For the past 3 or so years, we joined a local, organic CSA from their start up. While we loved it at first, we found through the years that we weren’t able to really save anything for the winter and although we are culinarily adventurous, we had produce in the CSA that we never used. :( So we were looking for a better way for us to have enough for the summer AND have plenty to can without having to pay farmers market prices for extras.
We were bouncing around the idea of a greenhouse, which is a big expense and not at all pretty to look at on our small property. I did not want to commit to an expense like that as I was not really comfortable in my black thumb gardening of the past so I suggested that we do a trial garden instead, to see if I could indeed grow things on a larger scale. You see, I’ve had gardens in the past, from purchased seedlings, that I’ve basically given up on mid season, every single year. Things get busy, weeds grow tall, I HATE hornworms and bugs…those types of things, so I was not convinced that I could do this, at all.
We had saved some seeds from the produce that we got at the farmers market to can last fall. Unfortunately, the kids mixed all of the tomato seeds, so it was sort of a crap shoot what we would have for tomatoes. What we also didn’t know is that your open pollinated squash second generation saved seeds can produce hybrid mutts of the squash world, which we have quite a few of. They’ll be interesting for sure when we crack them open. Lessons learned. ;)
Since putting in the 1 acre pig fencing last year, it left us with the old pig area which was super compacted and really rocky. We decided to find some way to try and amend the soil while adding more growing medium to the whole area. We found an organic dairy just up the road who was selling their composted cow manure. Score! The pigs had really made the already unworkable land, really unworkable so it was our only real option. They delivered 2 dump trucks full and we got to spreading. The kids were right there with us, knee deep in cow poo! Man, I love those kids!
Once we got it piled into mounds, we planted what little seedlings survived (which was not a lot despite my loving hands and pro grow lights)…which left me feeling a little defeated. My first foray into starting seedlings indoors left me with stalled growth at best and nothing growing at worst. Any who..the little ones went into the ground and I replanted the failed ones from seed.
After weeks of weeding and watering we began to see life! That was the most exciting part! I put these seeds into the ground, watered them and they GREW! Crazy huh?!? I knew how it all worked and had planted many times, but this year, something clicked. It was as if someone had set off a button in my head that allowed me to really appreciate what was happening. I spent lots of time in the garden, weeding, picking bugs off the plants (grow your own damn plants bugs!) and watering. I talked to the plants, I actually thanked them all daily for the bounty that they provided us to sustain us now and through the winter. It worked!
To date, we’ve canned over 200 jars of different sauces, relishes, ketchup, pickles and salsas. I’ve frozen quarts and quarts of green beans, zucchini, carrots, corn and pea pods. And stored away in the cellar are 50+ squash, yes even the hybrid mutts.
Moral of the story, the experimental season in the garden has been a success and I don’t think we’ll be needing a greenhouse after all. We have a way to go and are constantly learning, there will be some tweaking for sure but I believe that the words for this season are grateful and thankful. <3
There really is something so rewarding about growing your own food once you see it as a privilege and not a chore. <3
Seriously, if I can do it….anyone can!
How was your gardening season?