August 15, 2017

Backyard Gardening

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I thought it was time to give a quick update on Cowan Gardens! We’ve been so fortunate to be apart of the Hey Let’s Grow program through Monsanto and this year I felt like I have asked our group SO many questions. This year, we’ve been hit with a variety of bugs – but just a few. Last year, we got a late attack of squash bugs in September when we went on vacation and I freaked out and pulled all our butternut squash up and proclaimed I was done for the year with the garden.

This year, we started a little late and we’re just now starting to see some of the fruits (or vegetables) of our labor. This year, we decided to move a few things around, try some different options and try to grow vertically over horizontally, which worked out well. We planted two types of tomatoes, and one seemed to be diseased and didn’t produce as much as we had hoped.

The orange colored ones were from the lesser producing plant, which we wondered if the coloring had something to do with the plant not doing so well?

We tried our hand at jalapenos this year too! We started these from seeds and we’re just starting to get little peeks of peppers! We had a horn worm issue a few weeks ago and started munching all over the leaves and we had to take care of business. Well, I didn’t. Hattie thought the hungry caterpillar was so fun – which really they were eating them all!

We also picked up a mystery squash at the store. Jeff thought he had picked up a butternut squash again and he realized it was something different, but threw away information. So we have mystery squash. We’ll be picking this week and can report back. We have some larger squash blossoms, so I’m hopeful we get maybe 1-2 more from this. We also used a trellis this year to help grow up rather than sprawl all over the mulch.

My thyme almost tripled in size from last summer. It was the only thing I left in the garden box over winter and it thrived well. I’ve even cut chunks out to give to friends and it is still going strong. Thyme is my favorite herb and cook with it often, so I love running out and clipping it fresh from the garden. I make the amazing braised carrots with thyme and they are delicious!

Lettuce was a new veggie for our garden. Jeff packs a salad for lunch everyday and he really liked growing his own lettuce. This variety was called Amanda Lettuce. It was perfect lettuce wraps when I was on Keto. It’s also a great sized leave for sandwiches and burgers. We didn’t realize this variety also grew vertical, which was fun to see! Our first year growing lettuce was a success! We’ll definitely do it again.

Other things in our garden we already picked was broccoli. There is also a broccoli worm we didn’t know existed and we had a couple of those earlier in the season. Broccoli was fun to watch grow. We have 3 baby watermelons growing too. Probably about the size of baseballs right now. We’ll watch to see how those turn out. I’ve heard melons just don’t do well in Missouri climates, but we’ll see!

We picked all these goodies last week. I forgot to mention cucumbers! We somehow had 2 white cucumbers, we’re going to make a tomato and cucumber salad this week, so I’ll report back on how they are. The group seemed a little stumped on how the cucumber never got its color!

So that’s our garden this year. Some things I’ve learned from this season:

  1. Have a bug prevention option. We opted for Sevin this year, and it’s worked well for us.
  2. Get your kids involved. Every morning we go out and look a the garden and talk about how things grow. It’s fun to get them engaged
  3. Mini Ecosystem – we have had so much living in our garden this year. So many bees, a frog and more. It’s been a great opportunity to talk about pollination and the importance of bees.
  4. Water system – we were able to use our sprinkler system to auto water our garden. We were able to use one of the sprinkler heads and feed tubing inside of the box and auto water daily. It’s a huge time saver and didn’t cost much to do it.
  5. Don’t Stress – I was not born with a green thumb, so give yourself a little grace if you haven’t watered enough. It can take a little trial and error to get where you need it to be. Heck, compared to last year, it’s been totally different!

Have you gardened before? What do you find to be the most successful?

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