Welcome back for another Fresh Air Fridays! For those of you catching up, Fresh Air Fridays is where I blog about non-food and cooking related topics that are near and dear to me. Gardening is something I have always loved to do. I suppose it could be considered food related, but friends, lets not overthink this one, it’s Friday after all! Here are my lessons in amateur gardening!
Last year my husband and I moved out of a wonderful downtown apartment to a house in the country – my dream come true. We have neighbors all around, but the lot is large, the life-style is slow, and the people are always friendly. However, we are dealing with more pests than I ever imagined in the city. This is the first year that we have had a large garden, and we have already decided to expand it again next year, despite all the pests.
I started seeds in February, some things germinated, and some didn’t. We got sprouts from spaghetti squash, butternut squash, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and heirloom tomatoes. I picked up some zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and red cabbage at the farmers market, as well as some marigolds. I read that Marigolds are good for companion planting and pest control, plus they add a vibrant pop of color!
Pest #1-Deer. We have a four foot tall fence around the garden because the deer are thick and fearless here. Our cherry tomato quickly grew taller than the fence, and the deer are eating the tops off. Lesson #1 – Taller growing plants need to go into the center.
Pest #2 – Cabbage Worms. They took over the broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. The cauliflower got the worst of it, hence there are no pictures. You can see the many wholes eating in the cabbage, but do not fear. Lesson #2 – diligence pays off. I read online that the best thing to do was pick off the bugs. I was in the garden every night for five days with a pair of needle nose pliers (for picking off the worms) and a cup of water (for easy disposal), and now the cabbage worms are gone! So far, we have harvested 2 large heads of the most flavorful broccoli I have ever tasted!
Pest #3 – Blossom Rot. All our zucchini were rotting and dying. Bummer. Again, google came to the rescue and I learned that blossom rot is a calcium deficiency. I started eating eggs for breakfast everyday for a week (which is out of my normal routine) so that we could scatter the crushed shells over the soil. We have now harvested two grown zucchini and are waiting on a third. Lesson #3 – Compost. It adds necessary nutrients to the garden soil, and helps reduce kitchen waste!
We have a friend who is a farmer in the area. I always remember her telling us that you never know what to expect from year to year, and that sometimes growing plants is just trial and error. Watching the garden grow and harvesting our own fruits and veggies has been a joy. The problems with pests only make the triumphs better. You simply feel successful! Lesson #4 – persistence and a willingness to work will pay off in the long run! We are excited to expand the garden, try out different crops, and continue to triumph as amateur gardeners!