Saturday, July 11, 2009

Organic Garden Update

One of the purposes of this blog is to provide family helps to you. One of the biggest help for our family has been this year's garden. Of course, what works for me may not work for you. But I share this update because some of you may be thinking about setting up your own garden, and maybe this will inspire you towards accomplishing that goal.

The success and progress of our garden continuously amazes hubs and me. If we're feeling a little stressed, just 10 minutes of walking through the garden and looking at everything perks us up right away. Gardening has become a very refreshing and relaxing activity for us, not to mention we're getting loads of free veggies.

Erin over at $5 Dinners recently posted an update about her Square Foot Garden. It's quite easy to catch her enthusiasm as she shares how her garden grows. Reading her post reminded me that it's been awhile since my last garden post, so for those of you who have a garden or are interested in starting a garden, I thought I'd share a long-overdue update about our garden.

This is our second full-fledged garden. The first one, which we planted a year after moving into our house, completely flopped. There ended up being too much shade, and it didn't drain the water very well. We managed to have a few bell pepper & tomato plants that survived, and the raspberry bush did really well until hubs decided to mow over it. Yes, he mowed over it. Broke my heart. :'( Since then, we've done a few container plants that have done so-so.

This year, we had the opportunity to invite the Elders Quorum and the Gardening Club from church to our home to do a service project laying out a couple yards of compost for us (for free!). They even aerated the soil really good, dug up the weeds, laid down cardboard (to prevent new weeds from growing) and laid out the compost for us. Hubs put up a fence to keep out kids and the occasional stray dog that somehow finds its way into our yards (we live out in the country; what can you do).

The Elders Quorum and Gardening Club hoeing away.

Little did we know just how well our garden has actually done. Surprising since our first failed and the container gardens weren't that great. We've kept it 100% organic, in the interest of the health of our children and of ourselves (and we really can't afford pesticides and fertilizers anyways).

We've gone from this, the early stages of this year's garden:

To this:

And to this: And finally this. Looks like a bunch of weeds! We had to stake up the bell peppers & eggplants 'cause they kept laying over.

If you're new to the blog, I'm sure you're wondering what in the world we've planted. Here' what's growing in our garden:

Summer Squash, Zucchini Squash

Our squash & zucchini plants keep producing more & more. Thankfully, they freeze well, and make great gifts for friends & family. Picture above is some of the squash with a motherload of cucumbers and lots of jalapenos, too.


We were able to make homemade pickles from some of our cucumber harvest!


I've made plenty of Pepper Poppers with the jalapenos we've harvested. We've got peppers of all sizes growing on our 3 jalapeno plants.

Yellow & Green Bell Peppers

Our yellow bell peppers have all come out green. I haven't let them grow long enough to see if they'll turn yellow or stay green. One of our bell pepper plants has the funniest-shaped fruit, more like jumbo jalapenos than bell peppers.


I harvested one aubergine eggplant already, and got 3 more growing on the plant.

White Eggplant

This is our 3rd white eggplant. They're really interesting to watch grow because they do look like an egg growing on a plant.

Sweet Corn

There are 6 ears of corn tha are ready to put up. I'm so excited! We'll harvest these Sunday evening for dinner. Got more ears growing on some smaller plants, too. "Watchin' my corn pop up in rows!"


Our two carrots have become quite close neighbors with our watermelon. So far they're doing well and are continuing to grow.


These started dying off, so I picked them and used them like green onions or scallions in some of my side dishes, and for making tuna salad. Didn't take a picture like I should have.


Here's one of our first little baby cantaloupes. They are really fuzzy at this size. We've found several, and we're looking forward to watching them ripen into juicy, yummy fruit.


No little watermelons growing just yet, but boy is it spreading! We've seen plenty of flowers, so we know it's trying to do its job. I think I might pinch off some of the ends to encourage it to go to seed for good.


I forgot to take a pic of our strawberries. They've slowed down some, but are still producing good red fruit. The bunnies have finally stopped attacking the fruit, thankfully.


We had some of the prettiest blueberries growing on this bush. And then the bunnies ate them. And then the bunnies at the bush. Thankfully, the blueberry bush is alive, but the blueberries are far-gone. In the near future, we'll put up a chicken wire fence along our picket fence to keep the bunnies out for next season.


Some of our raspberries were bunny-confiscated, but I managed to eat a few before they got to them. Happily, the plant sprouted new growth and new berries, which are up high and bunny-proof (hopefully bird-proof, too!). I'd like to use these raspberries in my cereal for breakfast during the week.


Our blackberry bush had a few flowers but they never produced any berries. It has a lot of new growth, but I'm not sure if we'll get berries. Maybe in the Fall season we'll have some. If anything, there's always next year. :)


The oregano was a surprised success. My daughter helped me plant seeds, and she accidentally dumped the oregano seeds in the wrong place. I thought they'd blown away because I couldn't see where she dropped them (they are very tiny & blend into the soil). Then one day as I was picking some weeds, I noticed leaves that were a different shape than what I'd seen. I picked a couple leaves, rubbed them in my fingers, sniffed & discovered we had oregano growing! Worked out good because I've used plenty of oregano in our meals. I'll also dry the rest of the oregano out about the end of July and bottle some of it up for Christmas presents.


No picture here. Forgot to take a pic. I plan on drying these and making Garlic Chive Mashed Potatoes in the next couple weeks.


Only a handful of the leek seeds actually sprouted, but they at least some grew!


After the initial attack by caterpillars, my radishes made a full recovery, yay!

Big Boy Tomatoes

We'll be harvesting these soon, and there's a lot more growing. My plan is to use some of the tomatoes to make homemade ketchup, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

Parks Whopper Tomato

Ony one tomato growing on my one & only Parks Whopper this year. Last year's Parks Whopper, which was a container plant, had about 4 or 5. The plant's been really weird--acts like it's dead or dying with very dry leaves, but this lone tomato is doing so well, we hate the thought of pulling up the plant.

Sugar Snap Peas

We planted these way too late in the season, but surprisingly they flowered and have sprouted pea pods, even with the heat of summer and the plants only got about 6 or 7 inches tall. I just harvested the pea pods and will use them in a freezer meal I'll make.

Blue Lake Green Beans

Green beans growing up a trellis hubs made for me. The window is a new addition to our house, and hubs hadn't added the window trim at the time of this picture, in case you were wondering about the foil-like tape around the window. :)

Red Leaf Lettuce

We harvested about 4 heads of lettuce and made some scrumptuous salads with them. The bunnies finished off the remaining heads before we were able to harvest them. I'm glad that I was at least able to try it before the bunnies took over.


My son planted the sunflowers and they just took forever to finally sprout. Now they're about 6 feet tall! He is so proud of "his" sunflowers. Notice the bees pollinating this flower? Can't wait to taste fresh-from-the-garden sunflower seeds soon!

So if you're considering starting your own garden, I highly recommend it. Even if it fails (as our measly gardens did for several years), just remember that each failure is a teaching opportunity. We learned to change the location of our garden, to use compost, to use a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler, that cardboard is an excellent weed barrier...and on & on. By no means are we experts, but we are doing our part to be self-reliant and save on our overall monthly grocery expenses. It's a really nice feeling.


  1. Even in my limited space I have started a "back deck garden." I am so into slow food -- growing and cooking my own food! So far I have a variety of herbs, and some tomatoes. You green been trellis has inspired me about green beans. I love green beans! I didn't even notice the lack of window trim -- it looks pretty mod with the foil! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I was actually inspired by a friend who had mde a green bean trellis in front of her kitchen window, so I'm glad that I've been able to pass along that inspiration to you. I like the g.b. trellis because it gives us something to look at through our living room window and blocks some of the light from the setting sun.

    Thank you for your thoughts about the foil. Hubs put the window trim up this weekend, so I really should take an updated picture. We plan on making homemade false window shutters as an added touch, and the house will get a good coat of paint in the near future. Lots of "baby steps" before we'll finish all our remodel projects.

    Thanks for your comment. Have fun growing your "slow food" in your back deck garden!

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. Oh, thank you so much, Jennifer. That really warms my heart.


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