Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Walk Through the Garden

 I haven't done much blogging or photographing of the garden this year. This is mostly because I'm disappointed in myself for not having as pretty of a garden as I've had in the past. It looks... well, it looks like a first year garden in a new climate. You know, because it is a first year garden in a new climate.

It's about 30 ft by 70 ft. I wanted it bigger, but tilling turned out to be quite a chore, and this was the most The Man of My Dreams could muster the time and energy to do. And now I'm grateful for that, since it's proving plenty big enough for my first year up here.

This picture is of weeds. Yep - that's how bad it is. I pull a wheelbarrow full of weeds each morning and night, but the bindweed and the goat-heads are just awful. Hopefully a few years of diligent weeding will prove successful. Apparently all the tilling The Man of My Dreams did for me ended up spreading the weeds, making them even worse.

Next year, no tilling.

I've also been disappointed because nothing seems to be growing. But what I've come to realize is that everything is definitely growing, it just all ripens about six weeks later that it did when we lived in The Big City. Six weeks is a very long time for a girl who has been waiting all year for fresh green beans and tomatoes. But we're getting there. 

Next year, patience.

 If there's one thing I can say about living here, it's that pollination isn't a problem. Every flower gets pollinated - bees and wasps abound, and they are doing their work diligently. In The Big City, many tomato blossoms would drop before they were pollinated, between the heat and the lack of bees. Not here though - cooler temperatures and an abundance of buzzing insects means plenty of pollination.
 I'm amused at how things that I couldn't grow for the life of me in The Big City are doing so well here. Broccoli never got a chance to develop a head before, because it would get so hot so fast. On nine broccoli plants this year, the heads weighed out at fifteen pounds, and we're still harvesting from the side shoots nearly every other day. I finally pulled out all the spinach - I put by thirty bags of frozen spinach before it bolted. In The Big City, cucumbers would wilt and shrivel in the dry heat if they weren't watered in the middle of the afternoon, and the fruits would be bitter. Here, the vines are clamboring up my pitiful trellis, and baby cukes are everywhere, shaded in the lush plants. The onions are growing nice big bulbs, thanks to less heat up here. They're big enough to be using, and will hopefully store well this fall, as I've got about 120 of them planted.

Next year, more broccoli.

The beans are growing, finally starting to flower just in the past couple of days. They quickly outgrew and pulled down the bamboo teepees and stuck out there. The ground is so rocky here that it's hard to get any stakes in deep enough to be sturdy.

Next year, stronger trellises and stakes. 

Littlest One planted corn this year. The only year I tried growing corn at the other house, it was a miserable, earwig-infested failure. I'm not sure this attempt will be any better, but it's fun to see her when she goes out and checks on it. It grows quickly, so she sees the changes often.

 Much of what we planted this year is experimenting - trying out new varieties, and growing vegetables we hadn't tried before. Potatoes and cabbage are both new to us, things we didn't have the space for in the past. The cabbage worms are grateful that we've planted so many varieties of brassicas for them to consume. The cabbage heads are big enough now to harvest, though I'm nervous that there are little wormies living inside there that are going to make us not want to eat it.

Next year, row covers.
 In the foreground of this picture are potatoes. I dug a trench as deep as I could go with all the rocks and boulders underground - about 18". I've since filled that back in and hilled up the potatoes another two feet or so, and they're just going crazy. Not sure if there's anything actually growing in there, but they sure are happy plants.

 Next year, potato crates.

And also growing quite well are the turkeys. I'm still fascinated by what neat birds they are. I'm also fascinated by how much they eat. We keep them penned up and feed them commercial game bird feed, and they go through more than I ever thought possible. I'm afraid to let them free range because I've heard it can be hard to get them to come back.
Next year, a moveable turkey pen. 

I have a feeling every year will come with a list of things to do "next year". It's all a learning experience. I'm realizing I need to give up my dreams of perfection in these early years while we figure things out. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, of course - this is farming after all. It will get better though, as experience is gained and routines fall into place. Until then, I will try to embrace the imperfection and learn graciously from the lessons this land has to teach me.


Diane said...

Julie, garening there sounds very similar to gardening here. We had great success with everything you are growing, plus carrots,onion, turnips, beets, cauliflower, and of course all the "early" stuff like lettuce, spinach, peas etc. No luck here with tomatoes, peppers, and beans-too short of a growing season with a last frost date in mid june and the first frost happening the first week in Sept-in a good year! Have fun-gardening in the mountains can be frustrating.


Julie said...

Diane - I think your growing season is even a bit shorter than mine! We can plant out tomatoes around the first of June, and we have till mid-late Sept. til first frost. I'm still holding out hope that at least some beans and peppers will have a chance... not sure about the tomatoes though. It's fun to see different things doing well here that didn't before... but I'm gonna miss a whole summer of eating tomatoes off the vine while I'm weeding. :oP