The Petersen Herd

The Petersen Herd

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Garden 2014

Dear Toni (spring 2014),
I thought I might finally do what I've been saying I'd do forever and record what I've learned in the garden this year.  I figure I might as well record it here where you might actually find it again next year, as opposed to a random paper something that will inevitably die long before spring.  So here goes.  (for my loyal readers please excuse this long, long, long post about my botanical journey).
 Corn.  Please plant 2 rows of corn at a time, every week until you have 12 rows of corn.  There may not be time to harvest the last two rows, but then again there might and then you won't have an overwhelming amount all at once and then nothing.  also, when the heads start to "tassle" put a little bit of veg. oil in a spray bottle and spray the tops - I hear this keeps the worms out of the corn.  I'd like to know if it works.
Basil - plant more than 3.  Plant seeds and water them often and plant at least 4-6 of them.  They are beautiful and taste like heaven.  DON"T let them flower.  They  hated the pots this year, and loved the ground.  I think it was the regular watering they were getting.  While we're on herbs, try Dill again - and again - and again - someday you will succeed (I hope.)
Sweet Potatoes are beautiful and are a vine.  Plant them somewhere that they can spread and climb - NOT in plastic.  They also flower.  Sometimes.
See?  The sweet potato bush?  It can't root because of the plastic.  Dumb.
You will have surprises like this pepper bush which is too spicy for everyone in our family including the Daddy.  Still, it's beautiful and it grew - yay for that.
Peppers.  Talk to Mel about this one again.  Pick the smaller ones - the more you pick, the more fruit you get.  Pick, pick, pick.  And plant more than 3 - our family likes bell peppers and you can freeze them for use in winter.  Plant a dozen and hope they're prolific.
Potatoes.  These got huge this year!  They overwhelmed everything nearby.  Instead of rows let them be a hedge - great windbreak for smaller plants.  Leave them at least 4 feet (for one row) so that they don't crowd everything else.  This year we planted 2 long rows of potatoes.  I'll update later as to whether or not that produced enough potatoes for our family to store through winter.  
 Onions - plant them everywhere!  Plant them early.  These were too late and they are just not big enough now that it's harvest time for us to really enjoy them.  Plant them around tomatoes and squash to keep bugs away - plant garlic that way too and try marigolds again.
Banana Squash is HUGE!  It reached about 40 feet (one plant) this year so if you plant it again (is it your favorite squash?) give it room, and possibly let it climb.
Tomatoes like drainage in their soil.  Try adding a little sand to the dirt so that if it's another wet wet wet year like this one, they don't get mold and rot.   Also, please only plant 2 cherry tomato plants and at least 12 Large varieties.  You don't can cherry tomatoes and they're harder to give away.
Pumpkins.  Plant at least 6 large pumpkins and then 2 weeks later plant 6 more.  Give them room too and consider letting them grow "up" so that the fruit isn't on the ground.
Try the bean teepee again - this time with actual beans.  Plant it EARLY (like mid-April) and string a lot of twine.  Put a line of twine every 4 inches around the base so that it can fill in completely and make it tight because it will loosen over time.  Morning glory is beautiful, but takes the water so give it it's own spot to climb and don't expect it to share with beans.
Watermelon is wonderful, but NOT the orange kind.  Our family hates it.  Plant pink watermelon and plant it far away from all other gourds so you can save the seeds.  Plant cantaloupe too, and Honeydew melons but not casaba or crenshaws, they are not our favorite.  Watermelon is ready when the pigtail on the first split of the vine closest to the melon is dead, and when the spot on the bottom starts to yellow.  If in doubt, wait another week.  Honeydew melon isn't ready until it starts to yellow.  
Let some of the melons grow in old blocks.  This makes them square and they don't roll around on the counter, plus it's fun for the kids to break them and see how they got square.  Cantaloupe will tell you when they are ripe because they turn yellow/orange and the stem pulls off really easy.
 Squash bugs are the devil.  Don't let them get started or you won't get rid of them.  Buy some sevin dust (not spray) and put it in an old baby powder bottle and dust the underside of all of the squash plants at the first sign of bugs.  Repeat if necessary.
Lettuce and Spinach were not your forte this year.  Plant often, start early and don't give up.  Our family eats a lot of this so we really need to figure it out.  Harvest early and then replant, don't try to trim and keep growing - everything we tried that with was bitter and gross.

Cauliflower and cabbage, radishes and carrots were all epic garden fails this year.  Try again.
Cucumbers.  If they don't grow your seeds were bad.  Replant and let them climb.  Harvest tiny so you can make whole pickles.  Spears and slices are nice, but nothing is quite like a baby dill.  Did I mention you need to try to plant Dill again?  You do.
See?  This is our Cauliflower.  No flowers though, just giant leaves.  Eggplant however, is wonderful.  Plant more and plant early and give them lots of water in the beginning.
Sunflowers are beautiful - but the giant kind, the sad droopy ones, make incredible sunflower seeds.  You have a bunch of seeds from this year, plant them again - and water them, and try to tell yourself they are not just sad overburdened plants, they are prolific - like a pregnant woman hunches over, but in a happy, something-great-is-coming kind of way.
Portulaca.  They remind you of when you were little.  They are happy.  They grew from seed.  Plant them again.
Yay for a happy fall harvest.  And here's to trying again next year to learn something new.


carly said...

I tried to start a garden this year, but my hubby didn't finish it by the time my seedlings were ready to be planted. It made me sad, but I was able to transfer some of them to pots where they (kinda) grew. We got one tomato, lots of basil, parsley and that's about it. We'll try again next year. I love your garden!

Darla said...

I'm so proud of you and your green thumbs! On the epic fails I would talk to Jan Munford. You know she is amazing and can grow anything!!! Your garden looked great:)