from Mike and Marci Blubaugh at Amazing Graze Farm
We started out as city slickers that bought everything we ate at the store or fast food joint. As we began to make our journey into trying to get healthy, we started doing research. Now, all of these years later, we are blessed to be able to raise all of our own meat and do a large garden.
One of the big things to think about with a garden is planning correctly. You can stand in front of a seed display or look at a website or catalog and get carried away. You may plant things that you don't normally eat and might not eat. These items take up valuable garden space. This year, we will be growing lots of broccoli and cauliflower. We have been eating lots of it and having to buy all of it.
Also, think about the season. Let's say that we eat one head of cauliflower and one bunch of broccoli a week. Each plant,gives you one of each and then you do get some secondary sprouts on the broccoli plants. How many heads and bunches do I need to plant to eat one a week through the winter? That is a lot of broccoli and cauliflower to plant!
And while we love cherry tomatoes, one cherry tomato plant will give you enough tomatoes for you--and your entire neighborhood. :) So now, we plant just one. We eat them while in the garden and also bring them in for salads and munching.
Also, keep track each year of what you plant and what your harvest. For instance, I have written down in a file that one 75-foot row of beets gave me 17 pints and 14 quarts of pickled beets. Ten heads of Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage makes 18.5 pounds of sauerkraut. This helps you with planning next year's garden.
If you are not sure which variety to use, plant some of each and the write down which you like best. I prefer pole beans (Kentucky Wonder) to bush beans. I like the flavor better and they keep on coming on the vine all summer. They are a bit more work as you have to string them, but it is well worth it to me. We also take a 16-foot stock panel and bend it over to make an arch. We put t-posts in the ground to hold it. That is what we plant our green beans on. You can walk under the arch and pick beans hanging down. (It is also a great place to grow lettuce in the heat of the summer.)
More gardening tips:
- Grow your cucumbers up a trellis. It keeps the fruit bugs from getting it while laying on the ground. It is easier to pick and find as well.
- We do a mixture of 1 part milk and 9 parts of water to spray on our tomatoes. This keeps them from getting blossom end rot.
- Mulching really works if you keep at it. One year we heavily mulched the zucchini and yellow squash. We put down newspapers and then straw. Not only did the area stay weed free, but the next year as weeds began to come up before we worked the garden, that area stayed clear!
- Each year add at least one item that is perennial and takes a while to get established. We planted four apple trees one year, two plums the next, two pears the next, a cherry the next and then two peach trees this year. We have planted strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and grapes. There was an established asparagus bed already here when we moved in. If you just do one or two new things each year, you can keep track of learning how to take care of them properly.
- The garden is a great place for a family to work together--let your children plant their own little plot.
- Plant lots of flowers among your veggies. It brings beauty and flowers like marigolds help in bug protection.
There is great joy in sitting down to a meal made from the food you have raised or grown. It is more satisfying in some way.
Do you have a gardening story to share? Did you...
... learn how to compost?
... figure out a way to naturally get rid of garden pests?
... learn a valuable lesson from gardening in years past?
... discover new ways to prepare food from your home garden?
... figure out which vegetables or herbs grow best in your region?
We'd love to hear from you! If you have a home gardening story you'd like to have featured on The Nourished Life blog, submit your story by email. Your story might just show up right here on the blog!
Need a source for organic and heirloom seeds? Shop on the Gardening Supplies and Seeds section of my Resource page. Order your seeds and let’s get planting!
Then you can fan the Seeds of Change page on Facebook. When you have photos of your garden, post them on their wall! (The full Virtual Garden photo album can be found here: http://bit.ly/seedsofchangevirtualgarden.)
Or follow Seeds of Change on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/seedsofchange. We're doing a special tweet chat every month this season!