The shelf is filled will tomato juice, whole tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, green beans and various other gifts from the garden that we’ve preserved. Pinto and kidney beans fill three jars and one basket of dried bean pods sits waiting to be hulled. In the refrigerator, bagged green and yellow peppers await their turn to become jelly and roasted yummies. Now that I can take a small break from the garden and the kitchen, it’s a good time to assess how the garden performed this year.
I’m one of those people who is big on setting goals and steps to reach them as well as determining how I’m doing as I progress along my journey. The garden has been an ongoing journey for years. Too often I’ve left my lessons in my head rather than writing them down so I can easily refer to them again. Here’s this year’s list of do’s and don’ts to remember for the future.
1) 1) Companion planting. I tried this again to increase the yield and diminish bugs. The tomatoes, peppers and greens fared very well. The beets didn’t come up, even after a second planting, and squash beetles demolished all of those beautiful plants. Did it work? I can’t say I saw a huge difference. I’ll keep a copy of this year’s garden map and continue studying the best way to implement companion planting.
2) 2) Herbs to ward away mosquitoes. The bugs are usually a big problem for us so I planted lemongrass, scented geranium and mountain mint. When I rubbed the mountain mint on my skin, the little biters stayed away for about an hour before I needed a refresher. If I sat next to the scented geranium, it seemed to help. However, its power didn’t travel far beyond the plant.
3) 3) Bean teepees. A couple of years ago Jim and I collected reeds from a friend’s farm so I could make bean teepees for the plants to climb up. Last year, we lashed them together into something more like a trellis. That was time consuming to take down and disassemble. This method was much easier to create and to take down but about half of the “tents” fell over multiple times (we do tend to get winds on that side of the house), making it difficult for the beans to actually climb on them. Again, I need to look for a better method.
4) 4) Organic fertilizer. The plants loved it! I bought a special organic blend that I’ll try again. They also like the seaweed and fish fertilizers I’ve used but this one was even better, or perhaps I applied it more diligently and at the right times. If I only had recorded applications days, rains and yields, I would have a better idea. Even though that’s a good idea, I’m not going to pressure myself. I need some time simply to enjoy being in the garden and away from paper and pen.
Those are enough lessons for me for today. Do you have any lessons from this year’s garden that you would like to share?