Kitchen Garden: How Green Grows My Garden

how green grows my kitchen garden
Growing up we always had a kitchen garden. Nothing fancy but staples like Beefstake tomatoes, Iceburg lettuce and carrots. My mom loved tomatoes and would bite into them like you would an apple. Vegetables bought at a supermarket just don’t compare to the flavor burst.

I really should have paid more attention to what my dad did to his garden because his Beefstake tomatoes were huge, sweet and juicy.  Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm He always made gardening look so easy!

The house my parents bought had incredible rose bushes that the previous owner had lovingly grew. He had even grafted different varieties together so when they were in bloom it was a splendid burst of gorgeous colors and our house was always filled with the lovely scent of the roses we had cut.

When I had my first house I was so busy that a kitchen garden was just a sweet memory. However, the last couple of years I finally decided to make the time  and have a kitchen garden. It’s a lot of work, but we’ve been enjoying the fruits of my labors with fresh organic tomatoes, salsas, tomato sauce and so much more.

I have an herb garden in front of our gazebo which gets a great deal of use and two larger gardens for vegetables this year. I’d like to plant a cutting flower bed of Peonies, Hydrangeas and whatever else suites my fancy, but for now that’s on the back burner.

The soil here sucks—its the only way to describe it.  For the last two years I’ve spent a lot of cash on soil amendments like mushroom compost, cow manure, organic compost etc. and it still needs work. Recently, I read somewhere or heard it on a video that it takes 7 to 10 years to get the ground in shape. Ugh! Last year I learned we have a couple of black walnut trees and these things are not good for growing a vegetable garden.

Black Walnut trees contain a natural substance called JUGLONE that inhibits the growth of many plants (or just plain kills them). And it’s contained in every freaken part of the black walnut tree—bark, wood, leaves. It’s strongest in the roots. Now here’s the zinger—the roots can extend out 50-80 feet from the tree. Our first garden is 45 feet from the darn thing and there’s another one at the back about 60 feet away from the kitchen gardens.

Guess what plants are noted for dying quickly within this range? Well, of course the most popular home-grown veggies (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes) and my ornamental favorites like petunias, azalea, viburnum, hydrangea and rhododendron. Guess what I planted right beside the black walnut tree–two azalea bushes. UGH! I need to move them. Those darn black walnut trees even kill off Blueberry bushes too.  I thought last year that my garden yield was a lot lighter than I was expecting and I was blaming myself.  It wasn’t me it was those darn trees! It’s too late to make major changes so I’ll be adding milk to the water for my tomatoes along with making sure they get enough fertilizer from organic

Next year I think I’ll be doing Square Foot Gardening and work smarter not harder. Doing raised bed gardening with good soil from the beginning should give me increased yields while circumventing most of the problem with the black walnut tree. The last tree I cut down cost $1,000 and I’m sure this black walnut will be the same.  For now we’re just cutting the branches off and keeping it trimmed back as best we can ourselves.

 

Monday Morning Musings: Getting Ready For Spring Gardening

Gardening Get Ready for Spring

Is it Spring yet? According to the countdown calendar clock it’s 25 days and nine hours away and I’m sitting here in below freezing temperatures. All I can think about is planting my vegetable garden and a few of my favorite flowering plants. I love Spring gardening time! I can hardly wait to be cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs from my own garden again.  The flavor is so much better. Then there’s canning.

I wanted to have an indoor herb garden, but I haven’t yet figured out how to keep the kitties from sitting in the windows and snacking on the fresh herbs. The first time I tried it was a total disaster—soil everywhere and no plants. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how to keep your pets from munching on your plants.

We really can’t plant anything till after the latest Spring frost so you need to know the date from last year to plan your garden.  If you haven’t bought your 2015 Farmer’s Almanac but you want a good idea of frost dates then David’s Garden is where you go. There’s a treasure trove of gardening information there and you can certainly get lost in the research and advice.

This is a short and informative video by the Smiling Gardener on how to start your seeds indoor.

Have some fun planning the layout of your garden by using these online garden planners. Yes, they’re free.

You can order your rare seeds (non GMO) from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They have a wonderful FREE Rare Seed catalog or you can read it online right now. They also have their Free Baker Creek Seed Book catalog. They produce a few other interesting gardening magazines that you can purchase relatively cheap with lots of great information, recipes and history.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds even has a vegan restaurant that serves a “donation only” lunch. According to their website they’re planning some interesting cooking lessons and festivals. I wish we didn’t live so far away–sigh.

If space is limited for a garden big enough for your needs then check out this book–Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell.  I love it!  We have a huge backyard but it can’t all be garden.

No backyard? Then you can get some great ideas for balcony gardening in this book —The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell. Even if you have a backyard some of the ideas are worth incorporating into your own backyard garden.

Of course when you’re gardening you need to be dressed appropriately so here’s a Master Gardener apron, a  cute vegetable apron or a funny gardening apron.

Mother Earth News has tons of information on Spring Gardening — which plants like to be grouped together and crop rotation for the home gardener.

This year I’d like to build some garden boxes so I don’t have to bend down so far.  They’re much easier on the back.  I’ve been looking at some plans and you might be interested in doing the same.  This garden box  shown on Stark Insider is my favorite so far. She built her’s out of redwood. It looks lovely, but I don’t think I’ll be building mine out of redwood.

We had a family of bunnies move in under our Gazebo for the winter so I’m assuming I might have to make a garden for them and garden boxes on legs for some of the garden should reduce the amount lost to the bunnies dining out. And did I mention the deer?

I’ve been saving my egg shells and coffee grinds for the garden. Have you?  Once the egg shells are dry just blitz them into powder in a blender and use it to feed and prepare your garden for planting.

Happy planning and preparation!