Lessons from 2012’s Garden


April 9, 2013 by currbell

I was overwhelmed for a lot of last year. There was a whole month during harvest where I would get up make breakfast and then sleep on the couch till noon, because I was in the first trimester. There was a lot of food that rotted both inside and out in the garden during this time. Pregnancy can really take it out of you. And I was similarly overwhelmed when planting the garden. So my gardening theme for last year was “Low Maintenance” which is I think a good theme for any homemaker with lots of little one and no big ones. One of my mantra’s was, “Just throw the seeds out there and be thankful for anything you get. Don’t worry over the things you can’t do today” So all the following “lessons” where things that fit these goals.

Mulch I can’t say it enough. Mulch. Mulch. Mulch. A real life saver. Usually the weeds are out of control by late June early July around here. In the spring I covered the garden with several layers of news paper, and put some dirt on top of that to keep them from flying away. It was easier for me to manage the weeds that did appear. I did have some moisture problems with the thick layer of news paper, but we got good yields despite it. For my fall garden I used straw. This year I plan on using news paper covered with straw.

Contentment Not sure what else to call this. But I found it a blessing to focus on growing lots of things that are known to grow well in our area, instead of expending energy on making things work from some other garden zone.DSC_0014

Rosemary Starts Break a twig off an established plant. Remove the leaves from the bottom inch, and put it in water. It took about a month for roots to appear. When they did appear it was almost overnight. Then plant your twig. Nice, hu?

The rest of these are things that are probably more specific to our zone (7) and zones close to us.

Starting tomatoes I spent a lot of energry and time trying to start tomatoes and peppers and other things last year. I had LOT of tomato plant volunteers last year from tomatoes that had rotted in the garden the previous year. All of them came up later than my starts and all of them looked healthier and better than what I started. So this year I plan on simply sewing my seeds right into the ground and calling it a day. DSC_0050

Cherry tomatoes Last year was a hard year on tomatoes for our area. We would go from drought to flood, and all the large tomatoes would crack and rot as they ripened. But I had no problem with my cherry tomatoes. In fact we had 8 plants, which were all volunteers, and got over 150 lbs of cherry tomatoes. We love to eat the fresh, cut them in half and dry them (I love cooking with these), roast them in the oven and either run them in the blender or through our food strainer (which I love) this made lovely tomato soup btw, or run them through the food strainer raw for tomato sauce. Easy and versatile. And I’m all about that. So bring on the cherry tomatoes 2013.

Staking tomatoes Very excited about this find. We used some old cattle panels (for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, as I didn’t before we moved out here, it’s a type of thick wire fencing that come in large panels with about 6 inch open squares) we found on the property. We put a t-post at each end and wired the panel to it. All I had to do to trellis the tomato plants was about once a week as I was walking through the garden, push the shoots through to the other side of the opening so they grew weaved through the cattle panels. I worked like a charm! Some of the plans grew to be about 7 foot high, and the whole summer I only had to tie up two or three places.DSC_0018

Fall garden This was the first year I’ve ever planted a fall garden, so it was small but it was a real blessing. I planted radishes and they were a huge blessing. We’re not real big on radishes around here, but I did find some very good ways to use them. Sliced thin they where a really nice addition to a sandwich. Radishes are also used a lot in Mexican food, sliced and on a pulled meat filled tortilla with some fresh cilantro and sour cream, or the same topping for a Mexican chicken soup. Cilantro by the way is a fabulous fall crop. Even though it looked so delicate none of the frosts or snows killed it. The chickens DID eat it all when they found a way into the garden. It was such a nice addition to our fall/winter cooking though. But back to the radishes, The main way I used them was diced and used in any dish that I would put diced onion. Didn’t change the taste or quality of the dish much, but it was inexpensive organic food for the price of a pack of seeds. I also found out that I could cook the greens too, so nothing really went to waste. I would chop them up and put them into anything I could think of, soup, meat loaf, spaghetti sauce. I’ve been working to make our meals as much as possible from the things we grow, not just in the summer but all through the year, so the radishes helped a lot in that direction. DSC_0012This year I hope to do plantings each week in the early fall so I won’t have them all come in at once. We also planted kale, and all of us love kale. Most of the bugs that eat kale are gone in our area by the fall, so it was a little easier to grow, though we did have some sort of fat caterpillars I had to pick off for several weeks. I hope to be a little better prepared and do some lettuces and fall beets this year.

Pray– Pray when you plant, for God to bless your efforts. Pray when you weed. Pray with thanksgiving when He does bless, and share with others in the name of our God who has blessed you.

When it comes to gardens there is ALWAYS something to learn. The following things have really given me some food for thought. I would highly recommend them if you are thinking about gardening learning the best ways to work (I have you, Quinn, to thank for exposure to all of these, so thanks)



2 thoughts on “Lessons from 2012’s Garden

  1. Danielle says:

    Your knowledge is always so valuable! I’m so grateful that you’ve squeezed in a minute to share as I am just now planning to expand my gardening beyond little herb pots. I am especially excited about the radishes and cilantro. I ignorantly always tried cilantro in the summer and it burned to a crisp! I grew up dipping radishes in hummus. I am exposing the little one to strong flavors now for a diverse non-picky palate. Who knew a two-year-old could love jalapenos?! Radishes on sandwiches will definitely be next.

    • currbell says:

      Well, I actually wrote this up before Ezra was born. Just finally got it posted, lol. I didn’t think to try radishes in hummis, so WE will have to try that. It’s amazing what little ones can like if you just keep trying. Though I don’t think mine would eat jalapenos, but they are getting used to hot stuff. I think cilantro will work well in spring also. I hope you are well too. I’ve been thinking of you and praying for ya’ll with the new baby on the way! Glad this post was helpful to you *smile*.

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