Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Harvest

Some pictures from this year's harvest, however tiny.

We ended up not eating these 2 eggplants, the first of about 5 that we harvested, because they went past their prime while we were on vacation. The plant was fairly hardy, and I think if we pay closer attention next year, we can expect a better eggplant production.

We tried planting potatoes in "potato bags" that I bought from The theory behind these bags is to fill them halfway with dirt and seed potatoes, then fill in dirt as the plants grow upwards. We ended up with pretty small taters and VERY leggy plants. We're going to go ahead and stick these guys in the ground next time.
One happy success this year was our peppers. We planted green, red, and yellows, and they didn't really take off until the end of September. Every time we harvest some of these little guys, the next group gets bigger. I've been chopping them up and freezing them to throw onto pizzas and into sautes.

Ah, the zucchinis. Has anyone ever NOT had success with zucchinis? We ate these guys in several different forms--pastas, breads, baked, soups--pretty consistently for 3 weeks or so in August. They went from tiny baby squashies to mammouth monsters seemingly overnight (documented by our lovely neighbor, One Acre Homestead here). Then, due to negligence on our part to nip them in the bud, we waged an epic war with squash bugs.

The cantaloupe vines we planted from seed had great potential and pretty much took over an entire bed by themselves. We might try trellising them next year. Something was wrong with the timing of these, though, because although the vines set out several good-sized fruits, we only managed to harvest 2 of them at the right time. The rest quickly rotted on the vine, even though they didn't look fully ripe yet.

The carrots were pretty disappointing all around. Most were woody and/or too small to do anything other than be thrown into the compost pile. A wise neighbor suggested that she planted her carrots according to the lunar cycle and had success, so we will be doing this next year.
I like to call these pole beans "tease beans." In late June we harvested a small handful of what seemed to be a promising crop. For the next 4 months, however.....nothing. These plants were setting several blooms, but no beans. Something about the coolers temps in September got the plants moving again, and now there are big beans all over the place. We decided not to harvest these, though, and will instead till them back into the soil as green manure. Bush beans next year.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How it all began...

When we first moved to Oklahoma in May of 2008 and bought our one acre of land, we were eager to throw paint on our walls, coordinate new furniture, and start a garden.

Mother Nature decided that I should focus on growing other things, however, because I quickly found out I was pregnant with our first child.

I got little accomplished the first summer and fall in terms of gardening, thanks to my "delicate condition," aka "alien invasion." I did manage to remove the 3-foot-tall weeds growing wild in the back yard and plant some spring bulbs in the front beds. My husband spent nearly all of the summer building a traditional split-rail fence around the back half of our property, which would act as a deterrant for our 2 wandering mutts, and also as a nice complement to the rural vistas. It was hard work trying to dig into the hard, red clay, so he rented a mechanical post-hole digger.

Our vegetable garden would have to wait until this past spring when our little helper arrived. We got started with the planting the day before Easter Sunday, and in retrospect that was probably much too late for most of the things we tried to grow. Theoretically it would have been better to start planting around the first few weeks of February, but with our son Joe making his grand appearance on Feb. 13th, planting just wasn't on our minds at the time.

After learning our lesson about the hard clay, we decided to go with 2 raised beds, one 6'x12' and one 6'x8'. I think when I first imagined these beds, I thought they'd be crammed full of healthy veggies, from which I could make countless meals and freeze up several pounds of bumper crops to later make into baby food. I later learned that 1 six-foot row of peas produces about a half-cup of shelled peas. So barely one serving.

But we had to start somewhere, so we stapled chicken wire (to keep out burrowing pests...which we don't really have in OK) inside a 12-inch-high wooden frame, and filled the whole thing with topsoil and compost. We later constructed 2 A-frame trellises out of a few old wooden pallets that we picked up at from my husband's work (for free! Also try Lowes, etc.) and strung netting hand-tied from twine over each. They held up surprisingly well in a pretty nasty spring storm, so we might try bigger ones next year.

We planted peppers, pole beans, peas, zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkins, cantaloupe, eggplants, and carrots. All in the same beds! All at the same time! What little we knew...or I should say, how much we've learned in the last 6-7 months. I think the most we had researched ahead of time in terms of planting spacing and timing we learned from the backs of seed packets and transplant containers. After exhaustively planning for NEXT year's garden, I realize how ridiculous the timing and spacing was, and we are lucky that we actually had some success despite ourselves. The zukes and peppers have done very well, and the cantaloupe and eggplants had a lot of potential, but we went on a week-long vacation right at a crucial time in their little lives.

In my next post I'll talk about what we reaped from this little experimental garden, but I have to say that our best harvest this year was lessons learned. We've got BIG plans for 2010, and I'm excited to documenting it all in this space. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Dot

In college I took a course on the Internet (this was pre-Facebook), and a major part of the course requirements was that I had to maintain an active blog. It was such a drag. Writing for the sake of participation is beyond forced, and I sort of felt dirty knowing that my professor was reading my posts everyday. So my blog was a drag. I gave it up the second the semester ended.

Now I think about participation in a totally different way. I work from home and I live in a very rural area where I know a handful of people. For me, participating is anything I want it to be that day; whether that means getting dressed, arranging to visit friends, completing an assignment, or baking all day. This is not as luxurious as it sounds. It's very easy to feel like I've spent all day rattling around inside my house with nothing to show for it.

I am very good at keeping in touch with the people I care about, and I'm not ashamed to admit that most of that communication happens online. I spent the first 2 weeks I lived in Oklahoma at the Burger King 10 miles down the road because it was the only place that had wireless internet and mine was not yet set up. It only seems natural that so much of my product--the result of my days spent puttering around my little acre of land--appears online. I send pictures and video of my son to family via YouTube and Facebook; I send and receive assignments from clients through various FTP sites; and I spend an embarrassing amount of time looking up recipes and gardening tips...mostly while I'm elbow deep in flour or soil. I've noticed lately how I seem to get "stuck" on other people's blogs, scrolling endlessly backwards through their posts as I learn more than I ever intended to.

So. I guess what I'm trying to say is that in an attempt to not live life in a vacuum, I'm going to blog. I'm not one for scrapbooking or photo albums (did we ever get one printed of our wedding? Um, that's a big no.) but I do love progressions. You could probably call me a line graph kinda girl. Here is my first dot.