A Garden Adventure Update!

 Square foot gardening attempt

Lay thine eyes upon our beaut of a garden! Look at it! Okay, you can stop now.

Anyway, the last time we blogged about anything garden related, it was us starting SEEDS! See all those tomato plants at the front of this picture? Those were little seeds I put in like a tablespoon of dirt back in March, and they sprouted and now they have FRUIT on them. Four of them are heirloom tomato plants, so I can use their seeds for next year (if I remember while devouring them...). That's kind of the point though, because we eventually want to be able to grow everything year after year from the seeds of our last crop. Sustainability, y'all.

So, how did we get from seeds in the house to fruit in the garden?? Well, we had to build a raised garden bed, because we have two tanks (I mean tortoises) in the back yard that would plow over everything and probably eat it all at the same time. We decided a 4x8 raised bed would work, so we went to Home Depot and bought some untreated pine planks, because for some reason they didn't have any untreated cedar planks. Was I asking for too much?? Here we are driving home with them, and the finished product before dirt (and stablization).

We didn't really take many progress pictures of the seedlings. But basically, I had to pluck out the weak sprouts and let the strong ones grow. Then I transferred them once they outgrew their tablespoons of dirt, and fertilized them lightly. Then came planting day.

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So here's a funny story. I planned the whole garden out in my head and on paper. I decided what to plant where, using companion planting guides, drawing up little diagrams, etc. Next I picked the perfect date to plant, about a week or so after the last expected frost. Then that day came, and it was pouring buckets. ABSOLUTE BUCKETS. However, I'm crazy, and I don't like changing the plans I make. So Mark, saint that he is, told me he would plant it all in the pouring rain. It only took about two seconds before he was soaked. I decided to join him, got frustrated when my diagram got wet, ran back under the car port, and yelled through the deluge for Mark to stop, and that we would just do it tomorrow. Well, the rain let up, and we (Mark) decided to finish, because I had just given up by that point. 

 Peep my soaking diagram there on the post and my saint of a husband. I took this from the safety of the carport.

Peep my soaking diagram there on the post and my saint of a husband. I took this from the safety of the carport.

Suddenly we had a garden! I added a few more plants later, and off we went. We watered it pretty much every day it didn't rain, and eventually had to add some chicken wire around it because the cats thought it was this great, new, giant outdoor litter box for them. UHM NO. It was a lot of fun to watch the male flowers come in, then the females, and then the FRUITS!!

 The flower forming before the fruit. I love the little purple petals.

The flower forming before the fruit. I love the little purple petals.

 The fruit! I will grow Japanese eggplants next year.

The fruit! I will grow Japanese eggplants next year.

What's more fun than watching it all grow, is eating it. You know us, we're all about food, especially food we make ourselves. We cooked our first zucchini up with some scrambled eggs and leftover rice because that's what we had in the fridge before we left for vacation. It was very yummy and sweet. Then we fried our eggplant with some chicken, bell peppers, onions, a special sauce, and fresh thai basil, and oh my goodness did it smell and taste fantastic. And just the other day, I plucked our first tomato off the vine and ate that sucker like an apple.

 Zucchinis are sneaky. They like to hide and grow into huge monsters while you're not looking.

Zucchinis are sneaky. They like to hide and grow into huge monsters while you're not looking.

 Tomatoes are not sneaky, as they are bright red and highly visible among their green leaves. Unless you're colorblind. Sorry, Mark.

Tomatoes are not sneaky, as they are bright red and highly visible among their green leaves. Unless you're colorblind. Sorry, Mark.

It's very rewarding to start something from scratch, wait a few months, and then finally glean the literal fruits of your labor. Here are some lessons we learned for next year though:

  • Give the zucchini plant a full 4x4 bed, because it will swallow everything around it. My kale and habanaros didn't quite get enough sun, thanks to Sir Zuke.
  • Maybe plant fewer marigolds. I planted bunches of four, and I think I will just plant bunches of two around my tomatoes next year. Marigolds encourage vegetation and keep some pests away. And look pretty (but smell kind of bad).
  • We're building a small cold frame to start our seeds outside in next year, because they didn't get enough light indoors (even in my south facing window), and it was kind of annoying because they were highly in the way.
  • Stock up on Neem Oil. I've needed three spray bottles of it so far just to keep bugs off of my turnips.

So. We'll see what we do with our garden in the fall (garlic, garlic, more garlic, squash, other overwinter plants). We're really happy with how it turned out so far, and we think it's a good start to our goal of basically feeding ourselves. I guess this idea was kind of put into both of our heads when we stayed with Alessandro in Vinci. There we saw his impressive garden, watched him whip up meals from it (that tasted fantastic), and talked with him about the idea of 'zero kilometre," or 100% local and sustainable food sources. Enjoy the rest of pictures of all the fruties still coming in and ripening up!

garden fresh green tomato
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