Lessons Learned In the Garden
As I reflect back on the summer of 2013, I’d like to share what I’ve learned.
One thing I learned this summer is that I really do love to garden.
I have not always felt this way. I have tolerated gardening, but I have not loved it.
This year I had so much fun taking pictures of what I was growing. I looked forward to going out each morning to see what was ready to pick, finding just the right spot to photograph my basket and then sharing it with others.
Another thing that I learned is that there will still always be bugs in the garden. I think that I get a little wiser each year and learn some tricks to help keep the bugs at bay. Companion planting is one of those things. There are lots of books out there about companion planting, but the one that I like is “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by Louise Riotte. She grew up in Oklahoma and wrote many books about gardening. Her books are well worth adding to your library.
I learned that planting dill with squash seems to help keep the squash bugs at bay.
There are other herbs and flowers that are beneficial to plant among tomatoes and other veggies.
The beauty of a Garden Anywhere box is that you can plant two tomato plants on the back side of the fertilizer strip and add some basil to the front of the box. Basil wards off bugs and improves growth and flavor.
Learn what you can about companion planting and be ready when it’s time to plant next year.
I learned that juicing cucumbers and freezing the juice to use in smoothies is a good thing.
I had a bumper crop of cucumbers this summer. I’m not a big fan of canning or pickles, so I didn’t want to use the cucumbers that way. My family does like smoothies, though, and frozen cucumber cubes are perfect added to a smoothie.
I did enjoy making “Cowgirl Candy” out of some of the cucumbers. The recipe is really called “Cowboy Candy“. It uses lots of jalapenos. I tried it and it was way too hot for me. It could get milder the longer it sits, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
The syrup is really good. I didn’t want to let that go to waste, so I fished out the jalapenos and added some cucumber slices. I called it Cowgirl Candy.
It has a little kick, but not as much as straight on jalapenos. I added a bit of sliced red onion and ONE sliver of a habanero pepper to each jar. Yum!
I asked Larry what he learned this summer.
He said that he learned (again) was reminded not to over-plant the boxes. Even when those two tomato plants look TINY in the box, they will GROW. You can still add a few herbs to the box.
Like I mentioned above, a couple of basil plants in the front of the box would be good. I planted oregano and cilantro in a couple of boxes along with tomatoes. They worked perfectly.
Another thing that Larry learned is to plant vining crops like gourds or squash where they can cascade down to the dirt. We did this with some of our vining plants (on accident). Some cucumbers and squash sprawled out on the deck, but we have boxes on a lower deck, too. We also planted sqaush and gourds down there. They sprawled out and began rooting in the grass. The roots and beginning of the plants were still in boxes, so no weeding. We still watered from the box, so there was water conservation. But by rooting again in the ground, the plants are taking off again.
I love the boxes and don’t ever want to garden the traditional way again, but if a plant wants to grow in the ground and I don’t have to weed or water (much) I’m all for it.