Sunday, August 22, 2010

Filling the empty nest with an organic garden

Jiffy Greenhouses
Once we actually started to see yard again, hubby and I decided we needed to start a nice, small, organic garden as an assurance of the quality of veggies we would be eating (I always thought if a product claimed organic or natural that they were, indeed, organic or natural but THE CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE opened my eyes to this and, admittedly, we also figured it would save us big money at the grocery store.  I was very excited so I rushed out to grab a couple of those JIFFY GREENHOUSES (you know, those cute little trays with the peat pots and the clear tops) and some organic seeds (squash, tomatoes- beefeater and cherry, spinach, bell peppers, green beans, carrots and onions--I know, delusional BUT, in my defense, it's been almost 30 years since I last gardened while in college so, technically, I am a beginner) and commenced to planting.  The day my seeds sprouted you would have thought I had lost my mind.  My message on both FB and Twitter went like this:  "My seeds have sprouted! My seeds have sprouted!  My seeds have sprouted!"  Every five minutes, from the minute I had planted them in those cute little indoor greenhouses, I peered at them to see if there was the slightest indication of growth.  Three days after planting the seeds, hubby and I went to visit daughter C for her birthday- just an overnight trip, mind you, and, when we arrived home the next day---MY SEEDS HAD SPROUTED!  At this point, the push was on to construct some raised beds so that the veggies could be transplanted when ready.  Of course, anyone who knows my hubby understands that he may or may not get around to beginning a project and, if he does get around to starting one, he may or may not see it to completion (just look at the front porch and you will see a huge crate that has been there for close to two years now that contains our brand new steam shower that is destined for our 'yet to be but he's gonna get to it' remodeled bathroom).  Luckily, in this case, he began AND completed three raised beds!  He used all found materials and constructed them, with my help (which was probably not all that helpful) and we set them up in the back yard.  This is when the real fun started--moving the load of ordered topsoil from the front yard to the beds.  The first thing we realized was that the tire on the wheelbarrow was flat so we carried the dirt in five gallon buckets.  The raised beds are 4'x4'x'18" which translates to: get a tire or a new wheelbarrow because this is WAY too much toting for me!  Once we purchased the new wheelbarrow, transporting the topsoil went quickly.

The raised beds
The end result? We harvested quite a bit of tomatoes (and were actually able to enjoy eating them since the youngest was not here to eat them right off the vine before anyone else could even think about having one).  The squash did not make it nor did the spinach.  The beans started out great but ended badly.  The peppers are still producing and we are still waiting for the carrots and onions to get big enough to harvest.  So much for saving a bundle at the grocery store.  Oh and those cute little squirrels?  They are not really that cute.

Being ever hopeful, combined with now being devotedly tuned in to my two newest best buddies--MOTHER EARTH NEWS and THE FARMER'S ALMANAC, I have begun my fall garden planting.  This time I ordered my seeds from PARK SEED in Geenwood, SC and am hoping for better results.  I did use the JIFFY GREENHOUSES for some of the seeds, others I put straight into the ground.  Hubby tilled up a section of yard and made some rows where I planted the squash that I am praying will yield plenty of this tasty veggie.  I am also planting flowers around the garden area in hopes of keeping some unwanted pests at bay while encouraging wanted ones.  The fall veggies are onions, squash, hot and sweet peppers, eggplant, broccoli, green beans (which started out badly but seem to be doing better), spinach and beets.

My red wheelbarrow
I am very optimistic that the fall garden will be bountiful.  Gardening has turned out to be something like a full time job, albeit an enjoyable one, and I have much to learn.  However, regardless of yield, it is nice to have a garden to take up so many hours that might have otherwise been void of activity.  The garden has also provided us with another activity to enjoy together so, in that light, it has already been productive.  Plus, I am in possession of a brand new straw hat, garden gloves and a red wheelbarrow- from yet another best buddy- LOWES!     


  1. We had a few small flavor-packed tomatoes from a total of 10 large plants. We got no eggplants but we had a few blossoms. We spent way too much money on watering these plants. I am considering working on my soil, or giving up gardening again.

  2. Our poor little eggplants never got bigger than 3 inches before some little thing had a feast! So far the rest of the fall garden is holding its own. We don't spend much on watering since we put in a well--except for repairing the pump that is. Don't give up it will work eventually. At least that's what I keep telling myself! lol


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