Thursday, October 27, 2011

things i have learned: gardening

via google images
this post is for my friend D

ry and i were blessed to have moved into our house right before spring; a great time to start our first garden. i think we went a little crazy. at one point i think we had 18 tomato plants growing. yikes. here is what i learned this year...

so we started with 18 but only 10 made it because they either:
a. died
b. we did not transplant them from their little container to the ground fast enough
c. not enough water
d. we let some die because it is a bit crazy to have 18 tomato plants

we had a couple of varieties. here are some that i can remember off the top of my head:
~ sweet 100: this variety gets huge. i wish i didn't have just one cage but two or three. SO MANY cherry tomatoes. it was so awesome. give this one plenty of room. 

~ mr. stripey: heirloom tomato. took a long time to grow! but once they did they are so gorgeous and delicious. 

~ cherokee purple: a fun different tomato. also heirloom. wanted to try this one out for variety. ill grow it again.

~ yellow pear: the only one that survived from seed. my golden plant. so beautiful and strong. i highly recommend growing this. its great for salads. 

~  celebrity: so red and beautiful. when they ripen they are just amazing! the classic tomato in my opinion.

~ early girl: a fast growing tomato and it gets pretty big. give this one some space. 

tomatoes overall:
- please buy cages. i think they are a necessity for tomatoes.
- for the first couple of months i used pesticide (i know i know- shame on you chloe for not going organic) but seriously people. i hate bugs. especially when they eat my precious tomato plants. after the first few months i stopped and found that they grew into beautiful, yummy and bug-free tomatoes. 
- be adventurous in your choices. pick a variety that might sound a little weird to you; you never know, it might become your new favorite.
- not a canner? never fear, your freezer is here (so cheesy i know) 
- share. you will get plenty of tomatoes. don't have them go to waste!

bell peppers:
tragic story here folks. we got lots of gorgeous bell peppers in hues of orange, yellow, green and red, but the problem? they rotted. why? no cages!!! be sure to get your bell peppers cages so that they can grow properly.  
the only ones that we got to savor was a few green bell peppers and mini red bell peppers. the mini red bell peppers are lighter than their normal sized counterparts and only needed a stake to hold them upright. 

there is a beautiful yellow bell pepper staring at me from the garden, unfortunately its rotten on one side but its absolutely beautiful yellow otherwise. 

totally trying again next year. the mini red bell peppers were a joy. so cute you don't want to eat them, but you get over that and eat them anyways.

hot peppers:
we grew the super chili variety. super spicy! it was fantastic. this plant stayed pretty small but still had quite a high yield. so worth it. ry harvested the last batch and im looking forward to making a mini wreath of them to hang in my kitchen. festive.

~ chocolate mint: see mint post
~ regular mint: see mint post

~ rosemary: took a little while to establish its roots. i wish i had planted this one in the ground, but planted it in a pot because i wanted to bring it inside for the winter- it makes the house smell pretty lovely. maybe ill plant two next year- one in a pot and another in the ground. glad i just bought the plant and didn't try to start from seed. i have heard that can be quite difficult to sprout.

~ pineapple sage: smells divine. a perennial and when it gets larger it produces red flowers that attract hummingbirds and honey bees to your garden. win-win. i have it along my back fence- i hope it gets huge in the coming years. 

~ flat leaf parsely: another perennial. grew this one in the ground and it did very well in a partial shade environment. 

~basil: should have planted this one in the ground. it is not a perennial, but i have heard it does a good job of spreading seeds around so that you don't have to re-plant. next year i hope to plant large quantities. pesto anyone? one plant was not enough for me. 

great for salsas and enchiladas. so yummy. 

~ regular tomatillo: a larger variety. do not plant in a pot- if you do make sure it is a very big pot. i started it in a gallon sized pot and it was not doing too well. once it was transferred into the ground it did great!

~ mini yellow tomatillos: very cute plant. like mini paper lanterns. this will yield A LOT of mini tomatillos. it does not grow up but sideways. try to give it more horizontal space. 

~ walla walla: fun to say and so much fun to grow. see some pictures here. we shared lots with friends and neighbors and i have a few to store- they store great when kept out of sunlight. they are really flavorful and juicy.

~ green onions: took a long time to grow. i got a little annoyed at one point because i kept waiting for them to jump out of the dirt. nope, it takes awhile. next year i will start planting these even with a little snow on the ground.

root veggies:
~ beets: embrace your inner dwight schrute. bears, beets, battlestar galactica. if you don't like eating beets then of course don't grow them, but i enjoy them roasted alongside butternut squash. yum.

~ white icicle radish: so pretty. the only bummer? i don't know how to cook these specific turnips. we ate it raw with salad dressing. quite zesty and spicy. if you want a less spicy radish be sure to water it plenty. just found out it is similar to a daikon radish- next year i will attempt to make Chinese turnip cake (a childhood fave). 

~ english radish: great roasted and in salads. and the red is a nice pop of color in the garden dirt.

~ globe purple turnip: eye-catching purple tops. these were good in salads. would love more turnip cooking ideas! 

winter squash:
water them A LOT (don't get too crazy of course). during the heat of the summer, we wished that in addition to being watered by the sprinklers twice a day we should have also done a leaker hose in the morning for a water boost before midday sun.

~ french pumpkins (aka fairytale pumpkins): so romantic looking. no wonder they are called fairytale pumpkins! we got two. funny story though. we had a few days where we were bombarded by lots and lots of rain. guess what happened? we counted 7 baby pumpkins starting to grow. more water hint hint!

~ butternut squash: received 4 from 2 plants. they just needed more water! a shame since these are my favorite squash and they store well for the winter. we already enjoyed them to welcome the season of fall. next year i hope to have different results!

~ giant pumpkin: NO YIELD! sad i know. i think it was a combination of not enough water and not planting early enough. next year we shall try again!

to wrap it up:
this year was great and i hope to improve on lots of things next year. my first trimester happened at the peak of harvest- i wish i craved veggies! sadly, i didn't. i know the garden would have been even more of a success had my morning sickness been less, but we didn't care. baby is worth it :) 

hope this has been helpful for you! let me know in the comments below  if you have any questions. i hope i can be helpful!

to end here are some tidbits from the hubs...
ry's comments:
- figure out how to get rid of the pests asap 
- don't be afraid to start early
- pumpkins & winter squashes need A LOT of water
- try to grow plants that are more difficult to find in grocery markets (more fun and variety)
- don't be afraid to just dive in a try to grow something new
- a single tomato plant produces a lot of tomatoes
- fertilizer does wonders for grass; be sure to water it a lot after fertilizing
- careful with those cherries your neighbor lets you pick; there might be bugs galore inside
- gardening is good for the soul 

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