Monday, April 12, 2010

Prepping for our Community Garden Plots, Part 1

Last year we participated for the first time in the Community Gardens.  We had one plot 20'x40'.  I was excited and terrified.  Having no property of my own, my previous gardening attempts had all been in containers.  And they all failed.  I was sure I had a black thumb.

But my husband encouraged me to keep trying.  I had some good help.  My father, and the local Master Gardeners were very willing to lend a hand, a hoe, and plenty of advice.  We planted 13 tomatoes, 1 cherry tomato, 1 row of green beans, 50 onions, 10 seed potatoes, 1 row of corn, 1 zucchini, 1 cucumber, 1 hubbard squash, and a wide row of radishes, lettuce, cilantro, and some peas.

The garden flourished!!!  I learned that the art of growing things is MUCH more forgiving out in the earth.  Overwatering, it drains off.  Underwatering, the plants have larger root systems and survive.  Of course, I TRIED very hard to learn how to take care of my garden correctly.  But the plants lived through my trial and error and I was GRATEFUL!

It never occured to me to take pictures of my first garden, which I regret.  But we do have a picture of my newborn sleeping while I tended the tomatoes.

I worked in the garden for about 1 hour every other day.  And on a few weekends I was able to pry my husband from the office and get him to hoe the weeds down with me.

From this first garden, we had numerous delicious and fresh salads, and fried zucchini and tomatos.  Our tomatoes made the bulk of our return, when we brought home 8 bags of ripe tomatoes and were able to can 12 pints of diced tomatoes and 6 quarts of mild salsa and 3 pints of hot salsa.  Our potatoes didn't do 'great' but we still had a few meals with delicious garden potatoes.  And our onions were on the small side, and HOT!  But they kept VERY well, and were delicious additions to our meals.

Added to this bounty, my mother-in-law blessed us with one pumpkin each for the children.

As you can see, they were VERY LARGE pumpkins!  The kids were thrilled.  And when we opened them up to process, we found that the flesh on these pumpkins was 8" thick!!  So after a few days of processing, I ended up with more than 30 freezer bags, 3 cups each, of pureed pumpkin.  I do 3 cups because it is the perfect amount for my pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie recipes, and I use 6 cups for pumpkin jam!

By harvest time, we were hooked.  We looked back on the previous months, our small efforts and poor gardening skills, and saw this rich, rich reward.  We began earnestly planning for the next year's garden, and researching diligently the time honored techniques used by successful gardeners.

Planning for 2010....... coming soon!

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