Friday, November 7, 2008
Easy and Painless Organic Gardening
We didn't have a garden this year.
Well, we did, but it was a joke.
Truth be told, we were very ambitious last winter. Chet started six flats of plants indoors in late January, nurturing them and teaching us all about the terrific growth. He put so much effort into them that by the time they were hardened off and ready to plant, we had all lost motivation.
So, into the ground they went (the half that we got to, that is). But they didn't get anything after that. No water, no fertilization, no weeding.
We moved out for the month of June to do some remodeling, so we really didn't even look at the garden for most of the summer.
Needless to say, we didn't get much produce from that crop.
But, we did have a few successes - plants that grew with no care and no watering. The perrenials.
Fruits are by far my new favorite plants. Two years ago it felt like a big investment to put in two grapes, a dozen strawberries and six raspberries (they totalled over $20 if I remember right).
But this year, in just two years, we were overwhelmed with produce from these. We had to start calling friends over to pick raspberries -- we couldn't process them fast enough. And they are impervious to weeds -- the raspberry thicket is so, well, thick, that nothing else could grow if it tried. We're giving away stray raspberry plants right and left (want any? Leave a comment and we'll talk!)
We canned up three and a half gallons of grape jelly (only because I didn't feel creative enough to make grape juice).
Our sour cherry tree also went to town -- we got way more than ten gallons of sour cherries from the one tree this year. They were completely worth the investment.
Our strawberries, which were pretty disappointing by comparison, still produced just fine -- we have four gallons of chopped berries in the freezer for the rest of the winter.
The rhubarb also did just fine with no care. We harvested it lightly, because we're hoping to divide it next year. We froze it chopped and mixed with strawberries for a quick dessert.
And the potatoes also did great -- we stuck some from the grocery store (in five colors: red, yellow, white, brown and purple!) in the ground just before Easter, and totally ignored them all summer long. Sometime in August or September (I don't remember which), we dug some up. YUM -- especially the purple ones! And they're so good for the ground that I don't feel bad if I forgot half of them.
The second stars of the season are the herbs. If you've never tried home-grown fresh herbs instead of the dried grocery-store variety, you're missing out. Not only do the taste wonderful, but they're so easy to grow!
Thyme and Oregano both come back on their own in our region, and we are still harvesting them. And we tried out a new variety of basil that has quickly become our favorite - pistou. They're super tiny, with high flavor (and not quite as sweet as sweet basil) and soooo cute (about 6 inches tall). I'm going to grow some in a pot for over-winter.