Friday, September 4, 2009

Green Thumb?

I don't believe in green thumbs. You have gardening knowledge, common sense and adequate gardening requirements (soil, water, sun) or you don't. If a weird natural event kills your garden it's not your fault. I have a sunny yard and a sprinkler system that I had repaired and then I went to my local home improvement store and bought some plants. I have a friend who is an experienced gardner and asked her advice as to the spacing of the plants. The rest was a no-brainer since they all go in a sunny spot where the sprinklers reach. Alas, vegetables grew and I'm downright amazed! I admit that I was extrememly encouraged by the fact that there had been a successful garden in my yard in the past so I knew it could be done again.

Strawberries before.

Strawberries after.

Squash before. Notice the edge of the weeds.
That's the boundary of where the play structure went in.

Squash after. Notice the Fushia in the background?
That's the reference point for these two squash pictures.

My goal for next spring is to learn to be a good gardner where I actually have a plan and build boxes and mix soil, maybe even put up string, etc... I really want to can my own veggies for the winter, at least as much as I can. The play structure took up a LOT of space, but I left enough room for at least three garden boxes and I might try either the layered box method or the Mittleider method. I want to save the seeds from my harvest this year and start my own plants along with saving the seeds from good produce that I find in the stores. I know that there are lettuce varieties where one just picks enough leaves to eat and the plant keeps growing new ones.

My apple tree is very healthy and I need only to prune it to keep it the right size for the space it has. It helped that I had a camelia tree removed that had been encroaching on it. My apricot tree is also extremely prolific but the wild creatures took all the fruit this year. I will be better prepared next year. I missed harvesting my plums. I have two trees and they were bountiful, but I waited too long to pick and they disappeared, again a victim of the wildlife (squirrels, rats, oppossums, racoons, birds). My cherry tree is old and probably won't make it another season despite producing a few meager sour cherries right when I moved in. I pruned a dead branch at that time and another major branch has died since then.

I'm very happy with my peaches. They are surprisingly tastey! The tree is in pretty bad shape, though. I removed about 1/3 of the tree that was dead and it has bad leaf-curl fungus. Once the tree is harvested, I will treat it with copper soap and then treat it again pre-spring right before the new leaf buds form.

Until I moved in I knew nothing about trees except that I liked climbing them! I went to my local garden shop, not at a home improvement store, but a privately owned one, and got some helpful advice. I plan to read up and educate myself this winter, too. I will be adding flowers to my yard, in spring, at least in the front, along with another strawberry hedge in front.

I plan to learn a lot about gardening a make the best one I can in the space I have and pass that knowledge and skill on to my daughter. I love that fact that we will be eating organic and sustainably, which, of course, is the most healthy!

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