I am a cold weather person. I don’t like hot weather, but if there is one thing that makes hot sunshine and high temperatures worth it, it is home grown vegetables and fruits. We live in a house that doesn’t get much sunshine. Even after taking down 15 pine trees from the front yard, we still only have one area of the yard that gets 6-8 hours of sun/day. So Blake built me a terrace in that area which became our garden. As any of you farmers out there know, you need tons of sun to grow veggies and fruit.
We plant our garden in March or April. We make it an Easter Saturday tradition. The crops require quite a bit of water and we are believers in composted soil and additional fertilizer (the kind that promotes the growth of fruiting, not foliage). Don’t cut corners on the stakes. We did that this year, but next year we will get the taller and sturdier stakes, so the plants have more support when they begin to bloom.
A neat tidbit that we learned this weekend was about blueberry bushes; ours is not doing very well at all, in fact, it is quite pitiful. We went to visit Blake’s uncle Brian this weekend. He lives out in the country and grows a ton of produce. He has a blueberry bush that is the size of a storage shed. I could not believe it! He told me that the trick is to plant at least two or three together to encourage cross-pollination. I never knew this tip, so we are picking up a buddy for our friend, Mr. Blueberry on My Shoulder this weekend.
This year, we are growing tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, green/red/yellow peppers, blueberries, okra and cucumbers. In retrospect, I would have opted for one extra tomato plant, some beets and one less jalapeno plant. I LOVE Beets! We have way too many peppers. One good pepper plant of each type would be enough for us.
NOW IS THE TIME TO PLANT YOUR WINTER GARDEN!!!
Here is a little shot of the crops we picked YESTERDAY! Looks like I am due to make a few tomato pies!
A few tips to a prosperous garden:
1. Leave plenty of space (at least 18 inches) between the plants when you plant them.
2. Plant them around Easter weekend.
3. Be sure to bury the bottom 6 inches of the plant you are planting. It seems like you are covering up a lot of the foliage, but that is ok.
4. For tomatoes, pinch back the little leaves that grow in the joints of the plant. Go easy on pruning anywhere else.
5. Water regularly. We prefer in the morning. In the evening, the water can create bacteria from not having the sun and in the afternoon, it is pointless.
6. Plant cucumbers, squash and melon in the spot where your compost pile was.
7. Steer clear of planting vegetables in clay. Sandy or Sandy loam are your best bets.
8. The easiest crops to grow (in my opinion) are onions, peas, beets, rutabaga and zucchini squash.
9. Put some type of guard around you garden (mesh nets or chicken wire work well) to keep the precious, but hungry rabbits and deer away from your salad!
10. Don’t be afraid to grow a garden in the winter. Salad greens, carrots, beets, radishes, cabbage, collards, broccoli, cauliflower all take well to the cold weather.