on their area so it will be ready by spring. Then we’ll have an abundance of chicken poo to add to our compost. Woot!

Right now I’m in process of planning our our garden space for next year. This project is pretty intimidating, but I have found a couple of good resources. Milkwood is an organic urban farm. Their blog is very informative. Another good place to look online is Mother Earth News. They’ve been around forever teaching people how to live independently. Needless to say, I consult both of these sites regularly. If y’all have another site that you like, please share it.

My planting goals for next year are pretty simple. I want to grow everything I need to can a few staple items. We love salsa and marinara, so the ingredients for both those items are on my list. Also, green beans and corn are perfect, nutritious side dishes, so they are must. Corn has the additional benefit of being an excellent cover crop, so that’s a total two-fer with that crop. I grew up in Idaho, so I’m a total potato girl. I’ll plant a few of those as an experiment. And, of course, no garden is complete without cucumbers. The complement item for the cucumbers is dill so I’ll be able to can up some pickles for Tara next year.

Right now, however, if feels like I spend more time trying to stop the wrong things from growing than I spend getting the right things to grow. In other words, I have a lot of weeds. I pull one and ten more pop up. It’s a long, slow process, but I’m winning that battle.

Happy growing, folks.

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