Already I can feel the air shifting, changing. I had been watching the birds and animals a month before the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a hard winter. My crops are finishing up weeks early, ready to be placed asleep beneath layers of heady compost and blankets of straw.
This year’s lessons were plentiful.
#1 I sought to use up all the seeds that I had collected over the many years of gardening and not purchase any this year. Most were not viable and I had to do mad dashes to the store to get seeds/seedlings in order to have a garden! I grew tomatoes from seed. One large vine was struggling to turn ripe so I pulled the whole thing out and hung it in the kitchen. It is now producing luscious, red tomatoes.
#2 I did not purchase expensive potato starts. Instead I filled my apron with potatoes from the kitchen. Organic and growing eyes, fingerlings, reds, and a few yukons from a friend’s nursery. They took off better than any potato start I have ever had. I filled baskets and had three huge harvests of delicious potatoes.
#3 I discovered a little nemesis to my farm’s name. The Squash Bug. Few pumpkins were found last year and this because of that wretched little bug and his army. I shall be spending this winter’s reading time perusing garden books for organic methods to killing said enemy.
#4 If it doesn’t grow well over here, then plant some more over there. I never plant in rows. I plant everything together. This year the weather soared above a hundred degrees way too early and I did not have any spring crops. Almost all of my new herb seedlings were toasted quickly beneath the scorching May sun. I planted many things on the east side of the house and they thrived.
#5 Mother Nature grows best. The squirrel that hid a pumpkin seed in front of the porch is my hero. The vine is up on the porch and produced the only pie pumpkin because the squash bugs didn’t know where to look. The ristras hanging from my porch had their seeds scattered in an April wind and I will have New Mexican red chilies soon. A rogue head of popcorn I didn’t know was there planted itself and grew in the herbs gardens.
#6 Let things go to seed. I had prolific basil and arugula. The radishes and carrots reseeded, as did lettuce and spinach.
#7 My perma/straw beds that I created this spring were genius (I say so modestly) and I had little work this year to keep them weeded. I will add three more next month.
#8 Some things cannot be tricked. I grew ginseng and gingko until they realized they were in Colorado and promptly died. Peppers, which have always been impossible to grow up north, grow plentiful and flavorful in Pueblo. (The eucalyptus and ginger were tricked successfully, I must add.)
#9 Water and compost are all you need. The sun does the rest. Plants want to grow.
#10 I love gardening.
My porch and many gardens were taken over by morning glories, which effectively shielded many herbs and young trees from the record-high temperatures. I enjoy feeding the birds and watching the wildlife. I let the rogue “weed” trees grow and ended up with a lovely privacy fence. We ate well. Every year is different. Even when some things don’t work, something else always does. A good lesson for life from this Farmgirl’s perspective.