Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Bounty

This is the first summer in a few years that we are actually doing fairly well with our garden. Last year we didn't even try to grow one due to over-time at dh's work and family health issues that required some time and attention from hubby as well. But even the few years before that, when we were trying to grow our own produce, we just weren't seeing much results from it. Mostly it has to do with the fact that our soil has too much clay in it, but our ground water is very salty as well. You wouldn't expect that in Kansas, but there are actually underground salt deposits here and it messes with our water supply. In years that we get enough rain, this isn't too much of a problem. First, we don't have to water the garden as much if it is raining and second, getting lots of rain dilutes the salt enough not to cause problems. However, we have been in drought conditions for several years now and that means the salt level is pretty high. Salt water REALLY doesn't help plants to grow:)  So this year we decided to construct a couple raised beds to grow our garden in.

Pepper plants

With limited funds, because the wood and soil are kind of expensive, we decided to start with two 8x4 ft beds, see how they do and then add a couple more next year. I have to say that it has really been a success!! Having nice fertile soil that is light and fluffy instead of like rock has been great, and nature blessed us with some much needed rain at just the right time as well. We planted 4 tomato plants, 2 cherry tomatoes, 2 jalapenos, 4 bell peppers, 3-4 cucumbers and 2 serrano pepper plants, and most are still alive!! :) We did make a mistake and waited too long before deciding on caging the tomato plants and so we didn't end up
caging them at all. This would be fine except that the tomato plants overtook that bed which also had the jalapeƱos in it, and now I can't find them:) And the weather was really nice and cool at the beginning of the summer, which cucumbers must not like because all but one of those plants died. However, we've still gotten about a dozen cucumbers from the one plant, so that has been really good. The only real negative that we've found from our experiment is that with only 4 regular tomato plants, we have an awkward amount of tomatoes. There are too many for our family to eat (only dh and I like them), but not nearly enough for canning. So some of them are going bad. And we have cherry tomatoes coming out our ears!! We keep looking for recipes that we can use them in and dh has them in his daily salads.
This weekend's pickins'

Look close for the horn worm!!
This has been successful enough for us to decide to do another 2 beds next year. Our plan is to have 2 beds of tomatoes and to add some okra and maybe some herbs to it. The only thing I'd still like to grow would be green beans. I like the bush variety, apposed to the pole beans, and the bush beans take up a bit more room. Since I'd also like to can green beans, I'm thinking I'd need another 2 beds just for them. Maybe the year after next I'll be able to do those:)   


cucki said...

Aww so sweet
Enjoy x

Anna van Schurman said...

Rachael Ray has some recipes where you cook the cherry tomatoes as a pasta sauce. They have shrimp. One is Italian, one is Spanish and the third is Greek. They are in the 365 days cookbook. Good luck with the cherry tomatoes and the rest of your garden.