Every year around February my fingers and the palms of my hands start to itch. They want to get digging into the dirt, they want to plant seeds and pull weeds. They want to water pretty flowers and pick giant, ripe organic vegetables. I want to get the garden going!
That’s right folks, I’m talking about garden season. Garden season is what summertime is all about for me. I literally love it like it’s a person.
I’m a freak, I know, that’s a totally well established fact.
Last year my garden was expanded to the largest it can be. Every year there is some kind of major improvement. Like anything in life, the only place to go is up, or forward if you prefer.
This year the garden had two significant improvements.
- The introduction of poop dirt (Thank you to my wonderful Honeybear, or Rooster as you may know him). And for those questioning my integrity, by Poop Dirt, I do not mean Tagro. Tagro is fine (in my opinion) for flowers, but I don’t feel good about putting human waste on my garden. Don’t even get me started on the fact that it’s treated….. Treated with a bunch a chemicals that I’m sure I don’t want on my food.
The Poop Dirt I speak of in my garden is a mix. It’s is 70% mushroom mix and 30% chicken poop compost. It turned out to be a wonderous mix for my veggies, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It was super hard work spreading it out all over the place.
- This year I started all of my vegetables in the greenhouse. This helped me in two ways. First off, I knew which seeds were working/viable, and more important (to me), it enabled me to plant things in the correct spacing. I was able to avoid having to thin my plants after they get going. I hate pulling out baby plants.
It was a great year for the weather too, other than struggling with a broken, sticky sprinkler a few times, I cannot complain. The amazing sunshine that we have been blessed with was great for growing.
Just like last year, the rogue vegetables made an appearance. More than an appearance really.
Let’s start off easy, the broccoli. Last year I had some rogue broccoli too. Let’s face it, it’s my fault. When you plant and grow broccoli, you have to harvest it in a timely manner. When the heads appear and reach their full size (which you will never know until it is too late. I got my first store head this year, but also had lots of lunch bites too) you have got to cut them and eat them within a day or two.
If you don’t, they shoot up into beautiful yellow flowers, that attract lots of bees. Bees are great for the garden. Not so great for the harvesting human.
If you continue to allow the beautiful yellow flowers to remain, perhaps in order to draw the bees for pollination, those same flowers will “go to seed”. This gaurantees you (me) that you will have broccoli next year, wherever in your garden or even on your lawn that it decides to take up residence. Last year the rogue broccoli was kind of a pain. This year I looked at as a bonus.
See, there’s maturity right there…… Or at least a switch to positive thinking. Or, perhaps it’s because of my other rogues……
Those of you that know me, know that I grow pumpkins every year. Specifically giant pumpkins, meant for the Puyallup Fair.
Many moons ago (Read- April), I went to the Puyallup Spring Fair with my friend Laura. There I met and was mesmerized by one of the giant pumpkin growing winners from 2015. He even sold me some seeds and convinced me of wrongdoing in years passed. In previous years I had grown multiple plants, but all from the same seeds. He told me that in order to grow true giants I would need to have at least two different types of giant plants for cross pollination.
Being a big believer in pollination, I trusted his words and even purchased two different types of seeds from him. I had every hope that I would be going to the fair as an exhibitor this year, of course I have that hope every year.
So I brought those seeds home and lovingly planted them in jiffy pots in my greenhouse. I stalked them daily and made sure that they were kept moist, but not too moist, and kept any stray weeds from making a home with them.
Do you want to know what happened? They never, ever germinated. That man sold me dead seeds. SMH. Great.
But the pumpkin saga doesn’t end there. In fact, it didn’t even begin there.
Last year, at the very super end of growing season, think post Halloween, I had the brilliant idea to smash all of the extra pumpkins that had been painted as well as the ones that were carved. I smashed them all into the garden. They weren’t really strategically placed, but they did cover most of the area.
I got that idea from a sizable pumpkin patch in Puyallup. Every year I drive by after Halloween and see chopped up pumpkins in the fields, and every year I try to remember to smash my own pumpkins into the garden. If they do it, it must be good compost right?
Right after Halloween, I smashed them right into the soil. It took no effort for me to carry them back to the garden from whence they came, and throw them as hard as I could down into the dirt. In fact just typing that makes me wince, but at the time I must have been feeling pretty cold hearted. Maybe it was just the fact that they were starting to get soft.
When it came time to weed out the garden I found that there were several piles of pumpkin seeds rotting in the dirt. I did my best to scoop them out, but didn’t really worry about them. It’s my understanding that seeds will not germinate if they haven’t had a chance to dry out.
Those of you that live in Washington know that we had over 100 days of rain in a row. I guarantee you that between November of 2016 and March of 2017, nothing in my garden dried out.
But I picked those seeds out of the dirt anyway. As many as I could. The rest I assumed were no good anyway, or got squished and buried away by the rototiller.
By now you can guess what happened.
As my garden grew and took form, I noticed several plants out of order. They were different, not growing according to my big map I make every year. There were six of them in fact, growing in the most unlikely spots. One was growing in the corner of the garden against the wall, where the soil is rocky and nothing likes to live, not even the weeds.
One was coming up smack dab in the center of my pea patch.
There were six rogue pumpkin plants in all.
Just pull them out, you are all silently screaming at me!
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What if some were giants? Especially since my giants didn’t germinate at all. What if I only pulled a couple out, the ones in the most inconvenient spots? (What if those were the giants?).
In the end I didn’t pull any out.
And in the end it turns out that they are all Jack-O-Lanterns.
And in the end, you can no longer walk in my garden because the pumpkins have taken over.
I do have 20+ good sized jack o lanterns just beginning to turn orange if anyone is interested before Halloween. 🙂
Apparently, back in the day, waaaaay back in the day, the American Indians used to plant their pole beans, squash and corn all strategically together, so that the veggies could aid each others growth, and fewer weeds would be able to grow.
Hmmmmmm, I thought to myself. That may be a great idea, but for starters I eliminated the idea of the squash. Three different veggies in the same area just screamed tangled mess to me. But pole beans and corn? That sounded doable.
Per direction, I planted the beans six inches off of the root of the baby corn start. And you know what? It totally worked, the pole beans climbed right up the corn stalks. I had beans for days hanging everywhere! The corn was a different story. It would have worked better, but this year I chose to grow a hybrid of white corn and Indian corn. It was a short season hybrid and thus did not grow a very tall or strong stalk. The beans literally bent the stalks and took over.
I will try that trick again next year though, albeit with regular corn.
All in all my garden did great this year. Most of veggies came out very large (peas, beans, zucchini, cucumbers) due primarily to the Poop Dirt (I think). I am still harvesting and have been happy to share quite a bit of it.
Also new this year was my introduction to making salsa! The tomatoes did great too!
In the interest of sharing, please enjoy some of my progress photos. I’ve tried to date them so that you can see how fast it all grows.
July Corn and Beans